Altoona Mirror PRR 1361 Article

Good evening, before I go any further with this I would like to say one thing, you steam, guys don't shoot the messenger !!!!!!!!!

Yesterday I picked up the Altoona Mirror Sunday Edition and there on the front page the headlines read,

"Banked Fires, Believers Keep Hopes Alive Of K4 Under Steam"

The writer of the column was Mr. William Kibler.

Mr Kibler has written several articles about the K4 over the years for the paper.

The article was about the current state of the locomotive along with a volunteer group that is working going thru creates of parts and pieces and checking off what needs to be repaired and what is already finished.

A gentlemen by the name of Mike Reindi of Altoona is the head of this group.

Norfolk Southern has a small part of helping Mr Reindi and his group.

Another group is involved but their name was not disclosed just referenced several times thru the article. 

The largest sticking point appears to be the boiler and the decision to repair what they have or build a replacement boiler so the engine could be steamed up and operate at 205 psi of steam pressure.

The articles leans toward the new boiler but at this time this has not been determined.

I tried to copy the article and attache it to this Email but had no luck.

You can go on the papers web site and see the article.

Back on Page A8 there is more about the locomotive and a time line since this engine was retired up 2015.

At least there is a small flicker at the end of the dark tunnel for this locomotive.

Mark Strittmatter

TCA#14-69917

Indiana, PA 

Original Post

I understand quite a few bucks have already been sunk in to the project with not much to show for it.  What bothers me is that there has never been a full accounting of money spent and parts repaired. Several years ago they were talking about thin spots in the boiler and not repairable. Said a new boiler wasn't feasible but since then several engines have received new boilers.  So what gives Altoona ??   Are you going to keep shaming Pennsylvania ??

I tried my link, but see that others may need to subscribe.

One key line from Mike Reindl the pipefitter Mark mentioned above is:

Still at some point, the project will need an infusion of money, certified specialists working by contract and a professional project manager.

Tom

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OGR Webmaster posted:
MarkStrittmatter posted:

...At least there is a small flicker at the end of the dark tunnel for this locomotive.

A very small flicker.

Sadly, this project has been a textbook example of how not to manage a steam locomotive restoration.

Yes, its a government project. Until this locomotive is under the private sector, the restoration will be a long and lengthy ordeal.

Most all the equipment at the Altoona Railroad Museum are in a very sad state. The good news is its has been saved from being scrapped.

The building has been well restored. and the addition of the "metal barn" has been an improvement. I believe some of the K4 parts are on display inside a glass case in the museum.

I hope that there will be a "phase 2" that will start restoring the passenger cars and outdoor equipment including the K4.  But that money, and where it comes from, has yet to be seen.

TCA Number 16-71884

MNCW posted:
...Still at some point, the project will need an infusion of money, certified specialists working by contract and a professional project manager...

They have already had that - TWICE!  With absolutely nothing to show for it.

Given the track record of this so-called "project" there would have to be a total house-cleaning of former managers and administrators before anyone in their right mind would donate money to this locomotive restoration.

Rich Melvin

As I've said before with this project and another on-going East Coast steam restoration project - 

 

Bring it home, put it back together, make it look pretty and be done with it. No need to make it run, build new boilers,etc. Just make it look good and be done. 

I agree with Rich. There is something rotten in Altoona-a definite stench.  Money has been  thrown around and they couldn't even put the thing together as a display piece. And there are no hard questions asked, no desire for an inquiry or investigation. The State  AG investigate-oh wait !  she is going on trial this  week. 

Without going political or partisan political, the Commonwealth of PA is in debt for millions of public debt and unlikely to fund any restoration any time soon.

Other than a private corporate funding or very rich benefactor, the sins of the past are exactly that. 

The only step I would love to see is an unbiased third party with heavy steam locomotive rebuilding (Strasburg RR or others) give a detailed estimate for operating restoration to an equally disinterested third party so that no "collusion" on the actual needs and costs could be made. 

That part would be interesting but like any estimate it costs money and the results of it can have financial gain for other parties.   Thus keeping it "honest" would be a priority.

Rob M. ARHS # 3846 PRRT&HS # 8141 EPTC "Life Is Like A Mountain Railway, With An Engineer That's Brave..."

