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Steam & Excursion > SP 4294? How about SP 1903?


Date: 02/08/19 14:24
SP 4294? How about SP 1903?
Author: hogheaded

I haven't felt compelled to post anything for awhile, but Dave Maffei's posting of yesterday got me fired up. His thread was a “what if”: would SP 4294 be restored instead of UP 4014 had SP gobbled up UP, rather than the other way around? What a grand coupling of thoughts! It makes me wish that I could jump into those parallel universes postulated by string theorists to see if SP has done any better in them.

Nevertheless, being a parsimonious retiree on a fixed income, I'm constitutionally incapable of dreaming such big dreams. Had SP hung around and subsequently not managed to bankrupt itself, I would have happily settled for something way more modest: SP 1903.

This 137 year-old little teapot of a loco, which currently sits rather forlorn and ignored in a corner of the Sacramento Shops, is an ideal locomotive to bring back to life, I would offer. It would not be a budget buster (gad, what would 4294 cost to restore?), and moreover, it would be the perfect loco for the museum to run out of Old Town, more in keeping with the park's 19th Century theme, and the loco’s original back-n-forth suburban lifestyle. Being compact and bi-directional, it could be easily be transported to run practically anywhere. Heck, even birthday or retirement party appearances would not be out of the question. All you would need is a couple of portable track panels in the front yard, very deep pockets for the rental fee and balloons for the kids.

Alas, a few years back, Kyle Wyatt told me that the CSRM had no plans to restore her anytime soon. I understand. Indeed, 4294 ultimately may have a better chance than 1903, given that such endeavors tend to be heavily dependent upon what I call "nostalgia and awe" based contributions. Many of us are old enough to ruminate nostalgic about watching those glorious cab forwards, and for those of us of more recent vintage, 4294 is one of those stop-and-be-amazed bits of human invention. Old 1903’s effect is more “smile-and-move-on”. Stop-and-awe pays the bills.

I could offer a level-headed argument about why 1903 is the better candidate; about how she was the progeny of CP's professor of steam locomotive design, A. J. Stevens; about how she powered SP's meat-and-potato local passenger trains at a time when they constituted the heart of SP's business; or even more fundamentally, about how few locomotives of any era would be a better candidate for a return to an active, versatile life pulling passengers as god (and Mr. Stevens) intended. Realistically, though, in these sorts of matters, the heart tends to prevail over logic. I suspect that few of us who have seen 1903 face-to-face were swept off of our feet in love at first glance. For me, anyway, love followed logic.

Looking at the 4294, I can see why my dream may never be fulfilled. Take heart, Dave. Given everything, your dream may be more realistic than mine. But if we are only talking dreams here, this doesn’t really matter, does it?

Ed Gibson
-----------
Note: Martin Hansen hosted a nice thread about 1903's history six months ago.
-----------
Photos:
1) The loco as A. J. Stevens intended, in Oakland suburban service shortly after 1900; pretty stylish! Thankfully, photographer R.H. McFarland thought her worthy of his attention.
2) "I can't get no respect!" Whomever recorded this shot at WP's Oakland roundhouse in 1940 thought so little of 1903 that part of her was framed out of the shot.  Admittedly, Nevada Central's #6 and that ancient flat car (still with the original builder's paint job, it appears) were darn alluring stuff, but wasn't 1903 worthy of standing back a step or two to fully include her? (photographer unknown)
3) Grubby, but still graceful in her own way, here we see her circa 1940 at SP's Oakland shops, still sporting her 1912  retirement day livery.








Date: 02/08/19 14:28
Re: SP 4294? How about SP 1903?
Author: hogheaded

More photos:

4) All seven of 1900's found new careers after being stricken from SP's revenue roster. Four went to other roads and three were converted to 0-6-2T's for service as shop switchers at Sparks (1900 / MW577), Ogden (1901 / MW571) and Brooklyn (1906 / MW566). M/W 571 out-lasted the rest in active service, being put out to pasture in 1947 after serving 31 years as a shop goat. I estimate that this Charles Felstead collection photo was recorded sometime in the early/mid 1930's. There is a lot to take in here: that dapper capped stack; the plated or painted sand dome cover; what appears to be gold leaf, or imitation, lettering; the standard red door and window frames; and possibly, just possibly, a passenger-style blue boiler (the print that I made from the neg is more suggestive of this than the copy seen here). I've heard that the blue boilers disappeared from mainline power in 1933, but shop switchers were always special.
5) Yikes! R&LHS's California chapter, a long-time owner, got a little carried away with creative decoration at one point. Oakland WP roundhouse, 1949. (photographer unknown).
6) How I found her a couple of years back nestled away in her Sacramento Shops birthplace (thanks, Walter!), after surviving decades of outdoor storage: At least she is safe now. That conning tower of a cab and ridiculously tall steam dome endear her to me even more.








