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 Post subject: Steam engines that go "bye bye" in 2010
PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 2:40 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 10:21 pm
Posts: 136
Location: Wisconsin
Friends, much as the topic disgusts me, I'm taking stock of the steam engines that will leave us in 2010 such as Sumpter Valley 19 and Heber Valley's UP 618 that are both off to the land of the 1,472-day inspection/fund raising this coming year. What other engines are coming due for the 15-year inspection?
JIm


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 Post subject: Re: Steam engines that go "bye bye" in 2010
PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 2:47 pm 

Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2005 1:52 pm
Posts: 73
Obviously the 261 and 2317 from Steamtown


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 Post subject: Re: Steam engines that go "bye bye" in 2010
PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 2:57 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2529
Mt Rainier Scenic RR's Alco 2-8-2T #17 will be out of service for an un-determined period of time for her 1,472 day inspection etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Steam engines that go "bye bye" in 2010
PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 3:52 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:04 am
Posts: 273
Location: Lawrence, Mass.
This is actually a good topic if viewed as a list of places to try to get to in the coming year to see these engines while they're still in action. Some will be back, of course, but you can never take these things for granted.

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 Post subject: Re: Steam engines that go "bye bye" in 2010
PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 5:01 pm 

Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2008 3:40 pm
Posts: 22
If it is common knowledge that after 1472 operating days, every steam locomotive under the hand of the FRA must be torn apart for a thorough inspection that results in the steam engine being essentially rebuilt, why not spend the time that the locomotive is in service and running to raise funds for its eventual teardown? Is it not plausible that the public is more willing to donate funds towards the "upkeep" of a functioning locomotive that they get to enjoy right then and there instead of something on the shop floor that is in pieces with no end in sight?

Just saying, it seems its always a mad dash at the end or after the unit is pulled out of service before the word gets out there that money is needed to keep these things running and more importantly legal.

1472 days is a little over 4 years but as many steamers run at most half the year, that's 8 years of fundraising and I would argue that that is a significant head start. Some run less, some run more but I think this sort of plan factored into any steam program might lessen the blow of having the prized steam engine down for many years. The labor to do the work can come follow the money if you receive my meaning.

Please let me know if I am wrong. Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Steam engines that go "bye bye" in 2010
PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 7:08 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:53 am
Posts: 108
PERE MARQUETTE #1225

Valley RR 2-8-0 #97 is coming due soon--depends on how much it runs in 2010.


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 Post subject: Re: Steam engines that go "bye bye" in 2010
PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 7:10 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 7:57 am
Posts: 2377
Location: Faulkland, Delaware
I think the actual time in years for the required tear-down and inspection can be up to 14 years based upon days of service. I think we have a very fair and workable rule in place. In the big picture the actual inspection is not really that costly, it's the resulting firebox work that often comes with it. It's much better than no steam or steam with thin boilers. Let's talk about what is coming out of the barn in 2010?

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Tom Gears
Wilmington, DE

If you can't fix it with a hammer, you've got an electrical problem.


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 Post subject: Re: Steam engines that go "bye bye" in 2010
PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 7:44 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2529
Luther Brefo wrote:
If it is common knowledge that after 1472 operating days, every steam locomotive under the hand of the FRA must be torn apart for a thorough inspection that results in the steam engine being essentially rebuilt, why not spend the time that the locomotive is in service and running to raise funds for its eventual teardown? Is it not plausible that the public is more willing to donate funds towards the "upkeep" of a functioning locomotive that they get to enjoy right then and there instead of something on the shop floor that is in pieces with no end in sight?

...

Please let me know if I am wrong. Thanks.


You are correct, but it's one of those things that's easier in theory than in practice. Yes, ideally, every time the engine turns a wheel something gets put into the fund to rebuild it. Maybe some of the tourist railways are able to do this.

However, many tourist railroads just don't have the operating budget to do that sort of financial planning. The money gets spent of fuel and repairs or rebuilding a coach or whatever.

Fine, so just raise the ticket prices a bit to cover it, right? Well, there's always a point where your potential clients say "Sorry, I won't pay that much..."

It's like the roof on your house. You know that 30 year shingles are good for say 20 years or so in most climates. Ideally, you'd put away 1/20th of the cost each year into a roof fund. How many of us are disciplined enough to actually do that?


