|Railway Preservation News
|Altoona Mirror K4 Article
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|Author:||rrmuseum [ Tue Apr 12, 2005 8:49 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Altoona Mirror K4 Article|
Here is the complete text of the K4 article from the Altoona Mirror. IT doesn't read anything like the nonsense published by the Associated Press.
Making tracks, but when?
K-4 due in the fall; some still skeptical
By William Kibler
Altoona Mirror Staff Writer
Steam enthusiast Ross Rowland will bet you that the Railroaders Memorial Museum's K-4 locomotive won't return from its long restoration in Scranton in time for a trip before 2007.
He isn't the only skeptic about the "three-year project" that has lasted 8+ years so far, embarrassing the museum and Steamtown National Historic Site, where the work is taking place.
But the museum is holding to its recent prediction that the famous 87-year-old locomotive can come back from Steamtown as early as this fall.
"We'll try," said museum on-site Supervisor Bill Frederickson, who took over the project in early 2002 after the museum relieved a crew that had been working under an agreement between the museum, Steamtown and the University of Scranton.
"Late fall," said Frederickson, whose group began by undoing and redoing work by the previous crew.
The work site doesn't look much different now than it did in August, with the big barrel of the boiler still sitting on jacks over a workpit and pieces spread around the shop.
The crew at the site and contractors elsewhere have been fabricating parts big and small.
When the museum gets approval from the Federal Railroad Administration on steam dome repairs, the reassembly that follows will give the impression of rapid progress, museum Executive Director Scott Cessna said.
"Assembly is not that difficult,'' said Barry Claar, Altoona-based project superintendent. "I think you'll see great improvement in a few months.''
A restoration "may seem like a black hole for a long period," said Andrew Spurlock, whose Starfire consulting evaluated the K-4 project for the museum in late 2003. "Eventually, it gets filled up, and the results start becoming more and more apparent."
The whole project shouldn't have taken much more than two years, said Rowland, the Ringoes, N.J., organizer of the U.S. Bicentennial Freedom Train in the mid-1970s. It wouldn't have if the museum had hired one of the handful of people qualified to supervise a full steam locomotive restoration, he said.
"The long, sad story of the K-4,'' Rowland said. "A story of well-meaning people who didn't know what they were doing.''
Frederickson has a "fairly decent reputation'' as a steam locomotive mechanic, but he hadn't run a major project before and isn't in the same league as the half-dozen experts, Rowland said.
The project has lagged for lack of urgency, said Bill Benson of Akron, one of Rowland's national experts and the restorer of "five or six'' locomotives, including the one that pulled the Freedom Train.
In 1975, Benson took a Reading Railroad locomotive "every bit as much a derelict as the K-4'' from a junkyard. He supervised a crew of 50 and 200 volunteer workers who labored around the clock to finish it in 31 days, Rowland said.
The Altoona team working on the K-4 is taking the wrong approach, Benson said. The team has disassembled virtually the entire locomotive, which has blurred its focus.
"The thing is in a million parts,'' he said.
The crew didn't need to break the K-4 down completely, given that it was running in the late 1980s after a brief renovation, he said. A main bearing failure sent it back to the shop.
A bearing failure indicates only a lubrication problem, Benson said. But the air pumps, water pumps, stoker, popoff valves, whistle, headlights, dynamo and a host of other parts were all working.
Benson wonders whether the crew lacks expertise on ultrasound to determine whether steel had worn too thin and simply played it safe, going "overboard.''
He also wonders whether the crew lacked judgment and unnessarily redid previous satisfactory work.
Benson suspects the K-4 has become a "nice retirement job'' with grant money to pay for hours worked, a comfortable government environment and little incentive for completion.
"If it's my taxpayers' money, I'd want better results,'' he said.
Cessna doesn't buy it
"We have every bit of confidence in Bill Frederickson,'' Cessna said.
Rowland is no mechanic, and he's probably sour because the museum didn't hire his team for the K-4 project evaluation, Cessna said.
"Ross and I have a contentious relationship,'' he said.
Spurlock also supports Frederickson.
"I think Bill Frederickson and his team will put out an engine you can rightly be proud of,'' Spurlock said. "Probably as high a quality engine as you'll find in the country.''
Frederickson "should know what he's doing,'' said his former employer, Andrew Muller, proprietor of the Reading and Northern Railroad in Berks County. "He's been doing it a long time.''
Muller stopped running steam excursions in 1998 because he was losing too much money.
He said he would employ Frederickson again if he resumed steam operations.
At Steamtown last month, Cessna pointed to the "mud ring''-- the thick U-shaped steel bar that forms the bottom of the water jacket that shrouds the firebox at the back of the locomotive.
Frederickson's crew replaced the mud ring after the former crew rebuilt the firebox without stripping away materials concealing the ring's severe deterioration, he said.
"To my mind, the old ring would have killed someone,'' he said. "It was a potential catastrophe.''
Federal inspectors might not have caught the oversight, he said.
"For Benson to suggest cutting corners is inappropriate,'' Cessna said. "This is a pressure vessel we're talking about.''
He doesn't want the K-4 to become even more famous as an instrument of injury or death, like the steam thresher that exploded at a show in Ohio, he said. Nor does he want another failure like the one on the K-4 in the late 1980s, requiring recall, disassembly and further repair.
"For the life of me, I can't figure out why we wouldn't do the most complete restoration we can,'' Cessna said.
The crew is "definitely digging deep into the bowels of the machine,'' Spurlock said.
Locomotive rebuilder and operator Scott Lindsay, whom Rowland identified as one of the handful of experts capable of supervising a restoration, follows the same approach as Frederickson.
"I do it all or nothing,'' Lindsay said. "There's no way you can look through steel and determine what the conditions are until it's 100 percent disassembled.''
