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Sunday, October 17. 2010
As I arrived on campus Saturday morning there was smoke over the prairie.
After over five years the Frisco 1630 has a fire in her belly! Throughout the day there were respectable groups of visitors gathered to watch and the melodious deep throated whistle sounded across the museum grounds.
To the tune of "Let it snow" - - -
The weather that day was delightful
The smoke from the stack was a sightful
Like looking again at a dream
Let it steam, let it steam, let it steam.
This was a major overhaul and rebuild to the locomotive. The Steam Department had a plan, stuck to it, and did a careful and safe job along the way, often enduring repeated criticism and calls for running. Those could not be justified since they often originated from 'spectators' who had no concept of the scope and magnitude of the work.
During the day, there were many adjustments and some glitches, but as I left the campus yesterday the cab was enveloped in a cloud of steam as the blowdown valve was being used. This was a stationary test, and is a milestone along the road to restoring steam operations at IRM. But it would be very preliminary to predict or plan when mainline running or operations might happen.
For one thing, the Halloween Train has been re-staged and relocated this year and there is nowhere for the engine to go, short of a few hundred feet of back and forth action. After the end of the month the Terror Train can be taken down and the west wye cleared, but by Novenber 1, the weather MAY dictate how long water can be left in the boiler.
CONGRATULATIONS ON A JOB WELL DONE BY THE STEAM DEPARTMENT!!
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FINALLY! hey maybe for happy holiday railway, you can have 1630 in front of east union or on the mainline ( just for photo op's)
Hear, Hear! Great news and can't wait to see 1630 running again! Many thanks for all the effort it took!
KUDOS! To the steam department. The wife is anxiously waiting to see some steam operations during the 2011 season. Another sign of what quality work, talents and dedication exists within the ranks of the IRM.
Good job guys, glad to hear sbout an awesome piece of history is almost ready for the next chapter
I'm so glad to see this engine is almost ready...while I can see it's hard work to get these old trains back up and running, its ashame that the museum doesn't focus more on the dozen or so rusting away. While the trollies/IU's and diesel's are nice, the true fact is that people can see these in one way shape or for anywere...the Steam trains are truely unique...if they can't be totally rebuilt at least clean up and shelter the ones in bad shape...this was money and time well spent congrates on the big day
The museum and it's members can only work so fast, and spend so much money since the museum thrives off of memberships, donations, gate receipts and diner income. I am proud to be an active member of the IRM, and I think that we have an awesome crew. If we could wave a magic wand, we would love to have every piece of equipment on the property operational and restored.
Glad to see the 1630 up and running. I missed it!!! I know you would like to work at repairing all the steam even if it is for cosmetic appearance. Two questions... Have you worked at getting the historical societies invovled? Based upon the collection what would you think should be the next focus? My take is that you have a Rock Island 4-6-2 which I think should be the next focus. Here's why...I think the IRM has a deficit of Rock Island equipment, which is sad becuase the Rock ran in the Chicago area. But the other point is that I believe it is the only one of two steam engines from the Rock Island which exist. Maybe it can become a campaign with the Rock Island hisotrical society.
I have personally suggested and contacted some of the Historical Societies for assistance, monetary or volunteer labor, to help along such an idea. The reality is that those organizations face many of the same challenges, financially and organizationally, that IRM does. While many have much broader public exposure and recognition, none have a wheelbarrow full of money to donate or spread around, and many face a static or dwindling membership level. Some have been quite supportive to our preservation goals, including MRHA and GNRHS. They also deserve fan support and our heartfelt thanks. Bob Kutella
Putting the steam collection in good viewing shape would be nice. The problem is that there is no money to do it. Known tasks would kill the budget for years. There is no cash available for cosmetic restoration. All of the gate receipts go into opening and operating the museum for the public.
