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 Post subject: Steam Locomotive Restoration Costs, Initial and Ongoing
PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 2:31 pm 

Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2010 12:41 pm
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Location: Minneapolis, MN
One of the best things that CFR49 Part 230 has done is clearly define the requirements for bringing a steam locomotive back from the dead. While that has greatly helped in estimating the costs, many restorations have gone wildly over their initial budget. That being said, we know that bringing a steamer back from "retired" condition costs anywhere from $800,000 to $2.5 million. We are now to the point where locomotives restored in the early 2000's are coming up for their "operational" 1472 day/15 year inspections. What are the costs associated with performing the 1472 on a currently operational locomotive, one which has already undergone the initial 1472?

I ask this question because many museums have a collection of steam locomotives and may be thinking about operating more than one. After the huge job of fund raising $4-6 million for the initial restorations of, say, two locos, continued funding for the subsequent 1472 day inspections is a huge consideration. So, how much does the second and subsequent 1472 cost? And has anyone hit the 1472 day limit BEFORE 15 years?

Anyone with experience willing to talk about this?


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 Post subject: Re: Steam Locomotive Restoration Costs, Initial and Ongoing
PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 4:58 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 19, 2006 1:18 am
Posts: 412
Location: San Francisco
I don't have an answer for you and based on what I've seen here, many are going to say, "it can't be done."

Every steam engine in different...
You can't tell what's necessary until you are well into the process...
How far do you intend to go with the work in your project...
How experienced is your workforce...
Etc.

I feel that it's a bit of a dodge to say it can't be done, but accurate cost estimating is a lot of work that requires someone with a great deal of experience. There are roughly speaking, two approaches in construction estimating, you can use a gross "rule of thumb" that will get you "within the ballpark," or you can meticulously tabulate materials, labor, tools, overhead, inflation, contingencies, and a zillion other factors to create a detailed estimate that may still end up being wrong because of circumstances beyond the project sponsor's control.

In both approaches, the estimator needs access to or experience with the actual costs of many similar projects to create an estimate. I don't think there are many folks in the steam field that have enough experience to make accurate estimates. The volume of work is too small, and the experience gained from previous projects is not widely shared. I'd guess the Durango & Silverton and a few others that maintain a small fleet of similar locomotives can create a reasonable budget estimate because of the repetitious nature of the work and that they are using the same skilled employees on each one, but the cost for another railroad to overhaul the same K36 will likely be completely different.

Sharing detailed cost and person-hour data from various steam projects could help create better estimates, but any such estimate is probably going to be a well-educated guesstimate unless you have data on what it cost for the same crew to do the work on a similar locomotive.

I would recommend generous "allowances" for the known unknowns and generous "contingencies" for the unknown unknowns.

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 Post subject: Re: Steam Locomotive Restoration Costs, Initial and Ongoing
PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:02 pm 

Joined: Fri Jul 07, 2017 2:37 pm
Posts: 31
Interesting topic, Hamster and timely for any museum who operates steam.

I just did some basic math to determine if a million dollars is required every 15 years just to continue running the locomotive, then how much would need to be generated each time it ran in order to have the funds available for it.

Figure a million divided by 15 equals $66,666/year of operation. Divide that by 6/months/year operating and that comes out to $11,000/month, roughly. If only operated once a month for two days, three trips/day like some museums do that number comes down to $1851 . Divide that by 2 to get more revenue for four days/three trips/day a month and it comes to around $925./day/divided by three trips/day= $308/trip.

Now figure $308./trip divided by $15./passenger ticket and you need at least 20 passengers/trip just to pay for re-building the locomotive in 15 years. Manageable...YES!
BUT keep in mind this, bare minimum, does not include, locomotive fuel,maintenence, repairs, contribution to track and right of way, etc.. So before any restoration group says yes let's re-build a steam engine they had best have a way to pay for it...and own the track to run it on.

