Winter 2014-2015

Happy New Year! All of us at the T1 Trust hope that everybody had a fun and relaxing holiday season and would like to wish all of you a productive and happy 2015.

What's Happening?

We’re very excited to have so much to show for our efforts leading into the New Year and first and foremost is the first official painting of 5550, completed by renowned British painter Jonathan Clay. This beautiful painting of 5550 shows her complete and resplendent in Brunswick Green or as the PRR called it, Dark Green Locomotive Enamel (DGLE).


Just as newsworthy is the production of the number four driver center mockup in high-density foam that is nearly as hard as plastic. Far from being just a promotional tool, The T1 Trust worked with a vendor to produce the prototype on very favorable terms.

Subsequently the Trust's engineering committee has studied and measured the prototype. The overall dimensions are spot on, however some of the bores were found to contain less than the necessary amount of material required for final machining. The pattern will be reworked prior to its release to the foundries for casting bids. The mockup is easily broken down into four parts for transportation and is shown here with nine year-old Mitchell Johnson standing in to provide a sense of scale.

The T1 Trust has been working hard to spread our message to those beyond North America. December saw us featured in publications such as Steam Railway in the UK Australian Railway Enthusiast and Eisenbahn Magazin in Germany. We are also fortunate enough to be mentioned in the NRHS magazine as well as on a two-page spread in the renowned Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society (PRRT&HS) ‘Keystone’.


Finally, on the home front, The Trust has spoken at National Railway Historical Society (NRHS) both in Saint Louis, Missouri and Alexandria, Virginia outside Washington, D.C. with great success.



Part Spotlight

Part Number E431144 - Driving Spring Link Pin

When the first two T1 prototypes (6110 and 6111) were built by Baldwin, the front and rear sets of drivers were sprung together on a shared, linked suspension. The flaws of such a design caused the front driving wheels to lift slightly on grades or curves when the weight of the locomotive shifted to the rear, causing the front engine to lose traction and lead to the wheel slip that the T1 became known for. Both the PRR and Baldwin were aware of this and made modifications to the driving spring link pin arrangement to allow the driving wheel sets to be sprung individually, an improvement that was incorporated into the production versions (5500-5549) and helped to significantly decrease the propensity for slippage. 

The Driving Spring Link Pins are historically significant parts since their modified arrangement was key to reducing wheel slip in the T1 production fleet. One of the Trust's finest machinists, Andy Pullen has produced the first of eight Driving Spring Link Pins for 5550. To make the part, Andy worked from scans of original PRR mechanical drawings extracted by The T1 Trust from the Pennsylvania State Archives. Andy is no stranger to steam locomotives and his more than thirty years of experience as a machinist includes two years spent working for the Norfolk Southern Steam Program. Andy currently serves as a machinist for the US Naval Academy in the Division of Engineering and Weapons. The pins Andy is producing in his elaborate home machine shop will be included in the Trust's upcoming "Sponsor a Part" program.


Mechanical Update

USATC #611

On December 23, 2014, engineering staff from The T1 Trust met with Denny Fisher of Bill Miller Equipment Sales in Eckhart Mines, Maryland.  The purpose of this visit was to introduce their personnel to the 5550 project and to conduct a preliminary examination of USATC Locomotive #611, currently stored onsite.

611 is a US Army Transportation Corps S160 class consolidation (2-8-0). She was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia, PA in 1943, and was originally numbered 2628.  This class of locomotives was designed for use by the US Army, to provide a fleet of motive power for transporting military supplies abroad, and restoring railroad service in war torn countries during and after the war.  A total of 2,120 S160’s were built, and served in Africa, Asia, South America, and throughout Europe.

611 - 1.jpg

USATC 611 as she now appears at Bill Biller Equipment Sales, with Western Maryland Tender.


The 611 is of interest to the T1 trust because of what happened during her service after WWII.  She was part of the motive power roster at Fort Eustis, Virginia.  From 1946 until 2010, Fort Eustis was the home to the Army’s Transportation School, where soldiers were trained in rail, marine, amphibious operations and other modes of transportation.  In the early 1950’s, 611 was modified to replace her original Walschaerts’ valve gear and piston valves with an experimental derivative of the Franklin Type B1 rotary Cam Poppet valve gear.  Despite being scavenged for parts to keep other S160’s running at Fort Eustis, the valve gear is complete, and 611 is now the only remaining locomotive in the world fitted with any version of Franklin Rotary Cam gear.