I totally agree with you Mark. I have been waiting two for over 5 years and its been a long time scince I heard the loveable steam whistle at the museum instead of the useal diesel horn or Trolly bell and I keep asking myself. WHERE ARE THE STEAM LOCOMOTIVE SOUNDS? Well I hope this year in 2011, steam will return with the 1630, and I hope with UP 2-8-0 #428. :D :( :)
Mr. Gustafson, The IRM originally began as a TROLLEY MUSEUM and later on decided they should include diesel and steam. The IRM is always open to new members and VOLUNTEERS. Matt, the more people and manpower that the steam department has, and the more money they have the faster you will see the Shay and UP 428 on the road. Rather than just demanding that the steam department get the locomotives of your choice up and running, you are more than welcome to come out to the museum, get dirty and greasy, and twist a wrench or two to help get the task done. The IRM greatly appreciate the patronage of its visitors, but also needs lots and lots of money and manpower to make it all happen. We are not like a model railroad layout, where you just put the equipment on the tracks, turn on the transformer and it runs. We are the real deal with vintage and historical equipment that needs lots of "TLC" and maintenance to keep it running. There are too many "handle-polishers" in this world and not enough wrench turners.
We have the same problem at the Colorado Railroad Museum where I work. Too many people, most of who are online, telling us what to do, what to fix, and what to run. D&RGW 318 for example, after sitting in pieces since 1981, is finally being cosmetically restored. When we started this massive project, we instantly caught flak from people telling us that we should restore the engine to operation. Its simply not possible, or feasible to do that. We have 1 operational steam locomotive, plus Rio Grande Southern 20 in the process of restoration for Operation, plus 3 working steam locomotives and 2 diesels from the Georgetown Loop operation that are on a more or less permanent loan to us that we can use whenever we need. With 3 steam engines on property that run in a days notice, 1 more that with a few months of work can run, and another a few years from operation, what the heck is the point of adding 1 more. We only have a 3/4 mile loop of track at the CRRM. We only put 21 days on 346 last year, even less on 40, and even less on Shay 12. Once 20 gets back, and once Shay 14 is fixed, thats 5 engines. we don't need 6, 5 is already too many. Plus 318 realistically needs a new boiler, which is far beyond our means right now, if someone wants to write a big check, sure, we can do that, but until then, were going to make it look pretty
As a member of one of the few museums outside of IRM that can run steam, diesel and electric at the same time (Orange Empire), I look forward to seeing the Frisco engine running again. And if anyone complains about how long it takes, I'm sure there's a "steam locomotive fund" that they can contribute to.
I am not sure what you mean by the "other 3". The decapod has been out for steam trials, and the only remaining space available was occupied, and still is, by UP 428 and the shay No. 5. Undoubtedly the decapod will be going back inside for the winter, to continue to have adjustments and finishing touches done. That has to be their number one priority. I am also sure work will continue on the other two projects depending on volunteer resources and funding. Bob Kutella
i just got a thought, if operating by early 2011, you & 1630 or 428 must participate in train festival 2011 in rock island IL. (zephyr too?) its a big event so consider it.
A lot of problems with the idea. First, I do not see any way the 428 will be ready next year. Too much work to do on the 1630 and the Shay, which is next in line, and if any operating days do materialize, the shop crew runs the locomotive, so less work on the next projects. Remember the 1630 was built for Russia at 5 foot gauge. To resell those in the US extra wide driver tires were applied to reach a narrower US standard gauge. The net effect is the outside of these tires hang over the railheads. That severely limits its movement ANYWHERE that self guarding frogs are used, along with such things as point guards. When moved to IRM decades ago there was a restricted movement notice with it but crews were not always vigilant and some specialwork in the Kansas City area was damaged or destroyed. But the really big issue is money - money for insurance. There are few mailine excursions being run anymore partly because the host railroads require a massive liability insurance policy. This can only be borne by ticket sales, often adding $100 to the cost of EACH ticket. I suppose this could be considered, if someone could come up with a sponsor willing to foot over $100,000 in costs, and the waivers, logistics, and routings could be worked out. As to the Zephyr I doubt any railroad will accept that for movement in the future. When the body repairs were done there was fundraising to also do the mandated 40 year rebuild of the trucks. Those efforts did not get the support of the members and the public, so that truck work was not completed.
