Posts Tagged ‘Chesapeake & Ohio No. 1309’

WMSR Wants 43% Hike in Funding

March 12, 2018

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad raised a few eyebrows recently when it asked the Allegany County Board of Commissioners for a 43 percent increase in its budget.

“I have serious concerns about how this is being funded and operated, from top to bottom,” said board president Jake Shade. “At some point, I don’t know what to tell people when they ask us, ‘What’s going on at the railroad? How are the taxpayers getting the best deal they can?’”

WMSR is seeking $200,000 from the county, which has historically granted the tourist railroad $140,000 of the railroad’s budget.

The railroad’s general superintendent, John Garner, said the additional money is needed for tie replacement.

WMSR earned $3.2 million in revenue last year, which included $1 million from the state to restore former Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309.

The railroad reported $1.3 million in liabilities against $1.2 million in assets.

Restoration of the 1309 has proven to be more expensive than anticipated and the work halted late last year when the WMSR ran out of money to continue the work.

That prompted the railroad to launch a fund-raising campaign. The 1309 was supposed to have entered revenue service last year, but additional issues have delayed that. No date has been announced for when it will go into service.

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Stolen Locomotive Parts Must be Remade

February 26, 2018

A contractor working to restore Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 has acknowledged that some parts will need to be remade because they were stolen and sold to a scrap dealer

Gary Bensman, a principal in Diversified Rail Services, said that 12 crown brasses and 12 hub liners, two per driving axle, were removed from the 1309. New pieces will have to be manufactured to replace them.

A former Western Maryland Scenic Railroad employee has been charged in connection with the thefts, which court documents say amounted to more than $14,000 in brass and bronze that was taken from a shop in Ridgeley, West Virginia.

Some of the brass components that were stolen weigh as much as 300 pounds.

Bensman said did not estimate how much it will cost to make replacement parts. Crown brasses that were taken were original to the locomotive, Bensman said. No. 1309 was built by Baldwin in 1949.

Neither the WMSR or DRS has said if any of the stolen parts has been recovered.

Ex-WMSR Employee Charged With Theft

February 21, 2018

Charges have been filed against a former Western Maryland Scenic Railroad employee in connection with the theft of brass and bronze railroad equipment parts.

Scottie A. Nixon, 30, of Cumberland, Maryland, has been charged with the theft of parts worth $14,662. The crimes occurred between August 2017 and Feb. 5.

A police investigation  concluded that Nixon is alleged to have “stripped a steam locomotive of the valuable metals . . .”

Court records show that $1,314.40 worth of brass has been returned to the railroad.

Authorities were alerted by an employee of a Cumberland scrap dealer of a number of “suspicious” transactions over several months and identified Nixon as the seller.

The scrap dealer turned over to police receipts for 61 transactions totaling $14,662.

Nixon has been released on his own recognizance and faces an April 3 trial. If convicted he may receive up to 15 years in prison be fined $15,000.

Court records show that Nixon has an arrest record dating to 1999 and was convicted of second-degree burglary and malicious destruction of property in September 2009.

The WMSR is in the process of restoring former Chesapeake & Ohio steam locomotive 1309, although lack of funding halted the restoration work last November.

Thief Steals Parts for C&O 1309

February 14, 2018

Restoration of Chesapeake & Ohio No. 1309 suffered another setback when thieves stole parts for the 2-6-6-2 locomotive from the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. Also taken were parts for passenger cars.

WMSR Executive Director John Garner said he learned of the theft when local salvage yards reported receiving locomotive and passenger car parts.

Police believe the thefts were made by a former shop employee, but no charges have yet been filed.

“These irreplaceable artifacts are property that was entrusted to our care for preservation and for the education and enjoyment of the public,” Garner said in a statement. “Employees with access to the Western Maryland Scenic’s collection of railroad equipment and parts are trusted guardians who must not abuse their positions for personal gain.”

Among the stolen items were rare light fixtures and brass hardware from Western Maryland Railroad office car 204, bronze bearings and wear plates from No. 1309, and miscellaneous locomotive and passenger car parts.

Garner said the person suspected of the theft “had access to a wide array of WMSR’s collection of parts and artifacts,”

He said the tourist railroad will review its security and storage procedures and make changes.

