The PRR K-4s #1361
Steam Locomotive Restoration Project
(This site is provided as a courtesy of the Altoona Railway Museum Club)
December 28, 1998
On Saturday, November 21, 1998, Dick Charlesworth, Jim LaGrando (Conrail), Andy Muhollen, Gary Price, and I traveled to Steamtown in Scranton, PA. As you know, the K-4 is currently being restored there. However, many of the smaller parts (piping, the headlight, the stoker, braking, ect) were being stored in three Conrail trailers in Altoona, PA. Conrail needed their trailers back so arraignments were made to have them transported to Scranton. We arrived at Steamtown at about 7:30 AM and were met by Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum Executive Director Peter Barton. With the assistance of Steamtown employees and Ray Sauvey (Steamtown Coordinator for University of Scranton Activities), we completed unloading the trailers around noon. Ray Sauvey said that most of the major work on the K-4 has been completed. They are awaiting metallurgical results on the metal around the area of the sand dome. Once this is received, they will know whether or not they can make repairs. If they cannot make repairs, they will have to manufacture a new section. (posted 12-28-98)
11/21/98, a view of the K-4 boiler. Note that Peter Barton (Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum) was filming for the K-4 Restoration video this date and I was lucky enough to get some back lit photos. 11/21/98, a view inside of the K-4's smokebox. It is being lowered into place here. Note that Peter Barton (Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum) was filming for the K-4 Restoration video this date and I was lucky enough to get some back lit photos. 11/21/98, a view of the K-4's firebox. The rear flue sheet was completely re-manufactured and had not been installed yet. Note that Peter Barton (Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum) was filming for the K-4 Restoration video this date and I was lucky enough to get some back lit photos. 11/21/98, Two of three trucks containing the "smaller" parts of the K-4. They had been stored at the Juniata Miscellaneous Shop where the K-4 had previously resided. 11/21/98, Two of three trucks containing the "smaller" parts of the K-4. They had been stored at the Juniata Miscellaneous Shop where the K-4 had previously resided. 11/21/98. The Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum / Horseshoe Curve Chapter - NRHS crew who helped to unload the three trucks (the other helper was behind the camera). From L to R: Dick Charlesworth, Jim LoGrando, Peter Barton, Gary Price, and Andy Muhollen. 11/21/98. Some parts (such as those at the bottom of this picture) were able to be carried off the truck, but most needed to be taken off with a fork lift. 11/21/98. Some parts (such as those at the bottom of this picture) were able to be carried off the truck, but most needed to be taken off with a fork lift. 11/21/98. Some of the parts, including the K-4's headlamp (on the yellow cart). 11/21/98. The stoker being unloaded. 11/21/98. We couldn't get a fork lift onto two of the trucks. The parts were just too heavy to lift, so the pallets they were sitting on had to be dragged to the end of the trailer by chains. The fork lifts were then able to remove them from the truck.
January 10, 1999
The work accomplished over the last two-years amounts to about 35% of the total work to be done. Unfortunately the cost has escalated even higher, due to the unanticipated replacement of the smokebox and smokestack. Major work is also being completed on the pressure vessel. A new inner and outer backhead was formed and hung. Steamtown employees and volunteers are working on the project under the direction of Chris Ahrens.
Restoration is now estimated at about $900,000. If additional funding can be found the work could be completed for a Y2K return to active service. If additional funding is not found, work may need to be suspended. Museum officials report that your donations are needed to continue this project. They ask that you consider a tax-deductible donation to the effort or to the Museum itself. If you wish to contribute, please contact the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum at 814-946-0834. (posted 12-28-98; updated 1/10/99)
February 1, 1999
According to Peter Barton, he hasn't heard anything on results of the metallurgy tests however steel for the smokebox has been ordered and is expected soon. They are still waiting for receipt of about 150 PRR blueprint copies from the State Archives (on order since October) before they can proceed with the smokestack and other components. However, without a source of additional funding they will be forced to mothball the project sometime in late March or April. The Museum needs about $500,000 to complete the project and currently sees no near-term source of funding. They ask that you consider a tax-deductible donation to the effort or to the Museum itself. If you wish to contribute, please contact the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum at 814-946-0834. (posted 2-1-99)
April 13, 1999
I've been informed that there is not much new to report on the K4. Work has not been suspended thanks to donations. The smokebox is back, being machined and should be fitted and riveted around the end of May. No word yet on the metallurgical tests; that has taken a bit of a back-burner. If funding does not become an issue, roll-out of the completed locomotive is set for Memorial Day, 2000.
