2016 Year in Review

The American Steam Railroad Preservation Association is proud to present our 2016 year in review. We’ve accomplished a lot in 2016 and we’re quite proud of how far we’ve come. We’ve still got a long way to go with Reading Company no. 2100 and Frisco Mikado no. 1352, but with your support, we can bring these steam locomotives back to life and get them back to what they’re supposed to be doing…Hauling trains.

Here’s an update on the work performed so far:

Reading Company no. 2100

2016 was a big year for the 2100. Housed at the former B&O Roundhouse in Cleveland, OH, work progressed most weekends this year and focused on many fronts.

One of our primary goals was getting preparing the locomotive for a fuel conversion – back to coal. The oil burner installed in the 2100 in the late 1990s never performed adequately and was not appropriate for the locomotive’s firebox.

Our volunteers removed the oil burner, atomizer and all associated hardware. Next, we removed the firebrick that lined the firebox and uncovered the grates.  The grates removed for the conversion are awaiting re-installation.

In addition to the firebox prep, we performed ultrasound testing on the firebox. This process involved cleaning the rust from the firebox walls, drawing grids on the firebox and numbering them and then testing them with a hand held ultrasound machine which tells us the thickness of the firebox sheets. As this process was done, the thickness (recorded in thousands of an inch) were noted in our records and on the firebox walls themselves. These numbers will be used to determine if the firebox is fit for service or if repairs will need to be made before we can put a fire in it. As of the end of the year, all the thickness numbers of the firebox have been compiled and are being reviewed by experts to determine some necessary repair work.

The locomotive and tender drawbars and pins were brought into the roundhouse and cleaned up and then dye tested. Dye testing allows us to test these parts for cracks smaller than the eye can usually see. It’s imperative to the safety of crew and passengers that these parts don’t have hairline cracks that can cause failure on the road. This testing has revealed no issues.

One big event that we’ve been working towards is the hydrostatic test of the boiler. During a hydro test, the boiler is filled with water, warmed and pressurized to check the integrity of the pressure vessel. This test shows us where any leaks may occur and allows us to repair them before the engine is steamed up for the first time.

During a preliminary test, we discovered that the throttle assembly needed to be re-lapped due to the amount of corrosion that had occurred in the assembly. The throttle parts were cleaned up and repaired and then reinstalled and seated into their locations and are now ready for service.

The locomotive’s washout plugs were removed and cleaned up, then trued and reinstalled with Teflon gaskets. While this was being done, volunteers coated the locomotive with rust bonding primer. This was done to protect the steel shell of the locomotive while work is being done.

Other smaller projects were also undertaken:

  • The dynamo was cleaned, tested and now operates properly.
  • The lubricator was cleaned and blown out. It’s since been reconnected and tested and is ready for service.
  • Some of the appliances had minor repairs done.
  • The lettering was removed from the locomotive
  • Washout plugs were made and installed.

Frisco Mikado no. 1352

Though our focus has been on the 2100 this year, volunteers traveled to Taylorville, Illinois last spring to cut down weeks and check on the locomotive. Due to the severe deterioration of the nearby shed where 1352 had been stored,  the engine resides outside.

Not much happened with 1352 this year as the focus has been on 2100 (which is closer to operation). Volunteers went to Taylorville in the spring to cut down weeds and check on the locomotive. It was also determined that the locomotive could not be moved back inside the shed it resided in at Taylorville as the condition of the pit walls and supports are very poor and may collapse under the weight of the locomotive, therefore, the locomotive was left outside.

Our New Tool Car – New York Central 9110

2016 also saw ASR acquire a new baggage car which will serve as the organization’s tool car 9110 was purchased from the Mad River & Nickel Plate Railroad Museum in Bellevue, Ohio. The car is a former New York Central “Broadway” car, and features opening end doors that in its day were used to load and unload Broadway

Show sets in New York and take them around the US and for storage, as well as other large objects such as cars. The end doors will serve us well for loading large items in and out of the car and the size of the car itself will lend itself well to being our machine shop away from home when 2100 hits the rails. During 2016, volunteers visited Mad River to inspect the car and remove interior walls and insulation to help abate corrosion.

Santa Fe 3090 & Frisco 1100

In early 2016, the estate of Carl Nourse donated a pair of passenger cars to our organization. Santa Fe 3090 is a lightweight pre-war Budd coach and Frisco 1100 is a heavyweight business car. These cars were part of Mr. Nourse’s collection in Delaware, OH. The other equipment was auctioned off.

These cars were inspected for us and it was determined that neither one was a good candidate for upgrade to Amtrak specifications. The coach requires a full rewiring and some mechanical work and the business car is a composite car (wood under the steel shell) and would be unlikely to ever be able to be upgraded to Amtrak compatibility.

The decision was then made to sell the cars to help raise funds for the restoration of 2100. As of this writing, a purchaser has been found and we are negotiating to finalize the sale of the cars.

While we would like to have been able to keep them, our funds need to be directed to our primary objectives and the lack of Amtrak compatibility limited their income acquiring potential in excursion service.