Hi, I am curious to know what work was done to Frisco 1630 over the last five years. I understand the rear wheels had new tires put on and that the tender has had some work. Is it possible someone could briefly summarize what was done to overhaul Frisco 1630 and what remains to be done before she can operate again? Also, I am curious to know what remains to be done on the Shay and the UP 428. Again, if someone could briefly summarize the progress of those two engines and what remains to be accomplished with their overhauls, that would be great! The Steam Department has done a great job with all their hard work; I hope that 2011 will finally see steam return to IRM! Thanks! P.S. 1630's rear wheels, I have heard, were sent to Chattanooga, TN for new tires. I assume that is the huge shop at the Tennessee Valley Railway Museum, which I have been to twice back in 1998 (one of those times I did ride on Southern Railway #4501). Correct me if I'm wrong on this.
Curiosity prompts me to ask, what are the plans for the CB&Q 3007? Last year, one of the steam team members mentioned that she would be a decent candidate for restoration to operation, since she had operated only about 15,000 miles after a major overhaul before she was retired. Being a former passenger locomotive built for a U.S. road, she would not face the same restrictions for operation outside the museum as the 1630, and could concievably become the same type of regional ambassador for IRM as UP's 844 and Challenger or the 261 in excursion service. Can anybody tell us if 3007 is headed for the steam shop after 1630's work is done?
Again, I am not speaking for the Steam Department, but let's look at the reality of the situation. For an operating restoration of the 3007, you are probably looking at half a million dollars and up. The engine is not really suited (big, heavy, fast) for our railroad. If you are thinking a traveling excursion engine, we are in no way set up or have the experience to fund such events, supply the needed cars and equipment, insurance, and so on. As far as our shop and resources there are already two other active projects underway besides the 1630, and which have had years invested in them. With steam operations, the conventional wisdom is that you need three locomotives. One actually in service, one ready to step in at short notice for the inevitable unexpected breakdown, and one actively being repaired in the shop - to take its place in the rotation. Bob Kutella
I guess I got my hopes up for 3007 when it was featured on the 2010 IRM calendar and then left on display in front of Barn 9 this season, tantalizingly close to the Steam Shop. So, following the logic of 1 operating/1 standby/1 undergoing repair for standby service, do you know which locomotive would be slated for some shop time after 1630 is operational, or will 1630, 428 and the Shay be the full rotation? I have also read somewhere that 1630 will need a mandated boiler service sometime in 2011. Is that a full retubing, or something different? Thank you for answering so many questions and comments this year!
I think the tube time on the 1630 is expiring and I understand they have applied for an extension, considering the down time for recent repairs. Yes, the other projects in the shop are the 5 and the 428, and the reality of available resources MIGHT limit it to the above three engines. I would be delighted if we had three engines capable of steaming at any time, so lets get those ready before we start thinking farther into the future. The 3007 is indeed a dream in my opinion as would be restoration of many of our larger locomotives in the collection. I doubt it would even be an effective effort to work on 3007 in our vest pocket shop space, although those boiler rats have attempted and ACCOMPLISHED many things in there. There are other locos in the cue that have had significant starts made on them including the 101, 26, and our little 0-4-0T. If a shop spot opens up, I would not be surprised to see one of those projects reactivated. And of course I am not the ORACLE OF THE STEAM DEPARTMENT, just continuing the discussion. Bob Kutella
What do ya mean by boiler rats? What does it mean in other words?
The term 'boiler rats' is somewhat a term of endearment since activity around a locomotive often looks like rats swarming, with a lot of activity and movement. We had one guy who liked to be known as the PIT RAT, and had that painted on his tool chest. His habitat of choice was in the pit, working under a car on its mechanical mysteries. Bob Kutella
People have to realize how much money and volunteer work time it takes to restore these steam locomotives. I personally would love to see Alco Milwaukee Road #265 run someday. This locomotive however is made to run at high speed, and is much to large to be practical running on our small demonstration line, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of dollars it would cost to get it into running condition. I haven't even mentioned the cost of the water, coal and lubricants to run such a large locomotive. In my opinion the 1630 and the Shay are just the right size for our operations.
Money and publicity? When I got my notice for renewal this year I added a donation to the steam department in the Pick-a-project. I just received my December Rail and Wire all 24 pages were dedicated to electric trolley cars. There was no mention of STEAM. Also the flyer included with it had absolutely no mention of the steam department in their 'pick-a-project donations. It appears to me that IRM has no interest in Steam, judging by their magazine and flyer for donations...
