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 Post subject: The "too far gone" fallacy
PostPosted: Sat Nov 28, 2015 2:24 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:20 pm
Posts: 442
Recently I was at a museum (where I am a member) looking over some stuff in the yard. Another member came up and started talking, and the conversation eventually turned to the stored steam locomotives. The member proclaimed that most of them were "too far gone", "all junk", and ought to be scrapped. After listening to the guy for about a minute it was obvious his conclusion was based solely on outward appearances. Namely surface rust and some of the light-gauge sheet metal that had wasted away.

It is true that most parked steamers probably need much work. But, (1) you can't judge condition based on outward appearance, and (2) even if a loco is a basket case, how "far gone" it is really depends on the will of the restorer.

Anyway, what triggered me to post is something I read in the Trainorders archives. Below is the question posed, and a reply by Mr. Pappas that addresses the pervasive "too far gone" view many people hold about old steamers.

Quote:
Date: 08/17/11 16:45
When is it OK to scrap something?
Author: Hillcrest


I've been wondering for quite some time now, and with the recent Coos Bay #10 scrapping taking place it seems like a good time to ask the question, when do you scrap something? It seems that many museums have large collections, sometimes with pieces that don't really fit their "mission", and with scrap prices high as they are now, do you scrap deteriorated or unwanted equipment to generate cash flow for projects deemed more important?

Say in the case of Camp Six in Tacoma, and this is just as an example, The Lidgerwood. I looked at it a couple years ago and thought, how in the world would you go about preserving that? How would you move it? How would you fund the project? It is the sole surviving example. When is a piece too far gone or too impractical to preserve/ restore?

Cheers, Dave


Seventeen replies later...

Quote:
Date: 08/18/11 23:06
Re: When is it OK to scrap something?
Author: PorterNo2


I feel the need to interject here regarding when something is "too far gone" to rebuild. The discussion above regarding 0-4-0s in particular got my attention. Most of the pictures people post regarding how poor a locomotive looks really have little bearing on whether a locomotive is a good candidate for a rebuild or not. Surface rust, bad plumbing, cut furnace bearers, etc really are not important for a rebuild. The questions which are most important are how is the boiler barrel, axles, wheel centers, firebox, cylinder saddle cracked, and other costly to fabricate or machine parts of the locomotive.

Polson 70 which we just finished this year at MRSR has three new axles, new crank pins, all new shoes and wedges, all new rod brasses, new crown brasses, bored cylinders, new rings, hand scraped valve port surfaces, surface ground valves and balance plates, all rebuilt valve gear, all new pins/bushings/keepers/etc on the equalization, extensive firebox patches, a new bottom third of the tender tank, new cab, new smokebox, remachined branch pipes and spherical seats, new wrist pins, new knuckle pins, rebabbitted xheads, remachined xhead guides, new piston rods, toolpost ground valve stems, etc......

When she showed up, her boiler was very roughly torched off the frame, was missing most of her throatsheet, tender tank resembling a collander, and every machined surface had rusted beyond any hope of use....

The point is, she was a great locomotive when baldwin built her (good ratios and design), and now she is a great locomotive again. Coos Bay 10 was a great locomotive in her day and if I had the money personally I would have bought her myself.

Instead I am most of the way through my personal locomotive, Santa Cruz Portland Cement #2, a 45 ton Porter 0-4-0. This engine has recieved a new boiler barrel, new steam dome, new firebox, new staybolts, new front tube sheet, new smoke box, new boiler braces, new tires, remachined wheel centers and axle journals, new crown brasses, new and rebuilt springs, new spring hangers, new pins and bushings in the equalization, new pilot beam, new driven fit frame bolts, new frame x member, rebuilt brake cylinders, etc.... And there is still plenty of work to do.

My 0-4-0 was "too far gone" by anyone's definition I would wager. But this was the engine I played on as a young child in my hometown, and it is a dream come true to own her and be rebuilding her with my friends on off hours. If you look at the work of others such as Scott WIckert and his shay, or Chris Baldo's Skookum, you see that there are many projects within 100 miles of MRSR right now that most would have written off. The days of easy restorations ended in the 1980s and it is time that we admit that every engine out there that was not rebuilt in the last 30 years is probably a basket case at some level. To rebuild an engine takes discipline and motivation. Money is helpful, but by doing work in house and gaining the skills necessary costs can be kept to a minimum. At MRSR we do most everything in house and are proud of the capabilities we have in our small shop in Mineral.

The Coos Bay 10 needed a friend, and there was talk among us and our fellow tourist railroad brothers and sisters in the Pacific Northwest about trying to save this engine. In the end, the purchase price and the shipping is what put all of us out of the game. We did our best, especially those at the OCSR, but just could not make it work.... A pity....

Best,

Stathi


PS. Take note, the above was written in 2011.