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 Post subject: Re: Steam engines that go "bye bye" in 2010
PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 8:22 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 29, 2004 1:04 pm
Posts: 625
You can probably add TVRM 2-8-0 number 610 to the list. Southern 630 was due out of the shop by opening day but floods on both of the remote rail lines they run the long trips on ate up the funds or shortened trips dictating reduced fares. They now do not have enough money and have stopped capital projects including 630. Most of the staff is either working shortened hours or have been laid off. The 610 does not have enough days remaining to run a full season. It had been hoped 630 would be the main engine this year and the remaining flue time could have allowed 610 to run occasionally for a year or two. That appears to be lost now as well. TVRM may well run part of 2010 with diesel. They are seeking donations hoping to help get the program back on track if anyone is so interested.

John Bohon


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 Post subject: Re: Steam engines that go "bye bye" in 2010
PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 10:29 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:04 am
Posts: 84
Let me up date things abit from John's previous post. We are reviewing the situation continously and have seen things firm up a bit in our cyrstal ball.

First, 610 will run out of time this year. If we were to follow our "normal" schedule it would be around the end of June. If we limit it to only running weekends we could get to early August. We do need to do a few things this winter and if the repairs are too severe, or would be reversed during an overhaul, we will have to consider parking it early. Hope not but it could happen.

The short fall from the flooding has hit us for $125,000-$150,000. This will probably result in a break even, or slight loss, bottom line for the year and January is one of our slowest months so we will have to remain careful with our spending. Freight and passenger revenue begins to build in Feburary so things should begin to improve somewhat by then. This situation has caused us to reduce hours for our part time staff and limit our regular staff to 40 hour weeks (we usually let them work 50, or so, if needed at certain times of the year to cover operations and do shop work). We are also holding off on some other capital projects for increasing capacity so that we can devote our available funds to the remainder of the purchased items we need on the 630.

The 630 is back on its wheels and a lot of the running gear is now done. Major items to go are the tubes and the tender. We are securing bids on the tender with several different options from "just cut it out" all the way to "turn key". Some of the "turn key" pricing will take your breath away. We hope to place a purchase order for at least the steel in early January (and yes, I won't have to pay for it until February, at the soonest). Boiler work could happen in late winter as well. I would hope, that without something unforeseen happening the engine could still make it out in late spring.

We can then turn our attention to the 610. Obviously without the boiler survey it is impossible to know the extent of the work we may need to do but we know from the annual repair list that we will be looking at some firebox work at the very least. I would hope to turn the 610 around within twelve months. Funding won't be so much of the issue, manpower will be. With increasing freight operations at the industrial park where we switch it will probably take two full time people by mid 2010. The folks who do that now split their time with passenger operations and when they aren't available some of the shop guys have to fill in. We will have to juggle our manpower and probably have to add people as the switching picks up.

That's the picture as of right now. It can change rapidly as a result of many factors and we will try to keep everyone up to date as the weeks pass.

Tim Andrews
President
TVRM
Chattanooga

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Tim Andrews
Chattanooga, TN


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 Post subject: Re: Steam engines that go "bye bye" in 2010
PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 10:40 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 7:57 am
Posts: 2377
Location: Faulkland, Delaware
Hi Tim,

Thanks for the insight into what's going on at TVRM. I hope to make it down there myself this year. It's been a number of years since I've done a trip your way.

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Tom Gears
Wilmington, DE

If you can't fix it with a hammer, you've got an electrical problem.


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 Post subject: Re: Steam engines that go "bye bye" in 2010
PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:21 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:55 pm
Posts: 705
Location: Warren, PA
TSRR 400 (ex-Magma Arizona 2-8-2) will be going into the shop for the 1472 teardown as soon as the final specs are approved by the state, that will likely take 9-12 months if we don't hit any big sheet thickness problems. Funding is in place, this is the same program that finished up the #300 2-8-0 in 2009. #400 been down for several years waiting for this funding, elegibility, and program to be assembled as part of the ownership changeover of Texas State.

So that's basically good news in what may be a *sigh* downer thread.

FWIW, when we do an excursion feasibility analysis for steam, that "1/20" rule is exactly what we do to see if the operation can generate enough cash to be sustainable and survive a 1472 (based on projected use or 15-year), at least at a nominal tube-only replacement after 1472. Now that doesn't guarantee it would happen, we just try to factor it in the truth of the feasibility analysis. And yes, in the end, that's one of the reasons you really need to charge more for steam.

Funny part is that when we've done visitor surveys most ARE willing to pay more vs. diesel. It's not unanimous, but it justifies two-tier pricing. From what I've seen the 'vote with your wallet' is OK as long as you've got a lower-cost alternative if you do hit price sensitivity issues on the part of the market that really doesn't care what's up front. There's a level though (the 15-year) to which running less won't help you, you've still got to cover at least 1/15th per year, if not more.