Sorry you may have been disappointed in the lack of a steam article in the most recent R&W. But it was not ALL electric trolley. There were articles from Buildings and Grounds, the Track guys, Strahorn Library, Passenger Coach Department, the Bus Department, and Operations. And on the Pick a Project page, toward the bottom, there is always a section for each department to receive your donation. By way of explanation, I think the Editors do a good job of covering the Museum in R&W and I know they try to achieve a balance of subject matter. But understand they do not 'manufacture' the content, have no staff, and are totally dependent upon material that is submitted to them. So if the Steam Department chooses not to write anything up or submit photos, that is their choice. But there is no shortage of interest at IRM (of steam) and no lack of activity by those hard working fellows. I am pretty confident they will meet their goal and have steam at IRM in 2011. And THANK YOU for your donation and support of STEAM! Bob Kutella
On your most recent Pick-A-Project Donations page at the bottom there are 12 departments listed.. everything but STEAM... that it what I'm upset about. The steam department won't get any money if there is no listing for it.... I belong to several railroad organizations and they have no problem getting donations when they ask for it. IRM being the largest museum seems to be channeling their funding toward electrics, with steam being the last thing on their mindsets.....
I cannot argue with your perception of news at IRM, but there is no diminishing of effort or interest with our steam program. Any project which needs money relies on dedicated volunteers, and their efforts to publicize the work, and 'beg' for donations. That can take a lot of time and effort, time taken away from the actual work on the campus. Also you must understand that the "MUSEUM" does not have the funds to support much if any of the restoration work. They are not channeling funds to favor one department or another. It is the donations of members and friends that support restoration activity. Bob Kutella
There is a space alloted where you can specify any department not listed. You can make your donation in that area. On my renewal, they don't list any of the specific departments. I entered the my department of choice in the approprated space. ALL donations to ANY department are always welcome.
It might be just my perception, but it seems that the Steam Department has chosen to separate itself somewaht from the rest of IRM. Look for yourself, all 3 updates on the Steam Department blog were posted by Bob Kutella. I had to Google search to find any information from the Steam Department itself, they haven't even posted a link to the Steam Department's separate website on the IRM site. I think it would be better (and perhaps garner more donations) if the Steam Department would do a bit more self-promotion in both the Rail & Wire and their IRM.org blog.
The Illinois Railway Museum is exactly that, a RAILWAY museum. We are NOT just a train, diesel, steam, trolley or trolley coach museum. The articles that are featured are ones submitted by the members. If nothing is submitted by the steam department, then nothing can be featured. I am sure that the steam department will contribute when there is something worthwhile to report, and not just fluff.
Let's face it the Steam Department is seriously outnumbered by the 'Electric' trolley people. IRM being the largest Railroad Museum in the country, cannot afford the cost of rebuilding or running a steam locomotive? Yet smaller museums seem to have no problems; Steam Railroading Institute is rebuilding 1225 and planning on running it again. Note the link I’ve enclosed from them regarding fundraising: http://www.crowdrise.com/club1225/fundraiser/project1225 They are a smaller museum; however they don’t spend a lot of their time on electric trolleys (if they have any) maybe someone should check in with them on the costs of running a (large) steam locomotive. Or check out Fort Wayne RR Historical Society and their engine 765. Both of these are much larger than Frisco 1630.
Otto, Being the largest such Museum in the country can work against us in many ways. First, the 'traction faction' and the 'steam team' are not competing with each other in any way for available funding. Almost 100% of restoration work requires new funding and donations, and any project relies on that funding. We all revel in our magnificent collection, the wide stable of operating equipment we see every summer, the miles of well maintained track and right of way, the splendid site, buildings, and displays. But that infrastructure takes by far the most of any revenues we glean each year that are not restricted for a single purpose. If we were a much smaller Museum with only one project, then the resources of money and volunteer work could be focused on doing that ONE JOB. We must easily have 20 major such projects moving ahead and maybe another 40 that regularly see infusion of time and money. Would you have our by laws revised to allow only ONE such "Museum Project" to the exclusion of operating and maintaining any equipment and keeping the property open for visitors to enjoy, of working on other of our equipment so in need of preservation? Bob Kutella
Bob, Very well put. Not many if any museums have as many big project going at the same time as we do. I would like to inform Otto of the fact that people choose which department to work in, and to be a part of. I would like to see other museums that have grown and made as much progress as the IRM. The IRM did not grow to become America's largest by sitting on our you know whats. I think that Otto should also know that the museum originally began as a trolley museum and later elected to include steam and diesel in the collection.
