Hesston Museum Test Fires 2-6-0

The Hesston Steam Museum recently test fired the 3-foot gauge Porter 2-6-0 No. 2 that it is restoring.

The Indiana-based group is bringing back to life a 1911 locomotive that had been heavily damaged by a May 1985 fire.

The fire also damaged Shay No. 7 and destroyed several narrow gauge Rio Grande freight cars.

The restoration of the Mogul type locomotive has included the rebuilding or replacement of most of the engine’s parts.

This included installation of new boiler and turret, and fabricating a new larger tender frame and superstructure new brake rigging.

“The 2 was like building a new locomotive,” said Ted Rita, the museum’s director and general manager.

“Everything was modified in the field so really the only things left from the original build was the frame, wheelsets and, engines,” he said. “We’ve set her up for ease of maintenance and will be economical for us to operate for years to come.

“Once we complete our steam tests and shake down runs it will be our primary motive power and will insure we can run steam every weekend for our guests. We’ll then roll her into our maintenance schedule with our other operational locomotives. ”

No. 2 was built for the United Fruit Company and worked at a banana plantation in Guatemala. It was retired in the early 1950s.

By 1961, the locomotive had become derelict, but was saved from scrap by Elliott Donnelley. It was eventually repaired by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy shops in Clyde, Illinois, in Chicago where its running gear was repaired.

The Hesston museum used No. 2 on its two-mile railroad whose 5.5 percent grades and tight curves resemble a logging railroad.

The museum plans additional tests on No. 2 this fall and hopes to have it operational by next spring when a planned rebranding of the museum is expected to be implemented.

That will include a new name that will better reflect a 1929 theme and the museum’s geographical location.

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