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

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