Roundhouse News: Roundhouse Report – Winter 2020

The year 2020 has been challenging for the entire world’s population, with effects of the COVID-19 pandemic reaching proportions that no one could have envisioned a year ago.

With that being said, the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum has been able to meet these challenges and continue pushing forward the best that we could. Our public tour season was abbreviated, with limited sizes of 10-person tour groups and social distancing being maintained. Fortunately, after a brief Ohio-mandated shutdown of all shop restoration activities, AoSRM was able to meet—and exceed—the State of Ohio health guidelines to restart our important Mission Statement of historic railroad preservation.

This complicated year has allowed some re-thinking toward our goal of getting the Yreka Western 2-8-2 #19—also known as Oregon Pacific & Eastern 2-8-2 #19—back into steam operation. Our original plan was to run #19 and use-up its few remaining service years prior to its receiving recertification of the FRA-mandated 15-year inspection. But after much thought and discussion, we decided to continue #19’s restoration and repairs toward the greater goal of a more complete rebuild in addition to its required 15-year inspection.

superheater units from OP&E 2-8-2 locomotive #19
These are the recently removed superheater units from OP&E 2-8-2 locomotive #19. This repair is part of the Federal Railroad Administration’s mandated, 15-year (1,472 Service Day) inspection. These units will be thoroughly inspected, repairs made and hydrostatically tested before reinstallation into #19.

This detailed and oft-deferred repair work will continue through 2021, allowing AoSRM shop forces to address additional areas that need closer attention on locomotive #19. We understand that there are many followers of #19 who are eagerly waiting for the return to full operation of this wonderful locomotive, just as we are. So, please understand and be patient as AoSRM marches forward with this much-needed and much-desired project.

This winter we will also start mechanical and cosmetic restoration to some of the historic freight cars on our roster, as well as several of our open-window coaches. In the future, these refurbished cars will be used around the facility for display and operational events.

tank car UTLX #88208
Above is AoSRM’s freshly painted tank car UTLX #88208 that was previously leased to Hercules Powder Company. We know little history except we had used this tank car on Ohio Central photo freight trains.
Reefer SRLX #15405
Reefer SRLX #15405 was constructed in May 1954 and used by Swift for hauling fresh meat to market. All of its overhead rails remain, but there are no meat hooks. This reefer arrived at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in 1970, and was used as its electric shop until a new repair facility was constructed. Last summer it was moved by rail to Pennsylvania Transformer Technologies in Canonsburg, Pa., who graciously donated use of its indoor crane to load #15405 onto highway trucks for the trip to AoSRM.

The AoSRM facilities and rolling stock collections continue to grow, and as a result there is need for an additional building to house general railcars and diesel locomotives. We are currently working with a local architect for the design of a vintage-looking building that will be known as the Car Shed. This proposed protective building will be wide enough to cover four storage tracks and be nearly 500 feet in length. We have few details, but our plan is to construct this structure during 2021. More updates will be posted in the future.

There are no new updates regarding the final movement to Sugarcreek of the separated running gear and boiler of ex-Bessemer & Lake Erie 2-10-4 #643, which continue sitting in McKees Rocks, Penn. The COVID-19 pandemic has halted all progress regarding non-essential projects in Allegheny County. We understand the concerns that local authorities have, and AoSRM is patiently awaiting the earliest opportunity for our team to resume movement of this monster locomotive. Meanwhile, using one of the original Baldwin Loco Works builder’s plates from B&LE 2-10-4 #647, we had a new pattern made for casting of aluminum reproduction builder’s plates that will be applied to #643. A few extra repro #643 plates were made, and are for sale on e-Bay and through the AoSRM’s gift shop.

repro Baldwin Locomotive Works builder’s plate
Full-size, aluminum, reproduction Baldwin Locomotive Works builder’s plates for Bessemer & Lake Erie 2-10-4 #643 have been cast for application to the engine when its restoration is complete. Extra copies of these repro plates will be for sale at Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum’s gift shop and on e-Bay.

AoSRM’s newest locomotive acquisition, ex-Philadelphia & Reading 0-4-0 Camelback #1187, was moved from Strasburg Railroad to AoSRM during August 2020. The loading and trip to Ohio were very successful and smooth with the help of the Strasburg RR and Venezia Enterprises, Inc., to get #1187 to its new home. This rare Camelback—just one of three in existence—was immediately placed into the back shop to receive a new, wooden, tender end beam to secure the rear coupler for moving the loco and tender. The old, wood tender beam was very rotted, allowing the coupler to sag by several inches. After repairs, #1187 and its tender were moved into the roundhouse for storage until eventual cosmetic restoration occurs. We are researching for technical data, photos and drawings of #1187.

rear tender beam of Philadelphia & Reading 0-4-0 Camelback #1187
The rear tender beam of Philadelphia & Reading 0-4-0 Camelback #1187 is exposed as repairs start on the metalwork. New wooden footboards are being installed and a new, wood, end beam is still in the AoSRM’s carpenter shop being cut to the proper size. You can see the tender’s rear coupler and other parts sitting on the floor and nearby workbench as they receive attention before their reinstallation.

In closing, we would like to wish everyone a joyous Holiday Season as well as the best to all in the New Year. During the Holidays, please remember our Veterans, both past and present, as we can never thank them enough for all they have done to protect our freedom.