After allowing Canadian National 4-8-4 6218 (Montreal 1942) and a wood caboose to deteriorate on public display, the town of Fort Erie, Ontario has issued an RFP to plan their cosmetic restoration. The full RFP can be viewed at www.biddingo/forterie.
Here are excerpts from the RFP, leaving out all the contractural boilerplate:
Steam engine CN 6218 was built at the Montreal Locomotive works in 1942 and was one of only two Northerns designed for both passenger and heavy freight haulage. This train operated throughout Canada and the U.S.A. until 1959. In 1963 CN restored the engine and used it for “steam excursion” trips. It was the last steam engine in use in Canada when it was retired in 1969.
In 1973 citizens lobbied Fort Erie Town Council to acquire this engine from CN. Council Motion #278 was passed on May 14, 1973 to accept the donation of this engine and part of the agreement between CN and the Town specified: “that the locomotive would be kept in a clean, attractive condition at all times, that adequate protection would be provided to minimize vandalism and that a suitable roof would be erected to provide overhead protection.”
In concert with the engine coming to Fort Erie, volunteers formed the Fort Erie Railway Museum in 1973. The engine and the caboose were moved to their present location on Central Ave. in 1974.
In 1976 Council appointed a Museum Board to manage the site on behalf of the Town and the Museum continued to be operated by volunteers.
In 1987 the Fort Erie Railway Museum was amalgamated with the Fort Erie Historical Museum and the Ridgeway Battlefield Museum with one staff hired to coordinate activities with the volunteers at each of these sites.
In 1989, the volunteers at the Railway Museum spearheaded a $58,000 refurbishment project for the engine. Most of the asbestos surrounding the boiler was removed and replaced with fibreglass. The poorly fitted boiler jacket was replaced thus allowing moisture to seep inside. The subsequent wet fibreglass has caused the engine to rust from the inside out ever since.
The engine is sitting on a track bed that was installed by volunteers in 1973 and requires replacing as the train is listing slightly.
The 1944 caboose was repaired by volunteers before being put on display in 1974 and the original tongue and groove exterior replaced with plywood. This plywood has absorbed water over the years causing paint to flake off and the walls themselves to rot. The caboose has also been vandalized many times over the years causing damage to the windows, interior and roof. The majority of the caboose components need to be repaired or replaced.
Since 1989, approximately $30,000 in additional repairs and painting have been undertaken on the engine and caboose.
In 1999 and also in 2008, a conservation firm produced reports on the engine’s condition and provided recommendations for repairs. Those repairs that could be done without dismantling the train were completed (since funds were not available for the in depth repairs).
In 2009 the Museum and Cultural Heritage Committee prepared a Strategy for the Stabilization and Preservation of CN 6218 based upon the recommendations from the above two conservation reports and financial estimates from other organizations who had completed train repair projects.
This strategy included 10 objectives and 48 prioritized specific tasks at a cost of $429,000. The revenue components of this strategy have not been realized, hence the recommended actions have not been enacted.
The largest revenue component within that study, a federal grant, stipulated that no work was to begin on the project before the grant was approved. Therefore, in order to preserve that revenue stream, further repairs were deferred until matching funds could be raised in order to apply for the grant. That grant is no longer available.
The Strategy for the Stabilization and Preservation of CN 6218 was based upon one option for the train’s future — repairing and preserving the engine on site, using volunteers and donations from businesses. In order for Council to make an informed decision regarding the future of the engine and caboose, other options need to be explored, analyzed and presented.
In 2010 the Fort Erie Historical Railway Association (FEHRA) was formed. This group of volunteers has been fundraising towards the engine’s repairs.
In 2010 the Niagara Railway Museum (NRM) moved from Niagara Falls to the former railyards near Central Ave. in Fort Erie. This museum is operated by volunteers.
Some of the volunteers within FEHRA, the NRM, and others not affiliated with these two groups have expressed interest in working on the engine. It is the Town’s practice to not permit volunteers to perform this type of work due to liability concerns.
In 2016 Council approved Report No. COS-07-2016 with the following recommendation: “Council supports capital project spending of $25,000 from STEN-10 in the 2017 Capital Budget to hire a consultant to identify options for the CN 6218 steam engine and caboose using existing project funds allocated in previous budets.”
The CN 6218 and caboose study will identify, investigate, analyze, and propose options for the future of these two municipal assets in order to assist Council in deciding upon a course of action. This study will:
· identify a full range of options for the future of CN 6218 and the caboose (options that speak to keeping these assets will focus on a repair not a restoration framework),
· investigate the costs associated with each option,
· investigate the human resources required for each option,
· determine the feasibility of each option as related to: Municipal policies and practices; industry standards; environmental impacts; financial costs; as well as human resource availability, competencies and capabilities,
· investigate the risks associated with each option (identify risks and propose ways to mitigate),
· investigate best practices and lessons learned from other organizations who have undertaken steam engine and caboose repair (not restoration) projects,
· investigate funding opportunities for each option (public and private),
· investigate how each option would impact the operation at the Fort Erie Railway Museum,
· garner community input from the Museum Services Standing Committee, the Fort Erie Historical Railway Association, and other organizations and citizens who have an interest in the future of CN 6218 and the caboose,
· analyze the above in order to make a recommendation for the future of CN 6218 and caboose.
The future of CN 6218 and the caboose is envisioned as a two stage project. The first stage, being the preparation of a study, will guide Council’s deliberation. The second phase will include the implementation of Council’s decision.
Therefore, individuals, organizations or businesses that have a vested interest in the options and outcomes are not eligible to bid on this study, as this represents a conflict of interest.
An upset limit of $25,000 including HST has been identified for this study.
The CN 6218 and caboose study will be delivered in the form of a final report, written in clear and concise language, addressing the following deliverables:
· Develop a full range of options for the future of CN 6218 and caboose currently at the Fort Erie Railway Museum. Options that speak to keeping these assets will focus on a repair not a restoration framework.
· Determine the costs associated with each option.
· Determine the human resources required for each option.
· Determine the feasibility of each option as related to: Municipal policies and practices; industry standards; environmental impacts; financial costs; as well as human resource availability, competencies and capabilities.
· Determine the risks associated with each option (identify risks and propose ways to mitigate).
· Determine best practices and lessons learned from other organizations who have undertaken steam engine and caboose repair (not restoration)projects.
· Determine funding opportunities for each option (public and private).
· Determine how each option would impact the operation at the Fort Erie Railway Museum.
· Garner community input from the Museum Services Standing Committee, the Fort Erie Historical Railway Association, and other organizations and citizens who have an interest in the future of CN 6218 and the caboose.
· Produce a Multi-Criteria Framework to compare the options.
· Provide a recommendation for Council’s consideration based upon the above analysis and make a presentation of this study and resulting recommendation at a Council meeting.