Roundhouse News

Roundhouse Reports

Roundhouse Report - Winter 2022-23​

Greetings! Over a year has passed since our last Roundhouse Report was published, and we here at Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum are excited to share some of the recent happenings in our restoration backshop and around the facility.

Age of Steam's New Car Storage Shed

The largest project this year at the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum has been construction of a 464’ x 65’ car shed that covers four existing storage tracks. This structure is being used to protect our growing collection of rail cars that have been restored or are awaiting restoration. The open-air storage shed will prevent rain and snow from causing rust and interior water leaks. The shed will also block direct sunlight from fading the cars’ exterior paint and degrading interior fabrics inside closed-up, stored passenger cars.

This 30,000-square foot structure has exterior lighting and a surveillance system, but will be used strictly for car storage, not repairs. As of this writing, finishing touches are being applied and most of the stored railcars have moved in. For safety reasons, the new car shed will not be open to the public at this time.

In recognition of a generous grant from the Timken Foundation of Canton, this impressive new addition will be called the Timken Foundation Car Shed.

Bessemer and Lake Erie Hopper Cars Acquired

We were fortunate to find a pair of 88-year old, 3-pocket hopper cars hiding down in West Virginia. These former Bessemer & Lake Erie hopper cars were donated by the Kanawha Railroad, LLC (formerly Big Eagle Railroad) and are lettered BER #311 and BER #326. Fortunately, the pair also carries their original road numbers stenciled on their truck side frames, B&LE #90878 and B&LE #90366, respectively. These two venerable veterans endured a lifetime of hard service moving heavy loads of iron ore and coal, and were inadvertently “preserved” inside an unused hopper car coal dumper. AoSRM acquired ownership and transported them using highway trucks to Sugarcreek, arriving in October.

PRR Boxcar Restored to Original Appearance

This Pennsylvania Railroad Class X29 boxcar was beautifully restored in our shop by patching smaller rusted areas with Bondo body filler and welding-in new steel to replace larger, rusted-out side sheets. Our 93-year-old car was repainted into its original 1929 paint scheme with its original PRR road number, 51121. The paint color was carefully matched to a paint swatch loaned by the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society. Old PRR lettering diagrams were painstakingly followed to confirm that the car’s final lettering was spot-on. The beautifully refurbished Pennsy boxcar #51121 rolled out of AoSRM’s backshop in the summer of 2022 looking as good as new.

Our thanks go to Bruce Smith of the PRRTHS and John Frantz of Mt. Vernon Shops for their contributions of artwork, diagrams and paint swatches to ensure the accuracy of this project. More information on this boxcar is available here.

Lightweight Combine #9300 Repainted

In 1954 a series of lightweight 76-seat air-conditioned coaches were constructed for the Canadian National Railway. These cars were used on most of CN’s passenger trains, including the renowned Super Continental. Most were sold to VIA Rail Canada in 1977 and a few years later some were rebuilt as 54-seat passenger-baggage combination cars (“combines”). Jerry Jacobson’s Ohio Central Railroad System bought one of them, #9300, for service on steam-powered passenger excursion trains. Recently, this combine was given an exterior restoration back to its original 1954 paint scheme of black and olive green with yellow striping.

These photos show the progression of the painting and masking process after body work was finished, starting with yellow paint for the stripes. Next came black paint, then green. Finally lettering and logos were applied for CN’s American subsidiary, the Grand Trunk Western. More details on our entire CNR coach set are available here.

PRR Fire Hose Storage Shed & Cart

Recently acquired for our collection is this fire hose storage shed and its two-wheeled hose cart that were once owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad. It is unknown at which yard or locomotive facility where this piece of fire-fighting equipment was used, but the shed is representative of such “hose houses” found all across the Pennsy and many other railroads.

During restoration, the hose house received some new replacement wood, but care was taken to keep this structure as original as possible while still restoring it to an operational state. A fresh coat of red paint and neat white lettering have been applied to the exterior, but its interior and hose cart have yet to be refurbished. Not many of these once-ubiquitous buildings have survived, so we were happy to have an opportunity to save, restore and exhibit this one for everyone to enjoy.

Reading 0-4-0 Camelback #1187 Receives Cosmetic Restoration

Age of Steam workers have scraped off layers of accumulated paint, rust, scale, and grease from deteriorated 0-4-0 Camelback #1187. The engine and tender were thoroughly cleaned, and several stored appliances and associated piping have been re-hung in their proper positions on the boiler. The smaller, open-air rear cab for the fireman was repaired and re-applied. The badly rusted engineer’s cab that sits atop the boiler is being rebuilt. Protective paint was applied, and the tender was once again lettered for the Reading Railroad. Additional work will be accomplished during the winter so that Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum visitors may enjoy seeing this rare and beautiful Camelback in all its glory when our next tour season begins on April 1, 2023.

