It’s been a busy year for one of the largest steam locomotive restorations in the country. American Steam Railroad’s volunteers and contractors have been making progress on Reading 2100, with volunteers contributing over 1,000 hours to the project. The 1945 built northern is inching closer to boiling water once again, with several milestones accomplished within the past 12 months.

The main focus for this year has been the firebox. Two new interior side sheets were fabricated with 554 staybolt holes indexed and drilled. The two big sheets were installed and welded into place by professional contractors, who also replaced a blistered section of the middle syphon. Perhaps the most unique thing to be done was the riveting of 112 bolts to the mud ring after the side sheets had been put in place.

The caps for the flexible staybolts have had the threads chased, and sandblasted. The holes between the side sheets have been measured. While the material for the bolts has been ordered, they still need to be cut, and heads formed before they are put in the firebox.

Another area we focused on was bringing the engine back to burning coal. The 5,000-gallon fuel oil tank in the tender was drained of the remaining oil, and the tank was lifted out of the tender with the great help of our friends at the Midwest Railway Preservation Society. We found that the area of the coal bunker to be in good shape, and removed the angle support brackets along with the wood shims that held it in place.

While continuing our effort to bring the engine back to coal firing, we worked on the stoker mechanism and appliances. The motor was successfully tested on air, with the stoker housing cleaned, inspected, and painted. The stoker drive shaft bearings were honed out, with the auger receiving repairs to worn fins that were built back up with welds. The corroded bolts that held the articulating points of the auger were drilled out to be soon replaced by new bolts.

Many other items were tackled by ASR crews including:
-The power reverser was cleaned, tested, and put back on the locomotive.
-Side rods were inspected by contractors for wear, along with the main driver axles for alignment.
-The bell was installed back on the engine, where it rang out for our Ross Rowland dinner event.
-The reflective vinyl lettering, including the “Ferroequus” on the side of the tender, was removed. Other cosmetic jobs included painting the front of the locomotive for an appearance on The Travel Channel.
-Removal of the pilot, so the pony truck can be rolled out, and Timken can inspect the roller bearings.
-Ripping out of old insulation in the tool car with rust prevention paint applied to the interior.

More work is planned for next year on the 2100 and other American Steam Railroad projects. The progress that has been made couldn’t be made without the support of donors and dedicated volunteers. If you’re looking to make a year-end tax-deductible donation, please click here.