First Element of New C&NW No. 1385 Displays Installed

Visitors to Mid-Continent in 2014 can look forward to new exhibits during their visit. The rebuilt C&NW #1385 tender, delivered in November 2013, now has an accompanying interpretive sign in place. Additional displays about No. 1385 and other museum pieces are also in the works!

Initial response to the new sign has been positive. The C&NW 1385 team received the following message from a Mid-Continent member: “By the way, I don’t know who came up with the new sign for the 1385 tender, but I just wanted to say it’s probably the most professional looking informational sign we have the property!… Please pass my compliments along to whoever designed it.”

For the record, the sign was a collaborative effort between the numerous members of the C&NW 1385 Task Force and volunteers Randy Long and Jeffrey Lentz lending their talents.

New display sign for the C&NW No. 1385 tender, located in the display structure just outside the depot. Photo courtesy of Randy Long.

New display sign for the C&NW No. 1385 tender, located in the display structure just outside the depot. Photo courtesy of Randy Long.

Rebuilt Tender Arrives at Mid-Continent, Restoration Moves on to Next Phase

This past weekend featured a buzz of activity on C&NW 1385. The tender tank, new (former freight car) trucks and frame were loaded first thing Friday morning (11/15) at DRM Industries. It was then trucked to Mid-Continent where a crane was waiting to place them under the rebuilt display structure north of the depot which also houses the Shay and narrow gauge boxcar.

While the wheels and frame were being placed, a second tractor-trailer arrived with the rebuilt tender tank. Beginnings around 11:30 a.m., the tender tank was moved into position and lowered onto the frame. Even though the tender is at North Freedom, is not quite done. Grab irons need installation, the rear headlight needs to be installed, the tank hold-down brackets need to be installed and bolted tight, and the tank interior needs the protective coating applied. Final touches will need to be completed when the tender is married to the locomotive. For now, it will enjoy prominent position under a covered display area while it waits.

Tender tank hoisted by crane

Photo by Brian Allen. Click on image to browse Brian’s entire Flickr album from the day.

The work on C&NW 1385 continued throughout the weekend. On Saturday loose parts were rounded up from their storage places and placed on shipping pallets. Then on Sunday, the crane was at work again, this time lifting the C&NW 1385’s running gear onto trucks for delivery to Spec Machine in Middleton, Wisconsin for restoration work there. The frame and two sets of driving wheels were loaded onto the first trailer around 2:00 p.m. The immense weight of these components required that one set of driving wheels and and the leading truck (i.e. the small wheels in the front that help steer the locomotive through curves) be separated, temporarily converting the 4-6-0 locomotive into a 0-4-0 wheel configuration. Project volunteer Pete Deets explains:

That conversion wasn’t by choice… On the day of the pick, the operator quit lifting at 84,000 lbs. and the running gear hadn’t budged from the rails yet. They dropped the front truck and the operator stopped again at 79,000 lbs. without lifting off. The #3 rods and driver were dropped and the lift was made at about 72,000-74,000 lbs. The truck and driver came in at 10,000 lbs. apiece.

The first tangible evidence of restoration progress returning to Mid-Continent was enough to entice reg in al media to come report on the 1385’s restoration, including a story by Capital Newspapers (publisher of Wisconsin State Journal) which includes interviews with Mike Wahl, Project Manager, and Don Meyer, former General Manager and now serve ring as the project’s fundraising consultant. There is also a nice video report by NBC 15, Madison’s NBC affiliate in which Pete Deets and DRM Industries’ Matt Hillmer do a great job conveying the challenges of the restoration and uniqueness of the 1385.

Our Steam Task Force team deserves a hand for delivering on the first major component of the restoration. They have put in countless hours in the nearly 2-1/2 years since the Wagner Foundation grant was announced, resuming the restoration. There is an even greater amount of work yet to do as the tender is only the first step in the returning of the 1385 to service. Aside from the running gear work alluded to earlier, the cab is about half done at a Fond du Lac woodworking shop. The new boiler will begin to be built after all the required calculations are complete to create the Federal Railroad Administration Form 4.

