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Restoring Soo Line 0-6-0 #321

By July 15, 2015Features

By Larry Bohn

This article explains how Soo Line 0-6-0 #321 was brought to its present home at Pinecrest Village near Manitowoc, WI., as described in Aaron Isaacs’ recent post. It was first published in 1994 in the Minnesota Transportation Museum’s Minnegazette.

I first became aware that there was a steam locomotive available to a “worthy organization” from a photo in the Milwaukee Journal of Nov. 23, 1966. The caption stated that the Miller Compressing Company of Milwaukee was looking for a home for the Soo Line X-90, which was in their possession.

Soo Line X-90 was the shop switcher at the company's Shoreham Shops in Minneapolis. It was originally #321.

Soo Line X-90 was the shop switcher at the company’s Shoreham Shops in Minneapolis. It was originally #321.

I have always been a steam locomotive enthusiast, and because Manitowoc did not have a steamer on display, I decided to see if I could obtain it for the city. I first called the Mayor to see if he felt that there was a place in the city for displaying the X-90. His answer was rather vague but led me to believe that I couldn’t count on much help from that direction. I next called the director of our local museum to see if there was a chance that they might like a locomotive displayed on their front lawn. Although his answer was also negative, he did suggest that I get in touch with officials of the Manitowoc County Historical Society. After probing around the telephone book for a while I was finally able to reach the president of the organization. Upon explaining the situation to her, she told me that the society was making plans for a historical village and that not only would the locomotive be a fine addition to the village but might possibly speed up the process of securing a plot for the location of the village.

In the meantime I did a bit of research to try to pin down the X-90 historically speaking. Both the style and number reminded me a lot of an engine that I had photographed at the Soo Line’s Shoreham shops in Minneapolis during the summer of 1959. Upon checking my photo files, I found that indeed, it was the same engine. A book on the Soo Line by Leslie Suprey indicated that the engine was built in December 1887 by the Rhode Island Locomotive company of Providence, RI, as #38 of the Minneapolis, Sault Ste. Marie and Atlantic, but was renumbered to #321 of the reorganized Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Sault Ste. Marie. It was the first six wheel switcher owned by that road.

Soo Line #321 as delivered.

Soo Line #321 as delivered.

In 1932, the 321 was rebuilt as a side tank switcher with a coal bunker on the fireman’s side of the cab and was assigned to “shop goat” duty at Shoreham, replacing a 2-6-4T Forney engine. Shortly after assuming these duties, it was renumbered to X-90.

Hard to get

Armed with this information, I called Miller Compressing Co. and was connected with Robert Miller, the head of the firm. I found out that the engine did not yet have a home and that if we put in a request in writing, we would be considered along with any others. Apparently, my knowledge of the background of the X-90 impressed Mr. Miller as he asked if it would be possible for me to come to Milwaukee and make an evaluation of the engine’s historical value, condition, etc. Of course I readily agreed and within a couple of weeks appeared, along with a few interested friends, at the Miller Compressing Company office.

We found that the engine was missing most of the readily removable parts including: air compressor, bell and bracket, main rod brasses, (both crank and wrist pin ends), safety valves, smoke box cleanout cover, whistle, and cab roof ladder to name the most obvious. The backhead had also been stripped of anything resembling brass including: steam and air pressure gauges, water glass, injectors, lubricator, engine brake handle and valve stem, train brake handle, and try cocks.

Although the X-90 as rebuilt in 1932 had no need for a tender, the Miller compressing company had obtained a slope backed tender to go along with it. It was originally from a Wisconsin Central 0-6-0 of the 2300 series built by Brooks, year unknown. Although slightly larger than that originally on the 321 and about 30 years younger, it was as good a match as could be obtained at that time.

The tender was basically intact but was fitted with a front coupler for work train service. The end suls were severely rotted and the back footboard brackets were badly bent but other­wise it was ready to go. There now was nothing to do but wait and have a course of action ready to go if things went our way.

The MCHS had virtually no money available for shipping the X-90 to Manitowoc, so it became necessary to decide on the most feasible method if we should be lucky enough to get it.