Please understand I am not great at even, simple, math so feel free to go over these figures to see if I missed something. I think most groups could generate 20 riders behind steam but how about all the other costs like special tools and an engine house to go along with it? Maybe the Gramblings have the right idea, with small, portable, locomotives to help "scratch the steam, itch" for many groups? Having recently,retired from the railroad industry I see nothing on the horizon for future main line, Class 1 steam excursions except UP and 4449.

exprail


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 Post subject: Re: Steam Locomotive Restoration Costs, Initial and Ongoing
PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:41 pm 

Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:40 pm
Posts: 709
A great deal of the work done to initially put a park locomotive into service does not have to be repeated at the 15/1,472 inspection. The boiler teardown and UT inspection and new Form 4 calculations are the same, but assuming the original work was done well and maintained well after the loco entered service, most of the rest of it will not have to be.

IOW, the first 15-year/1,472 should cost a fraction of what the first one did. $1 million is way out of line, even for a large articulated.


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 Post subject: Re: Steam Locomotive Restoration Costs, Initial and Ongoing
PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 10:18 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5250
Location: southeastern USA
Until you are finished, you don't know what it cost.

The cost of the next 1472 depends most on how you used it during the previous 1472. Do you run heavy trains on a tough railroad with sharp curves and heavy grades? Do you run every day with all the tonnage she can haul? Do you have to defer all but running maintenance without backup power? If so, you are probably making good money using a locomotive as a tool for making money which is historically correct. It will, however, cost you more to gear up for the next cycle.

If you carry light trains on a fairly flat and gently curved line only a few days per month you won't spend much next time in relative terms, but then you haven't had the same opportunity in terms of available sellable seats per cycle to cover the paying back of the previous and the banking for the next 1472.

NEVER fail to consider the cost of not having operating steam if that's a key component of your product. Bank the income differential between steam and diesel into an account to cover that next rebuild - don't succumb to the popular (with members) next shiny new thing that won't bring your audience in and waste it on those false priorities instead.

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 Post subject: Re: Steam Locomotive Restoration Costs, Initial and Ongoing
PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 8:00 am 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
Posts: 1043
Location: Youngstown, OH
My experiences are not directly translatable to restoring a standard gauge locomotive, but down here in narrow gauge land I figure that I've spent about $30,000 on the J&L 58 so far, and still have some more costs to incur before she is done. The good thing here is that my labor is free and the overhead at the shop is very low and of course it is a tiny locomotive.

When we are running, we will have a 700' long mainline and some yard tracks. Our operations will amount to taking visitors from the parking lot up around the museum building into the rear of the property then back down to the museum building. Just a constant cycling back and forth all day long. We have a huge stockpile of firewood to burn off so the first year or two we will probably not have any fuel costs beyond labor for cutting and splitting. Insurance roughly $1,000, regulatory costs under $400, water is free. About $400 for the porta john. Lets say that there are $3,000 in yearly operating costs for the train. At $6.00 per person that is only 500 riders in a season to cover those costs. Of course as ridership increases so do the insurance premiums but it will always be lower as our overall exposure is quite low on a train that only holds a dozen or so people at any one time.

While we are not subject to the 1472 day inspections, we are regulated by the State of Ohio which only mandates a visual inspection every 3 years and a hydro test. One thing we do have going for us is the availability of a spare boiler which when it is brought here will be rebuilt, retubed and tested. That boiler would then be mothballed and set aside and we will set up a program of every so many years swapping out boilers so that the downtime on the locomotive can be kept at a minimum. The spent boiler would then be torn down for repair while the 58 still runs. I would be able to spread out the cost of boiler work over a period of years while still keeping our schedule of full steam operations. Since we have a spare set of drivers I intend to follow the same philosophy there of swapping out driver sets when tires need renewed. Only spend one day up on jacks instead of weeks or months.

Like I said it doesn't translate well into standard gauge but does show that you can run steam and do it cheaply if you set up your operation a certain way. I've been known to squeeze a penny until Lincoln cries in agony which is a good trait to have in this business.

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 Post subject: Re: Steam Locomotive Restoration Costs, Initial and Ongoing
PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 12:16 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 10:34 pm
Posts: 611
Such a wide open Question on a very slippery subject. All things mentioned already have a lot of validity. You take any two locomotives and any two organizations or individuals and a large pile of money and you'll get as many different answers, opinions and finished products or unfinished projects respectively. Bad decisions, bad weather, bad luck, inevitable surprises in scope of work and the obvious type of use and storage has a part to play in the cost and success of any restoration. And also as pointed out already was the initial work done properly or done at all? This would all make or break the cost of the follow up 15/1472. Skips Polson #2 is half way through the 15 years and the break in was halted so once up and running on a regular schedule his run time and mileage should be minimal. Those NG locomotives in Colorado will be dragging themselves into the shop at the end of their 1472 time.