It's absolutely right that the current restoration crew tore the engine apart, said Steve Lee, manager of the Union Pacific Railroad's steam program in Cheyenne, Wyo.
"Yeah, it takes longer and costs more," Lee said. "But what would it cost to take it apart four or five times" after a patchwork job?
Contrary to Benson's analysis, Frederickson's approach doesn't lack urgency, Cessna said. The crew is sensitive to the museum's need to get the work completed.
Last year, Cessna discussed the project with Frederickson and set a deadline for completion this summer, conscious that the work was dragging and that Steamtown wants to free the shop space.
Restrictions set by Steamtown haven't stymied the project, Cessna said.
"Yes, it makes the project go longer,'' he said, noting that it hasn't affected quality or cost.
The Steamtown shop is available from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday, Steamtown Superintendent Kip Hagen said. The crew must arrange to work on off hours because Steamtown must have an employee present.
Steamtown does not charge for the extra manpower, nor has it charged for the shop space, the use of its overhead crane or other tools or utilities, Hagen said.
Steamtown would like to get the space back because it needs to begin work on its own pair of running locomotives and eventually rolling stock in the space the K-4 and its tender occupy, Hagen said. If the K-4 leaves this year, there's no problem.
If it takes another year, there's not necessarily a problem, either, Hagen said.
"Everything's negotiable,'' he said. "We just have to adjust the space and work with them as long as we can.''
Maybe the crew will have finished the tender and can move it outside, Hagen said, adding that the museum is due to work out a final schedule with Hagen soon.
Steamtown benefits from showing the project to visitors.
"It's a good interpretive piece for us,'' Hagen said.
But Steamtown no longer has oversight responsibility for the project, Cessna said.
The museum has enough money now to finish the K-4, but it has had trouble hiring enough workers to complete the job as quickly as it would like, said Dick Charlesworth, a member of the Horseshoe Curve Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.
Charlesworth, ambivalent about how the project has progressed, is unhappy it is taking so long.
"But it's good they're finally getting it done,'' he said.
Charlesworth was part of the decision to send the K-4 to Steamtown under the three-party agreement that included the University of Scranton.
"That was probably the biggest mistake,'' he said.
The museum leaders at the time considered sending the locomotive to the shops of the Strasburg Railroad in Lancaster, but they didn't because the shop was small and the company would have given priority to its own locomotives.
Yet, had it gone to Strasburg, it might have been completed by now, Charlesworth said.
The Federal Railroad Administration still expects documentation from the museum to ensure that workers made repairs according to standards, agency spokesman Warren Flatau said.
The parties should be able to work out any difficulties when FRA inspectors visit Steamtown soon, he said.
Cessna has said the documentation on the steam dome is complete "and all we need is an autograph.''
PennDOT District 9 design services engineer Ed Stoltz has been tracking the project to ensure that the museum is using part of a $1.6 million federal transportation enhancement grant properly.
The museum estimates that it will use $1.1 million of the money for the K-4 and the rest to finish a quarter-roundhouse in the museum yard to house the K-4 and other rolling stock.
Although his evaluation is "somewhat subjective,'' the progress he sees on visits to Steamtown show it's "commensurate'' with the money spent, Stoltz said.
The museum has spent $835,000 of the grant so far, in addition to $500,000 from an earlier grant.
The total cost of the restoration will be about $1.6 million, Cessna said.
That's on the "high side'' for such a restoration, Benson said.
The original budget was about $625,000.
"It always takes longer and costs more than you think," Lee said. "You have no idea what you're getting into until you get it apart."
That makes it wise not to "make grand promises" until you know what you're talking about, he said.
|Author:||co614 [ Wed Apr 13, 2005 7:08 am ]|
|Post subject:||Re: Altoona Mirror K4 Article|
Seems to me that the article is balanced and makes a successful attempt to present the whole story.
Yes, I am sorry that the ARRMM people decided to hire Starfire Engineering to do the mechanical audit in 2003 vs. the group I had assembled(which did not include me)- our group was made up of 4 senior steam CMO's who between them have restored 7 mainline loco's. to RELIABLE service and 3 of them head up RR's that run steam year-round for a living. Instead they went and hired an outfit with not a single mainline loco. rebuild under its belt!!
Unfortunatly this difficult to comprehend foolish mistake is only one of many that have been made and probably won't be the last.
I said in late 2003 that unless there was a complete change in project management and work location that this locomotive would not turn a revenue mile for 3 years,and I'd wager $3,000(even money) on it. The bet still stands!
Steamtown owns a major share of the responsibility for this fiasco as they were up until I believe 2003 the project manager. Perhaps Mr. Cessna will spell that out more completely-but for them to claim that they're only the good guys who provide a place to work etc. is just not in line with the factual history of this sad saga!
IMHO the only hope that this project can be put on the right heading is if there's a complete change in both the project mgt. and where the work is being done. Short of that, expect more of the same!
|Author:||rrmuseum [ Wed Apr 13, 2005 7:34 am ]|
|Post subject:||Re: Altoona Mirror K4 Article|
At the risk of the post being removed as argumentative, I must point out in the interest of telling the complete truth, that the quote received from Iron Horse Enterprises for the mechanical audit of 1361 did, indeed, included a hefty hourly charge for Mr. Rowland's involvement.
|Author:||rypnorg [ Wed Apr 13, 2005 8:34 am ]|
|Post subject:||Re: Altoona Mirror K4 Article|
This topic and the other K-4 threads are being locked. I am starting a new thread called "K4 consolidated thread." Discussion of the K4 is welcome to proceed in the new thread, but all readers and posters are warned that in the new thread the Internchange guidelines will be vigorously and aggressively enforced.
Associate Editor, RyPN
RyPN Board Member
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