Garner expects criminal charges in connection with the theft to to be filed in West Virginia in the coming days.

As for the restoration of No. 1309, Garner said it continues to move forward as funding becomes available.

A direct mail campaign netted $30,000 that will be used to pay for work to the drivers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that will be performed under the direction of Gary Bensman’s Diversified Rail Services using specialized steam locomotive wheel machines located at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum’s Soule Shop.

Maryland Lawmaker Wants County to Provide Funding to Finish Restoration of C&O 1309

January 30, 2018

A Maryland legislator wants Allegany County to provide $530,000 to the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad to enable it to finish restoration of former Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 to operating condition.

State Senator Wayne Norman said the county “needs to put some money into it  . . . I think the county needs to take a lien, then get it finished.”

He has proposed that the county pay the funding from a “rainy day fund” that has a $26 million balance.

The county owns the right of way used by the WMSR between Cumberland and Frostburg, Maryland.

Norman is reported to be a supporter of the tourist railroad and has made frequent visits there.

As he sees it, “once that thing is up and running, it will bring people here from Europe and Asia. There’s nothing else like it in America, so people will come and see it.”

The state budget being proposed by Gov. Larry Hogan would allocate $250,000 to the WMSR for operating expenses, the same as what the state provided last year. Allegany County annually provides $140,000 for operations.

The funding for operations is used for infrastructure and equipment maintenance.

However, news reports in Maryland said that legislators from western Maryland are not supportive of further government funding of the 1309 restoration, saying that other county agencies are waiting for their turn to receive government grants.

C&O 1309 Restoration 6 Months From Completion Once Another $530,000 in Funding is Secured

December 14, 2017

The completion of the restoration work to Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 is six months away once funding is in place.

Trains magazine reported on its website on Wednesday that Gary Bensman of Diversified Rail Services, a contractor doing the work on behalf of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, that $530,000 is needed to get the 1309 into steam.

Bensman told the magazine that the locomotive is about ready for a federally required hydrostatic test of the boiler.

He expects no surprises for the restoration that has been on again and off again due to funding issues and mechanical issues that have cropped up.

“We got the boiler done, had it full of water, and had pressure on it, but did not finish it 100 percent to have the FRA witness a full hydro test,” Bensman said. “With little more work, it can be ready.”

Bensman said about a dozen old staybolts need to be replaced. Once the hydrostatic test is completed, the grates and superheaters can go back in and a test fire up performed.

Some running gear work will need to be done before the engine can begin revenue service.

This past year has seen program made on restoring the 1309’s boiler.

“This year, we changed almost 800 staybolts, applied eight firebox patches, and installed a new rear flue sheet,” Bensman said. “A lot of that stuff was completed so the tubes could be put in during July and August. We’ve gone from a boiler with some 2,300 holes in it in June to none in November.”

The restoration work stalled last month after the WMSR ran out of money for the project.

Some work has continued on the wheels using specialized lathes at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Thus far the restoration of No. 1309, the last steam locomotive Baldwin built in 1949 for domestic service, has cost $1.8 million.

WMSR Executive Director John Garner said the tourist railroad is is committed to finishing 1309 restoration project.

C&O 1309 Restoration Runs Out of Money

November 18, 2017

Efforts to restore Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 have run out of steam. More to the point it has run out of money.

Western Maryland Scenic Railroad Executive Director John Garner remains optimistic the restoration can be completed and the tourist railroad is seeking additional funding.

However, he said the restoration will not be completed at the expense of the other operations.

“A lot of our visitors have the idea that we should throw all of our money into the 1309’s restoration, but that would bankrupt us,” Garner told Trains magazine.

He estimated WMSR needs least an additional $530,000 to complete No. 1309’s restoration and finding additional sources of money has been a slow process.

There have also been some disappointments, including less money than expected from photo freight charter trains that ran in October.

“I don’t think that we fully understood what was going on in the region on that weekend; there were several other railroad-themed events going on around the same time,” Garner told Trains.

Some grant sources look promising, but that money won’t arrive until late 2018 if it arrives at all.

The railroad is preparing to send out a round of 1,600 letters to plead for donations and will host more freight photo charters in February.

WMSR said the remaining running gear and boiler work is expected to cost $120,000 and $115,000 to complete.

