Tuesday, May 19, 2020

924 steams!

The 924 builds steam on a warm spring day.
Locomotive 924 was constructed in 1899 by the Rogers Locomotive Works of Paterson, New Jersey, and was delivered along with two identical sisters to the St.Paul and Duluth Railroad.  By 1901 it was under ownership of the Northern Pacific Railway, and was soon serving their needs in the Puget Sound region of the Pacific Northwest.

Steam and air plumbing fills the cab; the
roof has been left off the cab for now to
improve access and lighting.
In 1924, the 924 became superfluous to the needs of the N.P. R. and was sold to the Inland Empire Paper Company near Spokane, WA.  The locomotive met the needs of its new owner until 1969 when company president William H. Cowles Jr. donated the 924 to the Northwest Railway Museum.  The 924 briefly operated in Chehalis, and was later moved to the Museum headquarters in Snoqualmie.  In 2015 it was nominated and listed on the King County and City of Snoqualmie Landmarks Register.  Work was immediately underway on a major rehabilitation effort, which is now nearing completion.

A wood fire crackled for about four hours
before the boiler reached operating
pressure. 924 will be fueled with wood
rather than coal.
May 18, 2020 represents an important milestone for the 924: it returned to steam and operated under its own power in testing on the shop track.  An inspection conducted by the Federal Railroad Administration observed that the boiler safety valves opened and closed at appropriate pressure levels, and the steam-powered air pump was able to deliver the required air flow.  During the visit, Museum staff also demonstrated successful operation of both Ohio injectors, and the hydro-static lubricator, all of which were rebuilt by Backshop Enterprises.  And an additional day under steam gave collections care specialists - steam specialists, really - an opportunity to perform additional testing and troubleshooting.  Steven B., Josh K., Scott, and Gary performed most of the effort required to boil the boiler water, but dozens of additional volunteers and staff contributed efforts that allowed this to happen.

Work on the 924 is continuing and completion of vital systems is anticipated in 2nd quarter 2020.  Work has been funded by contributions from individuals, companies, foundations, and government agencies including 4Culture, Washington's Heritage Capital Fund, the Northern Pacific Railway Historical Association, Emery Rail Trust, Schwab Fund, and more. You can support completion of the project by visiting the Museum's donation page, making a pledge, and selecting the steam program here.

Check out two days of steam in photos and videos:

The hydrostatic lubricator, automatic brake valve, steam gauge,
and air gauges.

924 was built with one water glass but
regulations now require two.

Setting safety valves to the correct pressure involves verifying
they open at the desired pressure.
Checking the water level.

Verifying the open and close pressures for the safety valves.

924 simmers in the Snoqualmie Valley
The Museum's director and the inspector from the Federal
Railroad Administration discuss locomotive 924.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

A new cab for a locomotive

More progress for steam locomotive 924!  Despite the encumbrances of the Covid 19 crisis, a skeleton staff has been able to advance the project with installation of the new cab.

The cab was moved out of the Conservation and
Restoration Center by the Museum's Pettibone

The former Northern Pacific Railway 924 was built in 1899 and is nearing the end of a multi year rehabilitation.  The Rogers-built 0-6-0 has received extensive boiler work, and work is continuing on the brakes and running gear.  A new tender tank has been built, and a replica cab has been fabricated from white oak as part of the effort to restore the locomotive to its appearance circa 1908.

The all-wood cab was gently lowered into place.
The cab was held in position above the locomotive
while clearances were checked.

An important milestone was reached a few days ago when the wood cab was restored to the locomotive boiler and frame.  The heavy oak structure was swiftly placed by Scott Imhoff from Imhoff Crane in Snoqualmie.

It was as if the cab was flying.
The new cab was slowly lowered onto the locomotive.

The fabrication effort was led by the Museum's shipwright Gary James last year in a 4Culture-funded project.  Volunteers were extensively involved, too, but especially Mike D. who created a complete set of drawings scaled from historical photos, and from field measurements taken on locomotive.  Support for this work was also received from the Washington Heritage Capital Fund administered by the Washington State Historical Society, and from individual donors.  Your tax-deductible contribution to the Museum's steam locomotive fund will help continue and complete the effort.

Placement of the cab complete, the 924 is beginning to look like a locomotive again!
With the new cab in position, the 924 is beginning 
to look like a complete locomotive again.

Work on locomotive 924 is continuing this month, though at a much slower pace than anticipated due to health and safety restrictions necessary to protect volunteers and employees from Covid 19.  Notwithstanding, the cab is an important milestone with others anticipated in the near future for this long-term project.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Give BIG 2020 - help the Museum weather Covid 19

2020 is proving to be a challenging year with the longest closure in the Museum's 63 history.  Governor Insley's stay-at-home order has been extended to the end of May to slow the spread of Covid 19, but as a consequence of the closure Museum income is down more than $150,000.  A Pay Check Protection loan from the Small Business Administration of $94,000 is allowing the Museum to retain basic staffing levels for security, regulatory efforts, and maintenance, but many other efforts are suffering.

Ideally, the Museum would have been asking you to support the completion of steam locomotive 924, to help restore parlor car 1799, or perhaps to help with Puget Sound Electric Railway 523 rehabilitation efforts.  Instead, the Museum asks that you please consider a contribution today through May 6th to ensure the Museum is simply able to reopen when the state deems it safe to do so.

The Northwest Railway Museum has a very successful business plan, but its weakness is a reliance on earned income.  Most of the operating budget is funded with ticket sales.  So visits to the Train Shed, train excursion tickets, Depot Bookstore sales, Day Out With Thomas, and Santa Train tickets fund more than 90% of the Museum's operating budget.  The balance is funded with operating grants from King County 4Culture, and the City of Snoqualmie.  And adding to the financial hardship, the City of Snoqualmie has had to freeze the operating grants because their tax revenue from hotel room rentals has dropped almost to zero.

The Northwest Railway Museum provides a multitude of opportunities for families to learn about railway history, while experiencing the excitement of a working heritage railway.  Please help the Museum continue this unique programming with a contribution to GiveBIG 2020 through May 6.