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$2.6 million restoration of K4s 1361

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$2.6 million restoration of K4s 1361
Posted by Overmod on Sunday, June 27, 2021 7:35 PM

For some unaccountable reason nobody has mentioned that Wick Moorman and E. Barrett Levin are spearheading a full priority restoration of the 'infamous' PRR locomotive, now using a combination of private money sources to avoid some of the pitfalls of the previous efforts to date.

What I find somewhat alarming is the contractor they are using (FMW) which is a creation of the Davidson Ward who was a principal in CSR/SRI and the Project 130 that was to rebuild ATSF 3461 in Topeka for high-speed demonstration of torrefied fuel.  To my knowledge, Ward was an architect, not an engineer, and it bothers me to see a Newswire reporter bamboozled into thinking it is a new discovery that nothing is wrong with the boiler (there never was) and that the firebox needs reconstruction (that was always the issue short of full modern refabrication... which is now of course supposed to happen).

Perhaps this is all concern over very little, but I wonder if the people who have been steadily working 'under the radar' on 1351's running gear pending any decision on how to deal with the crown-stay controversy are now going to be thrown under the bus unrecognized for having continued relatively thanklessly on 'the rest of the story'.

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, June 27, 2021 8:58 PM

Overmod
For some unaccountable reason nobody has mentioned that Wick Moorman and E. Barrett Levin are spearheading a full priority restoration of the 'infamous' PRR locomotive, now using a combination of private money sources to avoid some of the pitfalls of the previous efforts to date.

What I find somewhat alarming is the contractor they are using (FMW) which is a creation of the Davidson Ward who was a principal in CSR/SRI and the Project 130 that was to rebuild ATSF 3461 in Topeka for high-speed demonstration of torrefied fuel.  To my knowledge, Ward was an architect, not an engineer, and it bothers me to see a Newswire reporter bamboozled into thinking it is a new discovery that nothing is wrong with the boiler (there never was) and that the firebox needs reconstruction (that was always the issue short of full modern refabrication... which is now of course supposed to happen).

Perhaps this is all concern over very little, but I wonder if the people who have been steadily working 'under the radar' on 1351's running gear pending any decision on how to deal with the crown-stay controversy are now going to be thrown under the bus unrecognized for having continued relatively thanklessly on 'the rest of the story'.

If the completed restoration comes in under the stated $2.6M - times 10 I will be amazed.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, June 28, 2021 9:51 AM

This sounds like old news, as in several years ago it was reported Bennett Levin was involved in a full-bore no-nonsense restoration of 1361.  The thing is, there's been no progress reports since, so I have to wonder just how far it's progressed or if it's even been started.

At the time I believed that if Bennett Levin's involved it's going to get done one way or another.  I still do.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, June 28, 2021 11:19 AM

Flintlock76
This sounds like old news, as in several years ago it was reported Bennett Levin was involved in a full-bore no-nonsense restoration of 1361.  The thing is, there's been no progress reports since, so I have to wonder just how far it's progressed or if it's even been started.

This is very recent news, being precisely the sort of 'progress report' you're wondering about.  (I would read the Newswire story only to get sources from the actual effort, or read what has doubtlessly burgeoned by now into an 'interesting' discussion on RyPN where just the mention of '1361' causes the mods to grab for the pantoprazole...)

There has never been any question that expedient and workable restoration of 1361, even 'net' of everything done wrong that will have to be, or should be, done over again, can be achieved.  There was no question that Moorman and Levin essentially cut the big Gordian knot back at the original announcement by deciding to make a modern-ASME-code compliant welded replacement firebox -- which is a major reason I thought it so weird that Ward and FMW were seemingly representing to the Newswire reporter that it was new and newsworthy that the boiler was 'found' to be good but the firebox needed full replacement.

In case you forgot: the issue is that PRR cut something of a corner in its crown-sheet specs for the boiler, in part by double-nutting the stays and using a slightly less astronomical factor of safety than current practice.  That meant that preserving the 'historic fabric' would require either a waiver from current standards or a derating of the locomotive working pressure (to something in the 180s if I remember the early discussions correctly) -- that would not impair much of the engine's performance at excursion speed, as you might expect, but would increase the water rate dramatically and the fuel consumption proportionally.  After all the state money thrown at the poorly-managed original work, there wasn't the funding for a Whole New Firebox End, and the state investment ruled out heavy fundraising from the usual private sources for completion.  All that is being handled by 'competent oversight' now...

