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Roundhouse Report - Summer 2021

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 improve!

dual logo t-shirts

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.

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.

#19 in the shop

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/
Tim Botti loves running steamer #12

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/join-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.