Posts Tagged ‘Western Maryland Scenic Railroad’

C&O 1309 Close to a Test Firing

July 15, 2018

Restoration of Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 is closing in on having a test fire, a contractor rebuilding the locomotive said last week.

Diversified Rail Services said the checklist of appliances and parts, including boiler fittings and key portions of the stoker/firing equipment, that have been rehabilitated becomes shorter each week.

Recent work that has been completed includes removal of the trailing truck and sending its axles out for tread and journal trueing. The truck frame is also being repaired.

The cab floor, stoker elevator tube, and grate shaker have been installed, and workers are constructing an all-welded ash pan using the original as a template.

Also being installed are smokebox draft appliances while grate parts are being cast.

The work is primarily being conducted at the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.

No time frame has been given for when the Baldwin-built locomotive will begin making test runs or enter revenue service.


Contractor Gives 1309 Restoration Update

June 28, 2018

The contractor rebuilding Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 last week issued a detailed status report on its work, but did not say when the locomotive would be ready for service.

The restoration is being undertaken on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad where the locomotive is based.

Diversified Rail Services said the top row of 36 superheaters has been installed; the cab floor, stoker elevator tube, and grate shaker levels have been installed; and the grate structure and ash pan have been attached.

The steam and water pipes for the injectors are being fitted, the steam lines for the blower and air pumps have been attached, and workers have been grinding and cleaning up washout seats.

It is unclear how this work is being funded. Restoration work on the 1309 had halted last fall when the project ran out of money.

In its statement, DRS said it is seeking donations in amounts equal to the roster numbers of well-known operating steam locomotives: $4,014 ( arch brick and stoker screw repairs), $4,449 (boiler and pipe lagging), $4,501 (steam and water pipes for injectors), and $4,960 (boiler jacketing).

Built in 1949, the 1309 was the last steam locomotive built by Baldwin for domestic use.

C&O 1309 Passes FRA Hydrostatic Test

June 9, 2018

Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 has passed a Federal Railroad Administration hydrostatic test, but it remains unclear when its restoration will be completed.

Diversified Rail Services, the contractor doing the restoration work, distributed a photograph of a pressure gauge reading of 262 pounds per square inch, or 25 percent over the maximum allowable working pressure of 210 pounds.

Most of the restoration work is being done at the shops of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.

The work had been suspended last year after the project exhausted its funding. In recent weeks some wheel work had been performed after private donations flowed in following the news of the suspension of restoration work.

At the time of work suspension, DRS estimated finishing the restoration would cost about $530,000.

The next step in restoration is to put back into place the locomotive’s grates and superheaters. That will allow for a test fire to be done.

Thus far the restoration of No. 1309 has cost $1.8 million, including at $800,000 provided by the state of Maryland.

Consultant to Audit WMSR

May 30, 2018

A consulting firm has been hired to conduct an operational audit of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad at the behest of the Allegany County (Maryland) Board of Commissioners.

The board took the step in the wake of the WMSR requesting a $60,000 increase in its annual funding for 2019, which the tourist railroad said is needed for tie replacement.

WMSR General Manager John Garner said the railroad will cooperate in the audit.

The board usually allocates $140,000 to the railroad, but this year the WMSR asked that its appropriation be increased to $200,000.

Stone Consulting will conduct the audit, which the firm’s vice president for operations said will focus on the WMSR’s steam program.

Randy Gustafson said this will include reviewing the restoration of Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 steam locomotive No. 1309, which halted in late 2017 after the WMSR ran out of money.

Gustafson and Stone Consulting have reviewed several steam programs and in 2000 helped develop  a master plan for the WMSR.

“I think it’s overall good news. I’ve been surprised and pleased by the fact that everybody I know that has worked at the WMSR is encouraging this,” Gustafson said.

County officials are open to continued funding of the WMSR, but want a third-party review of what is happening there.

County Administrator Brandon Butler said he has had “numerous conversations with interested citizens, former employees and enthusiasts who are singularly dedicated to one thing — the success of the scenic railroad.”

WM Boxcar Moves From Ohio to Museum

April 6, 2018

A former Western Maryland boxcar that sat for years at an Ohio grain elevator has been trucked to the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.

The WMSR plans to restore the car and use it to haul bicycles on its tourist trains.

The car carried roster number 26634 and still has faded but visible “Western Maryland” speed lettering.

Ginn Grain in Sidney, Ohio, had used it for storage since the late 1980s, but the car developed a leak that rendered it unsuitable for its intended purpose.

Aside from hauling bikes, the boxcar will also be used for vintage looking photo freights by the WMSR.

The car the WMSR has been using to haul as many as 75 bicyclists a day, who use a trail adjacent to the tracks between June and October, has developed structural issues.

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.

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.