A big part of the problem is that for unknown reasons(I can only guess)  people in positions of power and influence don't want the facts, the truth, full transparency and let the true story get out. Nine years to finish that so-called roundhouse stall !!  I have a very old, hand made tin cup that a tin ware collector was drooling over, there is an embossed PRR logo on the side, I would like it to go somewhere to be appreciated. Not Altoona.

Kelly Anderson, a regular poster on this site, was probably the person who put an end to 1361's restoration when he reported on the actual condition of the boiler. I hope he can report on what went wrong, if he is free to do so.  As I recall from writings on the problem when it first surfaced, the PRR had allowed little or no material in the boiler sheets for wastage. With the current FRA requirement, and with the technology available today, actual sheet thickness are measured and used to calculate the maximum pressure.  On 1361 this left the maximum boiler pressure below what was needed for the locomotive adequately preform with a main line train. The UT readings on the boiler either were not done until well into the restoration, or the significance of the readings were not understood.   

David Johnston posted:

Kelly Anderson, a regular poster on this site, was probably the person who put an end to 1361's restoration when he reported on the actual condition of the boiler. I hope he can report on what went wrong, if he is free to do so.  As I recall from writings on the problem when it first surfaced, the PRR had allowed little or no material in the boiler sheets for wastage. With the current FRA requirement, and with the technology available today, actual sheet thickness are measured and used to calculate the maximum pressure.  On 1361 this left the maximum boiler pressure below what was needed for the locomotive adequately preform with a main line train. The UT readings on the boiler either were not done until well into the restoration, or the significance of the readings were not understood.   

Not exactly. Remember that the PRR K4 design/build was prior to 1920, and thus the design factor of "4" was not used/required way back then (can't remember for sure, but might have been '3' or '3.5' safety factor). Since there is no way for the current boiler to comply with current FRA Form 4 boiler regulations, there are generally speaking only three choices for 1361 to be made operational & compliant:

1) Reduce the maximum working boiler pressure to fall within the safety factor of "4" as the boiler/firebox is presently designed/constructed.

2) Repair/replace the complete firebox/roof sheet with acceptable thickness steel and PROPER staybolt spacing for a design safety factor of "4" for a maximum working boiler pressure of 205.

3) Have a complete new boiler manufactured to comply with current FRA regulations.

 

Of course there is always the most logical "4th choice", which is to cosmetically "restore" 1361, and display it IN DOORS!

Yes, its a government project. Until this locomotive is under the private sector, the restoration will be a long and lengthy ordeal.

Really?  What government?  My understanding is that this project is and has been under the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum.

According to Wikipedia, in 2007 the museum's board fired the management (under Scott Cessna as Executive Director) and appointed the Salone Marketing Group to run the museum.

Incompetence and mismanagement can be found in private sector operations.  What has happened with 1361 is one example. 

 

"Really?  What government?  My understanding is that this project is and has been under the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum."

Funds are generated through the Historical preservation society so who owns it?

Yes Salone Management group has been appointed to manage it... they do not own it...

"Museums they are reliant on funding from a municipal, county or state, or federal governmental agency"

TCA Number 16-71884

Rule292 posted:

Without going political or partisan political, the Commonwealth of PA is in debt for millions of public debt and unlikely to fund any restoration any time soon.

There is nothing "political or partisan" about this. The state of PA is not involved in this at all.

The two failed restoration attempts were privately funded. However, the people involved were more concerned about preserving the "historical fabric" of the locomotive than complying with the FRA boiler regs in place today. That led to hand-wringing over the construction of a new firebox because that would "...destroy the historical fabric..." of the locomotive. New steel, you see. We can't do that!

Install a modern air brake system? Oh the horror! We can't do that, either! It will "...destroy the historical...

You get the picture.

If the Fort Wayne RR Historical Society had taken the same approach with the restoration of the 765, it would still be sitting under the pigeons in Lawton Park in downtown Fort Wayne having never turned a wheel.

Rich Melvin

jim pastorius posted:

Who is the Salone Marketing Group ??

If you Google "Salone Management Group", you'll come up with an article that shows "Salone Holdings, LLC" filed for chapter 11, back on May 15, 2008. The article stated "However the Rail Museum will not be affected." Certainly sounds like a well run operation!

