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RyPN Articles May 26, 2008
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T&P 400 in Marshall, Texas

Photos by the author

In 1915 Baldwin built a nice Mikado for the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway which entered service as their #410. It was heavily rebuilt and modernized about 1940, and worked until bought by the T&P (which had dieselized a bit too rapidly) in 1958 to work in flood protection standby service as their #400. It suffered a mechanical breakdown, which was deemed too costly to repair, the particulars of which don't seem to have been recorded on surviving documentation, and was retired and put on display in the city park in Marshall, Texas in 1963.

After many years of outdoor storage, and little upkeep, the discovery of asbestos emerging from beneath a rotted jacket coincided with the advent of public concern about asbestos, and a steel building was erected over the locomotive to protect the public from asbestos. It was a beautiful structure for its purpose, having plenty of room on either side of the locomotive and big bay doors for access, but from the outside was not visually stimulating.

The T&P depot (which sits landlocked in the middle of a wye) still serves Amtrak, and the second floor has been converted into a small nonprofit railroad museum. The line is a fairly busy UPRR line now, and on weekends the balcony surrounding the second floor is fairly redolent with camera-equipped foamers enjoying the view of passing trains. A UP caboose had been acquired and placed on a short bit of display track on the depot grounds. The depot is about a mile from the city park as the crow flies, but with a courthouse square and many narrow streets with low hanging wires and streetlights in between.

Community Support

The Depot Museum had expressed an interest in acquiring 400 from the park when the park itself was being substantially upgraded by local philanthropist Steven Carlile. Mr. Carlile believes in giving a lot back to the community that has been good to him, and has underwritten many civic improvements. In March, 2007, I went to Marshall at Mr. Carlile's behest to inspect the locomotive, and make recommendations on its potential use as a civic display either in the park or at the Depot Museum, and provide cost estimates for whatever work was necessary.

Sitting in the middle of the other two buildings, the steel shed can be seen from the old grade.

My report had two possible recommended courses of action: restore the locomotive in its current location, and beautify the sheltering structure as a display location with an adjacent brick plaza, which could be used as a venue for smaller public events, or move the locomotive and the sheltering structure to the Depot Museum grounds, where the building would not only protect the locomotive, but provide a couple thousand square feet of useful space for the Depot Museum to use to expand their programming and income so they could adequately care for the locomotive and have room to grow. The exterior of the building could be modified to resemble the historic railroad structures that had been nearby.

Moving the locomotive would require crossing the UP. Getting from the park into the yard next to the depot wye would be a roundabout trip, going west, then north, then west, then around the city from the west side to the northeast side, then southwest towards the railroad yard. A little neighborhood would need to be passed through including a very tight turn to get into the yard. A gravel company sent their trucks through on the same street, so it appeared possible. From the railroad yard, one leg of the wye would need to be crossed, and a road graded through a gate into the depot property, under a high bridge, the Boilivar Street overpass.

Texas & Pacific #400 waits for asbestos remediation inside the steel structure.

I had considered hauling it out on the abandoned railroad right of way that passed within a couple hundred feet of the park, but there were some very bad order wood spans and some difficult encroachments in the way.

I estimated abatement, track installation, and restoration costs at $150,000. I figured another $100,000 would cover the structure and move, and any reasonable incidentals for a total turnkey cost not to exceed $250,000.00.

I recommended the Depot Museum hire an experienced steam locomotive person in the region to help advise them, submitted my report, and went on my way.

The Depot Museum board didn’t believe they could raise the funds for the estimated cost, nor that increasing revenue for greater resources was necessary to act as responsible stewards of a steam locomotive. In turn they wrote a proposal of their own: move the engine for us and we will restore it at a cost of less than $6000. Don’t worry about cost to keep it up, the universe will provide.

An outside party approached the city with an offer to "take the engine off their hands" free, to be restored and operated as a tourist attraction somewhere within the region, but lacked a lot of concrete information.

The city turned down the offer, and Mr. Carlile agreed to move the locomotive to the depot. The Depot Museum began to prepare for the move. Asbestos was abated. Pages were torn from the calendar like leaves from a tree in a hurricane.