The adjacent photo is taken from the rear of K4s#1361, showing a view through the firebox and boiler barrel. The inner and outer backhead sheets were removed and renewed on account of serious thinning of the steel. The new pieces have been fitted and will be welded in place after they are relieved of stress by heating and cooling. A new mud ring was also machined, drilled, and is in place. All inner surfaces of the firebox and boiler have been needle-scaled and cleaned. The courses of the boiler barrel are in acceptable condition with the exception of some significant cracks noted at the top where the steam dome was riveted in place. A steel patch is being shaped and will be welded into the top of the boiler at the steam dome. Photo taken 6/3/99 by Peter D. Barton. Courtesy of the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum & Peter D. Barton. This photo shows the smokebox front, also showing significant thinning from 40 years of service and 30 years of exposure to the elements. While not part of the pressure-vessel, the smokebox front must be strong enough to maintain its structural integrity. Inasmuch as the new Federal steam locomotive rules permit a 15-year time span between inspections, the marginal items require more thorough inspection. Photo taken 6/3/99 by Peter D. Barton. Courtesy of the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum & Peter D. Barton. In this picture, you see the original smokebox from K4s #1361. It was removed in November 1998 after detailed inspection revealed the original 1" steel had worn to less than 10% of the original thickness. Years of operation--with the abrasive action of steam, coal, smoke, and cinders had probably contributed the most to this extensive erosion. A new smokebox was rolled from the appropriate steel and was delivered to the project site in March of this year. The original smokebox was used as a pattern with the numerous markings noting locations where holes were to be drilled for hanging piping and various appliances. In the foreground is one of the rather large oak mallets swung by the restoration crew to form the new backhead. Photo taken 6/3/99 by Peter D. Barton. Courtesy of the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum & Peter D. Barton.
July 15, 1999
K4 work continues, though things have slowed a bit until major funding is identified. The Museum did manage to stay in the PA FY/2000 capital budget for a $600,000 authorization. Peter Barton did caution that in the very best of years, only 8% of projects authorized in the capital budget bill ever see funding. Its the Commonwealth's Christmas Wish list and leveraging the funding takes acute political strategy and alliances. They plan to have Governor Ridge at the Museum on September 14 for a major reception and are pressuring the Legislative Delegation to insist that funding for Pennsylvania's State Steam Locomotive be released. Until then, it's touch-and-go as funds are about depleted. The Museum did post some recent photos of the restoration on their web-site; the smokebox is riveted to the boiler, as of last Friday, the attachment to the saddle was being made. Flue tubes are in though the recent near-catastrophic failure on UP will likely result in more metallurgical testing of the tube steel before installation.
August 5, 1999
Project manager Jeff Miller and his assistant Dave Kulesa are finishing major repairs on the firebox, boiler, and smokebox. At the same time, work has been on-going on the wheels and axles. A new smokebox has been fabricated and is now in place on the front of the boiler. The decision to replace the smoke box was made after steel thickness tests revealed as little as 10% of the original steel remained in several areas. A new smokestack must also be cast as the original one is thin and peppered with cracks around the mounting holes. The remaining major task on the pressure vessel is to repair cracks in the boiler course at the point where the steam dome is attached. Several cracks ranging from small to large run outward from the steam dome mounting holes. After consultation with several steam locomotive and boiler engineers, a method of applying, welding, and riveting a patch has been devised.
With the added scope of work required to complete this restoration, an additional $500,000 is needed. The Museum, in cooperation with the PRR Technical & Historical Society have begun a drive to raise the funds needed. To date, the PRRT&HS has seen nearly $8,000 contributed. In addition, Museum Board Member, Representative Rick Geist, spearheaded a recent effort to include an authorization for funding in the State Capital Budget. It is hoped that the funds will be appropriated from the recently enacted Capital Budget Bill which increased the Capital Budget bonding ceiling by nearly $750 million. If funding becomes available in the next four months, it is conceivable that #1361 will be completed in time for a July 4, 2000 celebration at Steamtown. It is proposed that the locomotive spend most of the Summer of 2000 operating at Steamtown with a return to Altoona in time for Railfest 2000 in October.