... assuming that Ward et al. are more competent now than in the age of the 3460 class 'science project'.  Let's hope so.

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Posted by Backshop on Monday, June 28, 2021 12:25 PM

Will it have somewhere to run?

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, June 28, 2021 2:36 PM

I believe at least one location was mentioned in the Newswire story.

I would be astounded if it were not allowed to operate on the RBM&N, just for starters.  I don't believe a K4s is a very demanding engine to run.

Credibility of the principals is very high, so it is possible that the same consideration given to the recent Berkshire move would be extended to any necessary 'ferrying'.

I do look for this to be a prospective test case for PTC on excursion steam.  EBL is notable for mothballing his E8s over costs of required PTC; he would not be half of the executive management for a restoration of this extent if he had thought the issue was a showstopper...

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Posted by SD70Dude on Monday, June 28, 2021 3:17 PM

I'm sure there will be unexpected problems and some cost overruns (like any restoration), but $2.6 million sounds like a reasonable initial estimate for a rebuild which does not require a completely new boiler.  

The greatest part about having backers like Levin and Motorman is their connections and ability to raise large amounts of money in fairly short order compared to many other efforts.

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by zugmann on Monday, June 28, 2021 3:20 PM

Overmod
EBL is notable for mothballing his E8s over costs of required PTC;

I always heard it wasn't the cost (which I believe he could easily afford), but he didn't want PTC antennas on the roof of the engines. 

But that's jsut what I heard.  Worth the paper it isn't written on. 

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Posted by zugmann on Monday, June 28, 2021 3:23 PM

Backshop

Will it have somewhere to run?

 

Maybe they'll dual-gauge the EBT and run it out of Orbisonia?

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Posted by SD70Dude on Monday, June 28, 2021 3:30 PM

zugmann
Backshop

Will it have somewhere to run?

Maybe they'll dual-gauge the EBT and run it out of Orbisonia?

Put that on Facebook and see what happens.......

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, June 28, 2021 5:51 PM

Overmod
 That meant that preserving the 'historic fabric' would require either a waiver from current standards or a derating of the locomotive working pressure (to something in the 180s

You know, no-one's more in favor of keeping as much of the "historic fabric" as possible than I am, however I'm also a firm believer in the historic aircraft restoration philosophy of replacing whatever you have to replace if it gets the bird back in the air and to hell with the "fabric," if you get my meaning.  If replacing the marginal firebox on 1361 is what's needed to get it back out and running free then by all means do it!  

And I'll check out that Newswire story. 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 8:51 AM

Got it, thanks!

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 9:01 AM

zugmann
I always heard it wasn't the cost (which I believe he could easily afford), but he didn't want PTC antennas on the roof of the engines. 

I'm just guessing here since I don't know Bennett Levin, but I'd guess he doesn't want to install PTC in his E units because he considers it a waste of money.

Since the primary purpose of PTC is to stop a train because of (quite frankly) an engineers inattention inattention wouldn't be an issue on a excursion locomotive of any kind, steam or diesel.  There's going to be plenty of people in the cab of an excursion locomotive besides the usual crew.  Almost certainly there's going to be a pilot from the hosting 'road, in addition to anyone else concerned who can score a cab ride.  The excursion engineer's going to have plenty of company to keep him focused!  

Plus, there's always the "dark cloud" hanging over an excursion locomotive, for lack of a better term.  The first "guest locomotive" that fouls up on any particular hosting 'road is going to be the LAST "guest locomotive" that runs on that 'road, especially in this day and age. 

Steve Sandberg said it best, to ensure you're invited back excursion operators have to be more professional than the professionals.

Does any of what I said make sense, or do I not have enough coffee in me yet?

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 9:46 AM

Flintlock76
Does any of what I said make sense, or do I not have enough coffee in me yet?

You need more coffee.  PTC is mandated on passenger trains many places EBL runs the Es.  Excursions are passenger trains.  Private car moves are passenger trains.  (I don't think much of the idea of moving the Es out of the Juniata Terminal facility without functioning PTC onto a NEC full of fast trains full of hapless passengers driven by sometimes 'inattentive' people, but that's just me.) 

