A milestone was reached when Rod Hansen completed welding the last 10 of the 480 flexible staybolt sleeves into the boiler shell. Rod did all of these and utilized his considerable skills gained over 20 years as a welder for Enstar the local natural gas company.
Quiet discoveries are constantly being made as we work on 557. When she arrived there was no tender as it had been sent to scrap or used as a water tank by MOW. At the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry we had been saving two USATC tenders that were used behind Brownhoist wrecking cranes. It was surmised they had arrived in Alaska behind Lima 0-6-0 switchers but no provenance was evident. The better of the two tenders was donated to go behind 557.
While over hauling the trucks that were under the tender, CMO Jeff DeBroeck chanced upon three numbers stamped on one journal box. The digits 3 1 2 appeared under strong light and were traced in black for photography. So the trilogy is now complete. We have a Baldwin Locomotive with some ALCO drivers and a LIMA tender.
The 300 class locomotives on the Alaska Railroad were built for the U.S. Army and had the unique Siamese (doubled) sand dome. These locomotives were for domestic use in America and were standard width at 10 feet. Here is ARR #312 contributor of the tender now in use behind engine 557.
This note with the photo is from alaskarails.org. Alaska Railroad's 300 class locomotives were all 0-6-0 switchers. Ten locomotives #310 - #319 were built by Lima for the US Army between January and March 1944 and all were transferred to the Alaska Railroad in 1946 and 1947. Weighing 160,000 lbs., they had 50 inch drivers and 21x28 inch cylinders. All were retired in April of 1954 and went to scrap in the late 1950's. This photo was taken in Whittier in May 3, 1948.
On the truck side frames, there was considerable wear and test pads were tacked in place to test clearance before settling on the proper thickness of the T-1 steel pads that are then welded in place. The truck bolsters got the same treatment at wear points.
With the trucks coming together attention turned to new wheels and Timken bearings to complete the conversion. We contracted with the Alaska Railroad wheel shop to do all the machine work and press the new wheels and bearings. The first step was trucking the four old wheel and axle assemblies to Anchorage.
We loaded up the Ford F600 (donated by Enstar) and waited for a weather window when the Parks Highway was clear of snow. Had a beautiful day headed down the Highway with Pioneer Peak as a backdrop. Ken Morton provided a chase vehicle since this was the first outing with the truck in over a year. Arriving at the Alaska Railroad Mechanical Shop in Anchorage we were meet by Rich Troutman from the wheel shop and Greg Wyatt, Mechanical Supervisor. After backing into the wheel shop, Rich invited me to a tour and upon return the crew had already unloaded the truck with the overhead crane and I was ready for an uneventful return trip. The 1981 Ford with the 460 V-8 only has 52K miles on it. At highway speeds she runs great but the 102 mile round trip consumed 23 gallons of gas. Still a handy tool to have in our inventory.
The Anchorage Fur Rendezvous is the big winter festival framed by start of the Iron Dog snow machine race to Nome and Fairbanks and closed out by the Iditarod Trail Dog Sled race to Nome. For the first time in four years we actually have good snow for all these events. Many of our regular 557 volunteers are involved in Rondy activities. Some along with Ken Elmore are manning our informational exhibit at the Historic Alaska Railroad Depot in Anchorage.
This note came from Gene Augustine at the Depot.
“We had a great time with a special visitor this afternoon at the ARR Depot that I did not know. Just another member of the general public, I thought. So along with new volunteer Bob Allen, I started to tell her about the differences in the HO models of the S-160 and the 2 models of 2-8-0 Consolidation Streamers, when she interrupted me with "I know, I wrote a book on that kind of engine." My reply was "Oh, you must be Shannon Cartwright!" Her face lit up, and of course we were surprised and honored to meet her!”
“She asked Bob and I what type of work we have been doing on 557. I took her over to meet Dave Lucas who was manning the 557 Display. We talked, and Shannon pointed out in her book, one of the fireman on Ol' 556, Pat Durand was the model for, and told us she could not have written the book without your help Pat! We were not surprised about that. We showed her that we use her book to tell the story of restoring 557 there at the display. Her inclusion of four new pages featuring the 557 restoration in the third printing was most appreciated.”
So what has been going on at the 557 Engine House in Wasilla besides plowing snow? Ted Parish continued work on chipping the mud ring rivets. He has a very controlled touch with the air hammer and chisel to get the right result after chipping.
Jerry Cunnington continued setting up the Cincinnati Shaper donated by Brown’s Services. There was no oil filter so with some measurements a suitable stainless filter was found and Jerry machined a mounting boss/gasket out of Derlin plastic to complete the installation.
The electrical system continues to grow and now nearly fills the expanded fuse/breaker box. The box originally contained a 3 fuse block in the lid. We are fortunate that many of the original components have survived for restoration. New additions include these dimming resistors for the headlight. This is the domain of Jerry Peters and Tom Walker. Serious work on assembly of the K240 dynamos can now begin thanks to a major shipment of replacement parts from Bernie Watts at Backshop Enterprises.
Visitor at the engine house this month came from South Carolina, North Dakota, and all the way from Anchorage. The Anchorage School District offers a special course at the King Career Center sponsored by the Alaska Railroad. Tour Guides on the ARR passenger trains graduate from this special course. The three young ladies in the background along with some family were doing a familiarization trip on the Passenger Train to Wasilla. They then came by the 557 Engine House for an unannounced tour. We always welcome students but put on a special welcome to these future railroaders.
Please remember our in-kind supporters who provide everything from advice, airline tickets, axles, bolts, door locks, fork lift, industrial gases, machine work, oil, paint, porta potty, tire repair, tools, transportation, the roof over our head, utilities, welding rod, zippers. You can thank them for us. When you do business, tell them “Thanks for supporting 557.” It will have more impact. Close out as usual. Thanks!
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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