Engine 557 Restoration Company
Progress Report April 2017


The first two weeks of April chased all the snow around the 557 engine house into a bad memory. Daytime temps reached 50° and there was no freezing over night with a slight breeze creating a perfect breakup as we call it. This allowed crews to open up the sandblast tent, introduce new media and resume cleaning parts and pieces.

In the process all old cast flashing and goober welds are cleaned up. Bent parts are compared to drawings and adjusted before the bare metal receives a coat of Cloverdale gray 2 part primer. This will protect all that work until the final finishing coats of Armour Shield black are applied. Many sub assemblies are completed to this point ready for the day they are installed on 557.

Qualified welders are in demand to secure the flexible staybolt sleeves in the firebox exterior. Some days we are fortunate and have two welders moving the job toward completion. Terry Douglas and Tom Walker are using the air motor to drive a staybolt reamer and tap for a standard staybolt adjacent to the Flexible sleeves.

There is a new fund raising challenge for fans of 557. The March report introduce the work being done to install stay bolts in the new firebox. Stays vary in size and design depending on their location but we have simplified the description as Standard Stays and Flexible Stays. You can sponsor a Standard Stay for $98.00 and a Flexible Stay for $245.00.

Mr. Robert Reynolds, of Sacramento, California, is a long time financial sponsor of Engine 557. He recently followed up with another $1000.00 donation which sponsored the first 10 Standard Staybolts at $98.00 each. That was a grand kick off for the 557 Staybolt challenge.

Mr.Tim Benintendi, Vietnam Veteran Correspondent for La Société des 40 / 8, Voiture Locale #1098 , at the urging of Mr. Fred Sharper, contributed an additional $1000.00 bringing their total contributions for our veteran 557 to a total of $2,500. That covered the first four Flexible Staybolts. The 40 & 8 is a national organization made up of legionnaire over-achievers so chosen by their comrades and presented for membership to the local 40 & 8 chapter. The 40 & 8 is a national community service organization made up of veterans of the US armed forces. The name, 40 & 8, comes from the narrow track French railroad box cars used during World War I, which would hold either 40 fully equipped men or 8 horses. The colorful history of the organization can be found here.

American Legion Jack Henry Post 1 of Anchorage secured another four Flexible Staybolts with a donation of $1000. Again we thank Mr. Fred Sharper and all the members of American Legion Jack Henry Post 1.

Last October we conducted a 557 tour for Boy Scout Troop 300 of Wasilla, Alaska. I explained the most difficult component of any restoration is raising the money necessary to assure a professional result. Scoutmaster Jason Twing made our day, with a personal visit to deliver a generous donation from Troop 300 in the amount of $500.00. This validation of our efforts by the local community is like a warm hug for the volunteers and keeps us on the job. T300 will be credited in our list for sponsorship of five Standard Stay Bolts! Visit Troop 300 here.

Contributions come in many forms. Volunteer, Tom Walker proposed donating a low mileage 1984 Nissan 4x4 pick up. We advertised it for Tom who was able to complete the sale in three days. Tom then made a clean donation to Engine 557 Restoration Company of $1550.00 which was his original intent.

Validation also comes in many forms. Here is Resolution 17-017 from the City of Palmer in support of our plan to use the Palmer Airport Spur for our initial training and mechanical testing of engine 557. This will be the first step toward operations on the Matanuska Branch.

Driver sets were brought out of storage one at a time to have the bearing sizes verified and the back to back measurements confirmed. The machined surfaces are carefully preserved under grease, wood covers and tape.

Our furniture maker, David Lucas, purpose built a cabinet for all the boiler taps, reamers and appurtenance for stay bolt installation. On casters the tool cart can move to the job while protecting and organizing the tools required.

On April 16, Mr. Monty Goodrich, welding instructor for the 302 Operating Engineers School, brought a group of students for an orientation at the 557 Engine House. Then he invited our volunteers to come along on a tour of the Palmer Machine Shop in Palmer. This facility is a living museum with some machinery dating to 1904 and was founded and operated by the Goodrich family since the 1930’s Monty began working there with his grandfather as a little kid and demonstrated the features of old belt drive equipment. 557 volunteers joined the training class for this very informative session. Our machinist Doug VanWingerden was most pleased when Monty Offered the use of his horizontal boring mill for use in producing the new brasses for the driving boxes on 557.

We recognize, Mr. John Combs, 557 Board Member, and the man who has maintained alaskarails.org for 20 years. John hosts No. 557 Info, our official web site, as the first menu item on his fantastic web site documenting the history and present activity of the Alaska Railroad. We were very pleased to receive this note from John. “Please pass on the good news Terry and I received yesterday.  My bone and CT scans were clear and they have decided further chemotherapy is unnecessary.  Woohoo!  They will do scans periodically (initially every three months) to watch for reoccurrence.” We hope to enjoy another 20 years of alaskarails.org!

We hope to see you along the tracks!

Patrick J. Durand, President
President Engine 557 Restoration Company

Make all donations to: Engine 557 Restoration Company at the address below.
An Alaskan 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Corporation, EIN 46-2663256

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