Engine 557 Restoration Company
Progress Report December 2017

At noon on December 4th a special drawing was held at the Engine 557 Restoration Company to determine the winner of the 557 Rifle Raffle.   The Rifle Raffle was held in conjunction with the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry under their Permit #707.  Sherry Jackson of MATI and Pat Durand with 557 conducted the drawing. The two hundred tickets were sold out in 14 days.

Mr. Gale Armstrong drew the winning ticket # 0118 out of the bucket.  The holder of ticket #0118 is Toni Curry of Anchorage, winning the Winchester Model 94 30/30  serial #GS35780  Gold Spike Centennial  Rifle. Thanks to everyone who participated in the Rifle Raffle, 557 netted $2,907.00

That kicked off December 2017, on a high note even though winter had not arrived in any measurable amount.

Ken Morton prepared parts to braze on a new hinge post to replace one broke off the end cover of one of our three Pyle National steam turbine generators. The finished job belies the repair.

This eyelet is tacked in position on the new pilot support rod prepared for some serious welding. Swede Antonsson and Terry Douglas are mocking up the eyelet with a piece of PCV pipe that will be used to set angles to be cut on the end of the Pilot Beam support rod.

Ron Dudley made the Flat Keys to specs on a modified drawing from our collection of some 1400 digitized blue prints. These are to secure the pins for the pilot beam supports. The work orders for these components include a drawing and spec for the material they are constructed from. The completed order then goes into a spec book for future reference if needed.

Corey Riley, Doug VanWingerden, Jerry Cunnington, Ken Elmore and Terry Douglas gather around the Acorn Table where several projects are underway.

Jerry and Mike McKervey fit up the steam heater pipe for one of our three Nathan DV4 Lubricators. The packing fitting on the steam heater pipe is actually soft soldered in place on the pipe. On the other end it has a regular packing gland.

The John H. Emery Rail Heritage Trust has previously supported 557 with two grants totaling $19,000. This year they are restricting grants to operating locomotives in locations where PTC is required. So it appears 557 will be unable to apply for a grant from them in the coming year.

The good news is that their initiative should put substantial funding behind developing the technology and implementing PTC for steam locomotives. We congratulate the Trust on their course of action and hope they will be in a position to help 557 go PTC when we are operational and need to install the technology developed through this program. Please recognize the John H. Emery Rail Heritage Trust for their leadership in finding solutions for steam locomotives in the age of Positive Train Control.

“Welding” Rod Hansen finished welding all flexible stay bolt sockets on the left side as his personal challenge for December. With the back head and throat sheet completed, he is looking forward to finish welding of the 60 additional sleeves on the right side.

Art Chase came down from Fairbanks to join the crew for two days, so we added a special work day on Friday, December 15th. We always reserve a job for Art in the firebox since he is the “Official 557 Boiler Rat”. This time he was “staking” the newly installed stay bolts to ensure they do not rotate in the hole while being finished. This involves using a chisel shaped air tool to discreetly displace a small portion of the fire box sheet into the threads of the stay bolt. This area will be covered as the final step in assembly is to seal weld the stay bolt. Art Chase posed here on December 16 with CMO Jeff DeBroeck and Dean Sawyer in the machine shop.

Art invited several of his co-workers from the FAA to visit 557 while he was here. The Carl Lapray family form South Jordan, Utah got to ring our bells. Elijah, Carl, Jennifer and Eric posed in front of the palatial Engine 557 World Wide headquarters office after taking the tour.

The Elves from Central Environmental And Central Recycling Services made a special delivery in the early hours of Saturday, December 16th.  When Art and I arrived at the engine house there was a trailer parked with four wheel sets which contain the 5X9 axles we need to complete our tender trucks with new Timken roller bearings.

The Alaska Railroad donated an abandoned car some 300 miles from our shop two years ago.  Shane Durand had a large excavator going to Fairbanks on a low boy.  They sent along the heavy duty 3 axle trailer and a recovery crew.  Shane diverted the entire equipment spread several miles off the highway in the middle of December to accomplish this job as an in-kind donation.  GIVE A BIG THANKS to Central Environmental / Central Recycling Services and Shane for going way out and beyond the call.

The old wheels are non-compliant but the axles are the right size. Now we are working with the Alaska Railroad to purchase 8 new double ware 33” wheels and the machine work to press them and machine the axles to install the new Timken Roller bearings we already purchased. Then the axles will be ready to go into the modified original side frames which retain the covers on the old journal box. One of our major in-kind donors has offered to help with this expense.

On December 21, 2017 the first day of winter, the volunteer group in the engine house grew to 12 on hand for the day.   Pat Durand took the photo and Terry Douglas was busy in the paint booth.
Left to Right   Jim Keene, Ron Dudley, Ken Elmore, Swede Antonsson, Mike McKervey, Cody Riley, Jerry Peters, Jordan Edmonds, Jerry Cunnington and Sean Nelson.    This is the largest crew we have assembled for a regular work day.   Thanks to all!

The often asked question is,
“Where does the money come from?”
For Engine 557 it all comes from Private individuals and organizations that share a vision of Alaska Railroad’s last steam engine working again for new generations as a living, breathing touchstone to our railroading heritage in Alaska. As we say “Dream Big Dream Steam”

By any measure the December 2017 fundraiser was a success. Dick Morris set a goal of $15,000.00 and announced the activity.

I am humbled and in awe. Donations exceeded all expectations.

Donations came from 61 individuals and organizations in 17 states and Australia with a total of $60,171.47 deposited for Engine 557.

As a 501 (c) 3 non-profit, 557 will send a generic form letter to donors as required by the IRS. In addition they will receive an individual donor letter of thanks.

Here are some of the highlights of the December challenge.

Our annual December fund raiser began with a $5,000 match challenge letter by Dick Morris our 557 Secretary Treasurer.

Jim Jansen then added a $20,000 challenge followed by his brother Vic and the extended Jansen family with major contributions.  Back in 2011 it was Jim and Vic Jansen who purchased 557 from the estate of Monte Holme and brought it back to Alaska.

The Northern Lights Model Railroad Club (They made the first major donations to the Rasmuson Foundation match back in 2012) added $2,000.

The Military Society of Model Railroad Engineers In HO scale, kept a friendly competition going with their challenge to members to raise 3X557 and their President, BJ delivered a check for $1,671. Our local model railroaders are on board!

Joe and Susan Schroeder of the Antique Power Club of Alaska stopped by with a $900.00 donation. The Power Club members voted to donate $500.00 and then they passed the hat at their Christmas party and added another $400.00.

The Vice President of the American Association of Railroads made a personal donation of $2,000.

Mr. Bill O’Leary, President and CEO of the Alaska Railroad closed out the year with a much appreciated personal donation.

Please recognize these regular volunteers of the 557 Mechanical Department who went well beyond the call with contributions that were in turn matched by Dick Morris and Jim Jansen.
Jerry Cunnington, Terry Douglas, Ken Morton, Rod Hansen, Jim Keene, Art Chase, Stewart Sterling and 557 Board  Members Maria Keffer, Scott Hicks, John Combs, Jim Posey, Dale Wade and of course Dick Morris who started it all with the $5k match challenge.

I have no words to express our appreciation adequately.

Have a great new year in 2018

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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