W&LE 0-6-0 #3960 Receives Cosmetic Work, UT Grid

Previous visitors taking Roundhouse tours saw a “checkerboard” grid pattern that had been painted onto the bare boiler of one of our locomotives during a boiler survey. This led to questions and answers about how boilers work, safe locomotive operations, and the incredible power of steam. This topic fascinated our tour-takers, so a new subject was added into subsequent Roundhouse tours. When that locomotive received a full cosmetic restoration, the grids were painted over and this conversation piece was no longer a part of our tour.

Wheeling & Lake Erie 0-6-0 #3960 was already in the backshop receiving a general cleanup and some fresh paint, so it was selected to receive the same checkerboard grid pattern. When a locomotive is to undergo a Federal Railroad Administration-mandated, 15-year/1,472-day inspection, hundreds of these 12” x 12” squares are onto the outside (and inside!) of the boiler. Each square is numbered to allow easy identification during non-destructive testing. By using an ultrasound testing (UT) device similar to those used by doctors on mothers-to-be, a measurement of the thickness of the remaining boiler steel can be taken and cataloged. These measurements are then used to calculate the safe operating steam pressure that can be used in the boiler of that particular loco. The stripped-down #3960 was the perfect locomotive to receive that UT checkerboard grid and will add a little-known story back into our Roundhouse tours. Currently there are no plans to restore #3960 to operational status.

B&LE 2-10-4 #643 Update

We frequently receive questions about the status of moving former Bessemer and Lake Erie 2-10-4 #643 to the Roundhouse from its longtime storage location in Pittsburgh. The locomotive’s tender and many other major components were safely moved to Sugarcreek just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Extracting the massive engine itself is a complicated endeavor due to the surrounding tight city streets, active rail lines, and other nearby public and privately-owned infrastructure. AoSRM continues to work diligently with the appropriate parties to finalize the plan for moving the engine to Sugarcreek. As soon as all of the details are in place, we will relocate the locomotive and wrap up this long-term project. Updates will be shared as they become available. We look forward to displaying #643 at Age of Steam, this engine’s first time on public display in decades.

McCloud River RR 2-8-2 #19 Restoration Continues

1915-built McCloud River Railroad 2-8-2 #19 has been in the backshop for quite some time now, with nearly every component having been removed, inspected, and repaired as needed. As work progressed many more necessary repairs were uncovered, including old repairs that had been made on top of even older repairs. In such situations, completely new parts were cast at the local steel foundry or machined in our shop.

#19’s boiler has been fully inspected and necessary repairs – including a new firebox door sheet and a patch on the front tube sheet – have been completed. Newly built superheater units, tubes and flues have arrived and are ready for installation. Receipt of many restoration materials has been delayed by COVID-caused unemployment and supply-chain challenges.

Recent work on #19 includes a thorough inspection of all brake rigging. During inspection large amounts of wear were found on some supporting components. These were welded-up and re-machined as good as new, and all-new pins and bushings were machined in the shop and installed. All of the locomotive’s frame pedestal surfaces – which guide the driving box shoes and wedges up and down – needed welding to build up missing steel. These surfaces were then re-machined to provide smooth, flat contact planes. Since you can’t simply set up a locomotive frame in the nearest milling machine, the machine shop crew designed and built an innovative portable milling machine that was bolted to #19’s frame and that allowed precision resurfacing of all of these built-up welds. (Great job, guys!)

The laying-out of #19’s cylinder centerlines was undertaken so that the cylinder bores are exactly parallel to the locomotive’s frame. This is important because #19’s pairs of pistons, piston rods, driving rods, and valve gear are connected together, so all of these parts must operate in a unified manner for the smoothest operation. Two other recently completed projects were the machining of the steam dome seat where the soft copper “round-ring” will sit and be squeezed to ensure a steam-tight fit between #19’s steam dome and its newly fabricated steel dome lid. This lid and its round-ring seal must contain the 185 pounds of steam boiler pressure constantly being pushed against them. Support springs and hangers for #19’s main driving axle have come to the workbench as the next project.

The Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum will continue its complete and safe restoration of #19 until it is ready to operate once again. We will periodically update you as to this loco’s progress and look forward to returning this famous engine to service soon.

Season's Greetings

Thank you for your continued support of the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum. We wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. More tours, events and exciting updates are coming in 2023. We look forward to your next visit to the Roundhouse!

