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 Post subject: Cuba
PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:50 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2004 5:51 pm
Posts: 132
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Several newspaper stories today suggest a major thawing in US-Cuba relations, up to the reopening of embassies and relaxation of import restrictions, with visitors to be permitted to bring home up to $400.00 of Cuban goods. While I'm not sure I'd be able to bring back the rumored BR&P Mikado piece by piece yet (would a pony truck count as carry-on baggage?) this may open the door a bit to potentially bringing back some of the secondhand US locos once there. However, does anyone have a recent listing of what former US rail equipment still exists there?

Nick


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 Post subject: Re: Cuba
PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:01 pm 

Joined: Mon Nov 17, 2014 5:32 am
Posts: 45
Is that freak Castro still in power? I thought he hated the US.


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 Post subject: Re: Cuba
PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:10 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:26 am
Posts: 3724
Location: Maine
My guess is, those locomotives remaining in Cuba are in terrible shape, having been patched together with whatever was available, and "forced" into working. There are, no doubt, some incredible locomotive artifacts sitting around, inoperable, or without much left to them. Don't expect to find a serviceable NYC Hudson or NKP 4-4-0's. The other thing which comes into play may be the delight of Cubans who kept these old engines in service, wishing to keep them as trophies of history.
Let's hope the US and Cuba can begin to move towards an amicable relationship, even if it doesn't mean normalization.

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 Post subject: Re: Cuba
PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2014 10:10 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:45 pm
Posts: 106
The vast majority of the steam in Cuba is from the U.S. or Cuba. There are several great lists on various websites - mainly European (check out http://internationalsteam.co.uk/americas.htm#Cuba for example). 2-6-0 is a very common wheel arrangement, most of it second hand and built in the 1920s.

The last 20 years of steam were on sugar cane mill railroads, which often ran over the mainline system. Many of these mills are now closed due to Russia not trading oil for sugar. Most of the steam is either set on display or sitting in various dead or scrap lines. A few are in local museums, including the park railroad in Havana. Very little steam still operates in Cuba, almost always for paying tourists or rail enthusiast tours. However, so few rail tours are now operated in Cuba that steam seldom operates.

I was there several times on research tours and have ridden much of the railroad system, some behind steam or in an RDC. The railroads are an interesting throwback about 4 decades, although quite a bit of newer second hand diesel power, freight cars, and passenger cars have showed up from Mexico, Spain, Russia and elsewhere.


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 Post subject: Re: Cuba
PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2014 10:17 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 10:34 pm
Posts: 611
I wonder how many were scrapped since the big expo on them a few years ago? Scrap got real high, Cuba is incredibly poor and the Chinese were buying. Many people in Cuba are in survival mode, meaning if they have to beg, borrow or steal they will, out of necessity. I bet a lot of locomotives and parts that were around 10 years ago are no longer around. Most of us do not understand poverty at the Cuban level, same in a number of other Caribbean island countries and Central America. I hope there is still a lot left around but will not hold my breath as I bet lot's have disappeared. To bad if this is true as there was some real cute stuff there.

Bartman-TN, curious how long ago were you there? I sure hope I am wrong about scrapping?

And true enough I bet most of it was pattern material due to old repairs and climate. Stuff dreams are made out of though. Regards, John.


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 Post subject: Re: Cuba
PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2014 10:20 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 3:25 am
Posts: 1025
Traction fans are probably wondering how much is left of the Hershey Cuban electric railway. I would guess that the freight motors and interurban cars are in the same "rode hard and put away wet" condition as the steamers.

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 Post subject: Re: Cuba
PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2014 10:27 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8353
Location: Baltimore, MD
I've stayed in touch with British fans that made regular junkets to Cuba over the years.

Don't get your hopes up.

What would have been the choice acquisitions--the ex-PRR, SR, BR&P, etc. locos (of which you could find maybe one of each at most)--haven't been seen in over a decade. Many of them perished in the same scrap-metal price spike that got the vandals snapping up loose stuff in our back lots. Even IF they all survived, the number of ex-U.S. railroad company locos to "repatriate" numbers maybe a half-dozen at best by now.

