The Restoration of Moore-Keppel Climax #6

GP30 Jan 24, 2014

  1. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Member

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    Climax locomotive shop number 1551 was built by the Climax Locomotive Works in Corry, Pennsylvania, in 1919 and delivered new to the Moore-Keppel Company lumber operation in Ellamore (Randolph County) West Virginia. It operated there until the lumber mill closed in 1946. It was then used as standby power on the coal hauling Middle Fork Railroad before being retired in 1960. It was the one of the last Climax locomotives in U.S. commercial operation.

    At retirement it was poorly maintained, badly worn and severely rusting. It was destined for a proposed railroad museum to be built in Ellamore, but that project never got off the ground and the State purchased the locomotive in 1970. It was trucked to Cass for restoration with a projected operational date of May, 1973.

    Restoration work had just started when a massive fire destroyed the Cass shop complex in July, 1972. Although there was some damage to the locomotive, it survived the shop fire in relatively good shape. However, the loss of the shop caused an indefinite postponement of its restoration and work was never restarted. The locomotive spent the next 30 years sitting on the Cass “dead line” awaiting its fate and slowly deteriorating in the weather.

    In 1998 the Mountain State Railroad and Logging Historical Association proposed that the organization initiate a multi-year project to rebuild the locomotive and restore it to operational service in Cass.The Association solicited donations, completed a 40x100 foot building (which was turned over to the State), and commenced restoration work in October, 2002.

    This is a complete mechanical restoration. The locomotive was completely disassembled and each component analyzed to determine what needed to be done to restore it to operational condition. Some parts just need to be cleaned and painted. Others require welding, machining, or other significant repairs. Some parts were beyond repair and are being used as patterns to fabricate replacements. Many foundry patterns have made to allow accurate reproduction of unusable parts.

    In all cases the goal is to maintain the historical integrity of the locomotive while restoring it to better than new condition so it will give years of reliable service without the need for major non-routine maintenance. There is a core group of about a dozen volunteers with experience in machining and mechanical arts working on the project. In addition, volunteers of varying skill levels are helping with various aspects of the project.

    There is no firm date for completion of the project. Work is progressing well, but since most volunteers live far from Cass there are a limited number of work sessions each year. An unofficial goal is that the Climax may see some service around 2014, but that is far from a firm date.

    Site: http://www.msrlha.org/climax/index.html

    Early work (2001): http://www.msrlha.org/p-early-rest-1/index.html
    Early Work (2002-03): http://www.msrlha.org/p-early-rest-2/index.html
    Recent Work: http://www.msrlha.org/p-recent-rest-1/index.html
    Recent Work: http://www.msrlha.org/p-recent-rest-2/index.html
    Recent Work: http://www.msrlha.org/p-recent-rest-3/index.html
    Latest work: http://www.msrlha.org/climax/2014-01-18/index.html
    Work from 2007 to present well documented on the main site in the albums listed by date: http://www.msrlha.org/climax/index.html

    I'm not associated with the MSRLHA, but few know about this now 16 year project. Not likely to get under steam this year but it is coming soon (2015-16?)
     
  2. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I had no idea of the history behind this locomotive. I have seen it in My Pentrex Cass video, and wondered what would be it's fate. Nice to know it is not scrap!
     
  3. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Member

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    It was retired in poor poor shape and sat across from shops for years and really deteriorated badly over that span of 30 years.

    Just a few miles up the road in Durbin, the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley have been reassembling another locomotive to compiment their Moore-Keppel #3 Climax. Don't recall off hand if it was Heisler or climax. I want to say it was another old Heisler a little bigger than #3.

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  4. fitz

    fitz Staff Member

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    Thanks for that report. I have developed an interest in logging locomotives after several visits to the Mt. Rainier Scenic and participating in some of Martin Hansen's photo specials here in the northwest. MRSR has an operational Climax and the valve and running gear looks like a mechanical nightmare, but it sure is fun to see it operate. Please keep us informed about further progress with the Climax at Cass. Here is MRSR No. 10.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 24, 2014
  5. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Member

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    I've become a fan of MRSR after running across YouTube videos by accident a few years back. I now own the "Rock Trains" DVD in which #10 was featured. Crews disliked the locomotive due to balance issues which is supposedly a common climax problem. Hopefully modern design fabrication and machine work will prevent any old issues on M-K 6.

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  6. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Is this the operation which had the grade crossing accident a while back? Or is the one operating a remaining segment of track which the rest had washed out in a flood years ago? If the latter, I have wondered about their efforts to repair those tracks, and extend operations?
     
