News

Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum Store is Now Online

Want to sport some Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum merchandise or just interested in some interesting Roundhouse inspired gifts? Can’t visit the Roundhouse in person but want to show your support for our mission?

Check out our online store and order Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum logo merchandise, books, gifts, and more. New merchandise is added all the time and we’ll be offering “web only” exclusive deals!

United States Army locomotive No. 2630 leads a train of WWII-era military vehicles during the Steam to Victory event.

On July 5 and 6, 2019, the Age of Steam Roundhouse hosted Steam to Victory, an event to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings and to celebrate the role that railroads played in the war effort.  This unique event brought together WWII reenactors, historic military vehicles, and the Roundhouse’s own collection of WWII-era trains.

The “star” of the railroad exhibits was US Army 2-8-0 locomotive No. 2630, which was unveiled at the event after an in-depth cosmetic restoration.  Resplendent in Army Olive Drab paint, No. 2630 was featured leading two restored Army flatcars and a Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad caboose.  Atop the flatcars, military vehicles were displayed including an M3 half-track, M8 Greyhound armored car, a Jeep, and a unique “Weasel” tracked vehicle.  This unique exhibit represented a World War II train moving important equipment off to battle.

Around the Age of Steam grounds, numerous military displays welcomed guests with immersive experiences.  Visitors learned about the living conditions of soldiers on the front lines from reenactors of both the Allies and Axis forces.  Vehicle rides and small arms demonstrations gave guests a taste of how this impressive equipment was used in war.  Twice a day, the reenactors marched off for a simulated skirmish where US troops stormed a German bunker.  The Ohio Amish countryside surrounding the Roundhouse were a good stand-in for the similar fields and hills of Western Europe.

Other components of the Age of Steam railroad collection were also on-hand for guests to view.  Grand Trunk Western 4-8-4 #6325 led two restored Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad passenger coaches, simulating one of the thousands of troop trains which shuttled soldiers around the US.  One of the most colorful exhibits was a steam locomotive tender made up to represent the red, white and blue “Buy War Bonds” tenders created by the Nickel Plate Road as a means of advertisement to help in the war effort.  Another tender sported the insignia of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, which Age of Steam Roundhouse founder Jerry Jacobson served in.  Finally, 0-6-0T tank engine #4 proudly displayed its heritage as a US Navy switching locomotive.

Age of Steam Roundhouse would like to thank the following organizations for their participation in Steam to Victory:

  • Crew 1944 / 5th Rangers, Co. B and Baker Co.
  • 101st Airborne / 502nd PIR
  • 100th Jager Division
  • 352nd Infantry Division
  • Marlboro Volunteers Military History Mobile Museum
  • Dennison Railroad Depot Museum
  • Forever Young Singers

Despite some hot weather and a few pop-up thunderstorms, Age of Steam Roundhouse’s first large public event was well-attended and received positive feedback.  Stay tuned to the Roundhouse mailing list, website and social media channels as we work to develop more exciting events and experiences in the coming months.

The Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum (AoSRM) in Sugarcreek, Ohio, is excited and pleased to announce that it has successfully acquired B&LE 643, which is the only remaining 2-10-4 Texas Type steam locomotive of the 47 built for the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad.

B&LE 643 is a heavy-haul steam locomotive that was designed and built to move iron ore, coal, and other high-density commodities to and from the Great Lakes region. Built in 1944, the 643 saw an early retirement in 1952 due to the increased introduction of diesels to the Bessemer & Lake Erie’s locomotive roster. Fortunately, the 643 and two other smaller steamers were preserved by the B&LE in its roundhouse in Greenville, Pa.

B&LE 643 will become the largest locomotive in the AoSRM collection. This behemoth is just over 108’ long, stands over 16’ high, and weighs 308.32 tons without coal and water. Add 26 tons of coal, and 23,000 gallons of water, and B&LE 643 tops the scales at 908,720 lbs., or more than 454 tons!

AoSRM founder, Jerry Jacobson, nicknamed B&LE 643, “The King,“ as it is believed to be one of the largest non-articulated steam locomotives in the world. It had been Jerry’s life-long desire to acquire this historic iron giant to restore and display with the other 21 steam locomotives in his collection. The Board of Directors and dedicated Staff at the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum, are deeply grateful to Glenn Campbell and The Steel City Railway Historical Society for saving B&LE 643 in McKees Rocks, Pa., and for their selflessness, by assuring the locomotive’s long-lived future at the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum.

The Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum would like to recognize and honor the efforts of The Ernest Stern Family and his son, Rick Stern, of Pittsburgh for their direct and dedicated involvement in the critical phases of restoration of B&LE 643. Their one time ownership, and financial investment in the 643, are responsible for much of the early work performed that has greatly helped its survival for these many years!

Future official reports and updates about the movement of B&LE 643 from McKees Rocks to Sugarcreek will be posted on our website: www.ageofsteamroundhouse.org.

Bill Strawn, Board Chairman

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Bob Brode - Age of Steam Builder - Passes

bob and jerry

Bob Brode, the general contractor responsible for building the Age of Steam Roundhouse, passed away on January 26, 2019.

Robert Wallis Brode, was born April 18, 1948 in Coshocton, Ohio. He was a 1966 graduate of the Mercersburg Academy and attended The Ohio State University. Bob was an army veteran, and enjoyed playing golf, sport shooting with the guys, and will be remembered for his sharp wit and sense of humor. Bob took solace in visits to the family farm just outside of Newcomerstown. In addition to a daughter, two granddaughters and three sisters, he is survived by his wife of 45 years, Louise, who enjoyed volunteering her time with Bob at the Age of Steam Roundhouse.

Bob retired recently from The W. M. Brode Company in Newcomerstown where he engineered, built and repaired bridges across the United States. The company, founded by his great-grandfather in 1887, was co-owned by Bob and his cousin, George Brode. Bob was a founding director of the Pile Driving Contractors Association and was an active member of numerous professional organizations.

“Bob was a gracious, thoughtful, knowledgeable, and talented man, “ said Bill Strawn, president of the Age of Steam Roundhouse. “I first met him when he visited the Ohio Central Railroad System to help us understand various bridge issues on our railroads. As busy and successful as he was, Bob would always make time to stop in and help us with the myriad of engineering challenges that all railroads face. There is no doubt that his guidance expedited many of our projects, and Bob was highly thought of by all in the industry.” Getting to know Jerry Jacobson, CEO of the Ohio Central, “Bob was later instrumental in the successful construction of the Age of Steam Roundhouse, and remained our steadfast advisor, tour-giver, and beloved friend.”

Bob considered one of his last projects to be his greatest and most fun—building the Age of Steam Roundhouse for Jerry Jacobson in Sugarcreek. After construction was completed, Bob enjoyed giving group tours at the roundhouse and sharing the camaraderie of Age of Steam Roundhouse staff. He loved steam locomotives and shared that passion with other enthusiasts.

Bob was an integral and essential part of the Age of Steam Roundhouse project, during both its construction and during the ensuing years after construction was completed. Without Bob’s expertise, guidance and dedication, this wonderful place would not exist in its current form. Bob’s attention to details ensured everything was “just right,” culminating in a realistic shrine built for steam locomotives. Bob also continued close association with AoSRH with his daily visits to check on “his baby.”

Wanting to gather more information, Bob accompanied roundhouse tours, taking notes about the historic locomotives on display from the more experienced tour guides. He also gathered historic information from AoSRH handouts and other sources, and did his homework well. Louise prepared note cards for Bob’s evening tour guide rehearsals at home, and for his occasional referral during the Saturday roundhouse tours he began conducting. Bob certainly had fun whenever he led a tour, and it showed in his facial expressions and body language.

Bob was a man with traditional “old school” values who was much admired and whose company we greatly enjoyed. He had many friends at the Age of Steam Roundhouse and his presence will be missed by all.

2018 has been a year of significant progress in the Age of Steam Roundhouse shop. The cavernous backshop echoed with the sound of air hammers as boiler work wrapped up on two of steam locomotives and continued on a third. In addition to major mechanical work, a number of other exciting projects have advanced forward.

Morehead & North Fork 0-6-0 #12

In July, engine #12 rolled out of our backshop after an extensive restoration. Over a three-week period, #12 was put through a series of test runs and adjustments to ensure reliable operation (video here). This stout little switch engine will be ideal for steam demonstrations around the Age of Steam complex in the future.

While #12 may not carry the same notoriety as some of the larger engines in the AoSR collection, it was always one of founder Jerry Jacobson’s favorites. Serving in the 82nd Airborne division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in the early 1960’s, Jerry would take advantage of his weekend passes to visit the M&NF and witness #12 in service hauling freight on the Kentucky shortline. AoSR is pleased to count #12 back among the ranks of operable locomotives.

