Railway Preservation News

NKP 759 History (includes the "freeze") for Record
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Author:  wesp [ Sun Aug 22, 2010 5:26 pm ]
Post subject:  NKP 759 History (includes the "freeze") for Record

I am posting Mr. Bailey's information and a link to NPS's records under a new heading to facilitate future searches when this topic comes up again.



For the record, here's the story behind #759's "freeze damage". In late 1973, the Delaware and Hudson RR tentatively approved a steam excursion featuring #759 and Steamtown's two operable ex-CP G-5 Pacifics (nos. 1246 and #1278). It was to be a two day extravaganza from Albany, N. Y. to Scranton, Pa. and return--with #759 as the "road engine" and the 4-6-2's as helpers on heavy several grades. Mr. Dick Williams of the D&H was put in charge of coordinating the excursion with Steamtown; since Steamtown had no heated shop facilities at the time, Mr. Williams offered to have #759 stored for the Winter in a heated roundhouse in Rouses Point, NY and the Pacifics in a facility in Plattsburg, NY. Steamtown personnel would prepare the locomotives for the excursion in those facilities. #759 steamed lite to Rouses Point in early November, 1973, and was bedded down in the D&H roundhouse--but not fully "winterized' because it was supposed to be kept in a heated facility over the Winter. The Pacifics did not go to Plattsburg because Steamtown had some potential use for them over the Winter (they did run a Winter excursion on the Green Mountain RR in December, 1973)--and that turned out to be a good thing for Steamtown as the Pacifics probably would have suffered the same "feeze damage" as #759 did.

What happened next is rather bizzare. As word got out in the railfan world that the excursion on the D&H was planned, Steamtown was beseiged with telephone calls and letters seeking details on the trip from those who wanted to chase and photograph. Steamtown's Executive Director, Bob Barbera, was notorious for disliking those who wanted to chase and photograph without buying a ticket (with some justification--but that's another story). Against the advise of his staff, Barbera ordered the trip flyer to contain information that the locomotives would be "shrouded" during the trip except for the paying passengers at photo runbys. Disgruntled chasers beseiged the D&H with their disapproval of the shrouding; the railroad informed Barbera that they wanted no part of hanging sheets on the locomotives during the excursion, but Barbera held fast that the locomotives were his and he could do what he wanted with them. The dispute ended up in the D&H withdrawing their support for the trip.

Steamtown planned to retrieve #759 from Rouses Point in the Spring--when warmer weather returned. But the D&H didn't tell Steamtown that when they withdrew their support for the proposed excursion, they also withdrew their offer to keep #759 in a heated facility for the Winter. Mr. Howard Hontz ordered #759 out of the Rouses Point roundhouse, and into outdoor storage in the D&H yard. That resulted in some freeze damage to #759--mainly to components in the feedwater system and flexible staybolt caps. Barbera filed suit against the D&H for the damage, and the D&H ended up being found at fault for the damage. #759 returned to Steamtown "dead in tow", and the D&H hired Wes Camp to oversee the freeze damage repairs at Steamtown's Bellows Falls shop. All damage was repaired successfully, and #759 was fired up and test operated on Steamtown's yard trackage at Bellows Falls. That turned out to be #759's last operation under steam.

#759's FRA boiler time ran out during the litigation with the D&H, and the locomotive was really too big to regular use at Steamtown--so it was decided not to do anything more with the locomotive at Steamtown unless someone else came along to foot the bill for boiler work. In 1977 or 1978, a potential excursion operator approached Steamtown about running some trips with #759; that party promised to fund the boiler repairs. It was decided to first apply for a tube extention as the locomotive was only going to see limited use, but a preliminary inspection revealed some question marks about the condition of the tubes and superheater units; when a tube burst under hydro, Bob Barbera said "no way" to applying for the tube extention.(To his credit, Bob was very concerned about tube condition--few railfans ever knew that he was a mechanical engineer, and he'd experienced first hand having his father Andy severely burned when a tube "let go" on Steamtown ex-Rahway Valley 2-8-0 #15 in 1973.) The interested party initially agreed to pay for #759's retubing; Steamtown's shop forces removed the front end and superheater units, and began drilling out flexible staybolt "telltales" in the firebox for Flannary testing of the bolts. Dillon Boiler was contracted to do the retubing and make repairs to some defective superheater units; Dillon Boiler removed the old tubes, and began preparing the boiler for a new set--and had a new set of tubes "lined up" for the locomotive. Dillon requested a "down payment" on the new tubes before placing the order. When Bob Barbera asked the potential operator for funds to cover the down payment for the new tubes, the potential operator backed out of the deal. That alone sealed #759's fate of operating again for the Steamtown Foundation. THERE WAS NOTHING WRONG MECHANICALLY WITH #759 THAT WOULD HAVE EVER PREVENTED IT FROM OPERATING AGAIN. And I think that's undoubtedly still the case as Ross Rowland mentioned #759 as one of the candidates when he was recently talking about the use of three steam locomotive for the proposed Greenbrier Express; of course, we all know now the Greenbrier Express won't have steam--at least initially.

So, will #759 ever operate again? It could, but most likely won't unless someone other than the Park Service finds a use for it--or some "sugardaddy" who really wants to see it run makes a huge donation to the Park Service specifically for that purpose.

