As summer vanishes behind us like the exhaust from a steam locomotive, the kids are back in school and the leaves are turning brilliant reds, oranges and yellows like the fire that will burn in 5550’s belly. Before you get started on the Halloween pumpkins, here’s the latest from the T1 Trust as the days get shorter and the nights get cooler.
In what amounts to a "first" for any Railroad Preservation effort anywhere, the PRR T1 Trust was featured in the September 2016 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine. The PRR T1 Trust's marketing plan all along has been to appeal to the general public. With this article featuring the PRR T1 Trust in Popular Mechanics, the organization has made a great leap forward in its effort to achieve mass acceptance among rail fans and the wider public at large. Popular Mechanics was particularly fascinated by the Trust's work in bringing back General Steel Castings' Nickel Steel for use in the T1's driver.
The T1’s iconic shark-nose prow is one of the locomotive’s most defining characteristics and will be the first thing you see as 5550 thunders towards you at speed. We are proud to announce that construction on the ‘face’ of the locomotive is underway, using drawings extracted from the Pennsylvania State Archives and converted into CAD. The images that follow give the reader a straightforward look at how the process of prow construction is being carried out.
The T1 Trust is pleased to announce the addition of Doyle McCormack to its advisory board. Best known for his work restoring and operating the Southern Pacific Daylight #4449, McCormack brings over 40 years of railroad preservation experience to the T1 Trust.
Next on the Trust's checklist is the cab for 5550. Referencing original PRR drawings, the T1 Trust has begun work on the cab for the Thoroughbred of Steam. Two hundred forty-one individual parts will come together to form the 2,500-pound cab which like much of the locomotive's streamlined shrouding is constructed of aircraft-grade 6061 aluminum. The total estimated cost of the cab is just under $50,000 and the expected timeframe for completion is 6 months. If you would like to make a dedicated donation in support of the T1's cab construction please send an email email@example.com
Less than three years into its existence, and two years ahead of schedule, the T1 Trust has managed to acquire a nearly complete set of original T1 blueprints. Largely obtained from the PRR collection housed in the Pennsylvania State Archives at Harrisburg; each historic document has been digitally scanned, meticulously catalogued, and uploaded to the Trust's file repository for use in building America's Premier Steam Locomotive.
A total of 1638 T1 mechanical drawings are now in the Trust's possession. These include 87 miscellaneous shop tools and PRR specifications that can be applied to the T1, with the remaining 1551 detailing the Locomotive and Tender. The master tracing list included only 1530 drawings, but our search has turned up a number of superseded and revised drawings that reflect design changes implemented after the master list was published. As a result, the total number of locomotive and tender drawings needed has increased to 1798.
Of the 247 drawings not yet in our possession, 91 are "E" size drawings that we have yet to search for. The remaining 150-odd drawings are confirmed to be missing from the archival collection in Harrisburg. We may be able to find some of these in other collections, such as the PRRT&HS archives in Lewistown, but many will require searching microfilm records. Fortunately, most of the missing drawings for the locomotive are relatively minor details, like pipe clamps, fittings, and fasteners, and are small format drawings that would require only a single frame of microfilm.
The tender is less complete, and we require several of the large format drawings for the frame, front and rear sills, and tank streamlining. Each of these may encompass up to 16 frames of microfilm, so significant post processing will be needed to reconstitute the complete drawing. Typically, we spend about two hours processing drawings for every hour spent scanning. Piecing together a single large drawing from microfilm slides can take eight hours apiece. To date, we have invested about 41 days in research and scanning activities in Harrisburg, comprising 237 man-hours of labor, with another 500 hours in processing and uploading files afterwards.
Again, the Trust has done more with less through the efforts of dedicated volunteers, coming in under budget and ahead of schedule. That being said, archives acquisition is a costly affair and the Trust needs your help in refilling its coffers depleted by this effort.
Please take a minute today and sponsor a drawing on the Trust's
In our previous issue, The T1 Trust was proud to bring you the first part of a multi-part interview with former Pennsylvania Railroad employee Roy West. Mr. West gave us a fantastic amount of material to work with and that interview will continue to be released in sections over the next few issues of ‘The Trail Blazer’.