Preparation Is Key

Mid April, 2008: I get a call advising me that the locomotive will be moved April 19th and 20th. Could I be there to help assure the locomotive is moved undamaged and safely? I drop everything, arrange the trip and am told on April 17th that the move will be delayed indefinitely.

More time passes. I am advised on April 30 that the move will happen May 3 and 4. I drop everything again, change my tickets and head out of town.

While setting up for a test lift, the riggers check for stability at the front end.

Upon arrival in Marshall on Friday May 2, I go directly to the park. A large crew from Fowler Transport is on hand with some gorgeous cranes, support equipment, and tackle. They hadn't been advised of my involvement, but adapted quickly and welcomed my advice. The plan was to set up and make a test lift, then on Saturday grade a path over the curb to the front of the locomotive, lift it up, haul out the panel of track beneath it, back the rig in, crib and secure the load on the lowboy, and park the rig on the street for a Sunday move around town.

Fowler is probably the best, most professional rigging contractor it has ever been my pleasure to work with. They have fine equipment, work well as an organic team, are extremely safety conscious, and readily adapt to changing conditions effectively.

One such change was in making the hookup for the lift. They had welded a beam under the frame beneath the cab, and planned to lift the middle and front with the boiler. None of the Depot Museum people were aware that the only rigid connection between the frame and boiler was at the smokebox, the bottom of which showed obviously visible signs of metal rot. Lifting as planned risked tearing the smokebox from the saddle. They were also unaware that the rear and front trucks needed to be secured to the frame before lifting.

While setting up for a test lift, the riggers check for stability at the middle of the boiler.

We ran into a problem with the lifting tackle being lighter than the lifting capacity of the cranes. Fowler's crew readily solved this problem by using 3 cranes, with the stress carefully controlled among them all, to execute a perfect, safe lift once the lifting slings were placed properly under the frames such that the front truck would be supported, and the rear truck chained to the frame.

There was also some confusion about the weight of the engine. I had underestimated it at 180,000. The riggers had been told 300,000. It actually weighed 240,000 as lifted. I have had a chance to do more research since, and found the spec engine weight to be 272,200, which given the loss of some material and no water and supplies on board, seems reasonable to me.

So, we had a good plan, and were properly rigged by late Friday to load on Saturday morning.

Breaking Free

The rigging crew prepares to lift the locomotive before backing the truck underneath.

Saturday's load went like clockwork thanks to Fowler's crew. The trucker had determined that the load would be cribbed with oak timbers underneath the brake beams – not how a railroader would have done it. The brake beams are supported by pins, and they are known to move – in fact, if the brake beams don't move they can't apply the brakes. Supporting the majority of the weight on the bake beams risked breaking pins or the load shifting under the stress of a quick stop or a sloping road. Unfortunately, we had no other option, so it was cribbed that way and cinched down with some extra stout binders. Fortunately, nothing broke or shifted during Sunday's trip around town.

One surprise encountered during the lift was the almost effortless breaking loose of the drivers to roll. One of the slings was run through the spokes of a driver to ease the possible crimp the frame would have put in it, and the wheels rotated about 6 inches when slack was taken up. The locomotive is in better mechanical shape that it appears.

On the other hand, once set on the cribbing on the lowboy, the drivers sat on the cellars and the boxes stayed up in the pedestals. It would have been easy to get some oil in the journals at this point if I had been aware of any planned rolling on its own wheels. I don't think there was any such plan at this point………

The Day of Reckoning Is At Hand...

Sunday was absolutely gorgeous – a fine day to move a locomotive. My efforts were to go from potential trouble spot to potential trouble spot along the route, taking pictures and being available in case of trouble. The trucker was accompanied by representatives of the public utilities and city parks, including two bucket equipped line trucks, and every low wire was dealt with expeditiously. The last tight curve was negotiated to get into the yard, and we all breathed a sigh of relief.

The driver of a classic VW Bug watches as low wires are raised to allow passage.