More From Roundhouse Reports:

Jerry Jacobson and the Veteran's Air Lift Command

By Rich Melvin

Rich, Nick Vogt, and Lauren Honeycutt are in Mansfield, Ohio, about to board Jerry's aircraft for their flight to Gaithersburg. You can see the engagement ring on Lauren's left hand.

I had the honor to serve as the Ohio Central Railroad’s corporate pilot from January 2007 through December 2015. The railroad purchased a 1990 King Air C90A, a 6-passenger, 320-mph turbo-prop aircraft. I flew a total of 805 flights in this aircraft, most of which were for Ohio Central business. However, a few of those flights were truly special. More about that later.

Jerry often used his aircraft to travel around the country to inspect locomotives for sale that he wanted to purchase, and then “flip” them for resale to earn a profit. He would travel back and forth from his home in Ohio to Charlottesville, Virginia, to visit his two sons who attended Fork Union Military Academy in the town of Fork Union. When Jerry sold his railroad to Genesee & Wyoming in 2008, his use of the aircraft dropped a little. And when his two boys graduated from the academy, his use of the plane dropped dramatically. The aircraft sat idle for weeks at a time.

The worst thing one can do to a turbo-prop plane is to allow it to sit unused. I became concerned that maintenance costs would increase and flight dispatch reliability would decrease. I began a search for some kind of use for the aircraft that Jerry would approve. We tried doing some charter flights with the aircraft, but more paperwork, higher insurance premiums and increased maintenance costs quickly showed that part-time charter was not a profitable venture. After about a dozen trips, Jerry told me to terminate the charter operations.

I was browsing the internet looking for possible flight opportunities for us when I ran across a very interesting web site. It was the Veterans Airlift Command (VAC), located on the web at veteransairlift.org. Through a national network of volunteer aircraft owners and pilots, the VAC provides free private air transportation to post-9/11 combat wounded and their families for medical and other compassionate purposes. The VAC relies on pilots to donate their time and for aircraft owners to donate their aircraft to fly the various missions. As I learned more about the VAC, I realized that this was something that Jerry just might find interesting. Jerry was extremely proud of his military service for the United States Army as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division. In fact, we even displayed the 82nd’s logo on the fuselage of Jerry’s aircraft!

Soon after learning about VAC, I called Jerry at home to tell him about this unique organization. I spent several minutes briefing him about the VAC, what they did, who they did it for, and how they did it. I wasn’t sure if Jerry would approve of this because there was no financial upside to it. Jerry was a savvy businessman, and I wasn’t sure if my “sales pitch” about the VAC was going to work. However, I quickly learned that Jerry’s unflagging patriotism and love of our military veterans far outweighed any financial concerns he might have had.

When I finished my sales pitch, Jerry immediately said, “Richard…” (he always called me “Richard”, never just “Rich”) “…you get set up with those guys and start flying missions for them! I don’t care about the cost, just get us on their list and fly for them as often as you can!”

Right there, in two short sentences, I learned all that I needed to know about Jerry’s love for our military veterans. They were at the top of his list and their welfare far outweighed everything else.

I completed the application and certification procedure to get Jerry’s plane on the list of qualified and available VAC aircraft. Flights were assigned on a volunteer, mark-up basis. VAC published a list of needed flights on their web site. Pilots could go to the list, scan it for flights suitable to their aircraft and geographic location, and “mark up” for a flight. For my first VAC flight I chose a mission out of Gaithersburg, Maryland, going to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There would be only two passengers and the flight was fairly close to home, making it very suitable for the King Air.

At the appointed time I landed at Gaithersburg. There, I met a unique Army veteran, Nick Vogt. An aspiring Army trauma surgeon, Vogt graduated from West Point in 2010. A year later he was serving in Afghanistan with the 1st Stryker Brigade, 25th Infantry Division. But his service on the battlefield was short-lived. Just two months into his service in Kandahar Province, Nick stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) that was buried in the soil beneath his feet. The bomb exploded, taking off his left leg and mutilating the right. Nick was considered “clinically dead.”  He was bleeding profusely, but his fellow soldiers rallied the troops at their Kandahar post and quickly donated 300 pints of blood for Nick. Much more would be needed, as Nick faced many traumatic surgeries. He holds the military record for the number of pints of blood used to save his life – over 400 pints! Unfortunately, Nick lost both of his legs in this horribly traumatic event.

On these flights Nick was always accompanied by his nurse, Lauren Honeycutt. She tended to his medical needs during the trips and helped him get into and out of his wheelchair. Lauren was a cheerful young woman, always very kind and attentive to Nick’s numerous needs.

