2014-01-24 / Front Page

Round trip planned

Locomotive project steams ahead
By Tracy Orzel
Contributing Writer


New England Steam Corporation intends to buy Maine Central steam locomotive No. 470, a former denizen of Rigby Yard in South Portland and restore her to operating status. So far the nonprofit has raised $8,000 of the $25,000 needed to purchase the engine from the city of Waterville. (Stephen Hussar Photo) New England Steam Corporation intends to buy Maine Central steam locomotive No. 470, a former denizen of Rigby Yard in South Portland and restore her to operating status. So far the nonprofit has raised $8,000 of the $25,000 needed to purchase the engine from the city of Waterville. (Stephen Hussar Photo) SOUTH PORTLAND – In 1954 Marilyn Monroe married baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, Bill Haley & His Comets released “Shake, Rattle and Roll” and the last steam locomotive of the Maine Central Railroad made her final run. Sixty years later, Maine Central steam locomotive No. 470, a former denizen of Rigby Yard in South Portland, is slated for restoration.

Built in 1923, Rigby yard was once the hub of the Maine Central Railroad system. There, engines like No. 470 were coaled, watered and lubricated at the roundhouse between runs on the Maine and Boston line or during scheduled maintenances.

“Today Rigby Yard is a place where engines are switched, freight trains are brought together and products that are either going into Maine or going out of Maine are sorted and sent on their way,” said Richard Glueck, president of New England Steam Corporation.

According to New England Steam Corporation’s website, Maine Central 4-6-2 "Pacific"-type locomotive No. 470 was built in 1924 by the American Locomotive Company in Schenectady, N.Y., and cost approximately

$62,000.

“The engine was designed as a high speed, passenger locomotive to move luxury trains, usually heavy weight trains, trains that had names in those days, where there were dining cars with linen (on) tables and sleepers and stuff like we don’t see anymore. That was the environment,” Glueck said.

In 1962, eight years after making its final run from Portland to Bangor and back, locomotive No. 470 was presented to the city of Waterville during the 100th anniversary of the Maine Central Railroad celebration.

New England Steam Corporation intends to buy the 90- year old train – which was exposed to the elements for 60 years – for $25,000 and restore No. 470 to operating status.

Most of the damage to No. 470 is a result of Maine's extreme climate, vandalism and asbestos abatement efforts.

“It wasn’t intended as such, but people who were unaware of locomotives, or what makes a locomotive what it is, just cut right into it and removed pipes and sheet metal that we would have rather been retained,” Glueck said.

New England Steam Corporation has already signed an agreement with the city of Waterville, and once the company raises the funds to purchase No. 470, the locomotive will be moved by truck to Down East Scenic Railroad in Ellsworth to be rebuilt.

Glueck and his team opened the locomotive for the first time in 60 years one year ago. Preserved like a snapshot in time, Glueck found unused coal and 200 pounds worth of cinders left over from the train’s last run in 1954. The team, however, was more surprised by what they didn’t find.

“We had expected to find quite a lot of rust through and corrosion and damage. What we have found is a locomotive boiler that appears to be in extremely good condition. Certainly restorable to service,” Glueck said.

Before No. 470 can get up and running crews must first disassemble the engine, clean the various working parts, refinish the parts that need to be machined, restore all damaged and missing materials, reinsulate the boiler and replace boiler tubes.

The entire project is expected to cost $1.7 million and take eight to 10 years. If money wasn’t a factor, Glueck said, No. 470 could be up and running in five years. But right now the main focus is on raising the rest of the money needed to purchase the engine.

New England Steam Corporation is looking for donations from companies and individuals, and has already received contributions from British Columbia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Africa and European countries. So far the nonprofit has raised $8,000.

“It’s been remarkable, but while it is putting us toward our goal we need substantially more money,” Glueck said.

In April the company is co-hosting a “Touch-a-Train” event at the Maine Eastern’s roundhouse in Rockland. Although the event is free, New England Steam Corporation will be accepting donations to restore No. 470.

Once the funds are raised, Glueck said the money is going to be kept in Maine.

“All the funding that we’re receiving is going to be spent in Maine with Maine people doing the rebuilding, so contracted pipe fitters, boiler mechanics, steel people, welders, riveters – people like that.”

Once No. 470 is completed, it will be the largest preserved steam locomotive in New England, something Glueck believes will be an asset for Maine’s economy.

“The number of tourists who will follow a steam locomotive will travel from literally anywhere on earth to come and see a particular locomotive,” said Glueck. “They’re going to have to spend time, either in motels or campgrounds, they’re going to be buying dinner, they’re going to be buying souvenirs, visiting other shops, using services that are unique to our state, eating lobster, for gosh sakes. These things all bode well for an economic recovery.”

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