Confirming a job well done, the Heritage Rail Alliance recognized #12 with its 2018 Significant Achievement Award – Steam.

Lake Superior & Ishpeming 2-8-0 #33

This powerful freight-hauler emerged from the backshop in late Fall after significant firebox work. 33’s firebox received a new crown sheet and upper thermic siphons, as well as numerous replacement staybolts. Test runs around the AoSR site revealed all repairs were sound and the engine is top shape once again. Video of #33 under steam is available here:

McCloud River Railroad 2-8-2 #19

Acquired by AoSR in 2016, famous #19 has also been undergoing a firebox overhaul. An entirely new door sheet (rear wall of the firebox) is being fashioned, and patches to the side sheets and corners of the firebox have already been installed. New staybolts have been machined and are already on-hand for installation when the door sheet is complete.

#19’s trailing truck was in need of an overhaul, so the backshop’s drop table was put to use removing it from under the engine. The original trailing truck frame had seen numerous weld repairs, and was generally worn out. A new one is now being fabricated. New Babbitt for the trailing truck bearings is also in-process.

Cosmetic Work Continues

Many pieces of our collection saw cosmetic restoration work this year, improving their visual appeal and providing our tour guests with new and exciting sights. Columbus & Southern Ohio Electric fireless 0-4-0 #2, Alabama, Tennessee & Northern 2-10-0 #401, and US Navy 0-6-0T #4 all received a general cleanup and new paint. US Army 2-8-0 #612 was renumbered back to its original number of #2630 and is currently under a more extensive cosmetic overhaul. Look for more news on #2630 in early 2019.

In addition to the steam locomotives, two Electro-Motive Division SW9 diesel locomotives were repainted in their original Montour Railroad black with yellow lettering. Chief Mechanical Officer Tim Sposato started his railroad career on this coal hauling shortline in Western Pennsylvania, and thanks to Tim and AoSR these vintage diesels are preserved for all to enjoy.

#3960 Arrives

As reported in October, former Wheeling and Lake Erie 0-6-0 #3960 became a part of the AoSR collection. Photos of the move and more information are available on our News page.

Jeff Williams Passes

On a sad note, longtime Age of Steam Roundhouse employee Jeff Williams passed away on November 15th, 2018 after an illness. Shown here with his beloved dog Petey, Jeff helped build the Roundhouse and handled most of the woodworking aspects of our restorations. We will miss Jeff’s humor, kind words and easygoing disposition.

Season’s Greetings

During this joyful holiday season, we extend greetings from our Age of Steam Roundhouse family to yours. As we gather with friends and family, please keep in mind the men and women around the world working tirelessly to defend our country. We thank them for their continued sacrifice.

2019 promises to be an exciting year for Age of Steam Roundhouse, and we’re excited to share the next step in this journey with you. Until then, we hope that you had a very Merry Christmas and send our Best Wishes for a happy, healthy, and steam-filled New Year!

Winter 2017-2018

Greetings!

It has been a while since our last Roundhouse Report. With a number of projects in-process, we wanted to give you the latest on happenings at the Age of Steam Roundhouse.

2017 has been a year of boiler work in the Age of Steam Backshop. #12 and #33 have both been receiving significant boiler repairs, and these two projects are getting the lion’s share of our crew’s attention as we push them toward completion.

Morehead & North Fork 0-6-0 steam locomotive #12

Restoration work on #12 is progressing nicely. Having not run since the 1950’s, this engine was in need of a large amount of boiler work to bring it back into compliance with current FRA standards. To accomplish this task Age of Steam crews teamed up with boiler contractors to complete a lengthy list of repairs. We are happy to report that this project is now at the point where parts are starting to go back onto the locomotive, a major milestone in any steam restoration. A partial list of repairs that have been made to #12 includes:

– Multiple patches and replacement rivets in firebox / mudring
– Renewed rear tube sheet knuckle
– Renewed all 196 flexible staybolts, sleeves and caps
– Welded in 4 new Huron-type firebox washout plugs
– Replaced arch tubes and installed new arch brick
– Replaced all 292 boiler tubes
– Straightened and repaired both tube sheets
– Designed, machined and installed new steam dome lid
– Replaced steam dome studs
– Replaced approximately 50% of smokebox
– Installed newly-cast smoke stack
– Installed newly-cast blastpipe
– Completed all FRA Form 4 calculations
– Inspected and cleaned driver journals
– Rebuilt grease cellars
– Inspected and repaired Stephenson Valve gear and slide valves
– Repaired and chrome-plated slide valves
– Replaced valve and piston packing
– Inspected, cleaned and repaired side rods and crank pins
– Inspected, cleaned and repaired all appliances, valves, water glasses, tri-cocks, and throttle
– Built all-new welded tender tank (complete with faux rivet heads) and installed on existing tender frame