To date, the restoration of No. 1309 has benefited from at least $400,000 from the State of Maryland.

Last spring the WMSR said it had spent $800,000 of its own money on the restoration. By August the project had consumed $1.8 million.

Aside from funding issues, work on the 1309 restoration has been hindered by mechanical problems that forced cancellation earlier this month of a hydrostatic test on the articulated locomotive’s boiler.

“We filled the boiler with water up to the crown sheet and repaired a few leaks around the stay bolts,” Garner said. “Then we ran out of money.”

Maryland officials have expressed confidence in the leadership of the WMSR, but have said that no more public funds are expected to be forthcoming toward the 1309 restoration.

Allegany County in Maryland owns the former Western Maryland Railroad right-of-way from Cumberland to Frostburg.

WMSR Give 1309 Restoration Update

October 3, 2017

Work continues to restore former Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309, with the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad having spent $2.3 million on the restoration thus far.

WMSR head John Garner told Trains magazine that the locomotive’s boiler vessel is 90 percent complete, the tender is 90 percent, the brake and spring rigging are 80 percent done, the grates and ash pan are 30 percent complete, the running gear is 20 percent complete, the cab floor and locomotive cab are 20 percent done, and super heaters and smoke box are 10 percent complete.

Workers still must re-wheel the engine, fabricate the locomotive’s air brake system, install the boiler and jacketing, test-fire the boiler, and paint and assemble the locomotive.

“It’s going to be a group effort to finish the project,” Garner said. No date for finishing the work has been set.

Funding for the restoration is now largely coming from a Maryland grant of $400,000. Much of the work is being done through Diversified Rail Services.

Garner said the grant money requires WMSR to fund various parts of the project with its own money.

In a related development, WMSR has repainted its EMD GP30 No. 501 in Western Maryland’s red, white, and black “circus scheme.”

The tourist railroad believes the unit is the only Western Maryland-painted locomotive to wear the livery on a tourist railroad.

No. 501 pulls WMSR trains between Cumberland and Frostburg, Maryland.

The locomotive along with some restored freight cars painted in WM markings, including a caboose, will be used during photo events planned for Nov. 3 to 5.

These include a Friday night photo session with No. 1309, a Saturday day trip with No. 501’s freight consist, and a Sunday morning breakfast and networking opportunity with railroad staff and steam experts.

Proceeds benefit the restoration of No. 1309. Garner said the November event is limited to the first 20 participants and those who are interested are encouraged to call the railroad’s offices.

C&O 1309 Restoration Half a Million Short

September 15, 2017

The effort to restore former Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 has fallen more than a half-million dollars short.

John Garner, CEO of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, send an email message this week pleading for donations.

The email said WMSR needed $530,000 to finish the restoration. Garner has warned in the past that the cost of restoring the 1309 was threatening the financial health of the WMSR and suggested that taking on the restoration project might have been a mistake.

The operating debut of the ex-C&O locomotive has been delayed more than once this year.

However, he has pledged that the railroad will see the restoration to completion.

No. 1309 would be the only functioning articulated locomotive in the United States.

ARRC to Have Picnic During NKP 765 Visit

September 11, 2017

Since it looks like the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad No. 1309 won’t be ready any time soon, the ARRC will have a September Steam Weekend right in our backyard.

We will again hold a picnic in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to coincide with the visit of Nickel Plate Road No. 765.

The officers had considered holding an overnight outing in Cumberland, Maryland, to watch the former Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 make its first trips in September. But those have been canceled.

The ARRC picnic will be held on Sunday, Sept. 17 or 24 at the Valley Picnic Area in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park along Riverview Road south of Peninsula.

The 765 will be running out of Akron on that day and will pass the picnic site four times during the day. It will be six times if you count ferry moves.

So even if you don’t plan on chasing NKP 765 through the Valley, you can see it without all the hassles of traffic and jockeying for position with other photographers.

The weather forecast will dictate which weekend we will have the picnic. If it’s going to be nice the first weekend, then that is the day we will do it.

If we get rain the first Sunday, then we will shoot for the second Sunday. If it rains both weekends, there won’t be a picnic.

The club will provide the hamburgers and hot dogs as well as the popular condiments.

Chef Martè will have some snacks and beverages available, but it may be best to bring your own. See you in the Valley.