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.