Group wants to restores historic locomotive in Idaho Springs By Ian Neligh
Wednesday, September 13, 2017 at 11:27 am
A nonprofit wants to restore the 130-year-old locomotive in Idaho Springs to full working order — at no cost to the city.
The Colorado & Southern Railway Society, a volunteer nonprofit organization that works to restore antique trains, met with the Idaho Springs City Council on Aug. 28.
Vice president Benjamin Fearn and president Justin Kardas told the council the group wants to restore Locomotive 60, which sits behind city hall. The group is restoring a caboose from Silver Plume and is expected to finish by next summer.
“Once that’s done, we want to turn our full attention to the 60...,” Fearn said.
Mayor Mike Hillman said the city would look at the contract with the Colorado & Southern Railway Society at a future council meeting.
Fearn said the first step is to have someone check the locomotive’s boiler, and if it is in good condition, the next step is to have a contractor remove any asbestos.
“Because the reality is all steam locomotives have asbestos,” Fearn said.
Fearn added it would likely cost about $34,000 to do the asbestos removal, and the work would be easier and perhaps more affordable if the train could be moved to another facility. The organization’s goal is to have the engine be operational.
“Where the town goes with that is up to the town,” Fearn said. “We’re happy to take her to the point where she’s steamed up right there in the park and has nowhere to go.”
Council member Jason Siegel, who liked the idea, asked where the money would come from for the restoration.
“We’re going to be looking into getting grants ... (but) this is something we’re doing because we have an interest in it, (and) we want to see the locomotive restored,” Fearn said. “We don’t obligate the town to put anything into it, however the town is welcome to contribute if they so choose.”
Money also comes from private donations, he said.
“There is a larger community of railroad enthusiasts that look at projects like this, who want to see locomotives like this restored,” Fearn said. “This is becoming a very popular thing, and more towns are doing it.”
Fearn said the group restores locomotives because of their historical context.
“There are only four Colorado and Southern Railway (locomotives) that still exist, and one of them is here,” he added.
Council member Tracy Stokes asked how the city could show the train off to the public and make the best use of the associated tourism.
Fearn said his organization would pay to get the train to be showcased part of the year at other railways around that state, ultimately bringing attention to Idaho Springs.
“We as a group would act as custodians for the town, and we would take it there,” Fearn said, adding the train would be returned to the city for the rest of the year. He added even if the city wasn’t willing to let the train go on tour, he wants to see the locomotive restored “no matter what.”
“You guys just want to rebuild an old cool piece of history. I get it,” council member Kate Collier said.
This project is being planned in stages with the final goal being a complete operational restoration of the locomotive. Work is also planned for the Coach, but our primary focus is the locomotive.
With many restoration projects running short of funding and being left in limbo, we are very aware of the fear that the locomotive will be completely torn down, run out of money and be left bare.
The first stage will place emphasis on may cosmetic items, but the central focus is the boiler.
60 needs an abatement, so we are negotiating to have the locomotive taken off site in approximately a year from now for an abatement to be carried out in a proper shop with a pit beneath her. The agreement on the table now states she will leave the park in fall 2018 and return to Idaho Springs park in may or June 2019.
The pit is crucial for the abatement as the contractor will cut the jacket and remove asbestos by having it drop below the locomotive into the pit. The small spaces on little C Class engines in their frames makes for a difficult place to remove asbestos when it falls, so the pit makes it easy to clear these spaces.
Once the abatement is complete the boiler will be clear for inspection and survey.
We have collected extensive mechanical records on 60 from the CRRM archives and are confident she has a fine boiler built with relatively modern methods of construction for the time she was built(1886) her boiler is made up of single sheet courses with reinforced lap joints. The FRA considers these joints to be acceptable and treats them as a butt joint.
While this is encouraging it will be necessary to take metallurgical samples from her sheets and rivers for anaysis to prove the tensile strength of the boiler is suitable for service.
During the abatement it will be necessary to remove her dome covers, cab, air tanks, piping and running boards. The Cab will be dissasembled the individual pieces examined, and a new one built with as much of the original structure as possible.
Also her Ridgeway spark arrestor will be removed and a new one will be made by the contractor who built 346's for CRRM.(60's is a good pattern but beyond saving for usable service.)
Her snowplow will be removed, repaired and repainted.
Her headlight will be rebuilt and proper wiring will be done for the headlight and Class lamps.
As part of the abatement a new jacket will be fabricated.
The drivers are still being considered. It would be ideal in this stage to have the drivers dropped, sent to a shop and have the surfaces turned, but that will be dependent on funding available.
The goal of this first stage is to abate the asbestos, survey the boiler, rebuild the electrical circuits(minus the dynamo which will be rebuilt as funding is available)
Sandblast an repaint various parts, install a new Ridgeway, rebuild the cab and return the locomotive to the town looking relatively complete.
At which point we will have a clear direction to proceed, and likely will work in the park to complete the majority of the boiler work.
Funding for the abatement, and new jacket as well as cost of moving the locomotive will be sought from the State Historic Fund. We will be seeking grants for the individual items, or look to the community who want to see the day that a C&S locomotive will run once again.
By all accounts, 60 is an excellent candidate for restoration. Records show she was completely overhauled in the Joint Shops in 1936. Following that she saw limited use till her last operation in 1939. Between such time she logged only 18,000 miles of service. She received a new crown sheet in 1936, and a new belly half course in 1925.
The records and what we have found show a locomotive that was well cared for and maintained.