Engine 557 Restoration Company
Progress Report February 2017


Engine 557 Restoration Company is dedicated to bringing back 557 to operation and preserving the history of these war horse veterans. Our Secretary Treasurer, Dick Morris is a fastidious researcher uncovering nuggets that he posts regularly on our Facebook page. Here is a direct link: https://www.facebook.com/557-Restoration-Company-416150931790950/posts/.

Dick offers this for your consideration:
Check the post I just made to our Facebook page as I now know the exact date that the locomotive and tender were being unloaded and learned that our locomotive, 557, was on the same ship.

We posted these photos taken by John Parys and provided by his son, Ken Parys, last January. Research of Alaska Railroad archival documents turned up something interesting. By examining the photo under a magnifying glass the owner could see that this is USATC 3521. We now know that there were three 550 class locomotives delivered on the same sailing of the S.S. Crowley which arrived November 2, 1944. They carried USATC numbers 3521, 3522, and 3523. These USATC numbers correspond to ARR numbers 558, 559, and 557. What is puzzling is although they were consecutively numbered, only 557 had modifications specific to Alaska, including a power reverse on the right side, under the running board.

Photo #1   Photo #2  Photo #3

Dick also found this link for the history of the 714th Railway Operating Battalion for their time in Alaska. This adds the human element to the heritage of the 550 class locomotives enlisted for use in Alaska. https://www.scribd.com/document/260806285/714-th-Railway-Operating-Battalion-Unit-History

Visitors this month included Tom “Mac” McAllister from Valdez, a long time supporter of the mission. Roger Bouwens now lives in Emmet Idaho, and is a member of the extended Bouwens colony family. While visiting he brought his grandson, Riley to take in 557.

Art Chase came down from Fairbanks for a one evening Special Event at the Historic Anchorage Depot. As one of the artists who provided winning art work for the Alaska Railroad annual poster he took this opportunity to also show off “Extra 557 Returning” and represent the Engine 557 Restoration Company. Art then spent Saturday working in the shop with 557 volunteers before driving home.

Our faithful supporters at Lynden Transport and Alaska West Express covered all the transportation cost on 1,700 pounds of continuous cast bronze. These are the raw material for new bearings for two journals, side rods and valve linkage. They came from Magnolia Steel in Nebraska. Personal thanks to Scott Hicks and Jim and Vic Jansen and all the good folks at Lynden.

Volunteers work Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and energetic crews of nine or more have been showing up on Saturdays.  At one point there were six volunteers working on the exterior of the fire box wrapper.  “Welding” Rod Hansen was back at work finishing up the flexi sleeves in close clearance on the throat sheet.  CMO Jeff DeBroeck directed the crew in prepping to install more of the 407 Flexi stays. Kevin Baker, Ken Morton and Terry and other volunteers teamed up to ream the selected stay bolt holes for flexible stays. Terry Douglas, Ken Morton, Jim Keene and Mike McKervey all prepared the recently reamed stay bolt holes to receive the sleeves.

Jerry Cunnington and Terry Douglas set up the tooling for using the mag drill to drill and tap the bosses for the new sight glass installations on the back head. Mike McKervey and Ken Morton stepped in where ever needed.

Recent donation of electrical supplies, including some EMD wire was timely. Jerry Peters and Tom Walker finished pulling all the wire in the new conduit on the tender.  They are now ready to test all the circuits and we have bulbs on order. The rear headlight housing provides space for all the connections to marker lamps, number board lamps and the headlight. Junction boxes at each rear corner will be equipped with twist lock connectors for the marker lamps. We found weather/water tight connectors sold for use with electric trolling motors are ideal and affordable.

Thanks to the volunteers who staffed the 557 exhibit at the Historic Anchorage Depot during the 2017 Anchorage Fur Rendezvous. Dick Morris arranged and managed the show, and was assisted by David Lucus among others.

We have mentioned the overhaul of Duff Norton Air Motor Jacks before. Recall that we started this project with a locomotive and an empty warehouse. The donation of eight surplus Duff Norton jacks in three different models allowed us to lift the locomotive off the running gear. We realized the jacks will be in demand for years to come and four of the units were inoperative. Upon inspection we found water damage that required major cleaning and replacement of various bearings and parts in some units. Jerry Cunnington and Terry Douglas lead the volunteers in breaking each of the jacks down for inspection, cleaning and repair. After removing all the old grease, each jack requires about 8 pints of new grease added as each sub assembly, like the bottom thrust bearings are installed.

Parts and advice have come from Duff Norton Air Motor Jack Company in Billings Montana. These units are robust and will provide years of service with proper lubrication and careful DRY storage. You can buy a new one for $14,000 dollars or properly care for the foundlings.

We can all thank Kevin Baker for the snow plowing during the recent recurring snow falls.  Mike McKervey did the clean up and push back with the Case 721 loader on a blustery day in February.

Your financial support is needed to keep the project moving forward. So I am asking you to consider a contribution to Engine 557 Restoration Company at this time.

Here are some of the ways you can participate.

Make all donations to: Engine 557 Restoration Company at the address below.
An Alaskan 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Corporation, EIN 46-2663256

Or donate on line here:


Patrick J. Durand, President
President Engine 557 Restoration Company