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Steam & Excursion > ACL 1504

Date: 09/26/13 19:26
ACL 1504
Author: Arved

For those that don't know, ACL 1504 is a USRA Pacific (class P-5-A) on display in Jacksonville, Florida's Prime Osborne convention center. She's designated as an ASME Historical Landmark:


Unfortunately, she's also #1 on the National Railway Historical Society's Top Eight Endangered U.S. Railroad Landmarks:


So how bad is she?

Earlier this month, she was surveyed to determine the required work for preservation, and the possibilities for restoration. At a minimum, repainting and getting a roof over her head to give her better protection, but open to the possibility of restoring her. Overall, the locomotive is in excellent mechanical condition, and is perhaps the most restorable engine in the United States. The bad news is the tender is in absolutely horrid condition. The cistern (water tank) has many rust holes. The tender trucks are a bolted design that would never meet FRA standards, and even if they were, the last axle has been welded to the rail with a gusset, rendering it scrap. The wheelset can be replaced. The trucks would need to be a new design if it ever operated again. The draft gear is OK, and if the frame is in decent shape, MAYBE the tender can be rebuilt. Other wise, for a cosmetic restoration as a "park engine," the tender can be patched.

The NRHS is interested in getting her restored, and the local NRHS chapter is working on grant proposal for $10,000 from TRAINS magazine. We'd like to get her repainted this winter, with the rest of the grant going to other restorative work.

This is all very tentative right now, but the TRAINS grant is sure to get things kick-started. We know there are many other worthy projects they (we?) will be competing with.

If there's further interest, I'd be happy to upload a copy of the report her surveyor provided our local NRHS chapter this evening.


Arved Grass
Fleming Island, FL
Arved Grass

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/26/13 20:06 by Arved.

Date: 09/27/13 09:49
Re: ACL 1504
Author: CR3

I probably saw more of this type of steam engine than any other having grown up in the shadow of the ACL Norfolk District between Portsmouth, Va. and Rocky Mount, N.C. Would love to see it run again.


Date: 09/27/13 10:28
Re: ACL 1504
Author: Arved

I'll post the report to my blog later today. The report is lengthy.

I mispoke in the above reply. The survey was done July 13th. Shame I was out of town, or I'd have volunteered to participate. The report leaves me with a lot of questions.

However, one of our chapter's early thoughts were to erect a roof over her to protect her from the elements. This idea is pretty much dashed in the report:

"Long term planning for the future should also begin now. These plans should include taking necessary steps that would continue to prepare the locomotive for possible restoration to operations if the opportunity would present itself. This would include not doing damage to the locomotive or building obstacles in the way of any future restoration."

I consider building a roof over her as both an obstacle in the way of restoration, and an eyesore. The view-block of any roof structure I've ever seen (outside of a full and complete enginehouse) has left me disappointed at the minimum. Considering how good condition the locomotive is in (the tender is another story), she's weathered the weather quite well. The inspector noted that the boiler jacket is providing ample protection to the locomotive.

A bigger concern, however, is if there's a sufficiently large and talented volunteer labor pool. She needs to be repainted this fall. It should prove interesting to see who comes out to help repaint her.

As far as financial or logistics support from CSX, we have no hope there. CSX has made it clear that it's a forward looking company. Their heritage means nothing. Anyone thinking CSX would help rebuild or let her run once she's rebuilt is fooling themselves. Still, with the A-line south of Jacksonville eventually being turned over for local commuter service (hence the big push to upgrade Baldwin yard, even if commuter rail operation of the A-line is years away), I see a remote possibility in 1504 operating south from Jacksonville on the A-line, between Jacksonville and perhaps as far south as Palatka, in a similar manner to how SP P-8 Pacifics 2467 and 2472 have run on Caltrain's SF Penninsula commute corridor. Could history repeat itself here in Jacksonville, Florida?

Arved Grass
Fleming Island, FL
Arved Grass

Date: 09/27/13 16:03
Re: ACL 1504
Author: Arved

Arved Wrote:
> I'll post the report to my blog later today. The
> report is lengthy.

As promised:


Thanks for looking.

Arved Grass
Fleming Island, FL
Arved Grass

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