The antennas for the SBRs and other components are relatively small and unobtrusive, and the ones for the PTC functionality for T1 5550 are relatively easily demountable.  So I'd highly doubt 'esthetics' is a reason.  I've never heard anything but cost being mentioned, although I haven't asked in person.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 11:55 AM

Overmod
You need more coffee.

I guess you're right, I should have explained myself just a little bit better, so here goes.

Bennett's E's are essentially antiques.  We've discussed this in the past but to reiterate in my opinion antique locomotives, steam, diesel, or what have you should be exempt from PTC requirements for the simple reason that IF they're being run on mainlines it's going to be done under strict supervision anyway.  The scenario of a lone engineer in the cab who can nod off or foul up just isn't going to happen.  

But we've talked about this before, there's little point in bringing it up again.  

(Unless everyone wants to indulge in an enjoyable "female dog" session!  Wink )

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 2:13 PM

Flintlock76
in my opinion antique locomotives, steam, diesel, or what have you should be exempt from PTC requirements for the simple reason that IF they're being run on mainlines it's going to be done under strict supervision anyway.

In my opinion 'antique locomotives' have just as much mass and momentum, and pose the same collision danger, as anything modern and 'mandated'.  It is precisely a failure of supervision that creates almost all wrecks, including the distressingly many that even occur when PTC is nominally active.

This goes double if operating equipment that is liable to be stopped without warning both accidentally and by intent, operated independent of current of traffic or fleeting, or has speed or running restrictions different from operating traffic.

Considering how relatively simple it is to 'remote' the lead position sensor of an effective consist and to build a 'repeater' for PTC displays, I think most of the cost of physical PTC equipment in older locomotives is likely wasted when a modern equipped vehicle can be run in the train.  And in almost any case where operation on a PTC line is envisaged, protection power is likely to be desirable...

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Posted by Paul Milenkovic on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 2:16 PM

Flintlock76

 

 
zugmann
I always heard it wasn't the cost (which I believe he could easily afford), but he didn't want PTC antennas on the roof of the engines. 

 

I'm just guessing here since I don't know Bennett Levin, but I'd guess he doesn't want to install PTC in his E units because he considers it a waste of money.

Since the primary purpose of PTC is to stop a train because of (quite frankly) an engineers inattention inattention wouldn't be an issue on a excursion locomotive of any kind, steam or diesel.  There's going to be plenty of people in the cab of an excursion locomotive besides the usual crew.  Almost certainly there's going to be a pilot from the hosting 'road, in addition to anyone else concerned who can score a cab ride.  The excursion engineer's going to have plenty of company to keep him focused!  

Plus, there's always the "dark cloud" hanging over an excursion locomotive, for lack of a better term.  The first "guest locomotive" that fouls up on any particular hosting 'road is going to be the LAST "guest locomotive" that runs on that 'road, especially in this day and age. 

Steve Sandberg said it best, to ensure you're invited back excursion operators have to be more professional than the professionals.

Does any of what I said make sense, or do I not have enough coffee in me yet?

 

 

Could one suppose that a large number of people in the cab could prevent the locomotive driver from nodding off, but could this number of people be a distraction?

I think the complete set of circumstances where PTC prevents an accident is not known in advance, and I would rather have PTC than make exceptions for trains where "the crew will be really, really alert."

If GM "killed the electric car", what am I doing standing next to an EV-1, a half a block from the WSOR tracks?
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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 2:58 PM

Flintlock, I believe modern protection power in the same train is essential in any case, and it will have the necessary PTC equipment.

This includes benind the E8s.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 5:02 PM

A very good point David.  At any rate it's a bit unusual to see a steam locomotive excursion today on a main line without  a "Panic diesel" running with it.

The same might apply to Bennet's E's.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 5:12 PM

Paul Milenkovic
Could one suppose that a large number of people in the cab could prevent the locomotive driver from nodding off, but could this number of people be a distraction?

That's possible, but I've NEVER heard of it being an issue.  