#12’s boiler was hydrostatically tested with good results. On February 12, 2018, the engine was fired up for the first time since 1963. Test-firing was a success and the repaired boiler received a clean bill of health. Final reassembly is currently underway and painting will quickly follow. When the completed #12 rolls out of the shop for the first time, it will mark the first full locomotive restoration at the Age of Steam Roundhouse.

Lake Superior & Ishpeming 2-8-0 #33

Firebox work on our big Consolidation is nearly complete, with the upper portions of both thermic syphons and the entire crown sheet having been renewed. Crews continue to work on installing new staybolts and wrapping up other tasks related to firebox work. When those tasks are done, we’ll hydrostatically test the boiler, reinstall the #33’s cab, and connect all of the cab fixtures that have been removed. We are excited to return this beefy freight hauler to service as soon as possible.

Columbus & Southern Ohio Electric Company 0-4-0F #2

As we announced in January 2018, the 20th steam locomotive in the AoSRH collection is this unique “fireless cooker” locomotive. #2 made the 112-mile trip from its longtime home in Sharon, Pennsylvania aboard a lowboy trailer. This unique piece is now receiving a cosmetic restoration.

Yreka Western 2-8-2 #19

In early June 2017, #19 arrived in Sugarcreek via railroad flatcar. After being unloaded by two large cranes, #19 was immediately shoved into the backshop for a good cleaning and new paint. Our team set to work, meticulously needle-scaling every inch of the engine and taking off any rust that may have accumulated while she was in storage. Next, a new coat of black paint was applied, restoring much of #19’s visual appeal.

We have begun work on evaluating #19’s boiler to determine a scope of work necessary to return the engine to service. #19 is still within its current 1,472 operating day / 15 year inspection schedule, and we hope to find the engine can be made ready to operate with some minor repairs.

Leviathan 4-4-0 #63

In February of 2018, we bade farewell to Dave Kloke’s beautiful replica of a Civil-War era 4-4-0. The Leviathan had been brightening up the roundhouse as it spent the last few winters at AoSRH. Dave and his crew loaded up the locomotive to transport it to its new, permanent home.

New York and Pennsylvania Company GE 25-ton Switcher #2

Roundhouse crews have repainted and re-lettered our shop switcher for its original owner, the New York and Pennsylvania Company. This paper company used #2 – in its original 36” gage – inside its plant in Johnsonburg, PA.

Libby's Food Company Insulated Boxcar URTX #26571

Our previous Roundhouse Report indicated this wood-sided steel boxcar was under careful restoration. We’re happy to share that this restoration has been completed, and the results are beautiful. After extensive sanding and wood replacement, #26571 received a beautiful orange paint job and looks brand new once again.

Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Covered Hopper #1447

One of a set of covered hoppers that was transferred to Age of Steam Roundhouse after the sale of the Ohio Central Railroad, OHCR #105 has been sandblasted and repainted as P&LE 1447.

Montour Hopper #847

This former PRR hopper has posed as a Montour Railroad car on OC / AoSRH photo freights for a number of years. Since #847 was beginning to look a little shabby, it has been freshly repainted and re-lettered.

As always, thank you for your interest in the Age of Steam Roundhouse. We have more exciting projects in the planning stages, and will keep you updated as events unfold.

Finally, we close with a nod to our founder, the late Jerry Jacobson. Jerry passed away in September of 2017 after a lengthy illness. When it came to steam locomotives, he was always quick with a smile. Here we see Jerry in one of his favorite locations, engaged in an enthusiastic conversation with a AoSRH visitor in the cab of engine #1293.

Winter 2016-2017

The year 2016 has quickly passed, and as we sit back to review all the work performed at the Age of Steam Roundhouse, it is apparent that plenty has been accomplished, but the list of uncompleted work is still long. We pride ourselves in doing each job properly and thoroughly, not quickly just to say that it was accomplished.