The simplest method would be to tow it up via C&NW. We were reluctant to do this as it would involve a special slow train with the engine and tender towed as bad order equipment behind the caboose. The National Railroad Museum of Green Bay had had disastrous results with this method when moving their Sumter and Choctaw 2-8-2. Speed restrictions were ignored and all bearings and journals, both main and rod, were damaged to the point that major journal machining and completely new bearing brasses would be required to put it into running order.

The method used by Miller Compressing Co. in bringing the X-90 and tender from Minneapolis to Milwaukee seemed to be the safest, but the cost of shipping on flat cars, including loading at Milwaukee and unloading at Manitowoc, was far beyond anything we could handle.

The dilemma was solved by Art Hansen, a member of the Clipper City Model Railroad Club, who noted that the Miller Compressing Co. was within a half mile or so of the Chesapeake and Ohio train ferry docks. The C&O ran ferry service between Milwaukee and Ludington, MI, and also between Ludington and Manitowoc. The logical way of getting the X-90 to Manitowoc would be via Ludington. Total move­ment on wheels would be no more than a couple of miles, all at switching speed.

A few months later, Michael Dodge, a machinist at Manitowoc Engineering Co., brought me some useful news. The Detroit Toledo & Ironton was having Manitowoc Engineering convert a steam wrecking crane to a diesel power unit. As the wrecking crane had itself been in a wreck, the boiler and appliances were being scrapped out. A quick phone call got us permission to salvage whatever we could before actual scrapping took place. When we were finished, we had: a 9″ single stage Westinghouse air compressor (exactly like the one on X-90), a dynamo, a water sight glass, three try cocks, two small injectors, a safety valve, a two feed Detroit lubricator, and two air reservoirs.

Acquisition of these parts gave us an excuse to contact Mr. Miller again. We sent a photo of the parts so that he could see that we were actively working on getting the engine. We also told him that whoever got the X-90 should be notified that we could help them with replacement parts as they would certainly be of no value to us without an engine to put them on. We heard nothing from Miller but assumed that “No news was good news.”

A year after our first inquiry, the anniversary gave us another excuse to contact Mr. Miller. We hadn’t had any answer from our previous letter, so we decided to set up an appointment to see him personally. A couple of weeks later, we were again at the Miller Compressing Company office.

We learned that he had received inquiries about the X-90 from only two groups other than us. One was the National Railroad Museum at Green Bay and the other was the Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society at North Freedom. We felt that we didn’t stand much of a chance of getting it as we didn’t have the “horsepower” that either of the other groups had. When we asked him what our chances were, he replied “Not much”, but not for the reasons we expected. It seemed that he did not want to give the engine to any group not located in Milwaukee as he was primarily interested in the publicity value of the gift. Publicity in Manitowoc would not help his firm in the least. After he told us that he appreciated our interest but…, we found ourselves on the way home, no further ahead than before.

During the following year, I spent quite a bit of time doing more research on the engine. Charles E. Fisher of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society informed me that the construction number was #1877. A photo of a sister engine, #325, was obtained from the Harold K. Vollrath collection. I was a locomotive builders plate buff and started swapping copies of builders plates cast in aluminum in our high school foundry class from originals that I owned, for copies of plates owned by others. I hoped I could eventually come across a Rhode Island plate to copy. I finally found a lead from Stan Mailer, who had seen some Rhode Island plates hanging on the engine house wall at the Saltville, VA plant of Olin-Mathison Chemical Co.

A letter to Olin-Mathison brought a quick return with, “I’m sorry but the plates were sold to one of our engineers who is no longer with us.”

Another letter produced the name and forwarding address of the engineer, who was living near a town in Pennsylvania with the unlikely name of Eighty-Four.

After a month or so of negotiations, the Rhode Island plate, C/N 3030 of 1894 was in my possession. Comparison with the photo of the #325 showed that the plate was indeed correct so copies were made and the C/N and date removed and new ones added to conform to the 321. Finally brass copies were cast and polished up to fit the engine “when and if…”

The second anniversary of the original inquiry seemed like another good time to contact Mr. Miller. I had an opportunity to look the X-90 over between meetings at the annual Wisconsin teachers convention held at Milwaukee in early November. What I saw didn’t look good. Since the last time that I had checked it, the engine had been moved. The valve rods which had been lying on the ground next to it had not been moved with it. Checking at the original location failed to turn them up. Also, during that time the sand dome cover had disappeared. In general the engine looked to be in much poorer shape with more rust and rot showing in all of the problem spots. My next letter to Mr. Miller outlined these points and ended by saying that although we still wanted the X-90 very much, I felt that it was much more important to have the engine be saved by someone rather than waiting for it to become worthless.

