Tender Moved to Live Track

On October 25, 2018 a team of cranes were at Mid-Continent. The cranes were primarily there to install locomotive #1256’s new wheels, but the 1385 Task Force took advantage of the presence of the cranes to move Chicago & North Western #1385’s tender to live track.

For the past five years, ever since arriving from the fabrication shop, the 1385’s tender has resided on an isolated display track along the passenger platform. The covered platform display area provided a cozy home for the tender where the public could learn more about the restoration while the locomotive itself was overhauled off-site.

All photos courtesy Richard Colby.

With the boiler nearing completion and reassembly of the locomotive’s major components set to begin in the coming months, it was a good time to also prepare the tender for the locomotive’s eventual return.

Volunteers and members of the crane crew set about removing the tender from the shelter. First it was chained to the museum’s Lull forklift and towed out into the open where the crane could get at the tender to disassemble it. The trucks were then moved to the museum mainline and the tender reassembled. Once done, Mid-Continent’s yard switch engine, MCRY #4, coupled on and took the tender to the museum’s Engine House.

The tender, mostly while mostly complete, still has some finishing touches needed including items such as the air brake system, steam heat pipes, and electrical systems (for reversing headlight, class lights, safety lights, etc.) The wheels will also need to be jacked and the roller bearings inspected for possible damage from the August floodwaters.

 

MCRM Awarded $10,000 Grant from Emery Rail Heritage Trust for DL&W 595

MCRM has generously been awarded a grant from the John H. Emery Rail Heritage Trust for the museum’s Delaware, Lackawanna & Western No. 595 coach car. The Trust recently announced the car is receiving a $10,000 matching grant toward rebuilding the trucks on which the historic 1915 coach rides.

The rebuild is being completed as part of a major rehabilitation program of Mid-Continent’s four Lackawanna coach cars, the backbone of the museum’s operating fleet. DL&W Nos. 425 and 557 have already gone through the truck rebuilding program and No. 563 will follow. The cars have faithfully served the museum for decades, but wear and tear have finally caught up with them, necessitating substantial truck overhauls.

As a dollar-for-dollar matching grant, Mid-Continent must receive $10,000 in donations toward DL&W No 595 by no later than March 31, 2017. To ensure Mid-Continent is able to make full use of the grant, please consider making a donation.

The Emery Rail Heritage Trust previously awarded Mid-Continent $10,000 toward the Chicago & North Western No. 1385’s boiler during the Trust’s inaugural series of grants awarded in August 2015.

The Emery Rail Heritage Trust was established in Paola, Kans. by the late John H. Emery. John was a long time Chicago resident, but had deep family ties in Paola. He was an avid rail enthusiast who loved to ride trains around the world, and wanted to help preserve rail equipment and infrastructure that will allow future generations to share his experiences during what he considered the “Golden Age” of railroads, from 1920 – 1960.

Make your donation via mail using our printable donation form or donate online using the form on our Donation page. Be sure to write in “D&LW 595 Matching Grant” on both the printed and online forms. Credit/debit card donations can be accepted by phone at 608-522-4261 or 800-930-1385 during museum office hours. All donations are tax-deductible.

Fundraising total last updated: March 14, 2017


Update 3/14/2017

Thank you to the donors who helped us reach the $10,000 goal. Your donations together with the John Emery Rail Heritage Trust have combined to raise over $20,000 towards the D&LW #595. 

C&NW 1385 Front Truck Complete, Cab Receiving Finishing Details

Work continues at a steady pace on Mid-Continent’s Chicago & North Western No. 1385 steam locomotive. SPEC Machine’s Steve Roudebush took some time out of his day on August 24, 2016 to show off the latest progress on the locomotive’s rebuild for this report.

The change most instantly noticeable upon walking into the shop was the shiny, like-new front truck sitting in the center of the shop floor. Like-new may not be a fully appropriate term, as considerable portions of the front truck are new. One wheel set had a goodly amount of life left in it and merely required machining to bring it into proper profile. The second wheelset had been worn quite thin and needed to be replaced with a brand new wheelset forged in Pennsylvania for the 1385. Binders, spring hangers and truck equalizers were also created new to replace heavily worn originals.

C&NW 1385 completed front truck

C&NW 1385 completed front truck

Additional work on the front truck included pouring Babbitt, lining the pedestals with bronze, and polishing pins and bushings. The front truck is fully complete and ready to be rolled under the locomotive, which is anticipated to happen sometime in September.

Above where the front truck will be rolled under, the pistons have been fully bored and the valve cages nearly completed. One of the valve cages that was found to have cracks is being replaced with a new one. The new valve cage is anticipated to be machined on SPEC’s CNC machine in the coming weeks. Work has also begun on the crosshead guides and valve gearing. After those tasks are complete, brake rigging and appliances will be next on the task list.

The two major components missing from the 1385 as it sits in the SPEC Machine shop is the cab and the boiler. To see the cab, we took a short drive to the shop of Loren Imhoff. Imhoff has graciously donated all his time spent working on the cab. Inside was a nearly complete cab. Already quite sharp looking with a bright green interior and a black exterior, another coat of paint will be added inside and out. The ceiling vent, which had proven to be a challenge due to limited available drawings, was complete and functioning. A few items remained to be completed: the ceiling needs a few boards painted and installed yet, the windows need a few hardware items remade to replace lost or broken originals, the seatboxes are not yet constructed, but all is expected to be completed by October and the cab brought to SPEC Machine so it can be made ready to mount to the frame and the roof weatherproofing material applied.