Date: 02/08/19 14:53
Re: SP 4294? How about SP 1903?
Author: SPMW5771

My grandfather was a switchman on 571 in Ogden. I believe the nickname for the engine was "Johnny Walker". SP chronicled the locomotive in the early 40's in the SP Bulletin along with an article in the Ogden Standard Examiner. The photos I have of 571 shows the headlight with a cowling cover to minimize being spotted by Japanese war planes during WWII. I will have to post them soon.



Date: 02/08/19 15:16
Re: SP 4294? How about SP 1903?
Author: hogheaded

SPMW5771 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> My grandfather was a switchman on 571 in Ogden. I
> believe the nickname for the engine was "Johnny
> Walker". SP chronicled the locomotive in the early
> 40's in the SP Bulletin along with an article in
> the Ogden Standard Examiner. The photos I have of
> 571 shows the headlight with a cowling cover to
> minimize being spotted by Japanese war planes
> during WWII. I will have to post them soon.

I would love to see the photos. Would you be able to post the articles, as well?

- Ed



Date: 02/08/19 15:24
Re: SP 4294? How about SP 1903?
Author: zephyrus

Neat neat engines to be sure.

I would posit that, considering the age of the 1903, that a replica may be a better way to go if you want something that steams.  Would the boiler even be restorable without losing a majority of its historic material?

Still, I agree.  Would be awesome to see this little kettle pulling some passenger cars.

Z



Date: 02/08/19 15:44
Re: SP 4294? How about SP 1903?
Author: wingomann

When I joined the PLA in 1988 there was some research being done to see if we should restore the 233 (SP 1903) to operation.  The big thing that killed the plan was that it had a lap seam boiler.  To realistically restore it would have required a new boiler.  That was something that the PLA at the time could not consider with our limited finances.  Considering it is one of only two pre-1900 CP Sacramento built locomotives left in existance (the other is the V&T #18 at the NSRM) it seemed a shame to leave it out in the weather rusting away.  The PLA worked out an agreement with the CSRM to trade it to the CSRM for some suburban coaches and some other stuff.  the deal put it back home where it was built and out of the weather.  It doesn't look very pretty now but could be restored for display without a terrible amount of money being put into it.  I wish they would do it.



Date: 02/08/19 16:27
Re: SP 4294? How about SP 1903?
Author: dmaffei

Glad I got ya thinking EO, I have a slide of 1903 in San Francisco displayed during the 1976 fourth of July Railroad display on the waterfront. I may have posted it here a while ago.

Your idea is much more practical, but the thought of seeing big steam run is mind bending for me. 4014 will do, but one can dream about 4294.

Keep dreaming. They do come true, look at 4014...
Never thought I'd see the day something like her would run.

"GO BIG TRAIN" slogan comes to mind from the UP caboose days.

Dave

Posted from Android



Date: 02/08/19 16:42
Re: SP 4294? How about SP 1903?
Author: TCnR

Has any one re-thought the idea of building a new steam locomotive from drawings rather than rebuilding an existing locomotive? This was an idea floated a few years ago, not sure where that went.

A cab forward would be an interesting project since it would double the number on captivity. All it takes is money and lots of it.



Date: 02/08/19 17:33
Re: SP 4294? How about SP 1903?
Author: CPR_4000

TCnR Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Has any one re-thought the idea of building a new
> steam locomotive from drawings rather than
> rebuilding an existing locomotive?

This group is building a PRR 4-4-4-4 Duplex bit by bit: https://prrt1steamlocomotivetrust.org/



Date: 02/08/19 19:08
Re: SP 4294? How about SP 1903?
Author: hogheaded

wingomann Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> When I joined the PLA in 1988 there was some
> research being done to see if we should restore
> the 233 (SP 1903) to operation.  The big thing
> that killed the plan was that it had a lap seam
> boiler.  To realistically restore it would have
> required a new boiler.

I thoroughly explored the lap seam boiler thing with folks on a TO thread awhile back, and yeah, those old lap seam boilers could be a time bomb. They are a solid-enough design, except that they require periodic inspection from inside the boiler, which in turn requires removal of some boiler tubes to gain visual access - something that was not always adhered to, hence BOOM! Given its age and exposure to the elements for so many years, it is doubtful that it would pass inspection no matter what types of seams it has. But this fantasy is predicated upon SP turning the tables on UP, so... (-:

As to the 1903 being one of two Sac built steamers still around, this apparently is the case, but there's a third that sorta qualifies, the San Francisco & Alameda's J. G. Kellogg, a 4-4-0 (Kyle Wyatt thinks that it may originally have been a 4-4-4T) assembled by the Stevens brothers at Alameda Point (the first Transcontinental Railroad terminal) in 1866. It received a new boiler of distinctive Stevens design at Sac in 1873, I think it was. At the turn of the century, it fell off of a ferry near Anderson, CA, and it still is there hiding under the gravel, as far as anyone knows. Highway contractors supposedly encountered it while constructing a bridge in the early 1970's, but a few years ago, an effort to locate it failed.

