Engine 557 Restoration Company
Progress Report May 15, 2014


In May the Anchorage vicinity and most of Alaska was blessed with an unusual spring of Warm days and little precipitation. Break up was just a dry up process but it did leave us subject to a bad coming fire season. One more reason for restoring 557 as an oil burner.

The rollout of "Extra 557 Returning" included a four day trip by the artist J. Craig Thorpe. Events started with the May 2 presentation or the original artwork along with various recognition pieces for major sponsors. Scott Hicks accepted an artist proof print for Alaska West Express and Lynden companies. Shane Durand of Central Environmental Services provided the major donation of asbestos abatement and was recognized with print #11. Our 557 display provided walkaway information for the participants. A big thank you to the Alaska Railroad Corporation for donating use of the Historic Anchorage Depot. Numbered prints and giclee prints were available and did sell well that evening.

Over the next two days Craig and Pat Durand visited several of our major in-kind donors and delivered personally dedicated prints. Doug Mcwilliams, manager of the Wasilla Alaska Industrial Hardware, AIH as we all know them, accepted print #23 for display in the store. AIH VP, Corey Grubb, and Mike Dunsmore, Inside Sales Manager, accepted a dedicated artist print on behalf of the statewide organization.

Justin Larrabee of Rodda Paint, in Wasilla now displays print #137 in thanks for their support with industrial finishes for 557. Peter Millar accepted #166 for Alaska Industrial X-ray. Larry Nelson owner of ATS Portable Toilets displays #166.

Gary Feaster of Greatland Welding and Machine is a tireless supporter of 557 and a generous supplier. After having purchased 3 Giclee prints for his promotion efforts. we presented Print #165 in appreciation for his major loans of equipment. Gary's son became "Engineer Feaster" on his first visit to 557.

Roteq Alaska Corporation, President, Bob Schmidt, promptly hung #13 in the lobby at the Wasilla facility that provides Machine shop services, sand blasting and painting for special 557 projects.

On Saturday morning, May 3, 2014 our 557 crew arrived at the Alaska Railroad Anchorage Depot before departure of the North bound AuRoRa passenger train. Central Environmental Services loaned us the Kenworth boom truck to make a cab delivery in preparation for the Alaska Railroad Open House. Preparation began with Craig Thorpe setting up a display of "Extra 557 Returning" featuring framing options. The event did not start until 11 a.m. so we had time to truly enjoy the unseasonably pleasant weather before the rush. A combination of fantastic weather and the fact the open house is held only every other year in Anchorage, the crush begins early, and by noon was around the block and back in front of the depot waiting for free train rides.

Our venture into fine art as a fund raiser for 557 proved productive during the open house and allowed us to introduce 557 to many of the 7000+ people who visited the platform that day. We were ready to kick back by the time the CEI truck, driven by our CMO Jeff DeBroeck, arrived to load out the cab.

Delivery of recognition prints for our active in-kind donors continued through out May.

Independent Lift Truck of Alaska received an Artist Proof in thanks for continuing loan of a Cat forklift.

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP display an Artist Proof in appreciation for filing for our 501 c 3.

Print # 61 went to Air Liquide, Wasilla and Dave Rattner for donated equipment and favored pricing.

Mark Stearns of Alaska Wood Moulding, does all our woodwork and now gets to frame #167.

Trijet Manufacturing now shows print #13, thanks to Hans Vogle providing water jet services.

For wiring design and install assistance Vannoy Electric and Aren Schurosky connected with #87.

Removing the interior components from the fire box continued into May. Here the rear flue and door sheets are out and available for inspection. The last step was removing the stubs of the old staybolts from the backhead. Jerry Christensen is shown heating the end of a staybolt so it can be pulled through from the inside by George Fellers. While ultra sound measurements of the interior 3/8" thick sheets had raised concerns, examination revealed erosion samples like this. Cracks in staybolt holes were revealed along with cracks in the corner between the rivet holes where the sheet had been attached to the mud ring. Erosion along the mud ring attachment point was quite dramatic in this 3/8" thick part of the side sheet. The steel has been purchased and fabrication of the replacement sheets are underway. The old 3/8" material is being replaced with 7/16" material under the supervision of Robert Franzen, of Steam Services of America.

On Thursday May 15, 2014 Jeff DeBroeck and Jerry Cunnington moved 557 outside into the late evening sunlight, in a rehearsal for a scheduled work session the following Saturday. With the drivers and driving boxes removed the alternative was sliding the locomotive out on the rails. Timbers were set upon steel tie plates placed upside down on top of the rail. The timbers were chain bound to the frame bob sled style and further secured with load straps. Rail joints and top of the rail were ground bright and then treated with graphite lubricant and then grease. Using our John Deere 721 loader and a stout cable to connect, 557 slides in and out on the rails with out much complaint.

Robert Franzen of Steam Services of America has been busy.   In December we shipped the 557 cross compound Westinghouse Compressor South along with the drivers.    Robert has rebuilt the 1800 pound compressor with newly manufactured pistons, rods and many other details necessitated because the unit had been stored wet at some point in its past. The pump under test with air in Robert's shop.

Robert's explanation of the testing process is in a you tube video linked here.

Add two major appliances, the Compressor and the Governor to the completed list.    The "air pump" common term to describe the compressor, certainly sounds healthy and when operated with steam will provide all the air for train and locomotive brakes. The pump in crate along with the governor are ready for shipment back to Alaska.

The sand blast tent provides protection from the weather but also retains the blast media so that it can be recycled. All the parts that go into the process have been needle gunned or wire brushed prior to sand blasting. The cat forklift from Independent Lift Truck of Alaska, driven here by Lynn Willis, moves loaded pallets of parts in and out of the tent. Art Chase is dressed in Tyvec and the positive air hood ready to media blast parts and pieces. Volunteer Dean Sawyer regularly dons the space suit to do this very dirty job.

On May 17, 2014 after several months of planning and preparation 557 was moved outside and the frame forward of the cylinder block was straightened. With the pilot beam loaded under tension supplied by 12,000 pounds of concrete anchor buried 12 feet down, we used the weight of the locomotive to do the job. This was a far more complicated job than can be explained here.

The regular North bound passenger train passes about 9:45 a.m. each morning. When the engineer saw the locomotive outside the engine house for the first time, he brought the train to crawl and passengers were taking pictures and we were taking theirs.

Sand blasted components are quickly primed with a two part epoxy donated by Rodda paint. The 14" locomotive brake cylinders, springs and small parts all get the same treatment. Jeff DeBroeck was supported by Jerry Cunnington in this painting party.

The dedication of volunteers who show up week after week is what moves 557 closer to our common goal of seeing her in steam. In this photo Jim Keene, Lynn Willis and Ron Dudley were preparing Gypsy for a trip into the sunlight. When you meet a member of the 557 Mechanical Department, give them a well deserved pat on the back and slip them a donation check made out to The Alaska Community Foundation 557 Fund. To meet our budget goal of $950,000.00 in cash we need to raise an additional $477,300.00. Thanks to the continuing generous Rasmuson Foundation grant, your investment will be matched dollar for dollar.

Please make a significant contribution today with a check to:

Alaska Community Foundation 557 fund
3201 C St. Suite 110
Anchorage, Alaska 99503

Patrick Durand, Presidentt