I flew Nick and Lauren to Mansfield, Ohio, a few times. Nick’s family lives near Crestline, which is a city familiar to any railroad fan. The airport at Mansfield was the closest for these visits with family, and in April 2014 I flew Nick and Lauren there for the Easter holiday. A few days later when I went back to the airport for the return flight back to Gaithersburg, something very special happened. Their car pulled up and Lauren got out. She usually went to the back of the car to get Nick’s wheelchair, but on this day she got out and started running…toward me! Lauren was shouting, “Rich! Rich! Look!” as she held out her left hand. When she got closer I saw an engagement ring on her finger! Nick had proposed to Lauren on this visit and she said, “Yes!

I concluded by flying only ten missions for the Veterans Airlift Commnd before Jerry decided that it was time to sell his aircraft. I really enjoyed those flights! They were always very special flights for me, because I was given the opportunity to serve some very special people.

I flew Nick and Lauren on several more flights, but none was as special as the Easter holiday flight in April 2014.

Roundhouse Reports

Roundhouse Report - Summer 2021

Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum -- Mechanical Department Restorations

Work continues on former McCloud/Yreka Western #19, 2-8-2 locomotive this spring. The interior of the boiler is in the process of being descaled and inspected for any repairs or adjustments. The preliminary inspection shows the boiler courses to be in very good condition. Measurements of the interior sections of the boiler courses are also being made as the information is gathered to create the revised Federal Railroad Administration Form #4 for this engine.

Boiler courses in grid pattern for non-destructive measurements of thickness.

The piston valves needed a fair amount of work causing the decision to completely rebuild them including the valve rods as well. The valve cages have been rebored and new valve rings have been machined to fit the new interior diameter of the cages.

Assembly and fitting of new piston valve components.

Also in the machine shop is the iron material to manufacture new driving box shoe and wedges replacing the worn and broken ones that were discovered upon disassembly. This area of work will also encompass the inspection and repair of the driving boxes, including new hub liners and axle crown brasses. At this time, the frame pedestals that the driving boxes fit into will also receive inspection and repairs as needed to ensure a good fit for proper operation. 

New shoes (standing), new wedges laying together. Assorted valve gear parts in background.

Many boiler studs have been identified for replacement account of eroded areas, bent, or having worn threads. This will include all new studs on the steam dome for retaining the steam dome lid. Material is on hand to replace the old dome lid as well.

Steam dome minus dome lid studs.

Starting this summer, the shop crew will be the trueing the 48” diameter driver tires on our 80” Putnam wheel lathe. The current tire tread wear is acceptable for use but being that they are presently out from under the engine, it makes good sense to cut them to the new profile to ensure years of operation.

Driver ready for cleaning, inspection, and re-profiling of tires.

The 1920 build Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (CB&Q) passenger commuter coach #705 work has been completed and is awaiting its sister car #704 that is now in the shop for similar repairs. The 704 requires all new sub flooring and will be covered with new tile per original look.
Since all the seats are removed, they will be inspected and repaired to ensure proper operation.

Exterior work includes repairs of rusted areas in the vestibules, and exterior body work.
Electrical system has been upgraded and new light fixtures have been installed. The interior is receiving a fresh coat of paint, after which the exterior will be painted to its original “Pullman Green” colors and lettered for CB&Q.

New floor tile installation in coach #704.

Locomotive #12, former Morehead & North Fork/Southern Railway 0-6-0 has seen a few fire ups this year for special events. Earlier this year, new canvas side and back curtains on the cab were installed. Curtains are very welcome on inclement weather days as well as keeping the sun at bay on those summer days. The engine will be used with more of the 2021 special events that are being planned.

Just another day the #12 heads out to do some switching in the yard.

The Age of Steam Roundhouse would like to take the opportunity to thank all our Military Veterans, and Active personnel that protect this great Nation, so we can enjoy the freedoms that we have today. Thank you for all that you sacrifice, past, present and future.

Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum Tours, Exhibits, Programs and Special Events

The Age of steam Roundhouse Museum is open for business with numerous opportunities for tours and events this summer and fall. Tours are once again being filled as visitors from across the country come to hear the story of Jerry Jacobson’s dream. Roundhouse Tours step off Thursdays-Saturdays 10am-2pm. Visitors are treated to a 90-minute walking tour of the Age of Steam Roundhouse, the locomotive collection, and back shop.

The Ferroequinologist Tour is an extended 3-hour long walking tour designed for the knowledgeable railroad enthusiast. This tour is a more in-depth version of our regular guided Roundhouse tour. As a result of popular demand, we have added new Ferroequinologist tours to the schedule for the 2021 tour season. Tickets are now available for Ferroequinologist tours on select Sunday afternoons June-October.