Morehead & North Fork 0-6-0 steam locomotive #12

Whenever we were able to free-up manpower from other jobs, this engine was given additional attention during the past few months. The driver journals have been inspected and cleaned, with the addition of newly rebuilt grease cellars and new grease. Shoes and wedges were inspected and repaired, where necessary, as well as No. 12’s pedestal binders and binder bolts. The Stephenson Valve gear was disassembled, repaired and reinstalled, and steam cylinder slide valves were completely gone over and repaired as needed. This 0-6-0’s valve rods were reground and chrome plated for a better fit of the valve rod packing. For easier maintenance in the future, the loco’s old-fashioned rope-type, valve rod packing was changed to the newer, better King Metallic design. Work on the main driver crank pins and side rods has been completed, and all of these parts have been reassembled. The locomotive’s main rods are still being rebuilt, and will be re-installed back onto No. 12 when repairs have been completed. Work continues on its boiler, appliances and other smaller fixtures.

The boiler work includes replacement of broken and worn studs, as well as replacement of the majority of the flexible stay bolt sleeves. Blending these jobs with some firebox side sheet repairs took more time than we anticipated, so the boiler tube replacement has been delayed as we focused on the jobs mentioned above.

Ex-Southern Railway 0-6-0 #1643 / Morehead & North Fork RR #12 front tube sheet.

Canadian Pacific Railway 4-6-2 steam locomotive #1293

This beautiful locomotive saw a few days of operation on several occasions, the most notable being some time spent under steam out on the Ohio Central main line. The short trips were operated for employees and some friends of Mr. Jacobson for some enjoyable days of steam and relaxation. No. 1293 received a few minor adjustments throughout the year, and is maintained in perfect operational condition and physical appearance.

Ex-Canadian Pacific Railway 4-6-2 #1293 in Stall 1 at the Age of Steam Roundhouse.

Yreka Western 2-8-2 No. 19 will soon be shipped from California to Ohio

After purchasing No. 19 at a sheriff’s auction in October 2016, preparations by AoSRH have been underway to transport the 87-ton steam locomotive and tender from the town of Yreka to the village of Sugarcreek. Because this Mikado was essentially landlocked in California, removed rails had to be replaced there, a diesel locomotive repaired and a special heavy-duty flatcar reserved and, when available, moved empty from Chicago to the West Coast for the loading of the locomotive. Please watch our Age of Steam Roundhouse website for details and photos of No. 19—our 19th steam locomotive—as they become available.

Sturm & Dillard Construction Company 0-6-0 steam locomotive #105

After acquiring this engine at AoSRH during 2015, we saw that years of prior outside storage had resulted in heavy weathering, the most notable being to the severely rotted, wooden, front pilot beam. In anticipation of doing a repair, we ordered a wooden timber in order to fashion a new pilot beam, allowing it to sit inside the roundhouse for more than a year to permit proper curing of the freshly-cut oak. This heavy beam was fitted to the No. 105, and cosmetic touches were applied to the front of the engine. These minor repairs will allow for a better visual appearance of this 0-6-0 for those people who will be touring the roundhouse this summer. (Please see our announcement later-on in this edition of the Roundhouse Report about pre-scheduled, escorted group tours that AoSRH will be offering on certain summertime Saturdays.)

Ex-Sturm & Dillard Construction Company 0-6-0 #105 in Stall 3 at the Age of Steam Roundhouse.

Putnam 80-inch wheel lathe

Repairs, restoration and assembly of our Putnam 80-inch wheel lathe have been completed. This lathe was one of our bigger projects on which we concentrated during 2016. We did not want to slow our momentum in its restoration,and that persistence paid off in November when we tested the finished machine. Practicing on an old tender wheel set, we energized the lathe and did some initial cutting as we discovered and learned how the completely rebuilt lathe would respond to all the new parts, controls and changes that we had given to it. This test was a great success, and in the ensuing days we fine-tuned this lathe a little more and got a better feel for its operations and limitations. We did not acquire many cutting and profiling tools in England with the purchase of this American-manufactured lathe, so we created homemade cutters here at the roundhouse.

Putnam 80-inch wheel lathe.
Putnam wheel lathe spacer being machined.