Yes, thanks. I Googled them and came up with nothing. A year after they fire the director they bring some outfit in that lasts a year.  Then a guy took over and tried marketing the East Broad Top and the Altoona museum, I think, for 5 years. It flopped too.  Obviously the museum doesn't have the people or resources to run the place. Keep the Curve and mothball the rest.  But the "Management Group" has a bad smell about it.  The minutes of board meetings would be interesting-maybe.  Sounds like a closed door deal.

All I know is a small group of guys are trying to restore whatever they can to try get it to run again. They are donating their time to preserve something that should be appreciated and passed down to future generations. Instead of showing them support all I hear is mismanagement and doom from a bunch of old fuddy  dudies.  I can tell you this, if people cannot associate with or have memories of these engines, future generations will care less about them and this hobby. My hope is that these guys don't get discouraged and keep moving forward. God Bless them!

RLHarner posted:

...all I hear is mismanagement and doom from a bunch of old fuddy  dudies...

Ah, I see. When people say things you don't agree with, you resort to name calling. That's a great debating technique.

The 1361 fiasco is well known in the steam fraternity. It has been a shining example of a steam locomotive restoration hopelessly mismanaged.

But what do I know...I'm just an old fuddy-duddy (which is the correct spelling.)

Rich Melvin

Hey Rich your right everyone knows the fiasco! You totally made my point! Instead of being supportive for people taking interest you and others are negative about it. 

As for the spelling I didn't want you to remove the post for name calling! However if the shoe fits!

I'm not being negative. I'm being realistic. "People taking interest..." will not get this engine restored. MONEY is what will get it done.

All the good intentions in the world will not restore this engine. It will take a solid business plan along with at least $500,000 to get this job done. I don't see any plan in place to raise those funds. Without a commitment of money, it's all just useless jaw-flappin'.

Fuddy-duddy out.

Rich Melvin

A couple of other "dead in the water" projects at the moment.  Western Maryland Scenic's attempt at a rebuild of C&O 1309 and The Boston and Maine, 3713, Steamtown.   Never enough money. 

Western Maryland Scenic's project, compounded by a right-of-way subsidence problem near Frostburg, MD.

I don't know the full history of the situation as I moved to the area after the project started.  However; I did hear that they got a grant to cover the funds for their first attempt.  Is this correct?  If that is the case, people have every right to question the mismanagement of the project.  

I would love to see this locomotive restored.  Who cares if it's not 100% historically accurate!

In regards to the museum, I recently purchased a year pass to Horseshoe Curve and the museum.    I love HC.  It's a great place to watch trains.  It was worth every penny.    Unfortunately, the attractions outside of the museum seem to be in disarray.  I visited two weeks ago with my son.  The grass looked like it hadn't been cut in 2 months.   There were weeds everywhere.   A lot of the freight and locomotives were in bad shape.   It seems like they purchased a bunch of old locos and cars and just sat them there.    Maybe they should have focused on just a few cars and restored them before bringing in new cars?    I went into the roundhouse and there was stuff (parts, tools, junk, etc.) laying around everywhere.    The inside of the actual museum was really nice and in great shape.

"A lot of the freight and locomotives were in bad shape.   It seems like they purchased a bunch of old locos and cars and just sat them there.    Maybe they should have focused on just a few cars and restored them before bringing in new cars?    I went into the roundhouse and there was stuff (parts, tools, junk, etc.) laying around everywhere.    The inside of the actual museum was really nice and in great shape."

I agree. Even the caboose that sat at the entrance was not even cleaned or vacuumed. One of the Mom's wanted to get a picture of her and her son in the cupola, until she saw how dirty it was.

 

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I believe the K4 money was used to restore the Museum itself...

 

 

 

TCA Number 16-71884

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"There is nothing "political or partisan" about this. The state of PA is not involved in this at all."

Huh? Then how does the city host concerts there? Maybe not the state, however I believe the Municipality has direction on how the funds are spent...

Sure the donations were given to restore the K4, but who said the money was not diverted to the facilities at Horseshoe Curve or the Museum itself?

 

TCA Number 16-71884

Hot Water posted:
J Daddy posted:

BTW, you can purchase one O gauge GGD passenger observation car in the gift shop at the Museum and at the curve for 350.00.

I asked and was the told the proceeds go to a general fund to keep the Museum open. 

Wonder how many have been sold?

