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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2015 11:56 pm 

Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2004 3:52 pm
Posts: 91
Location: North Pole, Alaska
She is being rebuilt in Wasilla, about 60 miles from Anchorage and although not remote (compared to the dinginess of the Alaska reality shows... I guess), it's not always easy as you might think. We had nothing...nothing but a locomotive to start. No tools, no working shop, not even rail in a shop. So I kinda think it has been amazing. I know that two members of the steady volunteers live in Wasilla area, the rest of us travel a few miles each session to work on her. I live in North Pole. That's a 6 hour drive to work on her. When it's '40 below' and your traveling to work on her out of love of steam... I think it's remote. It means a lot to us. And the first year, we worked in her with no heat. We did such a fair job, they doubled our pay and promised days off. We have some amazing talent....

I've worked on other steam, and have been here since the moment we put her in the our shop... It has had some interesting challenges. So forgive me in saying that I think it has been truly amazing.


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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2015 1:40 am 

Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:36 am
Posts: 220
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
I'm another, who having watched the overhaul from the first day, find it pretty amazing. My hat is off to the 20 members of the volunteer mechanical crew (including Art and Jeff - 557 mechanic) who have been working at it for the last three years.

Challenges we do face with overhauling a locomotive in Alaska are transportation and a lack of a significant industrial base in the state. We have been very fortunate that one of our biggest supporters has donated the shipment of several loads, including drivers, air compressor, new tubes, and firebox parts, to and from the lower 48. However, purchases of small parts frequently involve substantial shipping costs, sometimes more than the cost of the item purchased, and some vendors refuse to ship to Alaska. Bringing the experts up from the lower 48 is also costly - every trip involves two days of travel time just to get to and from the job site. The very limited availability of used industrial machinery and the relatively limited availability of industrial tools also tend to cause us some difficulty. For example, when we exhausted our supply of 15/16" bridge reamers when working on the mud ring rivets, we bought out the entire stock available for sale within several hundred miles.


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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2015 2:03 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 2:35 pm
Posts: 344
Location: Pacific Northwest
I am really surprised to read this - I guess up until tonight I assumed that the group was working in Anchorage in whatever shop facilities the ARR maintains there which would presume heat, cranes, etc., etc. I'm not sure this updated reality is apparent to those of us watching this incredible endeavor.


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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2015 2:53 am 

Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:36 am
Posts: 220
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
The Alaska Railroad has been very supportive of the nonprofit Engine 557 Restoration Company and of the project, but for many reasons, doing the work in their shops was not practical.


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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2015 9:15 am 

Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:45 pm
Posts: 106
Like many steam rebuilds, the organization behind the rebuild of 557 is pretty complex. While the Alaska Railroad is supportive, they are not doing the work. A non-profit organization was set up to handle the donations of money and materials. This also impacted the location of the work, the leadership, and a number of other factors.

For those who haven't been there (I ran a tour of the 557 shops as part of the 2013 NRHS Alaska convention), the 557 "shop" is a former warehouse-type facility next to the mainline in Wasilla (about an hour north of Anchorage in good weather). The building was pretty sketchy with insufficient heat and other utilities (potra-potties are outside) which became some of the first priorities. The building had no track into it and not even a real door for moving the steamer in and out. At first, the locomotive was literally built into the building, sitting on panel track. Later a large door was rebuilt into the south wall so that parts (and 557) could be moved in and out of the building.

Having been there a number of times, it is amazing how the group has basically started from scratch, and in a rush, to get 557 under cover and start finding the parts, tools, talent, and financial support needed to rebuild her. Additionally, modern codes are very different than what was done in the past and a great deal of engineering has had to be done even before serious work began.

Even though I live in the lower 48, this is one rebuild that I have been watching closely.


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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2015 7:21 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:36 am
Posts: 220
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
The non profit also owns the locomotive and is solely responsible for managing and conducting the overhaul.


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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:54 am 

Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:52 am
Posts: 21
I guess we have accepted our circumstances and never gave it a second thought, at least not enough to realize that everybody "outside" would have an interest in our start up.
The building we occupy was once a lumber dry storage wharehouse for a now defunct lumber yard known as Kenai supply. We moved the locomotive to that location because the Alaska Railroad ownes the facility, they provide the building without rent, coincidentaly it was equiped with 480 volt three phase power, an important detail. The locomotive was moved by Lynden transportation on thier heavy lift lowboy, the tender followed on an Alaska Railroad equipment lowboy. All at no cost. The building had one 16' by 12' door in its side, both pieces were rolled off onto panels and thru the door at an angle and then "turned by skidding" once inside the building and positioned inline with the end of the building that would have our future door and rail access. At that piont we had a locomotive and a building, nothing else.
We very quickly began to consolidate the tools and machinery we would need to begin this project, all sourced from a wide array of opportunities. We have a case 721 loader we use for our heavy work, sourced by way of surplus from the ARR as well as an industrial band saw, pipe benders, eight air jacks and a rigid pipe machine all as donations. A 1943 Lodge and shipley 14" lathe acquired at a shamefully low price that is in excellent condition, a bridge port type mill that was horse traded for and so on. We have been very fortunate that our tool up came at minimal cost do to the generosity of others or just being in the right place at the right time. Every day I am convinced that providence has had a hand in this project.
The Alaska railroad does not directly fund our activities but does provide a great deal of support in other forms that are invaluable to the restoration copmpany.
In the interests of full disclosure I am a machinist at the alaska railroad and occupy my "spare" time at the 557


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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2015 6:29 am 

Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:36 am
Posts: 220
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
We apparently neglected posting the photos of 557 when she first arrived. These show the newly designated "engine house" on the first Saturday after 557 arrived in Wasilla in August, 2012.