Steel City Limited Rail Trip

A first for 2016 was our partnering with Luxury Rail Travel to operate an excursion from Philadelphia, PA to Pittsburgh and return during the fall colors season.

The trip sold out in 14 days and featured riding around Horseshoe Curve and the former PRR Middle Division in a former Pennsylvania Railroad private car, the Alexander Hamilton.

30 people and 4 crew members enjoyed the trip through beautiful fall weather. The trip was also featured on an episode of “The Roundhouse” Podcast. Funds raised from the trip were used to further the work on Reading 2100.

What’s Next in 2017:

The American Steam Railroad has a busy year ahead in 2017. With several projects needing our attention, fundraising is important and grant money is being pursued, along with new products for the Company Store like the new “Beeline Service Shirts”.

2100 will be remain our primary focus this year. At the yearly Board Retreat, held Feb 19th at Steamtown in Scranton, PA, the board of directors discussed the list of activities for 2017. First on the list is getting the analysis back from our contractor on the condition of the firebox sheets. Measurements were made in 2016 and any necessary repairs or staybolt replacement will be a top priority.

Another priority will be to perform a hydro test. We’d hoped to have that done in 2016, however a leak in the throttle assembly required us to hold off. Once cold weather set in, it was decided to hold off until spring, just in case power and heat was cut off to the roundhouse in a winter storm. We did not feel it prudent to take chances with freeze damage to the locomotive. Getting the hydro test done successfully will be a major milestone for the project and while we know the first test won’t be the last, getting the process underway is also a big priority.

While at Steamtown, we got a tour of the cab of Reading Company No. 2124. We took this tour to see how the unmodified backhead of the locomotive looked and how the ’24 differed from our own locomotive.

More small, but necessary jobs will be completed on the locomotive as well:

  • retrieve the coal stoker screw from Canada
  • reinstall and rewire the electrical system in the locomotive, including the dynamo.
  • test all appliances
  • inspect all running gear
  • remove oil tank from tender
  • install stoker and screw

Also on tap for 2017 is getting the oil tank removed from the 2100’s tender. Once that has been removed, we can also have crews work on getting the tender ready to accept coal once again.

For the 2100, it is our ultimate goal to have her in steam by mid to late summer. While this is an ambitious goal, much rides on our ability to raise funds to keep moving forward with the project and the amount of work needed on the firebox.

Frisco 1352

ASR is currently planning a visit to the locomotive this spring to remediate the vegetation and give the locomotive a coat of protective paint to prevent deterioration.

Our ultimate goal is to have 2100 and 1352 in the same place. To accomplish that, we want to get 2100 back in service so that we can run her while we still have flue time and use some of the funds raised to move 1352.

Tool Car

We are also planning to do some work on our baggage car at the Nickel Plate museum. In 2017, we plan to be able to make repairs to the car that will prevent deterioration. We also want to replace some side sheeting that is currently rusted through. We’ve also contacted Pittsburgh Air Brake Co to inquire about airbrake upgrades to the car to make it movable over the general system, and the prognosis is looking good to be able to do so.

Train Trips

2017 will see us operate two private car trips out on the main line. The first trip, which is almost sold out, is the 2017 Steel City Limited. The train will run from Philly to Pittsburgh and return with a free day in Pittsburgh to take in the sights and local flavor. The second trip is The Laurentian, a 4 day trip from New York City to Montreal, Canada. Both trips will use the same equipment, the former Pennsylvania Railroad lounge car “Alexander Hamilton” and the former Santa Fe diner “Passiac River”. Tickets are limited to 36 people for each trip and details and booking can be found at www.LuxRailTravel.com/events . Funds from the trips will be used to accomplish our 2017 goals.

FAQs

Did the oil conversion do damage to the engine’s firebox in Washington state? – No. The firebox sustained no damage due to the use of oil as a fuel. While the rumor persists that there is, both our contractors and volunteers have determined that not to be true

Is there a million dollar lien on the locomotive? – No. There is currently no lien on the locomotive.

What is the condition of the firebox? – The firebox is generally in good shape, however ultrasound testing revealed a few areas worthy of further evaluation by our contractors. Any repairs will be made to return the firebox to the best standards possible. Safety of crews, the public, and the locomotive are a top priority.

Where will the 2100 run when it’s finished? – American Steam has spoken to several railroads where the locomotive could potentially run, but because we don’t have a firm timeline for her completion, we have not asked for a commitment from them. When we get closer to operation, we will have formal discussion with them about operation. We do, however, have interest from several operators.

When does the flue time expire for 2100? – The flue time will expire in summer of 2021, at which time 2100 will have to go down again for regular maintenance. When that’s done, however, she’ll be good to go for another 15 years or 1472 days, whichever comes first.

How soon will 1352 move to a new home? – Moving a steam locomotive and tender is an expensive proposition and currently, our funds are going to get 2100 running.

Did ASR buy 2 coaches in Delaware, OH? – No. The coach and business car were donated by the estate of the deceased owner. The cars are currently being sold to raise funds for the groups’ projects as neither car, while sound, is a candidate to be made Amtrak certified and be put to work making money for the group.

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