The other major component on which the 1385 Task Force has focused a great deal of attention on lately is the boiler. It has taken longer for the boiler to reach construction phase than was originally anticipated, but this was one area of the locomotive rebuild that was not to be rushed in any way. As the single most expensive component of the project, there is no room for error. Finally satisfied that the boiler design is ready for production, the 1385 Task Force has now begun gathering quotes for manufacturing of the new boiler. Once a vendor is selected and the order signed, production is expected to occur fairly quickly.

Tender Nearing Completion

Back in May, members of the C&NW #1385 Steam Task Force inspected the tender tank (the car that carries the locomotive’s fuel and water) progress at DRM Industries in Lake Delton, Wis. for what turned out to be the last time before it was to be sandblasted, cleaned & painted inside and out. The last details to be completed will be the addition of anti-slip dots on the steps and shoveling deck, drilling of an anti-siphon vent in one water fill pipe and attachments for the brackets for the electrical conduit. This will culminate over 15 months of work on the tank.

There are still other goals to accomplish which will be much easier with the tank out of the way. These include repair work on the drawbar pocket and pin, draft gear pocket and fitting of the white oak decking that goes on the frame under the tank.

The replacement trucks purchased for the tender are in Lake Delton, waiting to go under the frame so any necessary adjustment of height can be made where the tender can be more easily handled. When the tender is ready to roll it will be shipped back to North Freedom to receive lettering and go on public display. It is planned for this to occur around the end of August 2013.

Meanwhile, fundraising efforts continue. The Wagner Foundation’s $250,000 challenge grant has now been over 70% matched through the generosity of many, many donors. That positive momentum and spirit of generosity will need to continue for the C&NW #1385 project to progress. With the tender rebuild nearing completion, the boiler represents the next major hurdle and it will most certainly be the single most expensive portion of the 1385’s restoration.

C&NW 1385: 106 Years Young

Today is the locomotive’s 106th birthday so we are celebrating with a restoration update!

The R-1’s tender tank is complete and ready for paint. The gallery below shows the construction of the new tender tank.

The frame is also done and is in primer paint. In mid-February 2013, Mid-Continent volunteer Jim Connor delivered the deck tender boards to DRM Industries.

One item of debate had been over whether to attempt to salvage the trucks. The trucks had largely sat idle with the tender since 1973 when the tender from steam pile driver X263579 was substituted for use with the 1385. Most people’s image of the appearance of the 1385 tender is actually the X263579. The old tender was stored at end of track for nearly 30 years at Quartzite Lake where it eventually became buried in mud and debris caused by flash flooding in 1993. The trucks remained largely buried until the tender’s rescue in April 2002 [see December 2011 issue of Mid-Continent Railway Gazette for the rescue story]. With guidance from Steve Sandberg, new project consultant, it was determined that seeking “new” used trucks during the current restoration was a better option.

Two used serviceable trucks were purchased in mid-February 2013. They had previously been used on a freight car. One truck had all four casting marks and the other had three. This tells us how many times the trucks have been rebuilt. When all four casting marks are removed, the truck is scrap. The wheels will be pressed off and new ones pressed on.

The draft gear resides inside the coupler assembly of the tender to help dissipate the shock of coupling into a string of cars or trying to start them. It also helps smooth out the forces through the coupler as when going down the track. In late 2012, Mid-Continent was seeking a replacement for the tender’s draft gear. As it would turn out, Miner, the manufacturer of the original draft gear used on the tender, was seeking old draft gears for their corporate museum. The draft gear found on the 1385’s tender was a model which they lacked in their collection. Discussions between the Steam Task Force and Miner led to a trade arrangement in which Miner supplied a more modern style draft gear in trade for the old one.

The plan is to finish the tender and move it to North Freedom for display. This will offer a visible sign of progress on the project. With most ongoing work either taking place off-site or being of the engineering and design variety, there has been little thus far for visitors to Mid-Continent to actually see.

As for non-tender developments, the Steam Task Force is continuing to work on boiler engineering with nothing specific to report at this time. Meanwhile, work on the cab has picked up. Boards have been milled for the cab roof. Investigations are also taking place into finding a suitable replacement for the original Lehon Mule Hide covering for the cab roof.

As for overall project status, there is still much work to do. The biggest cost area, the boiler, still lies before us. Work is also yet to begin on the running gear. Roughly 70% of the Wagner Foundation’s $250,000 challenge grant has now been met by matching donations since the challenge began in June 2011. Despite this progress, the project will still require roughly $1 million in additional donations in order to cover the estimated total cost for the project. That is why YOUR help is needed. The sooner we are able to meet this fundraising challenge, the sooner everyone will be able to enjoy seeing 1385 under steam. Anyone wishing to make a gift to the 1385 restoration can do so directly on our donation webpage or can find instructions there for how to mail your donation. Finally, THANK YOU to everyone who has already donated! We couldn’t have gotten this far without your help!