Attachments:
ARR 557 being prepared for mechanical assessment - reduced.jpg
ARR 557 being prepared for mechanical assessment - reduced.jpg [ 124.41 KiB | Viewed 2038 times ]
ARR-557 tender in engine house - reduced.jpg
ARR-557 tender in engine house - reduced.jpg [ 116.26 KiB | Viewed 2038 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2015 11:07 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 2:46 pm
Posts: 1903
Location: Pac NW, via North Florida
Dick_Morris wrote:
The non profit also owns the locomotive and is solely responsible for managing and conducting the overhaul.
Wow, I completely missed that. I'd assumed that the locomotive was owned outright by the ARR (like the UP steam program) or aligned with ARR for all the support (like N&W 611 and the NS).
Thanks for clarifying that.

_________________
Lee Bishop


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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2015 10:41 pm 

Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2004 3:52 pm
Posts: 91
Location: North Pole, Alaska
Just thought some might be interested in the detail photos and seeing the ongoing work on 557. These shots were taken randomly while we worked on the fire box and mud ring. All in all, a lot of work was accomplished over the last few weeks with sometimes limited resources... ( mostly crews! due to the limited summer season when all the other Alaska work gets done.)

Hats off and a very big thank you goes out to Robert and Gary for their technical advice, back breaking help and patients with us as we tried to get all the things done. Hope they enjoyed Alaska during a nice break in the weather, the misqitto's and the lack of darkness. We used them all to our advantage.

Art

artchase photos


Attachments:
File comment: The old firebox, we have saved and will be used for education purposes. We used this for references as we checked and rechecked our progress. ( this was also my home for the first year... Thanks Jeff!!)
image.jpg
image.jpg [ 98.24 KiB | Viewed 1759 times ]
File comment: The crown, flue and door sheets laid out the morning of installation after being prepped, tweaked and treated for installation.
image.jpg
image.jpg [ 107.4 KiB | Viewed 1759 times ]
File comment: Jeff, (Robert inside the firebox) from the barrel side of the flue sheet.
image.jpg
image.jpg [ 86.66 KiB | Viewed 1759 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2015 10:46 pm 

Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2004 3:52 pm
Posts: 91
Location: North Pole, Alaska
Some additional details photos.


Attachments:
File comment: Ron is doing some welding on the back head.
image.jpg
image.jpg [ 102.21 KiB | Viewed 1753 times ]
File comment: Almost looks like Pac Man had been here.... The color coding was to help identify the need for each stay, or required repair work.
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image.jpg [ 205.92 KiB | Viewed 1753 times ]
File comment: Back head where many of the new flexy stays will be installed. This is due in large part to experience gained from operation and design. They tended to see more stress and broke most often...flexies will help cure that.
image.jpg
image.jpg [ 199.6 KiB | Viewed 1753 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2015 10:51 pm 

Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2004 3:52 pm
Posts: 91
Location: North Pole, Alaska
A few more to add.

Luckily Jeff was there to pull my butt out of the crown sheet area when we needed to reposition I-bolts!

Stay tuned!

And you can go here for a lot more photos details and updates:

http://alaskarails.org/pix/former-loco/ ... index.html

Art


Attachments:
File comment: And if you ever wonder what benefit the skinny guys have in rebuilding a locomotive...here's prof. You can stuff a guy between the crown and the wrapper sheet. "Now pull Jeff!"
image.jpg
image.jpg [ 60.53 KiB | Viewed 1752 times ]
File comment: From inside the fire box you can see the prescision alignment of the door to the wrapper.
image.jpg
image.jpg [ 182.7 KiB | Viewed 1752 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2015 12:04 am 

Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:52 am
Posts: 21
this is a phenominal collage put together by Ralph and I wanted to share with everyone.


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557 pictorial edited.jpeg
557 pictorial edited.jpeg [ 128 KiB | Viewed 1578 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2015 7:47 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:36 am
Posts: 220
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
We are pleased to announce that the John H. Emery Rail Heritage Trust (http://emeryrailheritagetrust.com/) has selected the ARR #557 overhaul and restoration for receipt of a $10,000, 1:1 matching grant. 557 is one of 11 projects that the Trust is supporting during 2015 and 2016. Funds will be made available upon our receipt and verification of matching contributions.

We realize that many of you have your own projects for which they are trying to garner support, but if you have a few extra dollars, please consider a donation towards returning ARR 557 to do what she was built for - pulling passenger trains on the Alaska Railroad. Donor information is at http://557.alaskarails.org/support/index.html.

Our sincere thanks goes to the trust and to Mr. Emery for his commitment to keeping alive the memory of the golden age of passenger rail travel.


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 Post subject: Re: Alaska Railroad 2-8-0 #557 to be returned to service!
PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2015 5:31 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:36 am
Posts: 220
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Project manager and president Pat Durand's description of the creative way one of our supporters used to make a donation towards returning 557 to operation,

"Each day in the summer the north bound Denali Star goes by the 557 Engine House about 9:45 a.m bound from Anchorage to Fairbanks. The 557 crew usually breaks to greet the passengers with a wave as they pass by. Recently one of the guest supervisors on board the train gave us a frantic wave from the vestibule and pointed toward a paper air plane trying to make a landing in the turbulence alongside the tracks.

"Upon inspection we found this paper airplane with a $25.00 cash donation neatly folded inside."


Attachments:
Denali Star passing the 557 Roundhouse - reduced.jpg
Denali Star passing the 557 Roundhouse - reduced.jpg [ 66.57 KiB | Viewed 3337 times ]
Air mail donation - reduced.jpg
Air mail donation - reduced.jpg [ 68.45 KiB | Viewed 3337 times ]
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