Baltimore & Ohio gondola #451091

One of our spare-time projects during 2015-16 was restoration and painting of ex-Baltimore & Ohio gondola No. 451091. This old car was built originally during 1959 as a coil-steel carrying gondola; its last use was in CSXT maintenance-of-way service before being retired and sold to a man in Orrville, Ohio. During 2015 AoSRH purchased this car and trucked it to the roundhouse for eventual restoration. Gon No. 451091 was sandblasted and repainted back to its “as built” appearance when it first entered service. Work was done on a sporadic basis using part-time and volunteer workers, who also hand-cut stencils for the numerals, lettering and B&O logo. The finishing touch was the hand-painting of all the reporting marks based on the builder’s photo of this class of car. These guys did a great job of giving back to the gondola its dignity for the enjoyment of everyone.

ex-Baltimore & Ohio gondola #451091.

Libby’s food company insulated boxcar URTX #26571

The piece of rolling stock that we are currently restoring was built in 1931 as an insulated boxcar, and used primarily by the Libby’s Company to haul fruits and vegetables to its canning factories. This wood-sided steel car was not a reefer and carried no ice or mechanical refrigeration units, instead using its thick insulation to protect its precious cargo of perishables. Retired during the 1960s, this car was donated to the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, Pa. We acquired the car during 2014, and had it moved by truck to Sugarcreek where it has sat warm and dry inside the roundhouse. The deteriorated sections of wood sheathing are being replaced, de-scaling of the exterior metal sections and a final paint job will restore the appearance of this car to how it would have looked when in regular service.

Libby's insulated boxcar URTX #26571 under restoration.

United States Army flatcar #38358

The second of our US Army flatcars received its turn in the restoration shop using AoSRH part-timers and volunteers to do the work on a time-available basis. They came through again with a wonderful looking revitalization of the 1954-built product. Our flatcar was meticulously hand-sanded and prepared for the final painting with a heavy coat of olive drab. Replacing the original wood decking was discussed, but we decided to retain the beat-up lumber as it added to the heavily-used look of the car. This decking may be replaced in the future. All stencils and logos were hand-cut to the original design, and meticulously painted by hand.

United States Army flatcar #38358.

Akron, Canton & Youngstown Railroad sanding tower

Mentioned in the Summer 2016 Roundhouse Report was our acquisition and rebuilding of a retired sanding tower from the Akron, Canton & Youngstown engine facility in Akron, Ohio. This tower was sand-blasted and painted, and had missing parts fabricated and applied. During July 2016 it was completed and set up between our Ash Pit Track and Turntable Lead. Directly across the track from the tower we began construction on an all-new sand house and sand storage area, which will be completed this year. A conveyor belt will be installed to load coal into loco tenders;at $1M and $2M, respectively, wooden or concrete coaling towers would be too expensive.

ex-Akron, Canton & Youngstown sanding tower in place.

Erie-Lackawanna Wig-Wag grade crossing signal

Each year we like to add unique railroad items to the Age of Steam Roundhouse facility, not only rail-bound equipment, but also wayside items, as well. The latest such addition is an Erie-Lackawanna Wig-Wag grade crossing signal. This signal is under restoration by the shop crew, and was installed just as the first snow flew this winter. It is fully operational and protects the road crossing leading to the AoSRH depot-office building. This signal was used in Ohio, but we do not know the exact location where it spent its career. The addition of the top, mast-mounted bell was done by us, using an old Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway crossing bell from the nearby village of Baltic. We are finishing restoration of the original crossbuck warning signs, using the “Cat’s Eye” type of clear-glass, marble reflectors. These will be installed this spring as the final touch of this rebuild.

ex-Ex-Erie Lackawanna Wig-Wag grade crossing signal.

The Storehouse at the Age of Steam Roundhouse is filling-up with parts

The filling of the storehouse has been an ongoing project that will continue as time permits. Most of the boxcars that we had been using for storage during the past 28 years finally have been unloaded. Inventory removed from the cars is being sorted, organized and transferred into its respective storage locations inside the storehouse. This sorting allows the disposal of those items deemed neither usable nor collectable.

Wheeling & Lake Erie 0-6-0 #3960
Wheeling & Lake Erie 0-6-0 #3960

After nearly a decade of discussions with the City of Canton, Ohio, the Age of Steam Roundhouse is happy to announce that it has purchased and received its latest locomotive, former Wheeling & Lake Erie 0-6-0 No. 3960. Displayed in Canton for 33 years but moved away during 1991, the 0-6-0’s stripped carcass and tender had been sitting outdoors in Minerva since 2006 while ownership issues and plans for the engine’s future were debated. To remain within the letter of the law and be fair to everyone, the City of Canton had to offer No. 3960 for sale to the highest bidder that offered also the best future for the forlorn 0-6-0. The Age of Steam Roundhouse won the bid, and No. 3960’s boiler was separated from its frame, and along with its tender, were loaded onto four flatbed truck trailers and moved to the AoSRH facilities in Sugarcreek on October 9, 2018, for unloading the next day.