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 Post subject: Re: Steam engines that go "bye bye" in 2010
PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:42 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:07 am
Posts: 693
Location: Philadelphia Pa
I would imagine the operations with fewer steam days actually have more problems with fireboxes than those who operate weekly or at least slowly fire up their loco, no?

If you look at operations like SRR and NH&I, they seem to be able to shop a loco much quicker for their 1472 than operations that run steam only on Sunday or weekends, shop staff/personel availability notwithstanding.

Starting a fire the day before (or more) operations vrs, 4-6 hours before, has a prolonged benefit, as does keeping an engine hot in between service days.

It seems as almost every railroad within the last 15 years has had to rebuild the fireboxes on their loco, something that was not as common place in the 1970's and 80's when locos were just run "as is" in tourist service from their last full rebuild via the "real" railroad that owned said loco prior to. Horror stories of 45 minute fire up's can be found in the descriptions of many tourist operations of the 60's and 70's.

Most times, what shop work was done, it was basic work to keep the loco running another year or two past the 5 year mark, then do whatever minimal work could be done to get the loco out the door for another 5. Running gear was also not a priority per se, as it is now, and I think that has to do with overall age of most of the loco's in service now, which were at one time in their 40's-50's in the 1970's and 80's, are now in their 80's, 90's and even early 100's in terms of years since built.

This industry has evolved from a "just get it running" mode to a more appropriate "lets get it running and reliable for long term use" Unfortunately, associated costs to do so have far exceeded what they were just 15 years ago, let alone 30.


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 Post subject: Re: Steam engines that go "bye bye" in 2010
PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:16 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:55 pm
Posts: 705
Location: Warren, PA
The big 'downside' to getting a grant to get this work done is the paperwork and procedures that have to be followed from the top-down, as opposed to an organization spending its own money and making efficient decisions.

The big catch, for instance, is that say you put in a grant for tube replacement, get it, and in the UT testing on the survey find a thin top sheet. Ouch. It can be a dead stop, as that wasn't in the original plan. Add a year for more grants and fundraising, then bid it out at prevailing wage....more ouch, and lots and lots more time. Steam locomotives being the surprising, self-consuming beauties they are, often the deeper you dig the more you find that you really ought to address if you already have them torn apart and can find the money. Uh-oh, a cracked axle???

If you're a 'private' operation its a business decision. You swallow hard, and time is money. Get her running again, safe, but get her running. Things move a lot faster.

Public agencies that usually fund road construction (as SAFE-TEA grants are often through DOT's) try to stuff steam locomotives in the same procedures as road paving, sometimes with frustrating results. If they've been through it before it's not impossible, but the first time somebody in a position of authority tries to follow established spec/bid/funding procedures it requires patience on all sides to actually get stuff done in something measured under "_ years". Another typical snag is that every agency I've ever worked with has a DBE requirement for contractors, and you either get a qualified bid from a DBE or have to prove there simply aren't any.

I remember working with a state DOT official a few years back who asked a very blunt question - "Is funding this thing going to get me fired?" Basically that cuts to the question that everybody in the food chain is thinking, but doesn't say out loud.

When you factor that stuff all in, it's very difficult for a nonprofit even with a very benevolent set of grantees and the highest intentions to get things done in much under a year. Has very little to do with operating procedures, has everything to with funding sources, restrictions, and regulations at various levels. So celebrate the ones coming out of the rebuild programs, and hunker down for a battle for the ones going in and don't get impatient with the organizations trying their level best to get it done.


Last edited by Randy Gustafson on Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Steam engines that go "bye bye" in 2010
PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:25 am 

Joined: Mon May 29, 2006 4:05 pm
Posts: 49
jimwrinn wrote:
Friends, much as the topic disgusts me, I'm taking stock of the steam engines that will leave us in 2010 such as Sumpter Valley 19 and Heber Valley's UP 618 that are both off to the land of the 1,472-day inspection/fund raising this coming year. What other engines are coming due for the 15-year inspection?
JIm


Jim, you are correct about SVRy 19. She has to be shutdown June 1, 2010. Taylor has been talking about a birthday celebration on or before June 1 (she will be 90) before we put the fire out. She has been a faithful steamer for 15 yrs come June 1. Although she was down for a couple years a while back for firebox work. We do anticipate firebox work again on the next Form 4.

On the cup half full side of things, No. 3 will be running. No. 3 is probably the only remaining wood burning slim gauge Heisler in operation. On the down side, she emits cinders which can start track side fires. We will be doing whatever we can to alleviate the possibility of starting track side fires. Also, we hope by the extreme fire season to have No. 720, our 50 ton diesel-electric operational. The diesel restoration crew is optimistic about having 720 running in time.

dan


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