Contract let for Boston & Maine 3713 firebox at Steamtown

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Original and replica cabs for Boston & Maine 3713 meet at Steamtown on Aug. 30, 2018.
Steamtown NPS
SCRANTON, Pa. — After more than two decades of false starts and delays, the restoration of Boston & Maine 4-6-2 No. 3713 at Steamtown National Historic Site has picked up speed and this week reached two major milestones.

On Wednesday, Steamtown awarded a $148,600 contract to the Strasburg Rail Road to build a brand new firebox for the big Lima-built Pacific. On Thursday, the locomotive’s cab, which was recently restored by a contractor in the Scranton area, is expected to return to the park and will be on display this weekend during the annual Railfest celebration.

Robert John Davis, a volunteer with Project 3713, the non-profit group raising money to restore the locomotive, said getting the firebox contracted is a major step forward for the restoration that has been slowly progressing since the 1990s. “It’s a big deal,” he says. “We’re on a roll now.”

Park Service officials say the locomotive needs about $1.5 million to run; half of that money will come from the federal government and the other half will be raised by Project 3713. Davis says in the last two years, the group has raised about $350,000. The money for the firebox, which is expected to be completed by August 2019, is coming from the National Park Service.

Project Manager Bruce Mowbray tells Trains News Wire that a lot of work still needs to be done, but now that Baldwin Locomotive Works No. 26 is running again, his team can redouble its efforts on the B&M locomotive. Work is also needed on the running gear, the locomotive and tender frames, the stoker system, lead and trailing trucks, and more. Steamtown is also looking at installing Positive Train Control on the locomotive.

Mowbray says when the locomotive will run again depends entirely on funding and manpower. However, everyone is optimistic that the locomotive will run in the coming years.

“It’s exciting,” he says. “When it rolls out of the shops, It will be a locomotive that all Americans will be proud of.”

No. 3713 was one of five Pacifics delivered to the B&M in 1934 for passenger service. In 1937, the B&M held a contest for school children to name 20 passenger locomotives, including No. 3713. The railroad received more than 10,000 suggestions. J. Schumann Moore of Eastern High School in Lynn, Mass. suggested “The Constitution” and the name was applied to No. 3713 at a ceremony at Boston’s North Station on Dec. 11, 1937.

The locomotive was retired in 1956 and purchased by F. Nelson Blount, a millionaire businessman who collected the steam locomotives that form the core of the Steamtown collection. No. 3713 was put on display at the Museum of Science in Boston for a number of years before being moved to Scranton with the rest of the Steamtown collection in the 1980s. In the mid-1990s, the locomotive was selected from the park’s collection for restoration.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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