I got into a good position on the overpass to document the proceedings while UP ran two ballast trains across the leg of the wye we needed to cross. Finally, UP gave us clearance and we moved easily across the tracks and through the gate onto depot property.

A new display track had been installed with the grade for the lowboy parallel to it to the south. 3 cranes were set up on ties on the display track. The unload would be done and then all 3 cranes would slowly creep back north of the track, then lower the locomotive into place. Or so it said in the fine print somewhere.

Well, whoever was in charge of site preparation didn't take soil load or compaction into consideration. As soon as the truck hit the new grade, it sank axle deep into the soft fill dirt and stalled. Fowler solved the problem by moving the cranes a bit, hooking to the locomotive, lifting some weight off the lowboy, and having a bulldozer drag the rig forward with its winch while the cranes pivoted along. Sure enough, the rear wheels also bogged down, leaving the locomotive about 10 feet east of where it needed to be.

The rear wheels on the truck get bogged down in the soft dirt.

At this point the decision was made to roll the locomotive the last 10 feet on its own wheels. I had no opportunity to lubricate the journals.

Fowler rigged for the unload just as we had rigged for the load, and easily set the locomotive down on the track as planned. Their large articulated forklift came in from behind to push the locomotive forward. It rolled well until the right side approached forward dead center, than stalled and the forklift lost traction. Moving the bulldozer in and shoving it with the drawbar finished the job nicely. Hopefully, the journals were not damaged significantly in the short slow roll. I am told that one of the lowboy axles broke when the weight was removed from the trailer – probably the only casualty of the soil problems, other than time lost to rig twice.

The tender had already been removed before I got to the park, and was to be delivered later. I have nothing to do with that part of the job.

The Move in Review

A large bulldozer comes in from behind to help push the locomotive forward the final few feet.

Post mortem: a very good rigging contractor can make difficult jobs easy. Even the best riggers probably have never moved steam locomotives, and may need specialized advice. Given that information, they will do everything very nicely. I would encourage having a knowledgeable steam specialist involved as part of the plan from the beginning, rather than have to try to put out fires at the last minute. Site concerns are also part of the consideration – it is a crapshoot as to whether the compaction under the display track will remain good and level in the future. Well-meaning local people with non-relevant experience are not adequate substitution for experienced advisors, in this or any complex situation.

In my final report, I strongly advised a shelter be put over the locomotive, laid out a broad series of issues to be faced during restoration, and reiterated my recommendation that an experienced local individual be retained for advice and quality control of the conservation and restoration process. I have no idea if they will accept that advice. If you don't even know you have dodged some bullets, you aren't too interested in being advised to duck and cover.

The final placement has been accomplished. The tender will come along another day.

The final position of the locomotive is facing the caboose from about 4 feet away. It is easily visible from the depot parking lot, the Bolivar Street overpass, and the depot balcony. If you visit Marshall, Bodacious Barbecue is bodacious, and Neely's Barbecue serves up an unusual sandwich called the Brown Pig that is real tasty. Local wines can be purchased on Washington (the main street) down towards the courthouse square end. Good motels are out by the interstate highway, but some very nice B&Bs are in the older part of town. A couple good restaurants have recently opened across from the courthouse as well, but nothing too costly or pretentious. The city park is near the hospital, and across from the hospital is an old industrial area that still shows its rail grade and has a couple interesting structures left standing.

In closing, I'd like to once again credit Fowler Transport for their professional excellence under an unusual series of circumstances handled with efficiency and grace, and Mr. Carlile for his commitment to his community. We need more of both in the world.



Additional Resources

YouTube - Texas & Pacific 2-8-2 #400
Uploaded on April 7, 2008. Photos of T&P 400 before the move to the former T&P depot. Includes closeup photos of the current condition of the locomotive.
YouTube - Texas & Pacific Museum and Depot: Marshall, TX
Uploaded March 24, 2008. A slideshow of photographs of the T&P Depot and the museum inside.
Texas & Pacific Railways 400
A current photograph of T&P #400 on display at the former T&P depot.

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