Lake Superior Railroad Museum won't run steam this season

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Duluth & Northeastern 2-8-0 No. 28 pulls a photo charter in Sept. 2017 near Palmers, Minn. The locomotive will not run in 2018.
Steve Glischinski
DULUTH, Minn. — With time running out in its operating season, the Lake Superior Railroad Museum and its North Shore Scenic Railroad have decided not to operate Duluth & Northeastern 2-8-0 No. 28 this year. The locomotive, which was returned to service in 2017, needed repairs to its driver tires and new bearings before operating this year. While museum crews, mainly volunteers, worked to make the repairs, they ran out of time for it to run this season, according to museum Executive Director Ken Buehler.

“Our steam crew of volunteers, with the help of excellent outside contractors, worked very hard but ran out of time,” Buehler said.

One lengthy project was to realign and shim the tires on the No. 3 set of drive wheels, the pair that takes the brunt of the force from the pistons to drive the engine. Over time, the tires were slightly off the wheel and the wheel was fractionally out-of-round. That required dropping the wheel set, and heating the tires until they were red hot and slipped off the wheel. Then the two tires had to be professionally re-machined and heated again to expand and be shimmed back in place before cooling to lock on the wheel.

In addition to the tire work, repairs were delayed this summer by the inability of several third party suppliers to deliver necessary parts for the locomotive, including bearings and bearing boxes. Suppliers had told the museum last spring the parts would be delayed, but their estimate of how long the delay would be turned out to be inaccurate, with delivery taking twice as long as the original estimate. After the parts were finally delivered, the steam crew moved ahead with repairs, but not in time for steam operations to begin as originally scheduled in August. Steam operations were pushed back from late September into October.

With repairs still not finished, on Oct. 4 the museum’s board of directors decided rather than operating later this month as cold weather settles in, they would suspend steam operations this year, and complete work on No. 28 over the winter. This will also allow other projects already scheduled in the museum’s shop to proceed.

American Locomotive Co.’s Pittsburgh Works built the No. 28 in 1906 for the Duluth, Missabe & Northern as No. 332. It was operated by successor Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range until 1955, when it was sold to short line Duluth & Northeastern based in Cloquet, which renumbered it 28. The locomotive remained in service on D&NE until 1964. It was donated to the museum in 1974.

The 27-mile North Shore Scenic Railroad between Duluth and Two Harbors is a former Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range line No. 28 once operated over in regular service.

Buehler says the museum plans to run the engine on a more extensive schedule next summer. The museum will announce the 2019 schedule of trains, including steam, on the North Shore Scenic Railroad in December.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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