One morning in mid-December, I was summoned from metals class to take a phone call. It was from Mr. Miller and was very short and to the point. As close as I can recall, he said, “The engine is yours. Come and get it.” He then let me know that he wanted it out of his yard before the 31st so he could write it off on the current year.

Move it or lose it

As soon as I could get away from school, I went to the C&O carferry office armed with my file on the X-90 to have a talk with Lloyd Olson, the agent. I explained our idea of moving the engine via the ferry system and asked if he thought that it could be done. After getting pertinent data on clearances, weight, etc, he asked “for a couple of days to work on it.”

A few days later I got a call from Mr. Olson asking me to stop in at his office when I could. Obviously, that brought me to his door in about six minutes. He told me that if we could get it to the C&O yard in Milwaukee, He would be happy to deliver it to the C&O yard in Manitowoc. In that the historical society’s operating budget was almost nonexistent, I then asked him the all important question. “How much is this going to cost us?” His answer, delivered with a big smile was “No charge!”

When we went to Milwaukee to take delivery, we assumed that we would be able to move it from Miller’s yard to the C&O docks by going to the C&NW depot in Milwaukee and asking them for a price quote. Unfortunately, we got no cooperation from anyone in the depot. The people we talked to were not willing to make a quote on the move nor would they even agree that the engine could be moved over their trackage, citing all sorts of rules and regulations as to why the move might not be able to be made. They stated that an inspection of the engine and tender would have to be made but gave us no help in locating a person who could do it. After about an hour of frustration, we decided to give up for the time being as we were due at the Miller yard so the local newspaper photographer could record the transaction for posterity. After the photos were taken, Mr. Miller suggested to us that if there was any scrap in the yard that would help us restore the X-90, we should feel free to take it along. Because all of the brass accessories were missing, scrap brass was our biggest need. We col­lected about 300 pounds of high grade red brass and hid it in the firebox because we felt that it might disappear if we left it in sight in the tender.

The yard workers at Miller’s were quite pleased to see the engine go. They had been dreading the job of cutting it up for scrap. When I confided to one of them that I didn’t know just how I was going to get it out of their yard and over to the C&O docks, he said that he would see what he could do.

A couple of minutes later, when a North Western switcher went by on the tracks alongside the scrap yard, he gave off with a piercing whistle which got the attention of the engineer who immediately stopped. “Hey Fellas!” the yard worker shouted. “How about taking this stuff over to the C&O docks for us?” “Sure thing,” said the engineer and in less than ten minutes, the engine and tender were sitting on the ready track for the next ferry load. All that was left to do was wait for it to be delivered to Manitowoc.

In the meantime, I needed to locate a spot to store the engine in Manitowoc, as a location for the “Historical Village” had not yet been secured. I assumed that as long as the X-90 was a Soo Line engine, we might be able to use the end of one of the Soo Line yard tracks for this purpose. However, the Soo Line informed us that they had no spot available for storage in Manitowoc.

I then tried the C&NW. Rod Hoard, the depot agent, gave me a list of all of the private spurs on North Western trackage and suggested which ones might be the most logical to try. While attempting to contact the appropriate people, I suddenly realized that the North Western had empty stalls in the Manitowoc roundhouse. I called Mr. Hoard back to see if he felt that I would be out of line in contacting the roundhouse foreman. He said that we would get better results if he did the necessary convincing. We were very happy to let him and apparently it didn’t take much. The roundhouse foreman, Lloyd Martin, said in effect, Gee I miss the old steamers. It would be great to have one in the round­house.

On December 28, 1967, the X-90 and tender were loaded onto the C&O carferry “Badger” for shipment to Ludington, where they were trans­ferred onto the Manitowoc-bound “City of Midland”.

It took some time for the red tape to clear the C&NW main office to allow us to use their roundhouse, so for a time not much restoration happened. We did manage to bring the main rods out of the cold and into the Lincoln High School metals shop for general clean up. We discovered during the process that a main rod is a prodigious load for the trunk of a 1960 Plymouth Valiant.

