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Date: 08/11/19 13:39
WMSR audit released
Author: warren1977

"Audit of scenic railroad reveals plenty of problems"
www.wcbcradio.com



Date: 08/11/19 14:35
Re: WMSR audit released
Author: nathansixchime




Date: 08/11/19 14:55
Re: WMSR audit released
Author: ClubCar

We all know that over the years there have been many problems since the 1309 was chosen to replace the 734.  I have to wonder who and why the 1309 was chosen rather than some other locomotive that may have been in much better shape to start with as it has turned out to be a much more expensive proposition, not counting the fact that a thief stole the valuable parts and sold them for scrap.  Steam engines draw tourists but they are expensive to restore and then to maintain.  If and when the 1309 is in service, there is no doubt that thousands of rail enthusiasts will storm into the area, many will ride the train, while many others will be there to photograph the engine.  The hope is that all of these folks will not only spend money on the railroad trips but that they will spend money with hotel rooms, restaurants, and various other attractions in the area, therefore it will benefit the entire area of Allegheny County.  Going forward, it will take money to maintain the railroad line itself, besides the costs related to the maintenance of the steam locomotive and the passenger cars.  I personally am hoping that some genuine business people are put in charge of the entire operation, that they make sound decisions with the operation and that they can proceed with proper fund raises as needed.  Just my opinion.
John in White Marsh, Maryland



Date: 08/11/19 15:49
Re: WMSR audit released
Author: andersonb109

I love response No. 3 to the story. Not sure how the government helping to restore an historic locomotive is "socialism."  It's not like they are providing everyone a monthly "living wage" or "free" government controlled health care for everyone.  Oh wait. That might actually be coming.  Here, clearly the management needs to change. But I think most of us here knew that over a year ago when the first public events were not only advertised....but monies collected. For something that had a very low probability of happening. Further, refunds were beyond slow in coming creating all sorts of ill will towards the railroad.



Date: 08/11/19 16:42
Re: WMSR audit released
Author: utwazoo

ClubCar Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> We all know that over the years there have been
> many problems since the 1309 was chosen to replace
> the 734.  I have to wonder who and why the 1309
> was chosen rather than some other locomotive that
> may have been in much better shape to start with
> as it has turned out to be a much more expensive
> proposition, not counting the fact that a thief
> stole the valuable parts and sold them for
> scrap.  Steam engines draw tourists but they are
> expensive to restore and then to maintain.  If
> and when the 1309 is in service, there is no doubt
> that thousands of rail enthusiasts will storm into
> the area, many will ride the train, while many
> others will be there to photograph the engine. 
> The hope is that all of these folks will not only
> spend money on the railroad trips but that they
> will spend money with hotel rooms, restaurants,
> and various other attractions in the area,
> therefore it will benefit the entire area of
> Allegheny County.  Going forward, it will take
> money to maintain the railroad line itself,
> besides the costs related to the maintenance of
> the steam locomotive and the passenger cars.  I
> personally am hoping that some genuine business
> people are put in charge of the entire operation,
> that they make sound decisions with the operation
> and that they can proceed with proper fund raises
> as needed.  Just my opinion.
> John in White Marsh, Maryland
 
Thousands of railfans?   In your dreams.   There's probably a few hundred railfans passionate about seeing the 1309,  or other steam, hauling the trains. And the hard core are already complaining about the bike trail along the right of way.   The rest of the normal passenger load are out for a day riding a train and that's about it.  Whether they stay in Cumberland as a result mostly depends on how far they've come to ride said train.



Date: 08/11/19 17:21
Re: WMSR audit released
Author: callum_out

The average rider will get excited if you tell them that the 1309 is special, you think all those people
at trackside have a clue about a Big Boy beyond what they've been told?

Out



Date: 08/11/19 17:37
Re: WMSR audit released
Author: Youngstown_Steel

utwazoo Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Thousands of railfans?   In your dreams.  
> There's probably a few hundred railfans passionate
> about seeing the 1309,  or other steam, hauling
> the trains. And the hard core are already
> complaining about the bike trail along the right
> of way.   The rest of the normal passenger load
> are out for a day riding a train and that's about
> it.  Whether they stay in Cumberland as a result
> mostly depends on how far they've come to ride
> said train.