But is a good question as I think many people assume that every 15/1472 is going to cost as much as the initial restoration. If things go way bad maybe it could, but in most cases it shouldn't. Mr Murphy works 24/7 365 days a year so it ain't over till the fat lady sings in the cost of this stuff. You can make every thing new and still have quite a bill in repairs. Or you can fix the locomotive like the railroads did and run it. With blessings from the FRA of course. Interesting hobby or livelihood we choose. Stamp collecting is hopefully a safer hobby with less danger and intrigue. Regards, John.


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 Post subject: Re: Steam Locomotive Restoration Costs, Initial and Ongoing
PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 12:17 pm 
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Location: Henderson Nevada
This is math that all need to try to do, then maintain as you learn how much these beast cost (or don't)

I would question the early assumptions about cost to return a locomotive to service... We have done some calculations on the costs to return a standard gauge 2-8-0, a narrow gauge 2-8-0, and a standard gauge 0-6-0 to service. Additionally I have some insight into the costs of the recent 1472 day inspection done on a narrow gauge 4-4-0.

There were different assumptions for each of the 4, based on inspection, and expected use. The narrow gauge 2-8-0 would not rehabilitated for FRA service, the others would be or are...

In our case we believe we can return the n.g. 2-8-0 which is in surprisingly good condition, and is very complete with all the hard to find parts on hand.... It sill has its "Vitamin A". Its not superheated... we are guessing about $100,000. It's 1472 (or longer under state code) would be half that (unless inspections shows we need to replace parts of the fire box or such. It would only be running on a 1/2 back and forth demonstration railroad.

The NG 4-4-0 completed a full FRA 1472 inspection, with new tubes and such using volunteer labor for well under $50,000.... maybe under $30,000. This was a previously FRAed loco, well cared for, lightly used, and with on additional issues found.

We estimate $2 million for the standard gauge 2-8-0... Its missing parts, but seems to have a good boiler. Its running gear is not completely trashed. It is superheated. I suspect that baring any significant boiler/firebox work, later 1472 day inspections would be much less that 20% of the original cost, maybe as little as $100,000.

We estimate $800,000 for the 0-6-0... in this case very complete, but superheated. Its later inspections are likely to be similar to the 2-8-0.

We use/will use volunteers where ever possible... There was no paid labor on the 4-4-0... we have within our museum system some of the tools which would be needed We have a shop, with machine tools and an overhead crane.

The two standard gauge locomotives would have running gear overhauled for class 3 or slower speeds.

In any case we will need to invest in some facilities to support the operation, including locomotive water supply (and in our case, with our water, significant water treatment system/program) as well as fueling and possibly an ash pit.

If you start with well thought out lower numbers, then the ongoing operation, and needed impounded funds for future work are more reasonable.

Randy

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Director, Nevada State Railroad Museum, Boulder City, Nevada
http://museums.nevadaculture.org/nsrmbc
http://www.nevadasouthern.com/
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 Post subject: Re: Steam Locomotive Restoration Costs, Initial and Ongoing
PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 2:05 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5250
Location: southeastern USA
Until, Randy, you find surprises when you tear them down. Surprises aren't generally pleasant. I did write an article about a program for surveying steam locomotives for restoration a long time ago for this site, which has been lost on a fried hard drive or I'd resubmit it now. It, and other similar plans, only help you do a better job, but an imperfect one, of estimation.

Also, the part about infrastructure - some of the best expenditures are those that provide the infrastructure you need to work on the project, rather than directly invested in the project. I'm involved at arms length with a couple that suffer from lack of infrastructure resulting in having to work harder on getting to get to where work can be done than just getting to work.

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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."

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 Post subject: Re: Steam Locomotive Restoration Costs, Initial and Ongoing
PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 5:53 pm 

Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2010 12:41 pm
Posts: 377
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Let's try this again. I am not looking for what ifs or how tos. I'm looking for real dollars spent on real locomotives for the second 1472. Initial restoration = $800K-2.5M. Now it's 1472 days later and you have been running old No. 1234 and have a pretty good idea of what will be needed but are expecting and ready for some surprises. I have heard that the second time around for a large, unnamed 4-8-4 was around $300,000 and that included wheel work and work on the roller bearings.