Roy West: Why I particularly remember, there was one series of ads for a furniture company that were really revolutionary and Ernie just loved them and everybody. And when he took it to the client, the client said, "Well, can I hang on to these?" Well it turns out that he was having a weekend affair with a whole bunch of people and he sort of passed it around and they hashed it. In fact, Ernie got to finally threw up his hands and quit the account. But it's sort of like put something like that around, and give each person, take a brand new razor blade. Give each person a nail file and say if they want to make it any sharper, make changes. You pass it around say between a dozen people then go and try to shave with it. And hey this is happening is particularly well known in war. I had 37 years and two services, only five years active duty, but I'm a history buff. History is full of somebody that really had a really powerful, ballsy campaign idea. And by the time lesser geniuses got done messing with it, it didn't quite do what it would have done had the original plan gone through.
The T1 Trust: You saying that, it kinda reminded me of... It was the... I'm sure you remember the Chevrolet Vega. The compact cars that Chevrolet built back in the '70s and I'm sure you remember they rusted out pretty proficiently, usually within the first three or four years. And like you said, it was a great idea that was kind of ruined because they developed this way of... It was the first car that was ever the bodies were dipped in an anti-corrosive, but they didn't rotate the body so there'd be a big [air] bubble in the wheel arches where this anti-corrosive would never reach and then bean counters got a hold of the thing and to save a few bucks, they eliminated plastic liners for the wheel wells. The road salt spray would just get up into that corner and the thing would just pretty much kill itself from the very moment you drove it in the winter time.
Roy West: Sure. Yeah. Well that's an example. Well another example of what is spectacular or successful initially than it was, was the attack on Pearl Harbor, Yamamoto's original plan. First off, Yamamoto was educated at Harvard, spent a lot of time in America and he told the Japanese "I can run wild for six months if we don't defeat them within the first few months we've had it." And then when they went ahead anyway, he... Here's another case of misquote. They said remember that during the war he was a hated character because he said that he boasted that he would dictate surrender terms on White House lawn, but we didn't. But Yamamoto told the Japanese, they had to keep him. He would've been head of the whole navy except they had to keep him as a fleet commander because the Black Dragons wanted to kill him, assassinate him. And as he served, what he said was not that he would do this on the White House lawn. He said "You would not defeat the Americans until you can dictate terms on the White House lawn." In other words, until you land in San Francisco and fight your way all the way across until you finally get to Washington, they might decide... They might consider surrendering.
And he knew Americans. He liked Americans, he had a lot of friends here and that is what he was saying was these people, they are not the Russians. They are not the Chinese. They're not gonna fade. They are not gonna deflate if we hit them. Now, there are those of us who think that his original plan, some of which was diddled with, was to send an even bigger fleet than he sent was to attack Pearl Harbor and invade Pearl Harbor and then in the process just take over. And then that got whittled back in which the actual attack was the only thing that was kept. And the really perfect one and it's well documented was the Schlieffen Plan before World War I, and Schlieffen had been the chief of operations in the German army. At this plan which was that the Germans would not attack the French on the French-German border but sweep through Belgium and the thing was they would keep going and sweep around and actually, as he said, the last soldier on the right to brush his cuffs on the English Channel and they were to swing almost and come on to Paris from the northwest.
Unfortunately, by the time the war started, the commander was a lesser man and a lesser genius, and he was afraid that the French would invade across the French border while he was doing this last move. So he shifted a certain amount of his troops to the German-French border where Schlieffen practically almost left unprotected just about and so the sweep was less. And then [unintelligible] finally quelled at throwing in the last of his reserves just about prior to the morning and they got stalled and then it degenerated. The thing didn't work. By comparison, when... What's his name? He was the head of the Panthers and such. The Germans in World War II, the General, I think they had a plan very similar to that sweeping through. Well, what the hell. Brilliant, brilliant general, probably the best in World War II. His plan was the plan about, in other words, let's go with all armor. Punch through on that narrow thing, and just keep going." And the thing was he was able to get to do an end run and they actually managed to get the Führer's Person of the Year.
