The Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum’s steam train, a 1916 Baldwin locomotive No. 15 is still not up and running since it was taken offline in March of this year after a routine inspection discovered the firebox and other areas need repairs.
A diesel locomotive has been pulling passengers while the steam train is out of commission.
The Chronicle asked if there was a tentative date for Locomotive #15 to be up-and-running. “This is one of those things that you don’t want to predict because there’s a lot of work that goes into it and a lot of it depends on our funding,” said Bill Deutscher President of the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum.
After evaluations and inspections were conducted on the engine, it was discovered that the total repairs needed would cost about $150,000.
The Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum recently received a memorial gift of $38,000 from Kurt Anders from Centralia. Deutscher said Anders was a great friend of the organization for many years.
The memorial gift and small donations from other sources, totaling about $5,000 have funded the repairs thus far. The organization applied for a capital project grant from the City of Chehalis of about $30,000 from the city to go toward the repairs. The grant has yet to be approved.
The main problem that needs repaired are metal sheets of the locomotive’s firebox which were found to be too thin.The process of replacing them is expensive and labor-intensive, according to the museum.
The repair work, which is highly specialized, involves metal fabrication and welding. Fortunately, Steven Butler of Morton Locomotive and Machine is relatively close by and can handle the types of repairs that are needed on the train. A certified welding company based in Seattle will be coming down next week to work on the locomotive.
“Basically 103 years had caught up to it,” said Deutsher.
The annual inspection was done inside the boiler and firebox. Since the locomotive is a pressure vessel it has to kept up to standards set by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).
“We found a crack that needed attention which lead to another repair which lead to an examination that showed that the sheets of metal inside of the firebox was too thin in a number of locations,” Deutsher said.
There were also some repairs done in the 1940s that were no longer up to the standards of the FRA.
So far, a couple metal sheets have been installed in the back of the firebox. Butler is currently working on two more sheets of metal that have to be bent into the correct shape for the side of the firebox. Then holes must be drilled for the staybolts which will eventually be welded into place.
“It takes a lot of time and there are not too many people who can do it (the repairs),” said Deuscher.
The train this year, pulled by a diesel locomotive, have taken 8,000 passengers on the trip along the Chehalis Valley, according to a press release from Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum.
The Polar Express train rides and other holiday themed rides will begin on Nov. 22 and continue through the holiday season.
Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum continues to seek volunteers and donations to help reduce the amount of time Locomotive No. 15 is out of commission.