Now there's a dream! Locate the Kellogg and place it on display.

- EO



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/08/19 19:09 by hogheaded.



Date: 02/08/19 20:36
Re: SP 4294? How about SP 1903?
Author: drumwrencher

Ok, my two cents:

Ed, let's grab Cris and go on up to the Sacramento Locomotive Works (a name it'll always be to me) and tell Al we're gonna start on it. I can meet you at the Martinez depot. (anybody got rich uncles?)

Zephyrus, a gruff old Bayshore boilermaker once told me "why consider an old, worn out boiler "historic"? It's probably just got one course", he said, "or maybe even one side or throat sheet "original" anyway - just make a damm new one and get steaming - ya wanna see the locomotive live, right?"
(That's him talking to me, not me talking to you)

Wingoman, I heard the same story, but the fella who told me said the boiler was too thin from years of use anyway to be restored, lap seam or otherwise.

Ok, half-kidding aside, Ed, the 1903 always had a special meaning to me. Dad used to take us kids to the park by the Oakland Auditorium after church on Sunday, and let us crawl around her. (I think it might have been numbered 233 there, don't remember).

On the other hand, when we went to Sac now and then, I'm sure for dad to pay his respects to the 4294 out front of the depot, he wouldn't let me even climb the ladder to the cab... not sure how that factors into this, but there it is...

It's good to me, to see the old girl at home, where AJ built her. Maybe someday she can be re-stuffed and mounted, preferably under a roof where kids can climb on her again...

Here's the old teakettle a trip or two before you and I wandered the boiler shop. (and you're welcome, Ed!)

Walter




hogheaded Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> wingomann Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > When I joined the PLA in 1988 there was some
> > research being done to see if we should restore
> > the 233 (SP 1903) to operation.  The big thing
> > that killed the plan was that it had a lap seam
> > boiler.  To realistically restore it would
> have
> > required a new boiler.
>
> I thoroughly explored the lap seam boiler thing
> with folks on a TO thread awhile back, and yeah,
> those old lap seam boilers could be a time bomb.
> They are a solid-enough design, except that they
> require periodic inspection from inside the
> boiler, which in turn requires removal of some
> boiler tubes to gain visual access - something
> that was not always adhered to, hence BOOM! Given
> its age and exposure to the elements for so many
> years, it is doubtful that it would pass
> inspection no matter what types of seams it has.
> But this fantasy is predicated upon SP turning the
> tables on UP, so... (-:
>
> As to the 1903 being one of two Sac built steamers
> still around, this apparently is the case, but
> there's a third that sorta qualifies, the San
> Francisco & Alameda's J. G. Kellogg, a 4-4-0 (Kyle
> Wyatt thinks that it may originally have been a
> 4-4-4T) assembled by the Stevens brothers at
> Alameda Point (the first Transcontinental Railroad
> terminal) in 1866. It received a new boiler of
> distinctive Stevens design at Sac in 1873, I think
> it was. At the turn of the century, it fell off of
> a ferry near Anderson, CA, and it still is there
> hiding under the gravel, as far as anyone knows.
> Highway contractors supposedly encountered it
> while constructing a bridge in the early 1970's,
> but a few years ago, an effort to locate it
> failed.
>
> Now there's a dream! Locate the Kellogg and place
> it on display.
>
> - EO



Edited 6 time(s). Last edit at 02/08/19 20:55 by drumwrencher.






Date: 02/09/19 06:01
Re: SP 4294? How about SP 1903?
Author: LoggerHogger

Here is my write-up on #1903 and how long she live on in service.

https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?10,4611882,4611882#msg-4611882

Martin



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/09/19 06:03 by LoggerHogger.




Date: 02/09/19 08:10
Re: SP 4294? How about SP 1903?
Author: hogheaded

drumwrencher Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Ok, my two cents:
>
> Ed, let's grab Cris and go on up to the Sacramento
> Locomotive Works (a name it'll always be to me)
> and tell Al we're gonna start on it. I can meet
> you at the Martinez depot. (anybody got rich
> uncles?)

I'm up for it. I wonder how far we could get before somebody realized that we were freelancers.

Funding is a problem. I do have a distant cousin who owns a quarter million acres of West Texas oil land, but she never returns my calls. Hmm...

EO



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