This year has been full of challenges and is one like no other we’ve experienced in a long time. For American Steam Railroad, it was one where you, the supporters, have shown through these difficult times. In the past 12 months, volunteers have given over 1,800 hours of their own free time to help with the restoration of Reading Company 4-8-4 2100, along with donors contributing in record numbers. With each passing work session, the locomotive is moving closer to steaming up. Here is a list of the highlighted work done this past year:
- The forging and machining of the 560 staybolts for the firebox have been completed. This was done over three months by ASR volunteers and employees at Bleil Machine Company in Mentor, Ohio. The staybolts have now had a quality control check, and we are scheduling a time with our contractors to weld them into the firebox. A big thank you to all of you who sponsored this process and raised $5,040, along with United Shortline Insurance Services, for contributing the final $1,000.
- This fall, we sold our former Frisco business car 1100 to Allied Rail Corp. of Ludlow, Kentucky. The car was donated to us several years ago by a private individual, and since it didn’t fit the business plan for ASR, we sought a buyer who would restore it to its former glory.
- In July, we visited the Reading Blue Mountain & Northern steam locomotive shop to inspect the progress on sister T-1, 2102. The RBM&N were gracious hosts to us and answered many questions we had about the 2102’s restoration. At the end of the visit, we were surprised to receive a brand-new fire door casting donated by RBM&N president Andy Muller.
- September saw our running gear contractor, Dan Pluta, returned to complete the measuring and inspecting of all the side and main rods and finishing the measurements of the wear and alignment of the driving boxes on 2100. His initial assessments were far better than what we were prepared for. His prognosis is that some machining and straightening of a few rods will be required, which will be minor work for an engine of this size.
- Much attention was given to the 2100’s tender this year. Areas where the oil bunker once sat have been cleaned up of metal brackets so that the stoker trough can be installed. The auger screw for the stoker trough has been renewed with worn fins rebuilt.
The water shut off valves to the engine were inspected with the engineer’s side having the valve rod straightened. An inspection of the water space inside the tender found the walls and baffles to be in good shape. An accumulation of sediment on the floor will be cleaned at a future date.
- Other work done on 2100 this year included removing the cab floor, so a new one can be fabricated to allow space for the stoker and grate shaker bars. The red and yellow reflective tape on the running board skirting was removed, along with the gooey adhesive backing. Finally, the steam distribution manifold on the stoker was removed from its housing for repairs.
- Starting in November and continuing into the new year, our volunteers have gridded off the boiler into eight-inch squares to begin an ultrasound survey. This is required since 2100 is due for another 1,472 inspection in July of 2021.
- Looking towards next year, $13,305 is currently needed to be raised to complete the firebox work. To see how that cost breaks down, please see our mid-July restoration update.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our project in the past year. Your support helps guarantee the success of Reading 2100’s return to steam, which will help tell the story of railroading’s golden age to another generation. We hope that everyone has a happy and healthy new year.