LOL- none when I was there! Had to blow the dust off it when I picked it up.

TCA Number 16-71884

Disclaimer: we're life members at ARMM and we live too far away to volunteer.

When the new museum opened, we wondered how they were going to maintain it. Grants to open a museum aren't easy, but they're easier than getting maintenance money. The building is beautiful and about four times as big as the museum actually needed. The gift shop alone is as big as a lot of storefrontsIt was obvious even to us that using the building was going to cost a bundle.

As for the collection, Rich is right about the "historical fabric" people and the lack of understanding about boiler rules and regulations. They're not bad people. They truly don't understand machinery that was meant to be renewed as needed, rather than a fancy chair whose original upholstery is the item's value. They also think that all she needs is put back together so they can steam her up and run around the yard. The idea of undoing some of the ill-advised repairs from the long debacle horrifies them, and they don't see why she should have to have all those Form 4 calculations and so on.  

They have a bunch of nice well-meaning volunteers who have "old fuddy-duddies" in the way-- you know, people who want to make sure the locomotive is safe to be fired up at all. They don't know the safety regulations or they assume they'll get an automatic pass on them. They don't have any good cost estimates; they tend to look blankly and say "But we already have all those parts." Yes, and some are worn out, and the huge boiler patch was mutilated before it could be inspected, so odds are the whole boiler course would need replaced, if not the whole thing. I have always thought a new boiler with the old one used as a display would be the best idea from an insurance standpoint.

As far as where to run 1361 besides the yards, they don't know. The Everett Railroad would be the reasonable choice, but it's not the Curve and nothing else will do. Meanwhile, there are all sorts of political reasons for this, that and the other (as there are in any town,) and knowing how to navigate those will be crucial to the museum's survival as well as any restoration of 1361.

jim pastorius posted:

A big part of the problem is that for unknown reasons(I can only guess)  people in positions of power and influence don't want the facts, the truth, full transparency and let the true story get out. Nine years to finish that so-called roundhouse stall !!  I have a very old, hand made tin cup that a tin ware collector was drooling over, there is an embossed PRR logo on the side, I would like it to go somewhere to be appreciated. Not Altoona.

After seeing what some museum curators have done with donated items your concern is well founded. I've even read horror stories where lent items have disappeared.

A well run museum of any kind is a rarity. Usually money is a problem be it government owned or private.  Most museum directors see it as a paycheck and a business. The paying public is a necessary nuisance.  The sad part of all this  controversy is that everyone(on the forum)   wants the 1361 restored and running. This has dragged on for way too many years and the  rail fans are tired of excuses  and a lack of accountability on work done and money spent.  Be realistic-the museum is a joke.  The vignettes set up using mannequins etc are cute once and the artifacts on display are nice but how many times can you look at them ??  I took friends there, we paid full price and couldn't even get in to the yard to look at the junk cars and engines. They were building the "roundhouse".  They were so proud of the first stall  framework being erected !!  Pathetic.  My humble opinion is that this place will blunder on, the 1361 will gradually fade away UNLESS  the Thoroughbred RR comes roaring to the rescue with at least some leadership and moral support.  WE can only hope and pray. There must be something in the water out there because we have the East Broad Top up the road rotting away, too.  Some heritage.

"My humble opinion is that this place will blunder on, the 1361 will gradually fade away UNLESS  the Thoroughbred RR comes roaring to the rescue with at least some leadership and moral support.  WE can only hope and pray. There must be something in the water out there because we have the East Broad Top up the road rotting away, too.  Some heritage."

Well put. Note that this was not a family stop and there was no attraction for my kids or wife, to want to go there. The only reason I was able to see it was a "Man-cation to York"

My hope is that maybe someday the saved equipment may fall in the hands of the Strasburg Railroad or somewhere similar, and then they will resurrect it

TCA Number 16-71884

Good afternoon, I think we all have our own opinions good or bad about the decisions that were made in Altoona and the people involved surrounding the K4.

There is no doubt money is going to be a major issue along experience,leadership and accountability.

I am looking at this latest step as possibly a new beginning for rebuilding this engine. 

As I said in my earlier post maybe the third time is the charm.

Only time will tell how this project will pan out.

Thanks !!!!!!!!!!

Mark Strittmatter

TCA#14-69917

Indiana, PA 

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