W.W.&F. Discussion Forum

The Maine Narrow Gauges (Historic & Preserved) => Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad => Topic started by: Glenn Byron on May 16, 2011, 10:03:47 PM

Title: Monson #3, SR&RL Railway Update
Post by: Glenn Byron on May 16, 2011, 10:03:47 PM
This weekend the Maine Region, Antique Automobile Club of America was enjoying our annual Mud Run Tour with old autos and one of the stops was The Boothbay Railway Museum.  On our way south from Augusta, we were roaming back roads and passed right by Cross Road on Rt. 218. The WW&F Museum has never been one of our tour stops and a couple of us are members of the Museum.  We need to put this location on an agenda.  While at Boothbay in the antique car museum, I was talking with Bob Ryan, the Director, and mentioned an interest in the SR&RL Monson #3 project.  He opened the Machine Shop for a private peek at this massive rebuilding project.  We had a long discussion about Federal Regulations and what the SR&RL Railway Museum is faced with in this situation.  Most of our tour participants had no idea of the behind scene work that goes into the rebirth of a locomotive and the regulations that must be met. There Monson #3 sits scattered in a multitude of pieces, needing all the love and resources a devoted group from Northern Franklin County can provide, as well as all the expertise the Boothbay group can muster. I'm going to ask our membership to kick in and help. If you haven't read this story for a while, go over to the SR&RL site and see what they are up against.  Most of us have faced a challenge like this, finding all sorts of unknowns once the whole problem is exposed as well as new rules to be met.  It all costs BIG $$$. Monson #3 is on the mend, but it sure needs more friends. Thanks, Bob Ryan for the peek.
Title: Re: Monson #3, SR&RL Railway Update
Post by: Glenn Byron on May 19, 2011, 11:14:51 AM
I just now went over to the Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes Railroad Museum site.  It is a little difficult to find the information I mentioned above.  Folks, this is a desperate situation, needing attention by all of us who love steam, and restoring things from the past.  Don't just sit back and think someone else will do it.  Go read this, all of it, way to the bottom.  Every addition down the line tells more of the story.
Title: Re: Monson #3, SR&RL Railway Update
Post by: Richard "Steam" Symmes on May 22, 2011, 08:24:20 PM
At the risk of sounding unsympathetic, I would have to question just how deep into this thing the SR&RL folks are getting themselves.  This seems to be a classic "tar baby" (sorry PC folk!) with no end in sight.  It seems a lot like the Boston & Maine 3713 and/or Flying Yankee restorations....where the work goes on and on and on, along with pleas for more and more and more money, without ever seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

As my "steam" ID suggests, I'm all for getting steam running and have donated many dollars in the past to various restoration projects. I'm getting leary though of these "black hole" projects which seem to have been ill-conceived with respect to how much they were going to cost in real terms, not pie in the sky.  At $47,000+ I think the folks at Phillips are already in way over their heads.  Many of us could elect to dump in hundreds and thousands more, but will that even be enough?  Who knows?

I think a thorough re-evaluation ought to be done by a competent independent source before another dime is committed to this project.  I'm absolutely sure that everyone connected with this is well meaning, but at the same time I think an objective, non-partisan viewpoint needs to be sought and a breathing spell taken before plunging deeper into this.

Title: Re: Monson #3, SR&RL Railway Update
Post by: John McNamara on May 22, 2011, 10:27:14 PM
Hundred-year-old steam locomotives have led a tough life exposed to the elements, subject to thermal stress, subject to mechanical stress, and filled with fluids and fuel that are inherently corrosive. Therefore, restoration efforts and ongoing maintenance are always filled with unfortunate discoveries. On the other hand, there's nothing like a real live steam locomotive to provide a magic carpet to the past and fulfill a museum's mission. While I am very fond of our diesel, and consider it to be an invaluable aid to our operation, diesel-powered trips are very lame compared to steam-powered trips. Steam engines attract more riders (and thus more money) and attract more volunteers (and thus more manpower). Whether having a real live steam locomotive instead of an imitation one would benefit the Sandy River in dollars and volunteer hours sufficient to compensate for the expense of operating one (and diverting funds from other needs) is certainly the question (but I've sent an additional contribution).
Title: Re: Monson #3, SR&RL Railway Update
Post by: Richard "Steam" Symmes on May 22, 2011, 11:09:10 PM
John, I have no quibble with anything you said, but how much is enough, or too much to have to spend for a questionable benefit?  Phillips is so far "off the beaten path" that real steam or imitation probably isn't going to make much difference in the overall draw to the place by the "public".

