Illinois Railway Museum test fires its Shay

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Illinois Railway Museum Shay No. 5 is under steam today for the first time in 19 years.
IRM Steam Team Facebook page
UNION — For the second time in less than two weeks, Illinois Railway Museum volunteers have pulled off a major restoration coup. On Tuesday, they fired up J. Neills Lumber Co. three-truck Shay No. 5 for the first time in 19 years.

The locomotive has been under restoration since 2002 and was pulled outside for a test fire this morning. No additional details were available. It was believed that if testing was successful today the engine might make a surprise appearance for Independence Day.

The 1929 Lima product was built for J. Neills in Libby, Mont., as one of the last commercially produced Shays. The superheated oil burner later moved to Klickatat, Wash., and came to the Midwest in the 1960s. It powered the first train on the museum’s mainline in 1969.

Late last month IRM volunteers outshopped a rebuilt Rock Island GP7U in the late 1970s bankruptcy paint scheme. That locomotive, No. 4506, is set to debut for the public Saturday.

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