Numerous events are planned for the fall of 2021 including the second annual Steam to Victory World War Two reenactment, our very first Iron and Ales beer tasting, and a yearend addition of the “Blue Flag Tour.”

Steam to Victory is planned for Friday and Saturday September 10 and 11 from 9:00am—5:00pm. The event is the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum’s annual salute to the military and celebration of the railroad’s enormous contribution to ultimate allied victory in the Second World War. The event will be hosted on the museum grounds in partnership with multiple World War Two living history organizations and military vehicle restoration exports. This year’s offerings will include military encampments, small arms and artillery demonstrations, food venders, and outdoor locomotive displays across the Roundhouse property.

Iron and Ales will be hosted in partnership with several local breweries and restaurants on Saturday October 16th from 6:00pm-9:00pm. Patrons will be treated to multiple local brews, hors d’oeuvre, and live music in the beautifully reconstructed Age of Steam Roundhouse surrounded by the architectural beauty of the building and the historic locomotive collection.

The final addition of our “Blue Flag Tour” for the 2021 tour season is scheduled for Friday November 12th. Visitors will be treated to behind-the-scenes access that includes a hands-on tour of the Roundhouse Shop, the opportunity to meet the Roundhouse Team that maintains and restores the Roundhouse collection, a full-length tour of the Roundhouse itself, and the chance to assist with the prepping and firing of one of the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum’s locomotives.

Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum Tickets, Support and Shopping

The Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum is recovering from a year of COVID-19 restrictions that limited the number of visitors that could tour the Roundhouse. The State of Ohio removed all COVID-19 restrictions at the beginning of June, and we have been offering normal tour operations since then. While the state’s restrictions have been lifted, the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum continues, as we always have, to make visitor safety a priority. Much of that effort will not be visible to visitors on the tour but include continued cleaning and disinfecting of public areas and guides may be wearing masks when they interact with visitors. All of this ensures that you, as a visitor, can experience the Roundhouse safely.

Not surprisingly, a year of restrictions negatively affected the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum’s earned revenue. This revenue supports the museum’s non-profit activities including the restoration of collection items, the continued acquisition and display of historic artifacts and machinery, and the presentation of educational programs to the public. The museum is blessed to have a large community of supporters worldwide who appreciate what the Roundhouse represents and carries out. If you would like to financially support the Roundhouse, you can do so by clicking the link below to our donations page.

If you have toured the Roundhouse recently, you know that we are always looking to improve. We continue to ask for feedback from tour group visitors via an anonymous survey that is emailed, and/or made available via link, to those who have recently taken a tour. So far for the 2021 tour season, survey results are consistent with past years’ data. Overall satisfaction with the Roundhouse experience rated at 4.8 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best. Visitors rated the performance of their specific tour guide at 4.8, cleanliness of the facilities at 4.9, and 100% of responders said that they would recommend the Roundhouse to a friend, family member, or colleague. While these numbers are good to see, the Roundhouse will continue to work improve the quality of the tours, programs, events, and facilities. Thank you to all our visitors for supporting the Roundhouse and helping us improve1

Thanks to the generosity of many friends and visitors, we have been provided with items that we are able to put up for sale on our Ebay store to help further support our efforts to keep this unique collection of heritage rail equipment safe for future generations to enjoy. We also auction replaced pieces of equipment from our steam locomotives as they are fixed up to be returned to better condition, focusing on our McCloud River RR 2-8-2 #19 currently since it is going through its 1472 day rebuild and inspection. In tandem with our Ebay store, we have many of our regularly stocked gift shop items on sale through our website so that you can help support the Age of Steam Roundhouse year-round.

More From Roundhouse Reports:

Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum Hires New Executive Director

June 22, 2021

“ The Board of Directors of The Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum, is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Peter J. Poremba as its new Executive Director “ said Bill Strawn, Board Chairman. “ Mr. Poremba brings a 35 year railroad career to AOSRM, and has been an active Board member. Mr. Poremba’s railroad career began in 1983, as a part time volunteer on Ohi-Rail, which was Mr. Jacobson’s first railroad. Jerry Jacobson was the founder and builder of The Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum, which publicly displays his personal collection of steam locomotives and related artifacts. Pete Poremba’s lifetime career ensued in 1986 as a locomotive engineer on The Youngstown & Austintown Railroad. Engineer, Trainmaster, and ultimately Road Foreman of Engines for The Ohio Central Railroad System of 10 railroads, serve as testimony to Mr. Poremba’s progression onto the senior management team. Pete’s lifetime friendship with Jerry Jacobson and management experience gives him invaluable insight into the mission of The Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum. We look forward to Pete’s leadership and focus on the future, as the museum enters its second phase of growth and development,” Strawn said. AOSRM thanks Noel Poirier, former Executive Director, for his service and expertise in guiding AOSRM into the proper framework of becoming a full fledged museum.