I point to the MEC 501 "restoration" project at North Conway as another debacle.  All those years, decades even, spent raising money in dribs and drabs, and no real plan. Failure was almost an assured outcome. People have been dead for years who gave money to that and other projects and they will never see them completed. Many more will follow.  Good intentions are not enough. 

I'm not trying to discourage anyone from giving money, volunteering their labor, or anything else to forward the cause of restoration of steam or any other part of railroad history. All I'm trying to point out is that many of these "projects" are long on enthusiasm and short on a real plan, both in what is going to be required, and how to finance it. And someone competent must monitor it every step of the way.

Title: Re: Monson #3, SR&RL Railway Update
Post by: Steve Klare on May 22, 2011, 11:53:27 PM
There is another factor at play here: this one is more than a little special.

It's one of the five remaining original Maine two foot gauge locomotives left in existence, and giving up on keeping it in operating condition would be a loss.

It's not  a rational argument, but then reactivating dead narrow gauge steam railroads is a labor of love and you can't rationalise that.
Title: Re: Monson #3, SR&RL Railway Update
Post by: James Patten on May 23, 2011, 07:46:14 AM
Here's a little bit of background info on what the SR&RL folks are going through with #3, as well as MNGRR folks are dealing with on #7 and #4.

Way back when, Edaville had new boilers built for all their steam locomotives.  I've heard various stories about what boilers were built when, but I think the boilers for 3, 4, and 5 (our #10) were built at the same time by the same people.  This would have been late 50s or early 60s.  When the boiler builders put in the stay bolts to connect firebox to boilershell, the welders took a shortcut and didn't do their work correctly, leaving gaps in the weld where there should have been solid metal.  Over the years, daily use put stress on these boilers.

A few years ago, Boothbay Railway Village got a contract to work on #3's boiler - retubing, originally, but I think a few other repairs as well.  One of BRV's shop crew is our own master mechanic, Jason.  Jason, and another BRV crew person, Brian, co-own their own business, Maine Locomotive & Machine, which is working on MNG's #7 boiler.

When dismantling #7's firebox, Jason & Brian encountered some strange things with the stay bolts, but it didn't trigger anything in their heads until they encountered the same issues with #3's boiler.  Jason, before he had cut anything on one particular stay bolt, was able to snap the bolt off in his hand.  This is bad.  They called in an ultrasound company, who studied the bolts and discovered bad wasting all over the place.  They had MNG's #4 boiler ultrasounded, and found the same thing.  Immediately #4's boiler was condemned.  We brought the company up here to look at #10's boiler.  Evidence of similar wasting in progress was found, but it was within tolerance.  If you look at the service histories of these engines, the reason why is obvious: #10 (#5 at Edaville) was operated for only 10 years, at Pleasure Island, and then stored (except for brief usage to generate electricity for Christmases).  One of #3 and #4 were used daily for 30+ years, with the other on standby, during the normal season, and both used hard during Christmas season.

So SR&RL was expecting a simple fix, but unexpectedly found themselves in a much deeper hole than they anticipated.  The whole point of this story is that you really can't blame them.  The good news is, once the firebox is back in from what I've heard the boiler will be good to go for retubing.
Title: Re: Monson #3, SR&RL Railway Update
Post by: Ed Lecuyer on May 23, 2011, 09:57:34 AM

Before we get into too deep of an argument about what other organizations choose to do (or did) with their equipment, I would like to remind everyone that such speculation is not welcome in this discussion forum. For those interested in such topics, there are a goatload of railroad.net sites that I will be happy to give you trainorders to.

While I'm going to let what has been posted already stand (as it basically consists of information that has already been shared elsewhere), I don't think any further discussion of the mechanical condition of (MNG) 3, 4, 7, 8, (WW&F) 10, (MEC) 501, etc. is necessary unless the owning/leasing organizations care to comment.

That having been said, I think the original intent of this thread is to drum up a bit of encouragement for the folks at SR&RL, just as they have encouraged us with our #9 restoration. We all benefit when there is good synergy between the various 2-foot preservation groups.

There is also a broader question, which is when is it best to operate, or to set a historic piece of equipment aside. Operation, by its very nature, destroys the equipment. What are we preserving: equipment, or the maintenance/operation of said equipment?
Title: Re: Monson #3, SR&RL Railway Update
Post by: Steve Klare on May 23, 2011, 11:58:04 AM

John Bull had been sitting in the Smithsonian since 1939, but they learned a great deal more about her when they temporarily restored her to operation. For example they never knew that the wheels on her front axle were capable of rotating independently from each other until they ran her.