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 Post subject: Re: The "too far gone" fallacy
PostPosted: Sat Nov 28, 2015 4:02 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 3:37 pm
Posts: 1055
Location: Pacific, MO
The little NP 0-6-0 that Stathi is restoring now would have been called "too far gone". I don't think those words are in his vocabulary. He's kickin' butt out there.


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 Post subject: Re: The "too far gone" fallacy
PostPosted: Sat Nov 28, 2015 4:28 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5249
Location: southeastern USA
Too far gone for what purpose based on what criteria? Blanket broad statements with no substantiation are not worth considering. I'd suggest if whatever group it was were to offer their unwanted steam hulks to other preservation organizations at scrap value they might learn a lot about what's too far gone according to different sets of circumstances.

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"Techies never minded eating bits and jots of their work. They were grit and grease inside and out and could turn a pile of junk into a magical kingdom."

Andrea Hairston


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 Post subject: Re: The "too far gone" fallacy
PostPosted: Sat Nov 28, 2015 6:39 pm 

Joined: Sat Feb 05, 2005 1:05 am
Posts: 399
Some of the best kept secrets in the Loco Restoration Field.
"Everybody" said they would never run again.

Grove Farm Museum PAULO.

1887 Hohenzollern retired 1920. Displayed in Koloa Town until 1970s.
Reboilered in 1981. I took a semester off from college to manage this 6 month restoration project with 5 guys on the payroll. PAULO still runs at least once a month for the Museum run days.

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Kahului Rail Road #1 "Claus Spreckles".
1882 Baldwin retired 1929. Donated to Bishop Museum in Honolulu 1966. Tree fell on it.
Returned to Maui 1985 and restored in the original KRR shops using the original machine tools. We spent 4 months restoring the shop machinery before starting the loco restoration. It was cheaper than contracting out the machine work. I designed and built the boiler in the shop. We had a crew of 4 over about 20 months.


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 Post subject: Re: The "too far gone" fallacy
PostPosted: Sat Nov 28, 2015 10:21 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:14 am
Posts: 174
I have to laugh at this statement every time I hear it. I deal with it all the time with my real job too. I have been part of, and know many others, who have brought back some true pile of garbage, basket case, burn pile wooden boats to show quality. Most of them were on their way to be torched when saved.

How can anything be too far gone considering recent events. There have been locomotives built with nothing remaining but the blueprints. I think that a few (Jupiter & 119 maybe?) had no drawings and we're reverse engineered.

The way I see it, something is only too far gone when the manpower, interest and resources no longer exist to even dream something up from scratch.

If an organization had to loose some equipment, it should be offered up to any organization that may be able to make something of it, even for a reduced cost, or no cost at all. I think giving a rotting hulk to an organization is better than letting it continue to rot into the earth.


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 Post subject: Re: The "too far gone" fallacy
PostPosted: Sat Nov 28, 2015 11:41 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
Posts: 1043
Location: Youngstown, OH
There really is no such thing as too far gone. My current project weighed about 90,000 lbs. empty when built. When we picked it up with a crane to move it to my shop last year it weighed 56,000. That was ONE THIRD of the locomotive missing- gone- scrapped. No problem. Re-engineer the missing components and make them again.

The greater problem are locomotive owners who own hulks and either have delusions of someday restoring the locomotive, will not sell at any price or thinks they have a gold mine.

_________________
Rick Rowlands
Steel Industry Preservationist, Narrow Gauge Railroader and ALCOhaulic


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 Post subject: Re: The "too far gone" fallacy
PostPosted: Sun Nov 29, 2015 12:05 am 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 pm
Posts: 2069
at this point there are many financial ways to help bring any concept, engine back to life, and take it to the T1 trust as well, with enough furver, anything can be done, nothing is beyond anything except anyones incapabilities. The above examples are incredible. other examples are some streetcar/interurbans where interior body is so rotted you would be recreating from scratch most of the body and have to throw out practically everything else. But you have the examples of the original to base on. Negativity just doesnt work when it comes to restoration, it takes a positive outlook, the ability to look beyond what is an apparent obvious sad story to the initial eyes.


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 Post subject: Re: The "too far gone" fallacy
PostPosted: Sun Nov 29, 2015 7:06 am 

Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2005 5:40 pm
Posts: 225
Location: Minersville, PA
CNJ 113 was a stripped carcass when work was started on it. To quote someone "it wouldn't even make a good display locomotive". Under very crude working conditions, it was put into operating condition several years ago. The naysayers said it would never run but it has done a good job so far.

Bernie


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 Post subject: Re: The "too far gone" fallacy
PostPosted: Sun Nov 29, 2015 12:07 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 18, 2005 1:27 pm
Posts: 362
Location: Milford,Mass
Hi
I remember when N&W # 1218 first arrived in Vermont at the old Steamtown , all she was, was a mass of rust . On the tender in letters was Do Not Scrap , I said the same thing she will never run again . Also if you want add the Climax that is getting restored at Cass Scenic RR .
Yes they are some locomotives , that are in museums and parks , that would take a pile of money to restore . Another example is the Maine Central # 470 , the last time I saw her , she was just a pile of rust and neglect .
Now Thanks to the New England Steam Corporation , this locomotive will someday in the near future Steam again .