Additional museum information and tour schedules, can be found at: ageofsteamroundhouse.org

Roundhouse Reports

Roundhouse Report - Spring 2021

Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum -- Mechanical Department Restorations

The winter of 2020-2019 has been very busy here in the shop with work concentrating primarily on locomotive #19. This former McCloud River RR /Yreka Western 2-8-2 has been undergoing heavy repairs at AoSRM for quite some time, and, as you steam loco lovers already know, the more you dig, the more problems you find. In taking #19 apart down to its bare bones, our shop workers have found old repairs on top of even older repairs, sometimes with no replacement of some worn-out, 106-year-old original parts. Poor #19 has seen a hard life with many “make-do” repairs, but because AoSRM insists on and performs only 1st class repairs, those days are gone.

The COVID-19 pandemic year 2020 has created many changes to the world as we then knew it, including AoSRM’s decisions regarding this locomotive’s rebuilding program and schedule for completion. Late last year, we decided to continue #19’s restoration, but now it will include the Federal Railroad Administration’s 1,472-service day/15-year requirement of a more thorough boiler inspection and rebuild. This will allow #19 to again re-enter operational status with a full service life of 15 years . . . a full service life that will also benefit AoSRM for its next 15 years.

The #19’s entire boiler was stripped of all external appliances, piping, jacketing and insulation (called “lagging”), and the large flues and smaller tubes have been removed. Needle scaling was performed inside and out to remove any flaking rust and other debris. The bare boiler shell has been marked externally and internally into more than 300, coded, square-foot-size grid sections for Ultrasonic Thickness Inspection. This non-destructive UTI process measures the length of time required for an emitted sound wave to travel from the test probe, through the boiler steel, and be reflected back to the probe. That specific duration of time determines the measurement of boiler thickness, with more time indicating areas having thicker steel and less time indicating areas having thinner steel. A formula converts these elapsed times into new, fraction-of-an-inch measurements and, among other considerations, will indicate if the designed boiler pressure can be safely used with the boiler’s new, minimum indicated test thickness. If not, repairs must be made to the boiler’s weaker areas, sometimes requiring new boiler courses or an entirely new boiler shell. Otherwise, the boiler’s normal operating pressure must be proportionally lowered to prevent failure of the original pressure vessel, and is less costly than fabricating a new boiler.

The electronic test probe was manually positioned at more than 1,200 individual measurement locations marked on both the inside and outside surfaces of #19’s boiler and firebox. Each reading was recorded and catalogued in the final report compiled by AoSRM’s engineering staff who will review the results and determine if any new reinforcements or new repairs are necessary to bring locomotive #19’s old boiler back into service.

Locomotive #19’s boiler has 199, two-inch fire tubes and twenty-eight, 5-1/2-inch superheater flues. All of these larger diameter flues work in conjunction with a Type A superheater to raise the temperature of the boiler steam by about 300° to remove water and produce “dry” steam that

has more energy than saturated or so-called “wet” steam. Each larger superheater flue contains smaller diameter superheater elements that snake down-and-back inside each flue—and then snake down-and-back again!—so that each small superheater element is comprised of just one long length of pipe using 3 return bends to make four, shorter, element sections. The steam makes four separate passes through the hot gasses inside each flue, thus raising the steam’s temperature by about 300° F for greater efficiency to turn heat energy into mechanical energy. These four superheater element sections fit into each 5-1/2-inch diameter flue, and together, the four sections comprise a single superheater unit. The #19 has 28 such superheater units in 28 superheater flues.

The Type A superheater units inside #19 have reached the end of their useful life span and will be 100% replaced with all new components, including new return bends. Some of these retired superheater units with their distinctive return bends will be saved and cut into short sections for future sales by AoSRM’s gift shop. The short sections will be great souvenir items from this very popular “movie star” locomotive—Emperor of the North, Stand By Me, and even Animal House!

While #19’s boiler work progresses, shop crews are also inspecting and repairing all running gear parts and components, including valve, main and side rods and their bearings. Using the AoSRM drop pit that lowers axles and wheel sets from their pedestal openings in the frames underneath a locomotive, each of #19’s four driver axles with their eight, 48-inch diameter driving wheels have been removed for axle bearing and lateral bearing repairs. This will also allow the re-trueing of all eight driving wheel tires to the proper tread profile. Interestingly, #19’s number one driver axle took longer to remove, as some of the heavy studs and nuts were broken-off their two pedestal binders. Located in both sides of the locomotive’s frame, pedestal openings (the white-colored, square-shape device to the left of the red wheel in this photo) are where each driving axle is housed. A removable pedestal binder is fastened across the bottom of each pedestal opening, thereby securing each driver axle into its two pedestal openings.

