Engine 557 Restoration Company
Progress Report June 15, 2014


If you are reading this progress report, you must have a shared interest in restoration of engine 557 to operational condition. I am asking you now to demonstrate support with your tax deductible donation by check to the Alaska Community Foundation 557 Fund. Mail it to:

The Alaska Community Foundation 557 Fund
3201 C Street Suite 110
Anchorage, Alaska 99503

In 22 months we have raised $374,700 of the $950,000 goal for cash donations. Your donations can still be matched by the balance of $128,000 in the generous Rasmuson Foundation grant. Your donation now will be doubled to help close the gap of $477,300.00. Major expenses for the replacement firebox components, new tubes and flues, driver machine work, air pump and governor have all been paid for.

Urgency now is raising the funds to pay for installation of the new firebox and the 1000 stay bolts required. This is work that requires certified welders and direction from Steam Services of America. It is also work that needs to be done before cold weather arrives in September.

Our grant writing team of Maria Keefer and Dick Morris, has found success in 3 of the 5 requests made. Thanks to the National Railway Historical Society for their $5,000 matched grant. The Kenai Mountains Turnagain Arm Historic District has responded with two $10,000 grants directed toward purchasing boiler components such as the new interior door sheet. All these grants have had matching components so they represent a total of $50,000 toward our budget.

You will recall the Alaska Railroad Denali Car raffle that raised $12,000.00 for Engine 557 Restoration Company last December.   Here is the lucky gang with the winning ticket, enjoying the ride back from Seward as they pass through Girdwood.   Photo thanks to Dick Morris.

Numbered and signed prints of "Extra 557 Returning" are still available. Just use this order form.

Artist J. Craig Thorpe joined Scott Hicks, our E557RC Vice President, On a day trip to Moses Lake to honor the family and friends of Monty Holm with presentation of print #1. Read all about it here in the Colombia Basin Herald news paper.
The 557 Mechanical Department is an all volunteer force. Of 24 members there are about 10 who show up on a regular basis to sign in on the log book. Typically we work four days a week and often more. A detailed report was prepared for the KMTA grant covering the period from June 16 to July 2, 2014 covering 10 working days and a Board of Directors meeting. A total of 595 hours were logged.  The following 19 individuals were engaged in working on the project during this period.
Art Chase  24
John Combs 20
Jerry Cunnington 41
Jeff Debroeck 38
Terry Douglas 15
Patrick Durand 120
Ken Elmore 45
Doug Engebretson 6
George Fellers 64
Scott Hicks 36
Richard Morris 48
Jim Posey 6
Dean Sawyer 24
Steve Silverstein 4
Stewart Sterling 18
J. Craig Thorpe  14
Doug VanWingerdon 24
Dale Wade 6
Lynn Willis  43

The Board of Directors for Engine 557 Restoration Company gathered on June 20, 2014. Pictured from left to right, Dick Morris Sec/Treas, John Combs web master, Jim Posey, Scott Hicks Vice President, Patrick Durand President, Doug Engebretson and Dale Wade. Steve Silverstein attended by Skype. Authorization to spend another $100,000.00 was passed. Discussions ranged from future operation locations to how the industry will cope with steam engines and Positive Train Control requirements. Fund raising initiatives engaged most of our time.
Mr. Robert Franzen our Professional Engineer with Steam Services of America, will be here July 26, 27 and 28 working with us in the engine house on Saturday and Sunday.   He will be doing an inspection inside the boiler and then hopefully we can do the prep and apply the Apexair preservative finish.

Robert and his crew have been busy,  here they are with the rear door sheet for the interior of the firebox.  Note all those compound curves!   Yes!  Gypsy has curves and thick skin.    Robert is 2nd from left in the photo.  Start by sand blasting a new plate (SA 516 Grade 70 7/16" thick) then flange the compound curves around the edges. Layout all the stay bolt holes and locate the door opening.

Drill all the stay bolt holes. Fabricate the die to which the door opening will be flanged. Attach the die to the sheet and place if face down. Preheat with Propane and form the door opening. Concentrating heat while working the steel allows formation of the compound curves. Final steps are to sand blast the sheet again and send it off to be heat treated to remove residual stress at the Heat Treat Company. SSOA has stamped heat treat numbers and material certification on the sheet and provides all the needed documentation. The Complete door sheet is ready for shipment back to Alaska.

We can thank the good folks at Kenai Mountains Turnagain Arm Heritage Area who provided a $10,000 phase 2 grant toward the cost of having this major component fabricated.

SSOA, followed a similar process in creating the Rear Flue Sheet shown here ready for shipment with braces installed to protect the integrity of the sheet in transport.

Robert Franzen is supervising the driver machine work at Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum on their wheel lathe. He reports:

"It looks like they took off .690" or approximately 11/16" of the diameter of the #1, 2 & 4. On the main they took off .425" or approximately 7/32" on the diameter. They turned the main first and it had a runout of .060 to .070 on the diameter and it had several low spots requiring the removal of .425". They left a small witness groove on the inside flange to show when it cleaned up."  

The TVRM facility in Chattanooga is fully equipped to handle our drivers on the wheel lathe and completed the job on schedule. Driver tires and the axle bearing surfaces and crank pins have all been reconditioned and the driver sets are back in their cradles ready for return shipment to Alaska. Thank goodness for our supporters at Lynden transport for their contribution moving this 28K pound shipment back to Alaska.
The tender tank is outside under tarps.   Interior baffles that have wasted away are being removed from the tank and general cleaning of scale from the interior continues.    The tender frame is being needle scaled in preparation for future sand blasting and primer paint.

Component parts of the front tender truck have been broken down for inspection. It is the intent of Jeff DeBroeck our CMO that roller bearing sets be installed to replace the old 5"X9" friction bearings, while retaining the side frames and the journal box covers. This modification will not allow interchange outside of Alaska.

Donning the positive air hood and climbing into confined spaces is a claustrophobic activity for most people. Fortunately for us, volunteer, Dean Sawyer is willing to take on the job. Sand blasting the inside of the boiler is a multi stage process that requires that all the old blast media be removed immediately after each session to avoid collecting moisture. Lynn Willis is in the smoke box here assisted by Ken Elmore. The project so far has consumed over 100 bags of 30-60 slag media.

The Alaska Railroad Corporation is up grading the buildings in the Wasilla complex and painting the building required removal of our sign. With the painting done our sign makes a nice presentation for every passing train. Summer traffic is now up to 8 passenger movements each day.

Engine 557 Restoration Company is blessed with energetic volunteers, generous in-kind donors, excellent financial management through the Alaska Community Foundation 557 Fund, and major financial incentives with matching grants from the Rasmuson Foundation ($350,000.00), the Kenai Mountains Turnagain Arm Heritage Area ($20,000.00) and the National Railway Historical Society ($5,000.00). Your financial contributions are needed now to make the match and assure progress such as installation of all the newly obtained fire box components is not delayed.

Your check for $25.00 will be appreciated. $100.00 will buy a standard stay bolt. $200.00 will purchase a flexible stay bolt. $1,000.00 will buy a row of five. There are 1,042 stay bolts supporting the firebox. Yes, I am asking you to be generous with your tax deductible donation to benefit restoration of 557. See paragraph one for details.

Patrick Durand, President