Oh I don't know. Just in my circle of friends I can count at least 20 people who would go to see 1309 run, and that is just those of us in Youngstown.  There are more railfans out there than we may realize, and over time they make their way out to see the operating steam locomotives. 



Date: 08/11/19 18:03
Re: WMSR audit released
Author: NKP779

No mention on photos on T.O. yet but I understand that one of the completed driver engines has been rolled under the 1309 boiler.  In that case, it seems like the railroad and the county and/or state should "stay the course".   No point in throwing the baby out with the bath water now.



Date: 08/11/19 18:06
Re: WMSR audit released
Author: kurt765

Amen NKP779
I for one absolutely will make the trek from here in Los Angeles all the way to see 1309 when she comes back to life.



Date: 08/11/19 18:34
Re: WMSR audit released
Author: wcamp1472

“one of the completed driver engines has been
> rolled under the 1309 boiler. “”

WHAT???

Pleae explain...unless I don’t understand articulated loco construction.

W.



Date: 08/11/19 19:16
Re: WMSR audit released
Author: MiketheMikado

He's right you know.



Date: 08/11/19 19:46
Re: WMSR audit released
Author: nycstl

That means the front engine is under the boiler.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/11/19 19:48 by nycstl.



Date: 08/11/19 19:53
Re: WMSR audit released
Author: MiketheMikado

How did you know this story? I believe you.



Date: 08/12/19 04:57
Re: WMSR audit released
Author: nycstl

nycstl Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Does that means the front engine is under the boiler?
Sorry this was supposed to be a question not an answer.

Posted from Android



Date: 08/12/19 06:13
Re: WMSR audit released
Author: NKP779

An eyewitness report. That was on Friday or Saturday.

Posted from Android



Date: 08/12/19 22:01
Re: WMSR audit released
Author: Mgoldman

Is it poosible, once restored... and likely better than new by the time
all the money is spent - is it possible that No. 1309 could be cheaper
to operate than No. 734 PLUS diesel assists?  One locomotive and
crew verse two, less wear on the track (weight better spread out and
a pair of 3 vs a pair of 4 on the curves - and, less exersion utilizing a
more powerful locomotive (though coal and water may factore in).

As for a draw - biggest? REGULARILY scheduled operating locomotive
in the United States - perhaps anywhere?  I think we'll see plenty of
people coming that otherwise would not.

As for restoration costs - well, had it been done "better" it would've
been plenty cheaper - but, wasn't the story that the locomotive was
"like new" or at least "hardly used" and relative "new" when retired?

/Mitch



Date: 08/13/19 04:19
Re: WMSR audit released
Author: Keystone1

All true Mitch.    Looks like I should save my travel bucks for next year.   Seeing one new articulate a year is good though.



Date: 08/13/19 08:22
Re: WMSR audit released
Author: Bucyrus-Erie

ClubCar Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> We all know that over the years there have been
> many problems since the 1309 was chosen to replace
> the 734.  I have to wonder who and why the 1309
> was chosen rather than some other locomotive that
> may have been in much better shape to start with
> as it has turned out to be a much more expensive
> proposition, ...

> John in White Marsh, Maryland

John ... yesterday, Mike Gresham posted the following in a public message board ...

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

In 2013, when I took over as the General Superintendent, #734 had about 300 operating days (roughly 3 operating years) left on her rebuild.  The WMSR Board of Directors had not yet began planning for #734's rebuild, which was expected to cost approx $1M using in-house labor.  WMSR only had about half of that in cash reserve.  Add to that average per ticket revenue was dropping by about 10% per year (meaning discounts and ticket giveaways were being used to bolster ridership), so annual revenue was falling.  Clearly, #734 while loved by many, was not drawing people like it once did.   By mid-summer of 2013, in conversations I had with Bob Flanigan (Mayor of Frostburg and V.P. of the board), we concluded that WMSR had 3 years left to survive if significant steps were not taken to reverse the downward trend.  