Further, IF the island opens up to Yanqui Imperialist Tourism, you can bet steam railroad tourism will be part of the mix--they've already had 20 years of experience running charters and tours for Brits, Canadians, Germans, etc. So they'll want to retain the best of what's left, which will also be what we want to repatriate as well--medium-sized 2-8-0s and 2-8-2s and 2-6-2s.

Now, IF anyone has money to invest in grabbing a few spare frames and running gear, so forty years from now our heirs can be speculating "whatever happened to Tiara Metal Products that was marketing rebuilt Cuban steam locomotives years ago? I see their old shop building on Googleplex Hologram View, but there's only an old Green Goat out back....."


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 Post subject: Re: Cuba
PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2014 11:40 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:32 pm
Posts: 154
I know there were pictures within the last ten years or so of ex NYC El Forneys, one of which was working, and one was on display.² Of course, the thing that disheartens me was seeing a red painted mogul on display and then a year later being cut up in the middle of a park.³

² -http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=281807&nseq=89
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.p ... 23&nseq=31
³ -http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=287490&nseq=76
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.p ... 77&nseq=77

So there is equipment there, either whole or in pieces. What we need is to get the Org's together, possibly with some classic car people as well (Anyone want a Cuban 40's Ford?) and send in a scouting party.


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 Post subject: Re: Cuba
PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2014 11:43 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 11:18 am
Posts: 19
Location: Rossville, GA.
The Cuban Congress passed a preservation law in 2004 forbidding the scrapping of any steam locomotives. Then the Chinese came in and cleaned most of the sugar mills down to the concrete slab. It seems that about half of the remaining locos disappeared. When questioned about this, the mill people would say " None were scrapped. Here they are."
But they could only show you 7 of the previous 12 locos at that mill. But then some mills were completely cleared away with all the locos still remaining in the shop; but no track remaining just outside the doors. In 2000, the scrapped remains were found of the P&LE
4-6-0 and the builders plate is on display at the railroad museum at Behucal.
The MoPac and BR&P 2-8-0's were not seen since before 1995.
The British list shows amazing locos that went to Cuba after 20 or so years of life in the USA in the late 1800's. PRR and NYC&HR 4-4-2's, 4-6-0's and even a 3' gauge Baldwin 2-6-6-2 at the United Fruit Company before they abandoned Cuba and moved to Central America. But most of those were scrapped long before the 1950's. When the Cuban mainline railroads were dieselized in 1960, the mainline locos that were bought new in the 1920's and 30's were sent to the sugar mills and worked alongside the many locos bought new for the mills with the great influx of American ownership and investment in the 1920's.
The jewel that remains is Southern 2-6-0 #2100. It was nicely rebuilt and running in the last couple years of active Cuban Sugar Mill operations. Maybe we will be able to see it in Spencer sometime soon!


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 Post subject: Re: Cuba
PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2014 12:44 am 

Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:32 pm
Posts: 154
That law must not have been enforced very well, having a steam locomotive cut up in the middle of Havana in 2008. Me thinks corruption is still a problem in Cuban politics...


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 Post subject: Re: Cuba
PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2014 8:10 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:26 am
Posts: 3724
Location: Maine
There is a rumored PRR B8a switcher in a marsh, but... Oops, wrong fantasy thread! Sorry.

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 Post subject: Re: Cuba
PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2014 10:50 am 

Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:45 pm
Posts: 106
For those interested, here are a few more good websites that show what was once normal in Cuba, as well as updated status reports.