Other shop work performed on loco #19 will consist of repairs to its piping, spring rigging, brake rigging, rewiring its electrical system and a multitude of other areas. Even though it is difficult and dirty work, much enjoyment and pride are evidenced by AoSRM shop forces as they bring this famous locomotive back up to safe and reliable operating standards for many years to come, and for everyone to enjoy.

AoSRM’s 0-6-0 #12, built for Southern Railway in 1905 and sold to Morehead & North Fork, has received some minor adjustments as well as a new set of canvas cab curtains. On March 17, #12 underwent and passed its FRA annual inspection, including a required hydrostatic test of its boiler. Such “hydro” testing entails filling the boiler with warm water and then using a separate pump to increase the water’s pressure to 25% above the  locomotive’s rated working (operating) pressure. The #12 will be fired-up and used occasionally at AoSRM this summer for special functions and events, such as our popular Blue Flag Tours. For schedules and to make reservations, visit our website at: www.ageofsteamroundhouse.org/blue-flag-tour/.

This winter’s work also has our 1920-built Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (CB&Q) passenger commuter coach #705 in the shop for minor mechanical repairs and a cosmetic make-over. The coach’s original CB&Q road number was #7158, and will be restored back onto its sides when the final exterior painting occurs. The all-steel carbody is receiving repairs to rusted areas, and general metalwork is being done to many smaller components. Interior reconditioning of all parts and moderate repairs to the floor are being done, and an interior coat of new paint has been applied. The coach’s exterior will be sandblasted and repainted to its former Pullman green color (livery), and will be relettered to reflect its CB&Q heritage. When repairs to #7158 have been completed, this coach will be displayed in its old-time “Q” livery, and will be ready-to-go for rentals or leasing to museums and tourist short lines for their passenger train operations.

Several second-hand machine tools have been purchased for use in the back shop, including a 50-ton “Ironworker” for cutting, shearing, nipping and punching holes in various metals, and a DoAll brand vertical metal bandsaw. The AoSRM’s machine shop is constantly upgrading and acquiring “experienced” machine tools that have been on our wish list and are acquired as funds allow.

Not all of the work performed in the shop is for just our railroad equipment, but also for the entire AoSRM facility—buildings, plumbing, electrical, property, etc.—to ensure that everything is properly maintained for longevity, safety and comfort of both public and staff. Such work entails constant monitoring of many disparate locations having ancient equipment, requiring full-time employees for maintenance, structure repairs, upgrades, new construction, grounds-keeping, repair parts inventories and acquisition of difficult-to-find antique items. Being added to AoSRM facilities will be a new, railroad car storage building measuring 65’x464’ and built in the same architectural style as existing structures. It will be featured in future issues of Roundhouse Report.

Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum Tours, Exhibits, Programs and Special Events

The Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum team is ready for a new, longer season of tours, exhibits, programs and special events! AoSRM has extended its 2021 tour season, with our first regular Roundhouse tours beginning on Saturday, May 1, and continuing for an extra 3 weekends through Saturday, November 20.

This year the Roundhouse will be offering a full schedule, including expanded opportunities for visitors—particularly railfans—to participate in numerous hands-on and in-depth educational programs, such as our always-popular Blue Flag and Ferroequinologist Tours. (Ferro = Iron, Equine = Horse, Ologist = One who studies a specific subject = Ferroequinologist = Steam Fan!) Designed for the knowledgeable railroad enthusiast, our 3-hour Ferroequinologist Tour is a more in-depth version of our regular guided Roundhouse tour, including our collection of 23 steamers.

Here we see husband-and-wife Blue Flag Tour-takers trying their hands at using stencils and differing applicators to practice painting numerals onto the tender flanks of the Roundhouse’s rare Reading 0-4-0 Camelback #1187. Other activities include getting to see up-close the current restoration projects being tackled in the shop, learning how to safely use some of the hand tools to repair railroad equipment, and the very rare and much-desired opportunity to assist with the prepping and firing-up of one of the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum’s steam locomotives. We’ll chuff around the yard so that everyone has an opportunity to pull the throttle on a steamer.

We will be featuring our all-new Founder’s Tour, a 3-hour, behind-the-scenes exploration that will highlight the life, locomotives and legacy of Jerry Joe Jacobson, the iconic and beloved founder, builder and benefactor of the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum. Jerry is seen here wearing his favorite Kromer, polka-dot engineer’s cap as he fires Canadian Pacific 4-6-2 #1293.