The Museum says that they need contributions if they are to keep the project moving forward without delay. They ask that you consider a tax deductible contribution to assist with this endeavor. Also, volunteers are needed to assist with the restoration work in Scranton. Please call the Museum (814-946-0834) or email them for details on how you can assist the restoration while learning the skills necessary to keep #1361 operating at her peak when she returns. (Summer 1999 issue of "The Standard", publication of the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum; posted 8/5/99)
I spoke with Project Manager Chris Ahrens January 10th. He has agreed to keep me updated on the status of the K-4 project. A detailed status report is forthcoming. Ahrens pointed out that as the K-4 was used in regular service and in excursion runs, parts would obviously wear. Unfortunately, some parts were worn to the point that there was no more material to resurface. As a result, they have had to manufacture parts. Ahrens believes that when finished, the locomotive will be able to run for many years with only regular maintenance.
When the K-4 was delivered to Steamtown, it was stripped. The crew now has to figure out what parts go where. Of particular interest to Ahrens is where the piping located under the boiler jacket had been located. Anyone who was involved in the 1986-1987 restoration and who has photographs of the various stages of disassembly, please contact me to advise what you have. We can then contact Ahrens. Thanks in advance. Stay Tuned.
Taken on 2/21/00, these photos show the current progress of the restoration
February 25, 2000
On Friday, 2/25/00, I spoke with K-4 Restoration Project Manager Chris Ahrens. He graciously took time out of his day to update me on the current status of the project.
Currently, Jeff Miller and a couple Steamtown volunteers are the only ones working on the locomotive. (They have not seen any volunteers from Altoona for a while now.) One has to remember that this is a working locomotive shop and that there are approximately 4 other major projects going on at the same time, not including the regular maintenance to Steamtown's other locomotives. Until the regular operating season starts in a couple months, work is only being done on Saturdays.
The following, as I understand it, is a synopsis of the work done or that needs done:
Jeff is working on building up the right and left corner mud rings.
The steam-dome patch is back from stress relief tests.
The front tube sheet near the mud ring needs patched. By the time this work is done, they hope to have the authority to flush weld the patch at the dome course.
The shell is close to being finalized (for proposal to the Federal Railway Administration) for the installation of the dome patch. They need FRA approval.
They do have a source from which to rent thermal heating pads to the pre-heat and post weld stress relief on the stress patch. Ahrens described this as very precise and important work. The patch is "a big patch...60 x 60...a truncated tear drop design" which needs double beveled flush weld (welded inside and outside). Ahrens did not know of anyone who has done a patch this big before. They need to ensure quality control throughout the entire process. After the weld is complete, the patch will need x-rayed (radiographed) to check for defects. If any defects are found, they will then be repaired before this part of the project is complete.
Work is being done on riveting on the backhead and making boiler check pads. The backhead needs drilled, riveted, and welded, as well as other rivet work/fit up work.
The sleeves for the flexible stay bolts are being renewed. Some of the bolts needed new caps or sleeves.
The flexible stay bolts on the "top of the wrapper" (shell) are done.
The piston valves need pulled. After that, the pistons will be pulled. The reason for this is that, due to sandblasting, sand found its way into the passageways. Ahrens said that they basically only want to clean the passageways out, "mike" everything, and then re-install. Ahrens does not anticipate anything further.
Finish machining on the boiler, cylinder, and saddle bolts have been done.
They do have the bar-stock for the rigid stay bolts on site but it still needs threaded.
The backhead joint will also need x-rayed (after installation), then the door sheet.
Regarding the axles/driving mechanism, one driving axle needs replaced. One crank pin is also in poor shape...they hope to be able to machine this. They are trying to find someone to do the "quartering" for the driving mechanism/axles. As I understand it, the crank pins on each side are exactly 90 degrees offset. Quartering sets the stroke for all crankpins. If the stroke is off, even a little bit, overheating, journal problems, etc could result. A factor in trying to find someone to do the work is that the K-4 has a "left hand lead". Most steam engines are "right hand lead." As a result, most machinery is set up for "right hand lead." After the axle is done, and they find a contractor, the wheels/axles will be shipped.