During the move from Milwaukee to Manitowoc, the front end sill on the tender, which was very badly rotted, finally gave up the ghost. By the time the engine and tender were unloaded at Manitowoc, the front tender coupler was hanging from the bolts with no end sill between the coupler and the tender frame. A chain had to be rigged between the rear coupler of the engine and the original drawbar socket of the tender in order to make it movable and the front tender coupler had to be wired up to keep it from fouling switches while being moved.

After the red tape had been cleared, the engine and tender were towed up the hill from the lake front to the roundhouse. It was placed in stall #3 of the eight stall engine house, with two empty stalls on the right side and the stall on the left containing only a speeder and trailer and a small pile of bagged rock salt for keeping switch points clear of ice. This gave us all of the room we needed to do any work required, regardless of what proved necessary.

Excavating the locomotive

After initial tries at removing grease and grime by chipping, it became apparent that sand blasting was the only approach. A sand blasting tank was built for us by Joe Kaufman, a local antique auto restoration expert whose main specialty is restoring Dusenbergs. He also donated all of the compressed air hose and armored sand blasting hose that we might need along with a nozzle.

The North Western normally had a switcher idling at the roundhouse every night between 6:30 and midnight, and they agreed to spot it just outside our stall so that we could tap into the brake system for compressed air to run the sand blaster. They also furnished us with a glad hand for our air line for easy connection and showed us how to set the regulator for higher pressure while we were blasting. In turn, they used the X-90 and tender as a source of coupler knuckles and pins whenever they ran short, replacing them as soon as a new supply became available. We never knew when we came in for an evening’s work just how many couplers would be intact.

Sand for blasting was available free for the taking from the Hersite Chemical Corporation’s sand blasting facility where tank cars were blasted inside prior to relining the tanks to carry caustic materials. The used sand was not ideal for blasting as much of it was broken up into dust. This made for unusually dirty sand blasting conditions but the price was right. Even with face masks, this job was terribly dusty and those who sand blasted usually had a bad case of “black handkerchief” for several days following an evening’s work. About the only cost involved in sand blasting was for light bulbs. In order to see what we were doing, we had to rig trouble lights in fairly close to eliminate shadows. If the stream from the sand blaster inadvertently went across a light bulb even for a split second, the bulb would blow. After a couple of nights of having to quit early because of lack of light, we finally learned to bring a supply with us every night. The problem was at least partially solved later on when the large weatherproof flood-lights that lit the Lincoln High athletic fields at night were replaced with mercury vapor lights. They sealed from any entry of blasting sand. They were bright enough so that usually a couple could be placed well away from the action, so that the light came from two directions. This gave better light than a half dozen drop cords. Occasionally, the problem still persisted when quarters were so close (between the frames, etc.) that the big floods wouldn’t fit and we had to return to the drop cords.

Even with the sand blaster, progress was painfully slow. Grime ranged from a quarter inch to five inches thick and was resilient enough to be very stubborn. A few square feet a night was all we could hope to accomplish. We were very thankful that we were working on a little 0-6-0 instead of a “Big Boy”. The final phase of each night’s work was to paint the newly cleaned area with Rustoleum Damp Proof Primer furnished free of charge by a local auto parts store. This work proceeded very gradually over the period of a year and a half with the seasonal temperatures ranging from too hot to way too cold. Even though the engine was inside the roundhouse, the only heat in the building was in the locker room. The stall doors were left open, so twenty below outside meant 20 below inside. Even with long Johns and insulated coveralls, we could not have worked without frequent trips to the locker room. One bitter cold night, while using a flame cutting torch in an attempt to break loose a rust-frozen sanding valve inside the sand dome, I suddenly realized that it really wasn’t that cold. In fact, I was quite comfortable. Shortly thereafter I discovered that I had set fire to the leg of my coveralls and they were gradually burning off me. Whenever possible, to get out of the weather and the sand blasting dust, parts were removed and taken to the Lincoln shops for cleaning. It worked out very well as some of the kids who had no real interest in working on the required projects took a great interest in cleaning up and painting the eccentrics, links and the rockers for shifting the links.