Visitors to the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum during 2021 will be treated to a special exhibit entitled Tools of the Trade. This display will feature original artifacts and tools used by railroad shop workers, showcasing their long-learned expertise and the all-important, day-to-day responsibility of maintaining massive and potentially dangerous railroad equipment. Tools of the Trade will open in the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum’s Jacobson Gallery on May 1, 2021, and will run through the end of this tour season, closing on November 20.

Beginning this summer, new family-friendly programs will include a series of special 45-minute events every Saturday at 1:00 p.m. The first in a new series of children’s activities, “Story Book and Explore,” is scheduled for Thursday, June 10 at 1:00 p.m., and will feature a Roundhouse volunteer reading aloud from Watty Piper’s classic children’s book, The Little Engine That Could (“I think I can, I think I can . . .”). This will be followed by a fun-filled stroll inside our giant 18-stall Roundhouse to see and marvel at our collection of The Big Engines That Could.

Our shorter, Saturday afternoon “Family Tours” during June-August will include a presentation about how steam locomotives operate. This will be followed by a rare, close-up look at the Age of Steam’s giant, 115-foot long turntable, a device used to “aim” locomotives into their proper roundhouse stalls or to spin them completely around. Groups will take a look in the back shop before finishing their tours in front of our beautiful, big and shiny steamer, GTW 4-8-4 #6325.

“Railroad Heritage Career Day” is scheduled for Thursday, July 8th at 1:00 p.m. Children and their families will have an opportunity to visit stations located throughout the Museum to learn about old-time railroad workers, their tools and their skilled trades as engineers, machinists, blacksmiths and carmen, good jobs that kept the railroads running during the Age of Steam.

“A Day of S.T.E.A.M. (Science. Technology. Engineering. Arts and Math)” has been scheduled for Thursday, August 12 at 1:00 p.m. Families will be able to explore the basic functions of old steam locomotives, and just what it took for them to go chug-chug-chugging down the track. Children will have an opportunity to express their creativity by crafting their own steam locos. Additional information and tickets for these fun-filled programs will be available on our website at: www.ageofsteamroundhouse.org/events/

At the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum, volunteers are central to the work that we do. During the winter we conducted a successful recruitment drive and this spring began training our new volunteers to support Roundhouse tours, programs and events. Volunteers help to ensure a safe experience for visitors by escorting tour groups, leading walking tours, and assisting with various duties during special events. Long-time volunteer Tim Botti (above) loves running steamer #12. To become a volunteer, contact: www.ageofsteamroundhouse.org/about-us/volunteer/

Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum Tickets, Support and Shopping

The Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum’s 2021 tour season will kick-off on May 1, 2021, and once again we are excited to share the Roundhouse and its amazing collection with our visitors. Like everyone else, last season was challenging for us, but are proud to say that we were able to run the tour season safely for our staff, volunteers and visitors. Surveys of our 2020 visitors rated AoSRM’s attention and dedication to our COVID-related safety measures at 4.8 on a scale of 5.0. As we begin to welcome visitors for the 2021 season, we want to assure everyone that we will continue to work tirelessly to make sure that your visit is enjoyable, entertaining and above all, safe. You can order tickets and learn more about our implemented COVID safety measures by following this link:

As COVID-19 spread, the future had never felt so unpredictable. These are challenging times for everyone, and we hope you are in high spirits and good health! Right now, AoSRM is doing everything possible to sustain our daily operations and fulfill our missions of education and preservation. While there is still a lot of uncertainty, we know that AoSRM must be able to adapt quickly to our changing reality. Now, more than ever, we need your support.

If you are able, please donate. If you are unable to donate at this time, there are many other ways you can support us. You can advocate for us by sharing our mission with a family member or friends on social media. Even a quick mention on your social media would mean the world to us. In times like this, we are reminded of how interconnected we all are.

Thanks to the generosity of many friends and visitors, we have received some unique items that we are selling through our on-line eBay store to help further support AoSRM’s efforts to keep its unique collection of heritage railroad equipment safe for future generations to enjoy. As each part is removed during restoration, we also auction one-of-a-kind, replaced pieces of equipment from our steam locomotives. Since McCloud River RR 2-8-2 #19 is now going through its 1,472-day inspection and rebuild inside our back shop, old items removed from this popular movie star steamer are available for sale on eBay as unique locomotive souvenirs. In addition to our eBay store, we have many regularly-stocked gift shop items on sale through our online store. Both of these year-round outlets provide another way that you can help support the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum. So that visitors may browse in person through our selection of AoSRM hats, T-shirts, books and many other souvenir items, we also have an on-site store that is open for business during our May-November regular tour season.

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Roundhouse Reports

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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