Matching Grant Secured
The $10,000 matching grant challenge for the Montana Western #31 gas-electric motor car that was announced on August 1st has now been fully matched by donors. Museum members and donors expressed overwhelming support of the museum’s plan to bring Montana Western #31 back to operational condition. All of the available challenge grant dollars were matched by donors in less than three weeks!
Further donations to the Montana Western #31 project are still welcome and needed. The funds raised to date should cover most or all of the Winton engine repair, but there are several other areas of repair to the motorcar that will involve costs as well. Further donations received will be used for these other areas of repair necessary to make #31 operational. Any funds received beyond what is required to make it operational will then be used toward cosmetic work on the motorcar (window repairs, paint refresh, interior repairs, etc.) and toward future upkeep.
Donate quickly and securely online with a credit card, debit card, or PayPal account.
Donate by Check
Send a check payable to Mid-Continent Railway Museum to:
PO Box 358
North Freedom, WI 53951
Please write “Montana Western #31” on the check memo line.
Donate by Phone
Donate with a credit or debit card by phone with a call to the Mid-Continent Railway Museum administrative office (Monday-Friday) at 608-522-4261 or toll-free 800-930-1385.
- Check out the motorcar’s history on the Montana Western #31’s Roster Page
- Take a guided tour inside Montana Western #31 and other railcars during Mid-Continent’s annual Vintage Rail Car Tours event (October 1 & 2, 2022)
With some funds now in hand for the project, the real work can move forward. The first step will be to remove the Winton gas-electric engine from the car so it can go to a specialty repair shop. A backlog of other projects means the contract repair shop will not be able to begin work until spring/summer 2023. Once engine work on the engine begins, it is estimated to take approximately eight months to complete.
Simultaneously, Mid-Continent volunteers will have a list of repairs to complete to the car’s other components at Mid-Continent that are necessary before the #31 can return to service. Items known to need attention are:
- Repair the leaky radiator, including pressure testing and re-soldering
- Clean out rust from the fuel tank, pressure test it, and weld any weak spots
- Repair several windows that do not open easily
- Repair a broken door
- Repair a sliding door in the engine compartment
- Inspect the brake system and make any repairs necessary
- Evaluate and possibly mount the roof-mounted auxiliary radiator
- Inspect other areas for potential degradation/damage, including wiring systems, traction motors, etc.
- Repaint some underbody components
- Repair leaks in motorcar roof
Project Timeline Factors
The question everyone now wants to know is, “When will Montana Western #31 be operational?” The answer depends on many factors making it difficult to provide an estimate. The Winton engine repair is anticipated to be completed in 2024; however, as the list above indicates, there is a lengthy list of additional tasks that must be completed.
How soon #31 can be made operational after the engine is reinstalled depends on the availability of volunteers to complete the above list of repair and inspection items, whether or not there are any major unforeseen issues discovered once repairs begin, and how much additional fundraising will be necessary to complete the entire list of needed repairs. Simply put, it is currently too early in the process for Mid-Continent to provide a timeline for the completion of the Montana Western #31. Look for future project updates to be posted on our website as work commences.
Become a Project Volunteer
The best way now to make sure #31 becomes operational as soon as possible is to volunteer to help with the repairs. Volunteer work sessions on #31 are expected to start in spring 2023 with the removal of the Winton engine. If you wish to be contacted when volunteer sessions are announced, please use the below sign-up form. This list will be provided to the project’s lead volunteers.