And Hitler, before he got too much of a maniac was smart enough to look at it and say "Hey, I'd like to just do it." Even then though, it might not have worked because von Rundstedt and some of the older generals kept trying to hold back the field commanders. Rommel and Guderian, those people. We hear of Rommel as Desert Fox but Rommel was probably the main reason that the German plan worked, because Rommel would disappear. In other words, by the time, he’d shut his radio down and take off. He had the French folding over in front of him and he would take off. And by the time the German high command would get through to him and say "Don't go any further than so and so. Maybe 20 miles.” He’d come back, "I'm already at…." [chuckle] I forget the book, but it's true. He... And the thing was he kept going and the thing was what about our flanks and his approach was let the enemy worry about their flanks. Now that's a very ballsy thing to do to go in so fast that you provide a big target on your port side, but that's a sort of thing. One other things I liked when I first read about this whole thing was the T1.
One was how audacious it was. But two, how well thought out as to funding as to how many years was gonna take, how much money it was gonna take. There was a plan. In various times and places I've... Things that I've been involved in say "Oh gee, let's try. Let's try to save this or save that." Lots of times the plan is not completely well thought out. That's what impressed me about this whole T1 project and lots of times there were great ideas but the implemention... I don't know if you're familiar. Here in Philadelphia, we had the finest, the second largest collection of impressionists and post-impressionists in the world. The only museum that has more Renoirs is the one in St. Petersburg, Russia. There was a man who came... He was a doctor but he came up with Argyrol which was an antiseptic and the guy made millions, millions. He may be a billionaire today, but he liked... This thing I have on guard... Panders, he was buying them when nobody else was and he left the whole thing. It was a strange situation. He got his nose out of joint with the art crowd in Philadelphia. And he left to museum out in the suburbs.
Well, they were doing well, when they weren't doing well. The money wasn't quite enough but it almost looked about the only way it could be done. It either had to be moved to the city or be broken up and sold. And now what they did, they put together a package to bring a museum into Philadelphia. But now instead of $200 million which they were gonna spend, they actually raised $300 million. So because $100 million of it would be to, in other words, to fill in from what the... As an income source. In other words they didn't just move it, build a new museum, but they paid huge trust fund to keep it going. One thing I was gonna mention to Brad is that in the financial planning of, I mean you might wanna aim not only for the money to building engine, but to... In other words, once again, a fund to keep the base maintenance and such on this depending on who knows quite what to keep it rolling. We recently had years down here. I was involved in some of it and it just didn't, never quite got off the ground, but now it looks like somebody's picked it up. But for the last 30, 40 years we've had the SS United States parked down here on the Delaware River.
The T1 Trust: I've seen it, it's beautiful.
Roy West: She holds a title one that will never be broken or exceeded by anybody else that I could imagine. And now there's one of the very top companies looking into fixing it up and doing it, but all sorts of things were launched trying to save the thing. Some of these just couldn't get off the ground. So anyway I guess that... I didn't mean to bore you.
The T1 Trust: No. No. I love listening. I'm a history nerd.
Roy West: The thing is in for example in advertising and some of the stuff I did in PR, it's interesting and sometimes how difficult it was. The hardest part was not necessarily figuring out the project though. The hardest part was overcoming scary Mary's or whatever.
The T1 Trust: The naysayers?
Roy West:: I'll tell yeah. There's a word I like, it's an Experian word, is marplot. Think about it, it's very self-descriptive. In other words, this is the person standing inside and throws banana peels and... [laughter] And the thing is they can come off looking smart just by being contrary.
The T1 Trust: Yeah. Exactly.