The makeover

Before real restoration work went very far, a decision had to be made as to just how the locomotive was going to be restored. The easiest method would have been to merely clean it up and repaint it to represent it as the shop goat that it was. Because the engine was to be displayed in our 1890 vintage Historical Village, a shop goat would be totally inappropriate for the display. For that matter, a switcher wasn’t exactly appropriate for our needs but one couldn’t be choosy about what one got, especially at the price we got it for. By that time we had found a photo of the 321 in the collection of Bruce Miller, of Hubertus, WI. It had been taken when the engine was relatively new, probably pre-1900 since the coupler knuckle was slotted and had a hole for adapting it to link and pin couplers. The photo revealed a number of differences between it and the later engines of the series and was clear enough to enable us to be very accurate in our restoration. Those facts and not wanting to waste the tender made us decide to “go for broke” and aim for a pre-turn of the century restoration.

Even so, there were still several other points that made the engine less than perfect for our display. First, the 321 had never operated in the state to say nothing of our local area. Second, the Soo Line itself had nothing to do with the Manitowoc area until 1909 when it absorbed the Wisconsin Central Railroad. Third, the only railroad in operation in Manitowoc when the 321 was built and up to the mid 1890’s was the Milwaukee Lakeshore & Western. Finally, we were unable to find out just what the standard Rhode Island paint job was for a perfect restoration.

Our research had, however turned up the following points:

  1. The color scheme for a specific batch of engines delivered to the Wisconsin Central by Baldwin.
  2. The fact that the Wisconsin Central never had a Rhode Island built engine on its roster.
  3. The Milwaukee, Lake Shore, & Western had a large number of Rhode Island engines, with construc­tion numbers within just a few of the 321. Most likely they were both on the erecting floor at Providence at the same time.

Considering this, it was decided that we would make the engine represent all of the railroads serving Manitowoc. Therefore the 321 would keep its Soo Line number. It would be lettered for MLS&W. The paint job would match that of the Wisconsin Central’s Baldwins. The tender would be left as is except for back dating the Soo Line emblem by adding a “string to hang the banner on” on top of it.

The first things that had to go were the side tanks. Once removed, the tanks, along with other scrap generated from the rebuilding, was picked up by the local scrap yard in exchange for oxygen and acetylene for any cutting or heating that we had to do.

The steel sheathed cab also had to be removed as it was not even remotely similar to the original on the 321. During the removal, we discovered that the X-90 cab was about 10 inches longer than the cab on the 321. It was mounted on a ten inch extension of the rear frame which, of course, also had to be removed with a cutting torch.

The removal of the cab also brought another fact to light. The rear frame cross tie, a heavy steel casting, had been badly broken during some previous mishap. Although it had been bolted back together with heavy straps and bolts, the socket for the front end of the drawbar was almost completely gone, making it impos­sible to pull a tender and string of cars. Could this have been the reason that the 321 was converted into a shop goat with a coupler in back? We’re still hunting for an answer to that one. Further checking around the engine showed that portions of the left side engine were not original, with many of the parts numbered for the 323 and 324. The cylinder head covers, cross head, cross head guide and main rod were the most obvious parts from other engines but it was also evident that the wheel center at the main rod crank pin had been cracked and repaired with a heavy steel strap forged around the wheel center and crank boss. These repairs indicated that at some time or other, the engine had been involved in some serious accident, probably a side swipe.

Bruce Miller had heard that the X-90 had fallen into a turntable pit at some undetermined time but we were unable to get verification on this from any other source. If this were true, it would account for the broken rear frame cross tie, but not the left side damage unless it also rolled over while falling into the pit. We’ll probably never find out.

“Necessity is the mother of …”

A new wooden cab was fabricated out of white oak purchased for $60 from a local farmer. Complete blue­prints were made from the photo and are most likely within a half inch of the original in all dimensions. The cab was prefabricated in the Lincoln wood and metal shops, then disassembled and mounted on the engine. All bolts for fastening it together were furnished free of charge by the J. J. Stangel hardware distrib­utors. The cab roof was made from tongue and groove fir flooring that was modified by V-grooving the lower edges so that it would at least approximate the sheathing used during the 1870’s and 80’s.