For things to continue humming along, continued financial support is needed. Please consider visiting our donation page to learn how easy it is to support the C&NW 1385 restoration.

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Completed Tender Heading to Mid-Continent, Running Gear Heading Out

There are three days of C&NW 1385 happenings planned for this weekend.

The delivery of the completed C&NW 1385 tender (which holds the locomotive’s coal and water) is scheduled for this Friday, November 15th. It will be loaded at the contractor’s shop in Lake Delton, Wis. in the A.M. hours and will arrive at Mid-Continent probably sometime mid-day or perhaps early afternoon. The finished tender will be placed on a display track for public display until the locomotive’s restoration is complete.

On Saturday (11/16), volunteers will be gathering, organizing, labeling and palletizing C&NW 1385 parts in preparation for shipment to a contractor’s shop.

Finally, on Sunday (11/17), the C&NW 1385’s running gear will be loaded onto a truck and delivered to a Middleton, Wis. machine shop which will be performing the repairs to that portion of the locomotive.

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Tender Tank Lettering Complete

Lettering on the new C&NW 1385 tender tank has now been completed. Only a few final details need to be finished on the tender deck, frame and trucks before the tender is fully completed and ready for shipment back to Mid-Continent.
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Now that the tender tank project has come nearly full circle, here is a photo showing the difference. The tender originally purchased with C&NW 1385 (shown in left photo) is believed to be the original tender mated with 1385 when built in 1907, although 1926 is the earliest documentation that has been found of the two together.

When C&NW 1385 ran for one year at Mid-Continent in 1963, the original tender was used. After that, 1385 was taken out of service until July 1973. In that time, the original tender was deemed “unserviceable”. A leading volunteer on the project in 1971 was quotes as saying, “The tender is shot – completely.” As a result, a replacement was found and purchased shortly thereafter.

For the many years that 1385 operated at Mid-Continent and on excursion on the C&NW, it was not her original tender behind her, but rather a tender originally used by C&NW No. 1361. The replacement had a noticeably different coal pocket and was considerably smaller in capacity. The replacement held a mere 5,700 gallons of water compared to the original’s 7,500 gallons.

No longer in use, the original tender was parked at the end of Mid-Continent’s track in the rock quarry. Flash flooding partially buried the tender in 1993 and it remained that way until dug out in 2002. After 9 more years of sitting outside, the result is what you see in the left hand photo. After being labeled “unserviceable” and “shot” in 1971, another 40 years out in the elements and being partially buried for a portion of that time caused further degredation. If the 1385 was to have a tender of its original size and shape, it would need to be built largely from scratch with the exception of a few components from the original that were still usable. This is what has taken place during 2012 and 2013 and the result is what you see in the right photo.

Original CNW 1385 tender tank comparison to 2013 reproduction tank

Original C&NW 1385 tender tank in 2011 versus reproduction tender tank completed in 2013.

 

Tender Tank Lettering In Progress

This week featured more easily visible evidence of restoration work on C&NW No. 1385. Countless hours over the past year have been going into engineering design and review of the tender and boiler, but that is not something that produces nice pictures to share on Facebook. Lettering a tender, on the other hand, makes for a great photo opportunity and just so happens to be what took place this week.

After the tender returned from the painting contractor’s shop early in the week, Mid-Continent’s Owen Hughes headed over to the DRM Industries shop to begin lettering the new tender tank with the familiar Chicago & North Western System trademark.

Meanwhile, the tender deck was also being prepared. As indicated by the original C&NW drawing and specifications sheet, 2″ white oak boards are being used. The timber was locally hewn by James Frazier & Sons Logging of Blue Water, WI. The decking still needs to have preservative treatments applied before the tender tank can be mounted to the deck.

Other final details are also in the process of being finished. The lower left photo shows the new bushing installed in the drawbar pin hole. The drawbar is what connects the locomotive to the tender (and the rest of the train).

CNW 1385 tender progress photos