Rebuilding #734 was discussed, but doing a proper rebuild would take the locomotive out of service for multiple years.  IF WMSR was to have steam in continuous service, something would have to be acquired to rebuild before #734 went out of service (remember we had a two year head start on #1309).  #734's boiler was going to need significant work, including patches, staybolts, and sheet work as those items had not been addressed in over 15 years.  Acquiring a second steam locomotive would also allow WMSR to go to full steam operations at some point in the future (WMSR was steam for about 50% of the operating days per year). 

Working with Cas Taylor (former Speaker of the Maryland House and key proponent of the Canal Place/WMSR development), we began looking for funding.  The state of MD was interested in supporting the WMSR, but was NOT interested in funding "the same old show" as it was not drawing the crowds it once did.  So the question for WMSR became, in reality, "Do we want to remain steam or convert to diesel?".  The decision from the board of directors was to remain steam.  Now the choice was rebuild #734 or something else.  

The only real chance to remain steam was to start on something new and try to have it done when #734 went out of service.  The reasoning was two-fold.  First, the State of MD didn't have much interest in funding of "the same old show".  Second, there was not money in reserve to finish #734's rebuild meaning part would be financed ($400 to $700K estimated in borrowed funding).  According to surveys and studies we completed in 2013, approximately 30% of our passengers came because of steam power.  We expected a corresponding loss of ridership if steam were not available.  Debt service would cost about $100K per year, and the ridership drop would result in a revenue loss of approximately $300K per year.  

When we started looking for something new, we considered what was needed.  Greater tractive effort was desired as we were operating helpers about 30% of the time, with their added costs.  Something of regional interest was desired.  A trailing truck was desired, as #734 did NOT like operating in reserve and would frequently derail.  Finally, something of historical interest was desired.  We considered 5 different options, including the WM #202 in Hagerstown.  Ultimately, the #1309 presented itself as the best solution as would have the T.E. to eliminate most helper operations, have historical significance (last commercially built steam locomotive built for a U.S. railroad), be easier on the track (shorter wheel base and relatively low axle loading), and be more thermally efficient than #734 (combustion chamber and secondary expansion although offset by a 15% increase in grate area).  A survey was done on #1309 by the C.M.O. and the findings were presented to the Board of Directors for a vote which was approved.  Mike Brant (President of the WMSR BoD and a board member continuously for the past 20 years) and Bob Flanigan (V.P. of the WMSR BoD) were there for the vote on #1309 and are still in those positions today.  So in many ways, it is many of the same people there today despite their desire to claim "previous administration".  

While the merits and problems of #1309 can always be discussed, the project resulted in more ridership including attracting "Smithsonian Tours"  who called WMSR their best new destination in 2015.  It brought much needed publicity to the railroad, including exposure in Europe.  We started the WMSR Foundation (volunteer department) which reached 300, dues-paying members in 2015.  Before #1309, WMSR's Facebook "friends" was about 500 people.  By the time I left in Jan 2016, it had grown to over 13,000 people in all 50 states and 44 counties and we had international travelers coming to Cumberland, MD to see #1309.  It helped bring Gov Hogan to western Maryland and in doing so, helped WMSR to get a $1.6M grant because he liked the operation and was excited about it.  We had a great team supporting #1309, but #1309 is what was driving so many good things happening at WMSR.  

Trying to leave emotions out of the discussion, but this is what drove the decisions behind #1309.

Mike Gresham
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Jim Lee
Lake Hopatcong, NJ



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/13/19 08:24 by Bucyrus-Erie.



Date: 08/13/19 10:55
Re: WMSR audit released
Author: Tominde

Wow,  Mike Gressham's comments almost warrent a separate thread.   Great explanations.   So what happened that he is out?



Date: 08/13/19 11:48
Re: WMSR audit released
Author: DTWilson

nycstl Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> That means the front engine is under the boiler.

No the front engine is not under the boiler as of 12:45 pm. today 13 August 2019... . The drivers are under the front engine and the crews were in the process of lowering the front engine frame onto it's driver's. But the front engine is still out in front of the locomotive.

There is still one missing driver box that is preventing the locomotive from being completely rewheeled.

Photos to come...

Tim W.



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