There were three variants of Franklin Type B gear originally manufactured.  The Type B (no suffix) had three valves (one intake, two exhaust) at each end of the steam chest, driven by a single central camshaft.  The Type B1 was nearly identical, with the exception of having only two valves (one each of intake and exhaust), still driven by a single camshaft.  The Type B2 was designed to replace the Type A oscillating Cam gear, but retain the Type A valve layout.  As such, it had four valves (two each of intake and exhaust) driven by twin camshafts (one camshaft for intake, one for exhaust).


611 - 2.jpg

Close-up of firemans's side valve gear, showing cylinder and valve heads, cambox, and driveshaft.


The T1 trust intends to fit Franklin Type B2 valve gear to the 5550, similar to that fitted to T1 #5500 in 1948.  As we have yet to discover a complete set of engineering drawings for the type B2 gear, we may have to reverse-engineer a new system based on the documentation we have found for the generic Type B.  In that event, access to a surviving example may prove extraordinarily valuable, since all versions of the Type B gear used similar gear drive, external shafting, and cambox components.  Even though the Type B1 and B2 are different in layout, the design details of individual components will be largely common, and will greatly simplify the design effort.


611 -4.jpg

Engineer’s side drive gearbox and return crank assembly, currently removed from locomotive. This assembly draws power from the main axle to drive the valve gear. One of the side rods is in the foreground. The short shaft with the universal joint to the left of the main housing is the end of the driveshaft assembly. This will be the first item that the T1 Trust will be dismantling to create new blueprints for the Franklin Type B gear.

Bill Miller Equipment Sales has graciously offered the T1 Trust unfettered access to the 611, for the purpose of reverse-engineering the valve gear.  In the coming months and years, we will be sending members of the engineering committee to Maryland, for the purpose of dismantling and blueprinting all of the surviving valve gear components.  Our course of investigation will include:

1) Determine direction of rotation of driveshafts relative to spiral gearboxes.

2) Confirm direction of rotation for camshafts.

3) Dismantle and blueprint one or both spiral gearboxes.

4) Dismantle and blueprint one or both driveshaft intermediate support assemblies.

5) Dismantle and blueprint driveshaft joints and determine tube section dimensions.

6) Remove cambox assembly to examine mounting features and wedge details.

7) Remove cambox top cover / reverser assemblies to examine inside of cambox, determine current condition and setting of cams.

8) Dismantle and blueprint cambox assembly to determine component part details and cam profile. Measurements will be taken using a combination of manual inspection tools, as well as 3D scanning equipment if available.  We will attempt to determine material alloys used if non-destructive methods can be utilized.  Finally, 3D solid models of all existing components will be created in CAD, and serve as the basis for creating a new set of B2 camboxes.  We anticipate this effort will take place over the next several years.

In addition to serving our interests, the information we collect may someday be used to help restore the 611 to operational condition.  To that end, a full duplicate set of prints and CAD files of the B1 parts will be provided to Bill Miller Equipment Sales for reference.  The T1 trust would like to extend their thanks to Bill Miller, Denny Fisher, and all of the staff at Bill Miller Equipment Sales for their support of the 5550 project.

The T1 Trust Book Club to be Hosted by the Illustrious Wes Camp and John Stein

Participation in The T1 Trust Book Club is free; however space is limited, act now to reserve your seat today! A link to the simple to complete registration form is included below. The book to be read and discussed is Suggested Unit Course in Locomotive Firing. Participants will also read and discuss CFR Title 49 Part 230 "STEAM LOCOMOTIVE INSPECTION AND MAINTENANCE STANDARDS" as well as NTSB/SIR-96/05 which investigates the firebox explosion on the Gettysburg Railroad June 16, 1995. Here are a couple of links to the pertinent material:

Suggested Unit Course in Locomotive Firing

FRA Inspection and Maintenance Standards for Steam Locomotives

NTSB Report on Gettysburg Boiler Explosion

As many of our readers know, Wes has been with the Trust almost since the beginning. Prior to joining The T1 Trust, Wes was a professional railroader, retiring from the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad in 1990 as a Master Mechanic. In addition to playing a crucial role in Ross Rowland's High Iron Company, and the American Freedom Train, Wes has also been actively involved with the restoration of no less than six steam locomotives during his career. Wes is an expert locomotive fireman, and a great teacher; he's full of hilarious anecdotes and also extremely safety conscious. Studying under Wes is an opportunity none should miss.