Frederick G. Bailey

Author:  Frisco1522 [ Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NKP 759 History (includes the "freeze") for Record

Nice informational post.
Being the nervous sort, i don't think I would have laid the 759 up before winterizing her, even if she was in a heated facility. It's not that much harder to blow everything out and let things dry from the heat. In all the time we operated 1522 it was always winterized and stored outdoors and only once had any problem. A water valve on the back of the tender froze and split.

Author:  dinwitty [ Sun Aug 22, 2010 9:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NKP 759 History (includes the "freeze") for Record

worse engines have come back from the haunting dead, no prob for 759, if someone can build an engine (Leviathan) it aint no prob.

Author:  Alexander D. Mitchell IV [ Sun Aug 22, 2010 9:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NKP 759 History (includes the "freeze") for Record

dinwitty wrote:
worse engines have come back from the haunting dead, no prob for 759, if someone can build an engine (Leviathan) it aint no prob.

Fine. Pass me your checkbook, please. >;-D

Author:  Gary P Bensman [ Sun Aug 22, 2010 10:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NKP 759 History (includes the "freeze") for Record

Thanks to Fred G. and Wes for the first hand info.
Our recent abatement of the asbestos on the boiler of #759 revealed a locomotive in excellent condition. We found three small copper lines which were lubricator heaters to be freeze split. Nothing more. I worked with Wesley Camp and Doyle MacCormack in June and July, 1976 to exchange the 759's frozen and split water pump with the pump from NKP 779 in Lima, Ohio. The 759 is IMHO the best locomotive at Steamtown not presently operating. It's return to service would not require a new wrapper sheet (1361 and 3713) or replacement of all the syphons(3713) or replacement of the interior firebox sheets ( 26, 3713, 1361). Records from all the High Iron Excursions show that the loco was run 18,000 miles from 1968 to 1973. This after a complete Class 3 rebuild in the NKP Conneaut Shops in May, 1958. She was retired having never run a mile. So she was the perfect loco in the Steamtown collection to be Ross's "First Date". And now she is cleaned, painted and looking good with a new jacket - and still a very low mileage, great candidate for an economic rebuilding to operation.

Author:  robertjohndavis [ Sun Aug 22, 2010 10:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NKP 759 History (includes the "freeze") for Record


Thank you for posting the latest on the Berk.

If your agreement with the NPS allows, it would be interesting to know what you discovered about some of the other locomotives in the abatement program - at least data that would add to the official data sheets on them.

I was thrilled when I first heard of the abatement and painting program a few years ago, and was quite pleased when I heard you were contracted for the abatement. The NPS hired someone who knows steam. That's a very good sign.

All the best,


Author:  Gary P Bensman [ Sun Aug 22, 2010 10:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NKP 759 History (includes the "freeze") for Record

Rob; Thanks for your kind words. We have been writing up a status report on each of the 12 locos we will abate. These are being provided to Supt. Kip Hagen for inclusion in the official files. We saw the blown tube in the #15 from it's last run in Vermont as well as all the jewelry welded in the smoke box of the E.J.Lavino 0-6-0 #3. Barely visible poking out of a foot of rust were the bell, whistle, builder's plates and front number plate. I'll guess they were sealed in there when the loco was prepared by Lavino for shipment to Bellows Falls - and never opened until 2010!

Author:  GSpro [ Sun Aug 22, 2010 11:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NKP 759 History (includes the "freeze") for Record

Thanks for the updates Gary. It's good to have someone who knows what they're talking about posting on RyPN!

Author:  davew833 [ Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: NKP 759 History (includes the "freeze") for Record

A great, informative post. Interesting how half-truths about unrepaired freeze damage have propagated over the years. When I first visited Steamtown in late 1995, a park ranger told me that was why #759 was not operational. I hope the rangers are giving out more accurate information now.

Author:  Richard Glueck [ Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: NKP 759 History (includes the "freeze") for Record

Gary, is there a recommendation to give serious consideration to those repairs necessary for 759's firing? She's too large for regular use, but for special events or lease?

Author:  Afboone [ Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: NKP 759 History (includes the "freeze") for Record

Gary, Thanks also with 565. Your team and you have been a great boost to getting her back in her old glory. Looking forward to meeting you. Thanks again.

Author:  dinwitty [ Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NKP 759 History (includes the "freeze") for Record

I checked Rehor's book, 2 engines, 759 and I think 757 had full rehabs just before retiring, if any engine might be more rail ready with minimal work is 757.

But like any other engine, it would get the full checkover anyways like 765.

I agree, 759 sounds like its almost good to go.

Author:  BILL [ Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NKP 759 History (includes the "freeze") for Record

IIRC, #755 at Conneaut was a "shopped but never run" Berk as well. Don't believe #757 was. Gary B. may know for sure.

Author:  davew833 [ Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NKP 759 History (includes the "freeze") for Record

#757 has been on display outside at RRMPa for 30+ years and if I recall correctly from my last visit, the bottom of the smokebox is rusted through. It's kind of an 'oddball' in the RRMPa collection there and doesn't appear to get much attention or maintenance. Of course the days of any 'quick, easy restoration' for a steam locomotive are long since passed, but I'd say #757 is about as far from that category as any park locomotive.

Author:  Joshua K. Blay [ Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NKP 759 History (includes the "freeze") for Record

I had a good poke around 757 a few weeks ago. The area around her auger is really rusted, perhaps partially full of coal, and I swear there are ash remnants in the pan.


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