What is the traction faction? Just out of curiosity.
The 'traction faction' is just an endearing term for the group of guys that largely work and support our collection of trolleys and their operation. 'Steam team' is similar for our boilermakers. It is not meant to be a term of derision, and I added that lovingly since many of the recent comments seemed to have the perception that those guys get the money and steer the decision making, when in fact virtually all restoration projects have equal footing and are supported by new donations. Each of the five or six equipment departments has some sort of moniker in house and on the campus. Bob Kutella
If ever there were a dream project for steam, I'd like to see the Rock Island steamer run again, mainly since it is the last of its kind.
David, A lot of things are the last of their kind. Some steam locomotives are practical for our type of service and demonstration line, some aren't. Do you realize that ONE DAY of steam service at the IRM can cost in excess of $1,000? Can you imagine what it would cost to run one of the BIG steam locomotives?
I think I can! but then again, its worth the effort.
What's the comparable cost for operating one of the E8's or a traction set for a day?
I am not the guy to give both sides of this answer. But Max Tyms has done a lengthy study of the direct energy costs of operating traction equipment. The results vary widely depending on whether it is is a lightweight single car (perhaps as little as 100 HP total) to a multiple car North Shore train with over 1000 HP under the floors. And of course, varies with the number of trips on a given day. So, no simple answer and far too lengthy to repost here. The internal combustion guys may have an answer for fuel consumption costs but that too would vary with the locomotive and usage pattern. These numbers would be for direct costs only, and not consider the other variable costs connected with running ANY piece of full size equipment. Taken out of context, almost any conclusion could be claimed or justified. Bob Kutella
As an active member for many years, I can tell you that whatever your preference is, just to get it to "ready to run" status is no easy feat. My experience with getting the Zephyr to where it is today was a lot of long days, with some long nights mixed in. Remember, it did not come to us turnkey ready. Plus it has five linked cars AND the E-5. It is all or none! Again, money talks. We can labor as hard as we want, but it takes money to bring anything to reality. Merry Christmas,Bob.
Bob, I am sure that even the most power consuming piece of electrical equipment doesn't cost as much to run as one steam locomotive for one day of operation. A steam locomotive requires a person to arrive early to fire up the locomotive, wait for it to come up to steam pressure, lubricate all of the bearings, rods etc. One then has to remain around while the locomotive cools off to a safe temperature where it is safe to leave it alone. A piece of electrical traction equipment, although bearings need to be maintained lubrication-wise, all one needs to do is inspect the piece, put the pole up and off you go. Keep in mind that an "L" car for instance is only using power during it's 45 min round trip, and no power at all when it is sitting idle. A steam engine is constantly burning fuel, as is a diesel, but a diesel will run for hours on a couple of gallons of fuel, as the motors are "dieseling" which basically means that once the power generating diesel motor is started is basically keeps itself running. As far a piece of diesel equipment, the cost is also just the fuel, which for one day is not very much, and the cost of keeping everything lubricated. Steam operation is a lot more expensive than electrical or diesel. I think that Eric wants steam running come hell or high water, regardless of the cost. I would leave the cost factor up to our museum experts and not the fans.
Wally, it is not just Eric that wants steam running at IRM... I have volunteered on Thomas weekends for the last few years, and that is by far the #1 question asked by our visitors: "Do you have a steam engine running today?" This year, I tried to encourage them to join the tour of the steam shop, hopefully to see the scope of the work done by the Steam Team as well as the need for donations. I hope 1630 is back in service in 2011, and that IRM trumpets that news to the media as well.
Bob, I also wanted to mention; That 100hp piece of traction equipment, rarely if ever would come close to using that 100HP. It would more likely use 10 - 20 hp of that when it is not accelerating.