  7. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Member

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    Same operation different portion of track (not currently connected).

    The train that was hit in October will resume in the spring.

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  8. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Member

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    There is a plan to get the isolated section in which climax #3 runs as The Durbin Rocket connected in the future

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  9. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I'd be interested in following that project, if it happens.
     
  10. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Member

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    Only article I could find:

    From wboy.com

    The Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad is trying to expand into the most unique tourist rail excursion network in the world.

    The railroad's president and conductor presented their plan to the Barbour County Chamber of Commerce Thursday afternoon.

    The $25 million project would include tearing up tracks from Bergoo to Snowshoe and relaying them Glady to Durbin, to complete a 90 mile circle connecting three railroads and offering economic opportunity for six counties.

    "Barbour County sees a benefit with the folks out of Belington primarily," said Lars Byrne of Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad. "We've been there now for 14 years and we currently don't have a train running regularly out of Belington. This would put a train back in Belington and just tie it into the whole network."

    "It brings in new opportunity for things like kayaking, biking," said John Smith of Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad. "There will be new bike trails, hiking opportunities and overnight camping and overnight lodging that's the key the overnights."

    Smith said the plan will create more than 60 miles of rail trails.

    He said he's looking at several ways to fund the project and hopes to finish it by the end of 2015.

    http://mountainrailwv.com/route-map
     
  11. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Member

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    Climax Update from the Mountain State Railroad and Logging Historical Association:

    "I am sending out this message to let everyone know of the present status and the future of the involvement of MSR&LHA in the restoration of Climax build #1551. The #1551 has been under restoration for the past 14 years in a building erected for that specific propose on the grounds of the Cass Scenic Railroad. In the 2015 season for the first time since its beginning in 1963, the operation of the railroad was put in private hands. The WV DNR tendered over the railroad to the State Rail Authority. Although ownership remains with WV DNR the right to contract out the railroad lies with the SRA. They choose to contract the Cass Railroad out to the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad which already had an existing agreement to operate the West Virginia Central Railroad. This lease includes both the Climax #1551 as well as the building that it is presently housed within. As the Climax project approaches completion a few large projects remain. Key among these is the final fitting of the boiler to the smokebox saddle. This task needs completed before other key items such as the ash pan, line shaft, exhaust piping and many other items which will lash the boiler to the frame can be undertaken. On the first of December I (Rob Hilburn) made a formal request via e-mail to the DGVRR requesting both use of the 50 foot overhead crane in the front shop as well as a DGVRR employee to run it. Projected time to complete this project was 1 to 3 days. After considering my request the DGVRR has declined and instead made the decision to take on completion of the Climax from this point forward. Under these circumstances, a decision has been made by the Climax Build Team to remove all MSR&LHA equipment from the premises and mothball it as a whole at a secure remote location. I realize that many who are presently reading this communication have given large amounts of time and, in many instances, monetary funds to help with the continuing restoration process. I want to let everyone know that MSR&LHA is working with WV DNR to make sure that those remaining funds find their way to the Climax project via a restricted fund that can be disbursed to DGVRR officials upon request for the specific needs of finishing the Climax project. While physical involvement of MSR&LHA has come to a close in regards to the Climax, many other worthy projects remain at Cass. MSR&LHA involvement with the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park will continue into the future. While many members take special interest in the railroad itself, many others find the town and the surrounding area to be of primary interest as well. Many possible projects are on the board for consideration as we move into 2016. I encourage our membership to look at these options in the future. As I close out this communication I want to take the time to thank MSR&LHA for creating the opportunity for me to indulge both my love of trains (especially steam) as well as a passion for working with steel. It has been a blast. A final and heartfelt thanks to Grady Smith for his guidance, camaraderie and great times. I could not have asked for better.
    Thanks for your time,"
    Robert Hilburn
    Former Climax #1551 Build Team Leader
    MSR&LHA Board of Directors


    There is a consensus feeling within the railfan community that this locomotive will not be completed at all. The new operator of Cass Scenic Railroad has been adamant about getting Climax #6 completed, so time will tell.
     
  12. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    "There is a consensus feeling within the railfan community that this locomotive will not be completed at all. The new operator of Cass Scenic Railroad has been adamant about getting Climax #6 completed, so time will tell."

    These changes in operator and even ownership have me worried. Recently, the Mount Rainier Scenic was sold. A lot of folks out there are worried, as the focus changes now to a money making commercial operation.
     

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