There was a lot of erosion to the super-heater (from cinders passing through). The cast iron had eroded to 7/8 to 3/8 of an inch in spots.
There are a few remaining rivets to be removed on the girth seams (due to eroded rivet heads) as well as some brace work.
New flue tube sheets have been manufactured.
Ahrens said that when the boiler is done, the major work will be complete. Most of the remaining work will be assembling the locomotive. (posted 2/25/00)
March 31, 2000
The restoration of any antique presents a myriad of challenges. Parts are often scarce, if not impossible to find. Most of the skills on hand for initial creation have been lost in time. As the process peels away decades, the scope of work often grows. When the antique is an 80-year-old precision machine and parts weigh thousands of pounds, the challenges increase exponentially.
Pennsylvania’s Official Steam Locomotive is 60% of the way toward overcoming all of these challenges. To talk about any steam engine restoration is to talk about the boiler. Since August of 1996, the boiler has been almost the sole focus of the crew at Steamtown working on the K4s #1361. Heavy machinery was required to replace the boiler. Uncompromising restoration standards will meet current Federal Railway Administration regulations.
In addition to the boiler, one drive axle and one drive wheel were found to be worn and cracked. Pistons and valves have been replaced. One crankpin along with connecting rods have been renewed. It could take as long as a year to complete the boiler work. Work on the tender is also on the to-do list. The project mandate is to take as long as necessary to come as close to the original condition as possible.
(Former) Project Manager Chris Ahrens said the process reveals many engineering and economic lessons. “The railroad industry designed and built these locomotives with the intention of repairing, changing parts and reusing them. Labor was very affordable for the railroads. The labor required to restore such a machine in the 21st century is astounding.”
The $600,000 released today by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) will allow Steamtown to deploy a full crew for the first time since the locomotive’s arrival in May of 1996.
To date, the Museum has spent $470,000 on the project. Just over $400,000 of that money came from the Southwestern Pennsylvania Heritage Preservation Commission. In addition, $50,000 in private contributions were made to the project including $11,000 from the Philadelphia Chapter of the PRR Technical and Historical Society.
The K4s #1361 is expected to return to Altoona after testing on Steamtown trackage. (3/31/00; Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum, Inc)
"PRR K4 Gets Funding Boost
The following are a series of comments by PA Rep. Rick Geist as published in the 3/31/00 edition of Eastern Railroad News.
With Gov. Tom Ridge's help, a symbol of Altoona's proud railroad heritage is closer to getting back on track, Pennsylvania Rep. Rick Geist announced yesterday.
Yesterday morning, Ridge released a $600,000 grant for the full restoration and return to operation of the K4s 1361, the Commonwealth's Official Steam Locomotive. The grant will assure the completion of an eight-year restoration project, which had been on the verge of shutdown because of a lack of funding.
"Today will be remembered as a pivotal day in the 82-year history of the K4,'' Geist said. "I am thrilled that Governor Ridge came to the aid of the K4 and the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum at a most critical juncture.''
The grant is provided by the Department of Community and Economic Development's Community Revitalization Program. That program directs funds to communities for local recreation programs, infrastructure, and economic development.
"This grant represents a strong commitment to preserving Altoona's heritage,'' said Geist, who sponsored legislation that resulted in the K4 being named the state's Official Steam Locomotive. "The K4 is a community treasure, a testament to the 19th-century steam era and to the Pennsylvania Railroad. Thanks to this grant, a dream of the Altoona community will come true and this mighty locomotive will be reclaimed by the public as its own.''
Restoration of the K4 is being done at the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, where the locomotive has been housed since 1996. The restoration process, begun in 1992 with a $420,000 grant from the Southwestern Pennsylvania Heritage Preservation Commission, is 60 percent complete.
After the project is complete and testing is done at Steamtown, the K4s 1361 will return to the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum in the autumn of 2001. The Museum plans to use the locomotive as both a tourist attraction and a working classroom, with a limited excursion schedule planned for 2002.
"I look forward to the day when I can take a ride on the old K4,'' Geist said. "That will be a proud day for all of Altoona.''
Railfest is a trademark of Railroaders Memorial Museum, Inc
. The logos for the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum is a trademark of the Railroaders Memorial Museum, Inc.
Title Photograph is by David Seidel.
Background is by Steve Agostini.
Photographs are by Chris Behe unless otherwise noted.