The history of No. 3960 was uneventful, but an interesting one. To save about $7,000 per locomotive from the cost of commercially constructed locos, from 1928 to 1930 in its well-equipped back shop in Brewster, Ohio, W&LE built twenty 0-8-0 switchers of proven USRA design. They were so successful that between 1929 and 1940 Brewster built 30 copies of the USRA’s 0-6-0 switcher. All fifty locomotives rolled on 51-inch driving wheels, had Nicholson thermic syphons in their fireboxes and Chambers front-end throttles in the smokeboxes. As was W&LE practice, road number series reflected 10-per cent of an engine’s tractive effort, the 3951-3980-series for the B-5 class 0-6-0s, and the 5106-5125-series for the larger C-1a class 0-8-0s. It was very unusual for a small, 481-mile long railroad to construct any steam locomotives, but W&LE Brewster Shop built 50 of them!

After 7,230 manhours and at a cost of $28,686.56, on June 8, 1935, 0-6-0 No. 3960 was completed in Brewster Shop. Nearby Canton was home to the Timken Roller Bearing Co., and locomotives and freight cars of on-line W&LE were used to test the then-new idea of applying roller bearings to railroad equipment. Completed on September 25, 1935, W&LE 0-6-0 No. 3965 was the world’s first steam switcher built with roller bearings on all axles, including tenders (12.5 tons of coal and 8,150-gallons of water), as were all subsequent Brewster 0-6-0s.

All fifty Brewster-built switchers became property of the Nickel Plate Road with the December 1, 1949, leasing of W&LE by NKP. The homemade 0-6-0s were renumbered 351 to 380, with former W&LE No. 3960 becoming NKP No. 360. During its last year of active duty 0-6-0 No. 360 was used down in Zanesville and made its last run under steam on October 31, 1957, when it chugged past a corn field that—53 years later—would become the site of the Age of Steam Roundhouse, No. 360’s future home. In 1957 NKP heavy USRA 2-8-2 No. 678 (ex-W&LE No. 6008) was chosen for display in Canton’s Mother Goose Land Park, but was later deemed too heavy (i.e. too expensive) to make the short, four-block trip by truck from the nearest rail siding. So, the smaller No. 360 was pulled from the dead line, cosmetically restored in Brewster Shop and placed into the park on June 19, 1958.

By 1971 weather had taken its toll on the 0-6-0, so a local W&LE fan cut off the boiler jacket with a hammer and chisel, and removed the water-logged asbestos insulation surrounding the rusting boiler and cylinders. Repainted in a thick coat of black enamel, NKP 360 was relettered on June 12, 1973, to its original identity as W&LE 3960. Continued neglect by the city led to No. 3960 being acquired by Silver Throttle Engine And Museum (STEAM) that had high hopes of rebuilding the 0-6-0 to steam again, and on July 19, 1991, the 0-6-0 was removed from the closed Mother Goose Land. No. 3960 went to south Canton, then to Louisville before it ended up inside a Quonset hut 16 miles from Canton in Minerva where hopes were high, but funds were low. Seeing no possibility for it to be even cosmetically restored, in 2004 STEAM traded the disassembled No. 3960 (in return for a diesel and three coaches) to Jerry Jacobson, lifelong lover of steam locomotives and owner of the Ohio Central Railroad System.

In 2006 STEAM was dispersed, and No. 3960 was evicted to an adjoining Ohi-Rail track. Never owning No. 3960, STEAM had no legal right to trade it to Jerry Jacobson, and the City of Canton rightfully reclaimed possession of its wayward 0-6-0. Thus began the decade-long discussions about No. 3960’s future, including Canton’s dream for the loco’s next owner to rebuild it and operate excursion passenger trains in the city once or twice a year.

The forlorn No. 3960 will undergo a massive cosmetic restoration by Age of Steam Roundhouse to replace dozens of rusted, lost, and stolen parts, but this seemingly endless, sad saga will now have a happy ending in Sugarcreek.

Wheeling & Lake Erie 0-6-0 #3960