"Cuba - Steam in Paradise" <http://david-longman.com/Cuba.html>
Steam Locomotives in Cuba <http://www.steamlocomotive.info/country.cfm?which=cuba>
Steam Locomotives in Cuba <http://www.steamlocomotive.com/lists/?country=CUB>
"The International Steam Pages" <http://www.internationalsteam.co.uk/americas.htm#Cuba>

I was in Cuba several times in the 1990s and early 2000s, and saw mill after mill retired. When this happened, operating locos and parts were generally moved to other mills, along with parts off of dead steamers. The remains often just sat around, slowly being picked for scrap. When many of the mills were closed and the scrap sold to the Chinese, anything that didn't move often went into the scrap drive. With the mills closed and stuff moved around, current rosters are hard to keep up to date, and many of my sources have been providing conflicting information on what is where. Additionally, the hard core number collectors have pretty much stopped going to Cuba and now it is mainly tourist groups.

By the way, the large tourist hotels on the north coast are generally run by foreign companies using non-Cuban workers. The government doesn't want non-Cubans to influence the country. Most tours stay on the north shore and islands, but more and more tours travel by bus to select locations, including several tourist railroads that operate to tourist locations. This is a good way for those wanting a vacation to see some steam, but expect a tourist train in bright colors, not to "real" look of a Cuban train.

Part of the challenge of keeping track of what is in Cuba is that locomotives where numbered by where they worked, and then renumbered into a national system, but based upon locomotive size and geographical location. It wasn't uncommon for a locomotive to be renumbered year after year, so you had to keep track of its history using builders plates or the mill's recollection of where they go it from.

Another challenge is rebuilding. Most engines were rebuilt numerous times, with frames, boilers and tenders swapped on a regular basis. I saw several standard gauge boilers used on narrow gauge steamers - parts are parts.

However, there were some prized steamers in Cuba in the 1990s and several folks from Canada and elsewhere tried to buy them. The answer from Cuba was always NO! They are Cuban jewels and the property of the Cuban people (read government). However, cash from China seems to have resulted in at least a few being cut up, while others are abandoned, put into local museums, or even a few turned into snack bars.

Who knows if any will ever become available - cash does speak loudly. However, what you will get could be a bit confusing.


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 Post subject: Re: Cuba
PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2014 11:09 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8353
Location: Baltimore, MD
Here's a year-by-year account of the steep decline in "real" Cuban steam operation:

http://www.internationalsteam.co.uk/tra ... azafra.htm

If you started "dreaming" in the 1980s or 1990s, don't get your hopes up.

From http://www.david-longman.com/Cuba.html :
Quote:
With the decline in the world demand for sugar, and the fall in price, the government has recently announced its intention to close over 100 mills on the island. This further reduced steam operation and by 2005 almost all steam was confined to the back of the engine sheds, the scrap lines or newly established museums.

By 2011 steam traction had been eliminated from the sugar cane fields and mills of the island and all that remains are a few museum lines and tourist trains which are almost a travesty of the 'real thing'.


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 Post subject: Re: Cuba
PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2014 11:29 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
Posts: 4994
Tavor wrote:


² -http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=281807&nseq=89
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.p ... 23&nseq=31
³ -http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=287490&nseq=76
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.p ... 77&nseq=77


For the record:

Number 1107, the 0-4-2T, was built by Baldwin in 1882 s/n 6468.

Number 1403, the 2-6-0, was built by Rogers in 1892 s/n 4647.

This information from the booklet "Trains of Cuba" by Adolf Hungry Wolf published in 1996. At that time, both of these engines were still active and Mr. Hungry Wolf stated that 1107 was the second oldest steam locomotive then working in Cuba.

Les


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 Post subject: Re: Cuba
PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2014 11:37 am 

Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:45 pm
Posts: 106
Hungry Wolf has been a leading researcher on Cuba railroads and has several books and videos out on the subject. Get his stuff if you are really interested in railroads on the island. The NRHS also had a two-part article on railroads of Cuba about 12 years ago. I provided many of the photos and wrote part of the steam and diesel sections.

I was fortunate enough to photo 1107 and 1403, and even ride behind 1403 in a caboose many years ago. There was some neat stuff in Cuba over the years, and the opportunity to ride with the crew was once common. I did get out with a Baldwin book on locomotive parts and design - in Spanish - on my last trip, acquired at a mill that was closing. A few other items also got through security at the airport and home to my collection. However, there was seldom much stuff available.


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