Workers restoring Chesapeake & Ohio No. 1309 report that the firebox of the 2-6-6-2 locomotive is in “like new condition.”
The restoration is being undertaken at the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. Officials of Steam Operation Corporation conducted an ultrasound study of the locomotive’s boiler last month and conclude that the C&O might have replaced the firebox late in the engine’s service career.
The testing showed several areas of the boiler and rear tube sheet that had erosion and other potential issues.
Although the boiler and rear tube sheet meet current Federal Railroad Administration standards, they will need to be patched in several places within the next three to five years.
Western Maryland Scenic General Superintendent Mike Gresham said the timeline to return the 1309 to service has been delayed in order to give shop forces additional time to make those patches and bring the boiler into substantially “as-built” condition.
“Although we could operate No. 1309 without repair to some of the corrosion damaged areas, it’s really the only logical decision to make repairs now while the locomotive is disassembled even if it means a delay to [No. 1309’s] return to service. Otherwise, we’d have to be making significant repairs to No. 1309 in three to five years,” Gresham said.
The Western Maryland Scenic has launched a “1309 Completion Campaign” fundraising effort that is seeking to reap $200,000. The railroad hopes to have the 1309 pulling trains by mid-2016.
“From its beginning, this has been a grassroots effort without the direct support of major corporations or the railroad industry,” WM officials wrote in a letter to supporters.
Donors who give a gift of $500 or greater will receive cab ride in the 1309 during a regularly scheduled excursion.
A donation of $1,000 or greater will earn 30 minutes of throttle time, which increases to an hour with a gift of $2,000 or more.
The 1309 is expected to return to service on July 24, 2016.