Getting back to supervision, I've got a video of excursions run on NJ Transit in 1996 (I was on one of them, what a blast!) with C&O 614.  There's a number of in-cab shots, and sitting right behind the engineer is a pilot from NJ Transit rail, who NEVER took his eyes off the 'road or the engineer.  There were a number of other people in 614's cab as well and engineer Paul Nichini showed no signs of distraction.  Neither did Ross Rowland when he was in command.  Both were totally focused on the job at hand.

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Posted by conrailman on Sunday, July 11, 2021 8:19 PM

Museum needs better Cars and better Engines at the museum instead of waste 2.6 Million on steam engines. All they cars in the yard need all a good Paint Jobs.

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Posted by zugmann on Sunday, July 11, 2021 8:25 PM

Painting the cars in the museum isn't going to bring any more people to the museum/Altoona area. Restoring the K4 may. 

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Monday, July 12, 2021 6:04 AM

Flintlock76
You know, no-one's more in favor of keeping as much of the "historic fabric" as possible than I am, however I'm also a firm believer in the historic aircraft restoration philosophy of replacing whatever you have to replace if it gets the bird back in the air and to hell with the "fabric," if you get my meaning.  If replacing the marginal firebox on 1361 is what's needed to get it back out and running free then by all means do it!

I agree 100%.

Still in training.


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Posted by Overmod on Monday, July 12, 2021 12:32 PM

Historic fabric was not the argument with the 1361 firebox controversy nearly as much as money was.

The State spent what it considered an enormous amount on 'its official steam locomotive' only to discover that either a reduced-pressure kludge or a fully-remanufactured (and improved) upper firebox structure would be required... and the State was unlikely to allocate the money required, but private donors could get no recognition or even oversight authority.  That is why the running-gear restoration continued as a sort of 'stealth' program but the boiler matter stopped with no practical resolution.

It was Moorman and Levin who put the group together to commit to the 'new welded rear boiler structure' at what was then "over a million dollars" and this report is simply the follow-on with full pricing overall.

To do it all right for an engine intended to be operated.

The other K4 is the one whose preservation is extensively historic-fabric oriented.

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Monday, July 12, 2021 2:42 PM

Overmod
To do it all right for an engine intended to be operated.

Which is where? I sure don't think NS wants to touch a "dirty, coal burning (gasp!), greasy, noisy, polluting piece of junk that does nothing but delay us with more trains at the crossing" while it ties up freight traffic. Not everybody are railfans and NS wants to project an image of being a "good neighbor" in a world that is pretty adverse to a lot of the things a K4s entails. So, Steamtown? Blue Mountain and Reading? Oh, does it have PTC? Try getting insurance without it. (remember to the non-rail and non-railfan world, PTC is the silver bullet that will prevent all injuries)

 

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Posted by zugmann on Monday, July 12, 2021 2:47 PM

BEAUSABRE
Oh, does it have PTC? Try getting insurance without it. (remember to the non-rail and non-railfan world, PTC is the silver bullet that will prevent all injuries)

I'm sure it will be equipped with it.  Sounds like the UP 4014 is now equipped with a system that uses the trailing diesel. 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, July 12, 2021 5:53 PM

Ah, but even "panic diesels" can have issues.  Anyone remember the "panic diesel" coupled behind UP's 844 that didn't stop when 844 did, kept pushing and put flat spots on 844's drivers?  I do.

Of course, there's an easy fix for that one, put a warm body in the diesel's cab "just in case."  The point I'm trying to make is nothing's foolproof, probably not even PTC.  Wink

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Monday, July 12, 2021 10:47 PM

Flintlock76
Of course, there's an easy fix for that one, put a warm body in the diesel's cab "just in case."  The point I'm trying to make is nothing's foolproof, probably not even PTC. 

1) I don't think the insurance companies will buy that - two people can fail, install "foolproof" PTC instead

2) I know that PTC isn't fooproof. but as I stated, it's been sold to the public that way AND it covers the insurance carrier's hindquarters better if it is installed when the inevitable occurs

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, July 13, 2021 10:56 AM

Everything you say it true Beau', so I can't dispute it. 

Any speculation from anyone as to where a restored 1361 might  run?  Honestly I can't think of a single Class 1 on the East Coast that will allow it.  I'm sure they've got someone in mind, or several ones. otherwise I can't imagine spending several millions just to have it roll back and forth on museum trackage.

Short lines and regionals?  Some good possibilities there.

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