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File comment: N&W # 1218 in Vermont
NampW1218Steamtown1960sB_zps006daa73.jpg
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 Post subject: Re: The "too far gone" fallacy
PostPosted: Sun Nov 29, 2015 1:10 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 5:05 pm
Posts: 555
You can "restore" anything if you have enough money and don't care how much of the artifact is left at the end. At some point it becomes a recreation. A locomotive does not have to be operable to be preserved or restored.


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 Post subject: Re: The "too far gone" fallacy
PostPosted: Sun Nov 29, 2015 3:36 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2004 9:48 am
Posts: 448
Location: Byers, Colorado
Speaking as an "owner of a hulk, who has delusions of restoring her"...

My engine needed a FULL TIME friend, the museum who owned her needed to get out of the saddletanker business, and I needed something worthwhile to do with my railroad retirement. We all got our way, and we're all better off.

Anybody who owns a piece of equipment that they don't want, or can't take care of, PLEASE before you consider scrapping it, at least post it here and put it on ebay !!! You just never know who is out there waiting to take it off your hands (and if you're lucky he's got more dollars than sense).

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 Post subject: Re: The "too far gone" fallacy
PostPosted: Sun Nov 29, 2015 5:07 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:26 am
Posts: 3716
Location: Maine
Thanks for the nice words, Pat. To borrow a line from "Jurassic Park", "Creation is an act of will". If you dig around you often find more "yesses" than "noes". You find others with visions similar to your own, and with some guidance and motivation, locomotives are no exception.

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"It's only impossible until it's done." -Nelson Mandela


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 Post subject: Re: The "too far gone" fallacy
PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 10:30 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:14 am
Posts: 174
QJdriver wrote:
Speaking as an "owner of a hulk, who has delusions of restoring her"...

My engine needed a FULL TIME friend, the museum who owned her needed to get out of the saddletanker business, and I needed something worthwhile to do with my railroad retirement. We all got our way, and we're all better off.

Anybody who owns a piece of equipment that they don't want, or can't take care of, PLEASE before you consider scrapping it, at least post it here and put it on ebay !!! You just never know who is out there waiting to take it off your hands (and if you're lucky he's got more dollars than sense).


This is very true. I have had my eyes on a particular locomotive that would be very manageable, albeit a big project, for someone to handle without all kinds of special equipment. The group that has it would rather it go and rot in a city park for a buck than sell it to a private individual for a reasonable price (ie. scrap value rounded up). For now I just keep my eyes on her and hope for the best.


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 Post subject: Re: The "too far gone" fallacy
PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 11:21 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2010 8:25 pm
Posts: 245
Here is a locomotive that sure looked "too far gone" when the restoration began;

http://www.rgvrrm.org/about/railroad/pl ... /index.htm

Go to the "Learn More" link in the lower right corner to see the state of the "Hulk" as it existed before restoration efforts began.

As far as we can tell the provenance of this loco is; bought new by the Despatch Shops of the New York Central Railroad about 1919-1920. This was a company subsidiary that made many of the roads freight cars (a lot of iced reefers). This was located in East Rochester NY, a planned railroad "company" town.

It appears it was replaced by some steam switchers and or early diesels and set aside on the dead line before WWII.

Then during WWII it appears that it was purchased/transferred to the Odenbach's ship yard in Greece NY (on the shores of Lake Ontario) when production of landing craft and barges was commencing at a furious pace.

After the war it was abandoned in the parking lot. It was literally shoved off the end of live track and proceeded to sink into the asphalt of the parking lot.

At the very end of the last century it was retrieved, but in a very sorry state;

Main engine seized (freeze damage), chains in the drive shaft rusted solid, all hoses and wiring gone, exhaust and intake manifold rotted away, engineers cab almost gone, engine cowling replaced with a rusted out ramshackle affair, a very sorry state indeed.

But with some modest effort (5 years) and a few parts (~ $10k) it was resurrected;

Here's an "after" photo to compare to the "before" photos in the link above;

http://www.rgvrrm.org/media/semaphore/R ... 200802.pdf

Oh, and it was fully operational after the restoration, not a cosmetic job in any way, the engine and transmission was rebuilt from the "ground up", no easy task with no replacement parts or repair manuals available.

"Too far gone" ??? well I guess that depends on the skill and dedication of the folks that attempt these restorations. There was a very fine crew that helped in this restoration.

Cheers, KevinK.


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 Post subject: Re: The "too far gone" fallacy
PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 1:02 am 

Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2010 12:41 pm
Posts: 377
Location: Minneapolis, MN
How about this for "too far gone"? The Pennsylvania T1 project. Talk about too far gone! There IS NO LOCOMOTIVE to restore, not a single piece. Of course this is the ultimate end point for this "too far gone" exercise, but is is absolutely illustrative of "where there's a will, there's a way".

Cheers!


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