I think if it's at all possible there should be operating museums for  things like shipping under sail, or operating a water powered sawmill or a steam powered railroad, because the best way of learning about something is by doing it.

When I was in college, I hung out with some history majors who were big into the History of Technology. (I was only a minor, but did my final research paper on the history of Diesel locomotion.) If I was one of them and I was interested in  researching short line railroading in the early 20th century, I'd do a summer volunteering at a place like WW&F and get to the point where I actually knew what I was talking about rather than just reading out of books.

It's true that all these old machines will have to get to the point where everything is too old and fatigued to be made operable again. What is encouraging there is that technology still exists to build historically accurate replicas so operation can continue even after the Five have gone on to static display. (The technology exists from restoring the old ones, and otherwise might be gone.)

So in the end they will be on display one way or another, in the years in between they get to do what they are famous for and we get to witness it happening.    
Title: Re: Monson #3, SR&RL Railway Update
Post by: Glenn Byron on May 23, 2011, 05:59:57 PM
Thank you Ed Lecuyer, my intentions were pure.  To second John McNamara's comment about the thrill of steam operation and its effect on patronage, I think back to our March visit to The Tennessee Valley Railway Museum in Chattanooga, TN. which was in The Discussion Forum at that time.  When that big diesel electric came into sight to pick us up for the ride we paid for, my heart sunk.  Had I known the big steam locomotive in the brochure picture, #610, had been decertified and removed from service, we wouldn't have even been there.  Now, I'm sure glad we went and the education was well worth the effort.  I just reviewed their website and they are back under steam with the beautiful freshly restored #630.  But as was discussed right here, #630 would never have turned her own wheels again without Norfolk Southern's deep pockets in the frey.  Up here in the far Northeast Corner a benefactor like Norfolk Southern is pretty scarce.  Keep the faith.
Title: Re: Monson #3, SR&RL Railway Update
Post by: Mike Fox on May 23, 2011, 07:53:32 PM
Quite honestly, any restoration in part or even whole is part of history itself. And some people enjoy restoring. I just enjoy tinkering.
Title: Re: Monson #3, SR&RL Railway Update
Post by: Stephen Hussar on May 24, 2011, 11:11:29 PM
We've all heard the "can of worms" analogy...every one of these restorations is that can of worms. Same is true of an old house, automobile, or steam locomotive. And no matter how many restorations you've got under your belt, and no matter how careful an assessment is made at the outset, once you take it apart you simply begin finding more and more things that need attention. Period.

Title: Re: Monson #3, SR&RL Railway Update
Post by: John Kokas on May 25, 2011, 12:42:26 PM
Well said Stephen,  I would add as per my previous postings that we should take a serious look at what and how we run equipment.  "Historic" a.k.a. one-of-a-kind types should be kept in the museum and protected.  If you want them operational, do it only on special occasions.  But for everyday operations, replica or class-cousins of the original should be made and used.  We thereby lower operating costs and also avoid the chance of tragedy happening and the loss of something that cannot ever be replaced.

This would apply to Engine #9, our W&Q pax car, and a couple of other pieces that I can't remember now (old age).  Anyway, these pieces should be protected and undercover always.  Run occasionally, but not everyday.  Let's build some pax cars based upon #3, look like #3, but with modern appliances and construction where possible as well as Engine #11 (replica).  Use them everyday, if we lose one, no big deal.
Title: Re: Monson #3, SR&RL Railway Update
Post by: Richard "Steam" Symmes on May 25, 2011, 03:31:53 PM
This may be stretching it a bit, but I've heard that there's only a couple of hundred pounds of original metal in the famous Civil War locomotive "General".  It has been rebuilt so many times over the decades that it barely even resembles its as-built appearance.

In the 1960s it was made operational and toured the country under its own power for a couple of years.  There's a great picture of it steaming over New York's Hell Gate Bridge with a much later vintage "Jim Crow" combine in tow!

Now it's "put up" for good, but what has really been preserved?  Its old rival, the "Texas" I believe is still on display someplace in Atlanta or vicinity.  I don't believe it was ever made operational again.

Many vintage aircraft are made to fly again. Some are extremely rare and in my opinion should not be flown due to the chance of destroying them. Others exist still in the dozens. Obviously there's nothing like experiencing a machine in operation vs standing cold and dead in a museum. But all the consequences must be taken into account with each example. What are the odds, and what is the best choice for preservation?  Replicas may indeed be the way to go. The "new" German ME-262 jet fighter is a great example of the latter.