Monday, November 14, 2011

3025 in the SUN!

3025 was out of the shop for a few minutes this afternoon. The tender was filled with coal and some firewood was put on board. We are getting ready to fire it up for the first time since it was re-assembled. A myriad of small tasks remain to be done before it will run, but it is getting close. Stay tuned...

Friday, September 9, 2011


We reached a major milestone in the rebuilding of No. 3025 this afternoon, raising the locomotive nearly 5 feet, sliding the wheels under it and lowering it onto it's rebuilt running gear.

The lift was a long time in coming. The entire running gear had to be disassembled, all parts cleaned, inspected and repaired or replaced.

In addition to all that, early this year we acquired a set of 4 Whiting 30 Ton locomotive jacks. Prior to getting these jacks, we either hired cranes or used our air jacks (and a lot of oak blocking) to wheel and un-wheel our equipment. We beleive that the jacks will pay for themselves with about three or four uses.

Once moved to Essex the jacks were rebuilt by our Master Electrician, Paul Horgan (right) and Contractor, Dave Wantz. Paul made the electrical repairs and modifications (including conversion fron 575 Volt to 480 Volt) while Dave disassembled each jack, making a thorough inspection and replacing worn parts.

Now the push will be on to reassemble the rest of the locomotive and place it in service so it can begin to repay this major investement for our company.


Thursday, April 21, 2011


April 5, 2011, Wayne Hebert Looks Over His Work
3025 has slid in and out of the shop several times in the last month. The final step in making an alteration of a boiler under FRA (Federal Railroad Administration) jurisdiction is a steam test of the boiler to operating pressure. We did this for ourselves in March to be sure that we wouldn't be wasting the FRA's time coming up to witness the test. Once certain that all was in readiness, we scheduled the inspection.
April 5th wasn't a good day weather wise, but for the No.3025 project, it was excellent. The FRA was pleased with the test, so now we are clear to apply the insulation and boiler jacket.

Eric Seamans Tends the Fire

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Last Run of "Old 97" (for a while)...

December 29, 2010 Engineer Ken Blandina & Fireman Jim Miller There has been a lot of babbling about our No. 97 being "retired". It is true that it has used up it's 1472 Service Days as allowed by Federal Railroad Administration rules and that it cannot be operated again until it has recieved another 1472 day inspection. But "retired"? That is hardly the case. It is only a matter of manpower, time and money before it will be in steam again. Now, it may be a while before those requirements are met. No.3025 must be finished. We are behind on coach work and must catch up. No.40 is getting close to it's 1472 day anniversary (May 16, 2014), (but whos' keeping track?) and there are events ("Thomas", Circus Train, North Pole Express, etc.) which must be pulled off year after year. But at some point in time it will return to the shop for a long stay. Actually, it will probably come in first for a couple of weeks for as thorough an inspection as we can manage, then go back out while plans are made, money is found and long lead time parts ordered. Once all these are in place, we'll begin the work. No.97 needs a good deal more than just a routine 1472 day inspection this time around. It has a number of chronic (read: expensive and/or time consuming) problems which must be addressed. We have already begun acquiring the materials and parts that we'll need. Crown brasses and a new set of flues and tubes are on hand, as are new spring rigging parts (see previous blog) and we will continue to accumulate more parts as bargains present themselves. I remember when I first came to work at The Valley in April of 1986. No.97 was in bits and pieces, strewn from one end of the shop to the other. A couple of the "old heads" were standing around, hands in pockets, looking over the locomotive, shaking their heads; both agreed: it would never run again. But two months later, it was back on the road, and has run every year since. No.97 won't be back in a couple of months, or even a couple of years, but it will steam again. J.David No.97 Enters the Enginehouse, 12/29/10

VIVID DRAGON lands in Essex


Why would a standard 20 foot shipping container be considered "blog worthy"? OK it has a neat name, but really, it is what inside that counts.
When we purchased SY 1658M (see previous blogs), we got a fair number of spare parts with it. However there were a number items which we needed to rebuild the locomotive, plus, with steam locomotives it is always good to have plenty of spares and many SY parts are useable on our other locomotives.

While in China supervising the overhaul of several class QJ steam locomotives at the legendary "701 Factory", Dennis Daugherty noted large quanities of spare parts in their storage areas. Since "701" was about to close it's doors, we were able (with the help of our agent, Vicky Yuan) to purchase many item which we needed for our SY, parts to be used in the rebuilding of our No. 97 and items for other locomotive owners in the U.S.

It took Vicky several months to track down all the parts we wanted (some not in stock at "701") negotiate prices and arrange for shipping to a loading point near "701". Since we are always short of storage space, Vicky found us a shipping container (VIVID DRAGON), which we purchased. Dennis traveled to China last fall to inspect all of the parts, inventory them, and supervise as they were being loaded.

After a number of inspections by Chinese Customs, VIVID DRAGON made good time to Newark, where it was again subjected to muliple inspections by U.S. Customs (maybe all of the superheater flues looked like cannon barrels).
Eventually it arrived at Essex where we set it on tie cribs.
Finally opened, we "saw wonderful things": injector nozzels, air compressor governors, shoes, wedges, spring saddles, mechanical lubricators, parts too numerous to list. A veritable cornicopia of steam parts all useful for keeping our steam locomotives on the road.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Coach 1001 Completed (finally)

Scott Painting Coach 1001
Readers with long memories may recall that back in 2006, Wayne Hebert began the tedious process of repairing the rusted window posts. Complicating the work was the need to refrain from taking apart any more than could be repaired in a week or two so the car would be available for charters and events. Concurrent with the window posts, Scott Dimartino repaired the roof and clerstory vents. By late 2008 attention had turned to replacing large sections of the carbody ends. In 2009, Eric Seamans made a complete set of windows, which were installed by Paul Horgan, Mike Camera and the Freinds of the Valley Railroad. Kevin Narin was hired as a dedicated worker. His job was to remove the bottom 10 inches of the carbody and replace it with new steel. Rivets were replaced with round head screws with the slots filled with bondo after tightening. About80% of this work had been accomplished by the time the car was needed for "Thomas" service.
A final push to completion came in 2010. Even as Kevin finished the welding, Scott had begun applying body filler to the weld seams. Eventually, most everyone in the shop worked on sanding the carbody in preparation for painting.

Coach 1001 After Painting
Scott did much of the priming and painting in our new containment bag, which was set up alongside the shop. The finish coat used on the car was a DuPont automotive paint: FulThane. This is the same product used on the Dinner Train in 2000 (it has held up well).

Valley's New Containment Bag, 20X15X100 feet