I understand that "mileage will differ" dependent on size and use, but is anybody willing to even give us an approximate number that comes from your own experience?


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 Post subject: Re: Steam Locomotive Restoration Costs, Initial and Ongoing
PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2017 12:30 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 2:14 pm
Posts: 457
Location: Essex, Connecticut, USA
Dear Hamster:
See my posts: rypn "1472 Day Refits", Feb. 06, 2016.
Be well,
J.David
PS: Both Nos. 40 & 3025 are doing fine. 3025 has been in service for the last few weeks, 40 will be joining it in service next week to handle the "Your Hand on the Throttle" program. Both locomotives are needed in November & December for the "North Pole Express" service. JDC


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 Post subject: Re: Steam Locomotive Restoration Costs, Initial and Ongoing
PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 4:15 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:52 am
Posts: 1235
Location: Strasburg, PA
hamster wrote:
One of the best things that CFR49 Part 230 has done is clearly define the requirements for bringing a steam locomotive back from the dead. While that has greatly helped in estimating the costs, many restorations have gone wildly over their initial budget. That being said, we know that bringing a steamer back from "retired" condition costs anywhere from $800,000 to $2.5 million. We are now to the point where locomotives restored in the early 2000's are coming up for their "operational" 1472 day/15 year inspections. What are the costs associated with performing the 1472 on a currently operational locomotive, one which has already undergone the initial 1472?

I ask this question because many museums have a collection of steam locomotives and may be thinking about operating more than one. After the huge job of fund raising $4-6 million for the initial restorations of, say, two locos, continued funding for the subsequent 1472 day inspections is a huge consideration. So, how much does the second and subsequent 1472 cost? And has anyone hit the 1472 day limit BEFORE 15 years?

Anyone with experience willing to talk about this?

As Lincoln Penn said, the second 1,472 itself isn't as extensive as the first. Reverse engineering and calculations aren't required, and there shouldn't be any surprises due to design flaws (which most if not all boilers were found to have had during their initial 1,472's), since these should have been corrected during the initial 1,472. All that is required over and above the old 4-year flue replacement rule is to UT the boiler for thickness, and renew any sheet that is below the minimum thickness required in the initial Form 4 (compared to the old rule where sheet replacement needs were left to the discretion and experience of the boiler maker). Also, the frame is required to be cleaned and inspected (note that the rule doesn’t specifically require major disassembly for the frame inspection).

Wear and tear to parts of the locomotive outside the boiler are outside the scope of the 1,472 SDI inspection and shouldn’t be included under that heading, since they would be needed anyway due to the service rendered regardless of what boiler rule was in effect.

All that being said, I can’t help you with numbers since we don’t religiously record how many hours go into 1,472 work specifically compared to boiler work in general. I did some looking and our #90’s second go around actually took more hours than the first probably due to more boiler repair in general being needed that time.

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 Post subject: Re: Steam Locomotive Restoration Costs, Initial and Ongoing
PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 10:07 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:52 am
Posts: 1235
Location: Strasburg, PA
In thinking about it some more, here is our average total repair cost per steam engine per year, averaged over the last 17 years.

Time: 1,491 man hours per engine per year. Plug in the average labor cost per hour for your organization.

Materials: $10,551 per engine per year. Our shop is pretty well equipped, so we don't have to pay for many finished parts that are farmed out to other suppliers.

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"It was not easy to convince Allnutt. All his shop training had given him a profound prejudice against inexact work, experimental work, hit-or-miss work."
C. S. Forester

Strasburg Rail Road Mechanical Department


Last edited by Kelly Anderson on Tue Oct 24, 2017 11:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Steam Locomotive Restoration Costs, Initial and Ongoing
PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 10:18 am 

Joined: Fri Jul 07, 2017 2:37 pm
Posts: 31
Thanks, for the clarification and additional information. I guess I was quite aways off in my estimate.

Keep up the good work.

exprail


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 Post subject: Re: Steam Locomotive Restoration Costs, Initial and Ongoing
PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:06 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2007 10:21 pm
Posts: 69
4960's 2nd 1472, including labor and repainting of the jacket, was budgeted at around $150,000 and was completed in 4 months.

Eric


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