One of the simpler jobs in concept proved to be quite difficult in execution. This involved the smoke stack. The original stack of the 321 had been replaced with a taller stack which had eventually been either broken out or oxidized through on the top front edge. It had been patched and another extension had been added to the top. Apparently draft was a problem for an engine that sat idle as much as a shop goat. The extension had been lost in the tran­sfer to the scrap yard and the patch on the broken top was missing. Upon checking the proportions of tbe stack on the photo it was plain that we could cut the broken part off and still have plenty of height to make the stack look right by welding a rim around the top.

The rim needed to be made of 1-1/4″ half round bar which was unavailable to us from our normal supply sources and was beyond our ability to roll into a hoop to fit the stack top. I presented the problem to Becker’s Ornamental Iron Works, a local facility specializing in porch railings and other decorative metal work. They agreed to procure the necessary material and roll it into a hoop of the proper dimensions for the stack rim at no charge.

The difficult part lay in cutting off the broken top. We assumed that it could be easily cut off with a flame cutting torch. This proved not to be the case. Because of all of the oxides that had penetrated the surface of the hot stack over the previous 35 or more years, the cutting torch made no impression whatever on it. In the final analysis, the only feasible route to go was the hand hack saw. Even then, the metal was so hard that a blade would last two inches of the cut at the most. Luckily, the metal shop had at that time a large supply of hand hack saw blades that had been purchased for a ridiculously small sum through U.S. government surplus. The cost in “elbow grease” however was not so low. Total cutting time for the stack was close to eight hours spread over about three weeks.

While this was going on, there were many minor projects being worked on also. The photo of 321 was clear enough to plainly indicate that the builders plates that we had already fabricated were not correct. The 1894 plates we had copied had the construction number of the engine in one and a half inch numbers cast in the center of the plate. The plate on the 321 had no construction number showing. This time the problem of finding the correct plate to copy was easily solved. I had previously consulted several times by letter with Gerald M. Best of Beverly Hills, CA. When I told him that we had found a Rhode Island plate to copy, he mentioned in passing that he also had an 1888 Rhode Island plate that was in flawless condition. He immediately sent his plate to us postage and insurance paid for both directions. After we got a perfect copy in aluminum, all we had to do was change the 1888 to 1887 and cast up a new pair in brass. As original plates of this era have sold for $700 to $1000, the new plates were cast up with the words, “Replica, Stolen from Manitowoc County Historical Society” clearly printed on the reverse side. Thus, if one or both of the plates should be removed from the engine, (they haven’t so far), the thief would not have gotten away with much.

The missing whistle presented another problem. During a general search for parts, we turned up whistles in a number of different locations. One collection contained nearly 100 different steam whistles. Obtaining one was, however, another matter. Each one was considered priceless by its owner and was not for sale under any conditions.

A letter to the Canadian Locomotive Co. at Kingston, Ontario hit pay dirt. It yielded a blueprint for a standard “Lonergan” steam whistle that had originally been available in several sizes, with dimension tables showing the pertinent dimensions for each size.

Shortly before this happened, the Lincoln electronic shop received a ship’s radio direction finder as a donation from the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co. In adapting it to fit on our building, we had to cut off the column for the aerial loop about two feet. The column was four inch diameter brass tubing with a wall thickness of one eighth inch. This was the perfect size and material for the bell of a standard four inch whistle. We made up a set of wooden patterns complete with core boxes where needed and cast our own whistle body using some of the scrap brass furnished by Miller as raw material. When machined and assembled, the only parts not made in the shop were the bell and the valve return spring. The whole thing was done as a project by various members of the metals department’s foundry and machine shop classes.

Another part that needed back dating was the head light. The photo of 321 clearly indicated that the headlight was different than those on the 323 and 325 but was very similar to if not exactly like the one on the Great Northern’s William Crooks, which was displayed at the St. Paul Union Depot. A letter of explanation, along with a drawing indicating where dimensions were needed, was sent to the station master of the depot. A short time later, the drawing was returned to us with all dimensions filled in along with two additional supplementary sketches of details. The station master must have had a great time climbing all over the engine to get the measurements.

