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Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Posted: Sun Sep 14, 2014 9:58 pm
by Dick_Morris
The local newspaper, the Wasilla Frontiersman, had a nice article today featuring the volunteers who are working on the restoration. ... ecda7.html

Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Posted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 6:11 pm
by Dick_Morris
The restoration of Engine 557 has reached another milestone. On Friday, September 26, we received our first inspection by the FRA. The inspection was completed with no exceptions taken for the boiler and firebox.

The report included the following comment, "The restoration of the ARR 557 to date is very impressive, being restored with quality and pride." In separate correspondence, the inspector stated, "You have a great team of volunteers that have solid technical and professional expertise which was apparent during our inspection."

Kudos to Chief Mechanical Officer Jeff Debroeck, Robert Franzen of Steam Services of America, and over 25 volunteers who are responsible for bringing us to this point in the restoration.

Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Posted: Thu Oct 02, 2014 12:03 pm
by Loco112
Way to go!

Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Posted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 12:02 am
by Dick_Morris
I can report some excellent news and a productive summer.

The news is that the Atwood Foundation, a local foundation established for the benefit of the people of Anchorage, Alaska, has awarded $50,000 to support the restoration. All $50,000 will be matched by and will nearly exhaust a $350,000 challenge grant which was awarded in mid-2012 by Alaska's Rasmuson Foundation.

The Engine 557 frame, boiler shell, and cylinder assembly has been slid back into the engine house for the winter, just beating the first snow flurries of the year. In addition to what has previously been reported, the cylinder block, most of the frame, the tender frame and trucks, and boiler interior have all been subjected to several hundred hours of scraping, needle scaling, sand blasting, and painting. Paint was high temperature primer, epoxy primer, or Apexior 1, as appropriate.

The very generous contribution from the Atwood Foundation took us close to meeting the original cost estimated for the restoration. Unfortunately, the condition of the original firebox and need for it to be condemned and totally replaced set us back a number of months and upwards of $400,000. Our fund raising team is pursuing a number of sources of additional funds. Contributions are gratefully accepted!

Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Posted: Fri Oct 17, 2014 4:13 am
by Dick_Morris
We continue to be successful on the public relations front. The Alaska Dispatch News, the State's most widely distributed newspaper, sent a photographer out a few days ago and posted a nice slide show on their web page at ... motive-557. Several were run in yesterday's paper, taking a full 25% of the front page.

If you are following the status reports, a new one is posted at ... index.html.

Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Posted: Sun Nov 02, 2014 10:18 pm
by Dick_Morris
For anyone who wants to tip a cold one in her honor (or better yet, send her a birthday present), ARR #557 was delivered on November 2, 1944. That makes today a good date to celebrate her 70th birthday.

I've also been able to validate that she was the last new steam locomotive purchased by the Alaska Railroad for the sum of $59638.63, including $1,443 for transportation from Eddystone to Prince Rupert and $122.98 messenger cost. For some reason the War Department didn't receive payment until November 2, 1945. Although the ARR had 12 S160s on the roster, only the first seven, 551 through 557, were purchased from the war department and supplied directly to the ARR by Baldwin. The last five were obtained as surplus from the War Department, with at least one having spent time in Europe before returning to the U.S. and going to the ARR.

Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Posted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 6:00 am
by Dick_Morris
The Engine 557 Restoration Company has reached a milestone in its fiscal standing - it has finally been designated as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Prior to this all grant requests and funds had to be processed through a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation with whom we had an operating agreement.

The new status is the result of many hours of work by volunteers and pro bono assistance by a legal firm to prepare the application, followed by a six-month wait for the IRS to notify us that the request was successful. We can now be more agile and aggressive in raising funds and redirect some former fundraising expenses directly to the restoration.

To break in the new 501(c)(3) we have arranged for a limited amount of special challenge funding, available for only a short time. For every dollar contributed, four dollars will go towards the restoration. Details can be found at the new, easier to remember URL -

On another note, check out the new door! To appreciate it you need to know the significance. Just to its left is the porta-potty. To the right is an overhead door that is open during the summer. All the way on the other side of the building, about 300 feet away, it the other man-door. It's sure going to be nice this winter to just step out the door to take care of business instead of taking a several hundred foot hike through the snow drifts - sometimes below zero with a wicked wind.

Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Posted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 8:17 am
by kvom
The webpage you reference still shows donations going through the ACF. Is there a direct address or paypal account?

Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Posted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 12:57 pm
by Dick_Morris
We are in the process of updating all the donor information and ACF still shows up in some places. The "See the announcement" link takes you to with information on the matching opportunity.

Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Posted: Tue Dec 02, 2014 12:08 am
by Dick_Morris
Is there a direct address or paypal account?
As of this morning tax deductible donations are accepted through PayPal. Information on is at or directly, to ... 6GSZ8GNPNU.

Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Posted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 2:13 am
by Dick_Morris
The "kit" of replacement boiler parts for Alaska Railroad #557 continues to grow. In addition to the new door and tube sheets that were delivered a couple of months ago, last week brought a full replacement set of 150 tubes and 30 flues. This week we received formed and drilled (actually cut out with a CNC plasma torch) crown and side sheets. Superheater elements have been cleaned, had the sealing surfaces polished, and are in the process of being inspected and hydro tested. 1,000 new stays have been ordered for manufacture.

The fundraising challenge started at the end of November was an overwhelming success. With donations and matches, including a match from the Rasmuson Foundation, almost $42,000 more is available for the restoration.

We continue to be grateful to the 40 plus in-kind donors, such as Alaska West Express which donated the shipping of the firebox components and our "awe load" of "pipe." Without their support, the dream of returning 557 to operation would slip much further into the future.

Over 15,000 volunteer hours have been invested over the last 30 months. The cadre of volunteers continues to grow and the typical size of the four-days-per-week volunteer crew consistently runs between five to 12 or more.

More information and photos are in December's status update, posted at

Re: Steam railroading to return to Alaska!

Posted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 2:07 pm
by ChipsAhoy
Engine 557 restore is still movin-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: 557 work call for March 24, 26, 27 and 29 and Flat Stanley
Date: Sun, 29 Mar 2015 09:23:23 -0800
From: Patrick Durand <>
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

To: 557 Mechanical Department and Friends

557 work call for March 24, 26, 27 and 29

There was a lot of activity in the 557 engine house this past week. The tender was turned on its side to gain better access for cleaning.

Several of our regular volunteers are traveling this week. Ron and Wife will be riding the Coast Daylight from LA to Seattle, James is in Florida, Dean is visiting the Strausberg. If you have some time to spare we can use you on the end of a die grinder or cutting torch.

Starting time will continue to be 8:00 a.m. until we run out of steam each day. Did I say that?

There will be some tool maintenance, making a new floor for the cabinet sand blaster from expanded metal.

If the weather remains warm we will be doing some sand blasting in the tent on Wed and Thursday and painting on Saturday.

No lack of jobs that need doing.
g along. These photos taken during a mid march 2015 visit, of course with flat Stanley.