Mike, I personally saw 1630 steamed up this late part of the 2010 season. Locomotive 1630 needed to be torn down and redone. Patience and perseverance has paid off. I was told that 1630 will be in service for 2011. The point is still that steam costs a lot more to operate than diesel or electric. Steam is a drawing point, but not an economical piece of equipment to operate.
Mike, The IRM also would like to operate steam. There are a lot of pieces that the museum would love to operate. The equipment of the IRM are antiques which need lots of TLC and need to be broken down ever now and then and be rebuilt. Lots of hard work and sweat goes into keeping the equipment running.
I saw firsthand the obstacles facing the steam team. For example, acquiring/rehabbing/installing the drop table before they could even start the bearing work on 1630, or finding/rehabbing/installing/learning how to operate a machine capable of bending 3/4 inch sheet steel before they could think of repairing the front tube sheet of the Shay's boiler. My point was merely that there are a lot of guests interested in seeing a steam locomotive in operation who would rather not travel out of state to do so, and hopefully we publicize the return of 1630 so that the revenue from the additional visitors (and prospective members) will help defray the cost of operations.
Mike, We are all as anxious as you are to see 1630 on the mainline. The any additional revenue generated most likely will be eaten up by the additional cost of operating steam vs diesel or electric. The work you described being done on 1630 is par for the course museum wide. We are always learning.
you mentioned 1630s boiler tubes are to expire 2011. but due to sitting in the shop since 2004, will it's service span be extended because of it? if so, you guys might have to make some ahead of time.
I believe the Steam Shop is asking for a waiver or extension of tube time from FRA, but if granted it likely will not be the full period of inactivity. As for tubes, the new tubes would have to be purchased and then swaged on one end, and cut to length, etc. There are two other locomotives being worked on and hopefully one of them will be ready to enter service by that time. Bob Kutella
On the irm steam site, they said about 428's 2nd & 3rd wheel sets being removed on youtube. but i cant find it so can you please post a link?
The site you refer to is NOT connected to our official website so you should look for a way to pose your question to that site. But there might be some confusion since only the number five driver on the 1630 decapod was removed, work done, and reinstalled. Bob Kutella
Raphael, Try: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6EsFs-dLZQ Daryl Meyer
Oh my gosh! I really can't believe some of the comments on this site! I for one am HUGELY appreciative of the work done by the volunteers of the steam crew as well as all the others....including building and grounds and the rest of the less glamorous jobs that are all essential to keep the place running. I am a steam guy! I love the idea of seeing some of the really BIG engines running. Imagine if they were able to get the articulated up! But frankly I have to defer to the experts...those being the guys who do the work....to decide what is feasible and rational and sensible. I have strong feeling about volunteer organizations...be it Scouts, or Church, or...anything. Unless you are prepared to put up your own time, effort, and money, you really have no right whatsoever to complain. And to go further and level accusations about bias???? It really is more than I can fathom. You should be ashamed. I am not associated with the museum in any way. I am only a very occasional visitor. But I know what it takes to run an organization. And the fact that these guys do what they do is simply amazing. My hats off, and many thanks to all of you.
To all the complainers. I have been coming to the museum for over 30 years. First as a child with my father now as a father. I fondly remember cab rides in both the 1630 and the shay, and even getting to shovel coal in the 1630(thats right a 10 year old shoveling coal). Those days are long gone but still a great memory. I was not sure that my son would see an operational steam locomotive. That will happen and I am gratefull for the men and women that have made that possible
Thanks for your faith in us. I am a member of the steam team, and I can tell you that we have generally been putting everyone on 1630. As you may be aware, the tube time expired. We have removed most of the tubes in the boiler (involves cutting the tube from the tube sheets at both ends of the boiler and removing them), and have removed most of the shrouding and insulation from the boiler both outside and in the cab. Once the boiler is completely free of attachments, an ultrasound study will need to be run to be sure there are no areas where the metal has thinned out due to corrosion or other causes. Following a complete inspection (assuming no unknown problems are found), we can start putting the insulation and shrouding back on, re-tubing the boiler, etc. We are trying to get 1630 operational and in full compliance as soon as possible. "When will steam be running" is the number one question we are asked at the steam shop, and we are doing our best to get 1630 back in operation as soon as we can.
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