Although that took care of the exterior of the headlight, it gave us no hint what the interior, including the light itself, fuel tank, etc. was like. Having seen a photo of Ward Kimball’s narrow gauge 2-6-0, “Emma Nevada”, I knew that the inside must be very similar. A letter to Mr. Kimbal, one of Walt Disney’s main animators, brought us a bonanza that not only solved this problem but verified and greatly expanded the data from the William Crooks. Mr. Kimbal happened to have a headlight case from a standard gauge locomotive of the 1880-1900 period. He took photos of it, both general and detail shots, and sent us a dozen 8 x 10 enlargements along with a drawing including all necessary dimensions. He also sent photo copies of several pages from an old railroad equipment catalog showing interior and exterior details for several different types of headlights. To top it all off he included full size tracings of the decorative paint work that was on the original paint job of the headlight and still showed faintly under the later coats of black paint.

Armed with this information, it was only a matter of time before we were able to make a nearly perfect duplicate of the original. In the process we used nearly every type and combination of sheet metal pattern development and layout. The task was given to two of my most able sheet metal students, Jerry Scheinoha and Pat Thirey. They mounted it on an authentic wooden base made by John Schlei as an extra credit project in the wood shop. The project came off so well that I elected to start from scratch when we made the backup light the next year. Material for the headlight cases came from the outside sheets from bundles of sheet steel used by the Kelvinator Co. in the manufacture of refrigerators. The outside sheets had rust spots on them and were unusable for quality produc­tion but there was plenty of good steel to be had by just cutting around the rust.

The one thing that we couldn’t duplicate was the spun, silver plated copper reflectors. The 24 inch parabolic reflectors were just more than we could handle. Letters were sent out to various manufacturers of photo flood light reflectors explaining our plight. The Photogenic Machine Co. of Youngstown, OH sent us two partially completed aluminum flood-light reflectors. They had to be modified by cutting out the recessed back which was designed to take an electric light fixture and cutting holes to fit the base of the lamp and lamp chimney. Finally the hole in the back had to be filled by inserting a shallow parabolic shaped five inch disk to make the curved surface complete. A hard maple form of the proper shape was turned on a lathe and aluminum disks were spun and polished over the forms. The disks were fastened to the main reflectors with epoxy. We had misgivings as to the durability of the joint but they have been in place for many years with overall temperatures varying by more than 120 degrees with no sign of deterioration.

Smaller cast parts included: sand dome cover, smoke box clean out cover along with the steps and brackets at the back of the cab (all of aluminum), brass “Rhode Island” plates to mount on the cylinder sides, number plates (both a #38 in original Rhode Island style, and standard Soo line 8 sided numbers for 321) so we can change our mind as to how it is presented and a commemorative plate acknowledging the Miller Compressing Co.

The tender required new wooden end sills as the old ones were rotted beyond any possible use. New 12 x 12 timbers were obtained from a building being razed on the site of the present Wisconsin Maritime Museum. It was part of the original Goodrich steamship company complex. Where necessary, new bolts were turned by machine shop students. Standard nuts to fit were obtained from the shipyard. The foot boards at the tender rear were badly bent out of shape so the steel braces were heated and reforged straight. The coal bunker and manhole on the tender were much too high for the tender of the 321, so were also cut down to size with a flame cutting torch.

Moving to Pinecrest Village

While all of this restoration was going on, the Historical Society finally acquired a 40 acre plot on which to move historic buildings to start the historic village. The land was donated to the society by Hugo Vetting, a retired C&NW engineer. One of the early buildings moved to the site was the Soo Line (originally Wisconsin Central) depot from Collins, WI, a few miles west of the village site. The Depot had been purchased by the Clipper City Model Railroad Club and donated to the Society to go with the 321 as a part of the “Railroad Exhibit” portion of the village. The cost of moving the building to the village was borne by the Historical Society.

Rail came from a section of the original Manitowoc Rapid Transit system when the rails, unused for over 40 years, were finally removed from the street. More rail was made available when a siding was removed from the site of the Red Arrow Products Company. Used ties were ours for the taking from an area in the North Western carferry dock yards that had already had the rails taken up. Although the site and materials for laying track were ready, we were in no hurry to move the engine which was very well protected where it was.

The restoration and clean up work proceeded very slowly for two and a half years. Although we probably had 50 or more people that helped at one time or another, the bulk of the work was done by eight people with probably half of that done by two. It became very difficult to go out to the roundhouse week after week, year after year. Towards the end it very nearly came to a complete stop.