Roy West: And that gets back to what I said. In other words you get somebody that's... Particularly somebody in middle management. The boss, the big guy sets out a program and asks for opinions. Now not in particularly for this and the big boss's idea, that's a different dynamic. If it's somebody from down below and up from the ground, like I said it takes pretty ballsy guy to look at a program and say "Jesus! This is... It's a program. Don't do a thing. Don't mess with it." and pass that recommendation onto the top guy. You better be pretty sure of yourself. But as I said, as soon as I heard about this thing, I hunted down the organization and I wrote to... I didn't even know if Brad knows the thing I wrote. I think I just wrote to the organization and sent a check and "Hey, what can I do to help?" And the Pennsy was great. It's a shame they wrecked the Pennsy. One of the things I mentioned to Brad, he thought that was pretty exciting was, while I was working... Well I had joined the railroad just two years after they tore down the old Broad Street Station, the Chinese Wall, and they were in the process of redeveloping a modern area there in Center City and etcetera and so forth and it was a very exciting thing.
But I mentioned to Brad that when they changed from the five stripe side of the GG1 to the solid, now the solid gold stripe. I was there when that change was made. The art director for... See we had... Our head of PR was the vice president of the railroad and then there were three junior vice presidents. There's one of advertising, one for publicity, and the other for basically publications and promotion and Al Strasser was the art director and of course all, whatever goodies were done and such came through his office. And I happen to be working in the office one day in Lenoir, but he was looking and it was Al Strasser with with his big rendering showing the GG1 with a solid stripe instead of the five. And there were some people, some people weren't too sure of it but a lot of people say "Well, let's sort of run it up the flagpole and see if it works." [laughter] And I remember though that the assistant who I got to before it went better. The assistant art director got my eye and he got this sour look on his face that I think one of the things that solid stripe missed was that the five stripe...
The beauty of the GG1, those stripes made the GG1, because the beauty of it is that they had the look of a ship parting waves at high speed. I don't know if he's thought of it in those terms, but I was there and lot of things and of course then what happened? The bean counters got control and of course then they merged which is not good.
The T1 Trust: Yeah.
Roy West: And of course the thing was the way I heard it spoken of at the railroad back then was that the T1 was going to be the GG1 of the Western division. In other words, the GG1 could roll out too, one hell of a fast engine and they were gorgeous. And now the thing was that they weren't inclined to use the T1 so much... There's really so much between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh because of a lot of the curves and such. In other words, the T1 was in other words was a Greyhound that was gonna go on the straighter, flatter main lines of the west of Pittsburgh...
The T1 Trust: Ohio and Indiana and places like that.
Roy West: Exactly. Now what other questions do you have?
You can look forward to reading the next part of Roy West’s comprehensive interview with The T1 Trust in the winter newsletter which will be released around the first of the year.
The T1 Trust needs your financial support to build 5550. A variety of giving opportunities are available in the Fundraising portion of the Trust’s website https://prrt1steamlocomotivetrust.org/store/driver.php these opportunities include Driver Sponsorship, archival drawing sponsorship, regular monthly giving, one time donations, and membership in the PRR T1 Trust’s Founders Club. If you would like to make a dedicated gift for a specific part of your choosing please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or write us at the address below.
Some donors may be less interested in month to month fundraising drives and more interested in the project's overall success. For these donors a life-income gift to The T1 Trust may be the preferred method of contribution. In order to meet this need, the Trust has established the 5550 Keystone Society. This name was chosen to emphasize the pivotal role these gifts have in making 5550 a reality. The 5550 Keystone Society is a group of PRR T1 Trust supporters who have made an enduring pledge to railroad preservation by offering a charitable life income gift to the PRR T1 Trust or by naming the Trust as a beneficiary in their estate plans. The 5550 Keystone Society is a way for us to appreciate and honor these remarkable individuals for the generous contributions they have made to secure the future of the PRR T1 Trust and PRR T1 #5550.
Members of the 5550 Keystone Society, receive exclusive benefits and confidential details about the efforts of The T1 Trust. 5550 Keystone Society members also receive a personalized certificate of membership suitable for framing, a full size print of the 5550 launch painting, the PRR T1 Trust’s annual report, and invitations to special events. For further details, or to become a member of The 5550 Keystone Society please send an email to the Trust's Legacy Manager email@example.com or write us at:
The PRR T1 Trust
PO Box 552
Pottstown, PA 19464