John Stein is also a wonderful teacher with a remarkable story to tell, here's a snippet in his words, "Well, I started chasing trains at an early age.  In the summer of 1945, it is recorded that I left my home in Rochester, MN.  My parents, police, and the newspaper found me several hours later in a railroad yard a few blocks away, watching trains.  I was 22 months old. I had my fair share of Lionel trains spread all over the basement floor, and then by high school had started scratch building in O scale.  In 1960, I saw a newspaper article that stated a group would be meeting at the Minnesota Historical Society to explore preservation of derelict Twin City Rapid Transit streetcar No. 1300.  That's when I first met Frank and Judy Sandberg, who've been close friends since. Steve hadn't come along yet.

The result of that meeting was formation on the Minnesota Transportation Museum.  MTM repaired and restored 1300 and started collecting other equipment, as well. During my college years I worked summers (and a one year sabbatical) as switchman, yard conductor and transfer brakeman for the CB&Q and the CNW, MTM then started looking for somewhere to serve as a base where operation of car 1300 could be established.  MTM approached the Minneapolis Park Board and an agreement was reached to rebuild a portion of the former TCRT right of way through a park near Lake Harriet.  They elected me as President of the organization to build, organize, train, and operate the Como-Harriet Streetcar Line, which is still very much in operation with beautifully preserved cars and facilities, and a very popular summertime destination in Minneapolis.

During the '70's and '80's every would-be railroad museum in the country was fighting tooth and nail with every other museum for every scrap or artifact, jealous of anyone else who got something. MTM continued to collect equipment, and eventually wanted to have a site where heavy rail operations could be established for operation.  They had reached an agreement with the Burlington Northern to take ownership of a near-abandonment short branchline to Stillwater, MN. The MTM asked me to head up restoration of this line, and equipment to operation, as the Stillwater & St. Paul RR.  I established a friendly relationship with the Lake Superior Railroad Museum at this time - cooperation heretofore unheard of.

After 3 years getting the S&StP organized, I stepped down as Supt., but served after that as DSLE, Air Brake Instructor, and Steam Instructor. I've qualified on NP 328, SOO 1003, and SOO 2719, having served as road engineer on a triple header of all three, various double header combinations, and excursion and ferry runs on Wisconsin Central mains. Eventually, urban sprawl killed the S&StP (Remind you of the F&W?), and the operation at Stillwater shut down and moved to Osceola, WI where we operated on trackage rights with, first, the Wisconsin Central (even being paid by them to run their freight operations on close to 40 miles of line), and then CN.

More recently, for the past 6 years I've worked with the North Shore Scenic Railroad (operating entity of the LSRM, mentioned above) , not in a management capacity, but as an engineer, working steam and diesel.  We run of 27.5 miles of our own trackage, and through trackage rights on bits of the BNSF and CN CTC & TWC.  It's a 140-mile commute. This winter, I'm planning on making a few trips up to Duluth to assist in restoration of D&NE 28 for operation on NSSR in summer of 2015.  Looks like I may be putting together some training stuff, there, as well."

With these two masters sharing their collective knowledge, experience and wisdom, The T1 Trust Book Club is sure to be a remarkable learning opportunity for all who participate. An organizational meeting will be held on Thursday January 29, 2015 at 8:00 pm EST using the Trust's Gotomeeting account. If you wish to participate in The T1 Trust Book Club please register here.


A Call to Action

There are no dues or fees for Trust membership. However, with a funding goal of $15 million, the project's success will depend upon the willingness of individual backers to donate. Please consider becoming a Regular Donor by making a $20 per month recurring pledge using the 'Donate' button on the Trust's website. Alternatively you may wish to become a member of The T1 Trust Founders Club, additional information can be found here. We must first establish a solid base of individual supporters before we are in a position to successfully approach large corporate donors.

We invite you to take advantage of this unique opportunity. Join us now, at the beginning of our journey to build the mighty PRR T1 5550! For more information visit the Trust's website at or send an email to We look forward to hearing from you.