Added impetus came when we were informed by the C&NW in mid May of 1971 that because of a roundhouse refurbishing job, the engine would have to be moved out within 30 days. Activity became very fierce for a short time with most of the work concentrated on finishing the sand blasting on the tender trucks and painting the engine.

Enough ties and rail were laid in front of the depot at the site, by then known as “Pinecrest Historical Village”, to hold the engine and tender. Pinecrest was not located near any rail line, so the engine and tender had to be moved to the location by road.

Eis Structure Movers, the firm that has moved all the buildings, was notified that the 50 ton engine had to be moved as soon as possible. The proper permits were obtained and preparations for the move were made.

The 321 was backed out of the roundhouse by a North Western switcher and the moving equipment was brought into place. The loco­motive and tender were each jacked up separately and temporarily placed on cribbing while a steel girder frame was built under each to support the load on the rubber tired dollies. The locomotive was mounted on three, eight-wheeled dollies and the tender was mounted on three, four-wheeled dollies.

With a truck on the front of each, the entourage started out early in the morning. A minor scheduling problem showed up within a half mile of the roundhouse when it was discovered that part of the route that had been selected for the move was in the process of receiving a brand new coat of hot mix blacktop. The road crew was most unhappy about it but the permits were in order so the engine and tender proceeded over the fresh blacktop leaving wide depressions close to an inch deep. I assume it wasn’t too great a problem as there was no sign of them the next time I took that road.

The move out to the village entrance was uneventful and was accomplished in less than a half hour. The final leg was a good deal more interesting than we preferred. The driveway into Pinecrest takes a sharp turn to the left, crosses a deep gully on a gravel fill that slants quite steeply down grade, and then proceeds up an even steeper grade several hundred feet long before flattening out somewhat. Because of the narrowness of the filled area of the driveway, several truckloads of gravel were added to the right bank to widen and firm things up for the move. Mr. Eis was a bit worried about the stability of the new gravel, which hadn’t had time to settle, so he crowded the left edge of the driveway on the way past the fill. Unfortunately, the left side wasn’t very stable either and promptly started to cave in, heeling the 321 over at a gut wrenching angle. It appeared that instead of having a fine example of an 1887 locomotive at the depot, we would have a fine example of an 1887 train wreck at an angle that gave easy inspection of the under-carriage. Mr. Eis immediately stopped the truck and assessed the situation without any sign of alarm. With total coolness, he directed the setting of jacks to lift the left side up high enough so cribbing and planking for the tires to roll on could be placed under it and the load was level again. The tender was left at the driveway entrance and the truck towing it was moved into position to run a cable down to the back of the 321. It could then be winched down the rest of the grade on heavy planks to spread out the weight. While that was going on, the other truck was taken up to the top of the next hill. After careful placement, a cable from that truck’s winch was run down to connect to the front of the 321 to pull it up the next grade.

The move up the hill was also totally planked and a person with a piece of 6 x 6 blocking followed behind the back wheels of the rear dollies, keeping the blocks within inches of the wheels so that if the cable broke, the blocks would pre­vent any rollback. It went slowly, but in perfect order. Once the engine was up on the more or less flat area, it was blocked and left so that we could use the same procedure with the tender. By quitting time, both he engine and tender were securely located up on the flat.

As there was no big hurry about getting things to the depot, the engine and tender were both left there for some time while Mr. Eis took care of some other pressing jobs. Within a couple of weeks though, the 321 and tender were properly in place in front of the depot and looked like they really belonged there.

Once at the depot, there was little chance to work on things since there was no electricity available for working after dark and no apparent desire on anyone’s part, including mine, to spend weekends finishing up details. It stood for several years without main rods, eccentrics, and links and several more years before the whistle and Rhode Island cylinder plates were added. There is still much to do both outside and inside the cab. The big push right now is to get a bracket cast and fabricated to fit a bell that we finally obtained so that the empty spot between the steam dome and cab will again look right.

Number 321 never wore this paint scheme. It represents the paint on a series of Wisconsin Central engines that served Manitowoc.

Number 321 never wore this paint scheme. It represents the paint on a series of Wisconsin Central engines that served Manitowoc.


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