April 4 Volunteer Opportunity for 1385

The semi trailer containing various C&NW #1385 parts loaded during the March 21 volunteer session has now been moved to SPEC Machine where restoration and repair work is taking place.

Volunteers are needed once again to help unload the parts from the trailer at SPEC Machine. The unloading “party” is planned for Saturday, April 4, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. at SPEC. Please join and lend a hand if you can.

SPEC Machine
7175 Riles Road
Middleton, WI 53562


A small team of volunteers came out to complete the task on Saturday morning. In addition to lending a hand, Fred and Kathy Vergenz snapped some photos of the unloading as well as scenes around the SPEC Machine shop.


Parts Loaded and Ready for Transport

On Saturday, March 21, volunteers answered the call seeking help with loading various stored parts of the Chicago & North Western #1385 steam locomotive in anticipation of delivering them to SPEC Machine in Middleton where work is taking place to bring the locomotive back into operation.

From 1385 Task Force member Pete Deets:

“Another great day! I’d like to say a big THANK YOU to everybody who lent a hand: Brian, Mike, Mike, Richard, Kyle, Fred, Kathy, Steve & Moore Space. We had such fun getting a load on the trailer we will be planning an unloading party as well. The date has not yet been set but will be within a month. We were even able to put in some time taking measurements from the old boiler to try to clear up some of the differences between the drawings and the actual vessel. Thanks again to all because your time is truly appreciated and valuable to the Museum.”

An announcement of the next volunteer opportunity to help with unloading the trailer will be made here and on our Facebook page when the time and date is known.

All photos courtesy Fred and Kathy Vergenz.


Moving Parts to SPEC Machine

We have a new volunteer opportunity to help move the C&NW 1385 project forward. Saturday, March 21st we will be removing all the 1385’s parts parts presently stored in a boxcar at Mid-Continent Railway Museum and placing them into a semi trailer for transport to SPEC Machine where rebuild work is continuing on Mid-Continent’s flagship steam locomotive.

We’ll start at 9 A.M. and, with enough willing hands, should be done by early afternoon – if not sooner. There is very little really heavy stuff left to move, it is primarily piping and jacketing that is just unwieldy. The trailer will be spotted right next to the boxcar so we’ll need people in the boxcar, on the ground and in the trailer. Any time at all will be much appreciated and gratefully accepted. Members can refer to the Locomotive Shop forum on the members’ webpage for additional information.

2015 Trainman Class Scheduled

Join the Mid-Continent Railway Operating Crew

Here is a unique opportunity to be a part of our working railroad by joining the Mid-Continent Railway Museum Operating Department . We are now accepting applications for our training school beginning on April 18th.

What does a trainman do?

Note: The term ‘trainman’ is the historical job title used by railroads of the era and thus is used at Mid-Continent. Women can and do serve as trainmen as well and are encouraged to participate in all facets of museum operations.

Trainman inspecting train.

Trainman inspecting journal boxes.

Trainmen work alongside the conductor, fireman, and engineer to operate demonstration train rides for museum visitors. The position includes physical aspects: coupling/uncoupling cars, guiding train movements, inspecting cars, etc. It also includes social aspects: speaking with museum visitors and passengers, answering questions, and serving as a public face of the museum.

What is taught in the class?

During your four day training (two successive weekends) you’ll learn the basic operating and safety rules in use by Mid-Continent Railway during classroom sessions and then working outside with the museum’s equipment during the hands-on portion.

Eligibility requirements

Only Mid-Continent Railway Museum members ages 18 and above and in good standing are eligible. Four days of in-classroom training is required followed by individually scheduled student trips (job shadowing) and a final qualifying test. Persons qualified on other railroads are not exempted from the required training. Limited class space available and signup is offered on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Keep in mind that some aspects will require you to be physically capable of but not limited to performing such tasks as throwing switches, replacing coupler knuckles, minor rolling stock maintenance, climbing onto and off of equipment, and working in all types of weather conditions.

Do I have to to know a great deal about trains and railroad history to enroll?

Trainman operating switch stand.

A trainman throws a switch for MCRY #7.

What you need to know about train operations will be taught to you in class. As for general railroad and railroad history knowledge, there are no prerequisites or tests. You will learn a lot just by going through the class and student trips and being around fellow volunteers. Your instructors may have suggested reading materials for you as well.

How frequently is the class offered?

The trainman class is offered once per year, each spring.

Is there a class to become a conductor or locomotive engineer?

Yes, but all new train crew volunteers must start as trainmen.

How much does the class cost?

The cost to attend is free, but you will need to equip yourself with the proper clothing and purchase a rule book which will be explained in the trainee’s invitation email.

What is the time commitment?

The training program last 4 days (April 18-19, 25-2, 9am-5pm). This must be followed up by completing several days of independently scheduled student trips prior the end of the season.

What if I am not a Mid-Continent Railway Museum member?

Museum membership is open to anyone and starts at $40.00 per year. For more information on membership, see the Join Us page.

How do I sign up for the class or find out more information?

Contact the Superintendent of Operations, Kelly Bauman, at operations@midcontinent.org

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Upcoming Work Session May 25-26, 2012

A C&NW 1385 steam locomotive restoration work session has been announced for May 25th and 26th. That is the Friday and Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. One of the individuals leading the work that day, Al Joyce reports:

“We are continuing to take measurements for the studs and other points on the boiler. Again I could use some younger members to go to the harder to get to places. The train rides will be running, so you can be seen by thousands, well maybe many, working on a STEAM ENGINE. You will attain hero status in the publics’ eye.

We are in fact getting to the parts of the boiler that are some of the hardest to measure. Any and all help will be gladly accepted. If you can help, please stop by.”

No advanced sign-up, prior volunteer experience or great knowledge of steam locomotives is necessary. What is necessary is gloves and clothing you don’t mind getting dirty. Al and the other regular volunteers are happy to share their knowledge of steam locomotives with first time volunteers.