Work focuses on test fire preparations for C&O 1309

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Work progresses on C&O 1309 at Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.
Diversified Rail Services
Trailing truck from C&O 1309.
Diversified Rail Services
Welder fabricates new ashpan on C&O 1309.
Diversified Rail Services
RIDGELEY, W.Va. — In a continuing update series of dispatches about the restoration of 2-6-6-2 No. 1309, Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and contractor Diversified Rail Services said Friday they are closing in on a test fire.

“With the FRA hydro completed the momentum is building towards a test fire of her massive boiler,” the two organizations said.

“The checklist of appliances and parts, including boiler fittings and key portions of the stoker/firing equipment, becomes shorter each week. Clean up and replacement of boiler brackets continues.”

Earlier this month crews jacked up the locomotive for removal of the trailing truck. The trailing axle has been sent for tread and journal trueing prior to reinstallation in the truck frame, which needed repairs.

The cab floor, stoker elevator tube, and grate shaker have been installed, and work is underway to construct an all-welded ash pan. The original became a template for the new pan that has been joined to the original hopper bottom casing. Workers are also installing smokebox draft appliances, and grate parts are being cast.

The railroad has not said how it is funding the renewed effort to restore the locomotive, the last steam locomotive built for domestic use in the U.S. by Baldwin in 1949.

After major funding ran out last fall, wheel work continued as a result of donations from Trains readers contacted by direct mail. At the time contractor Gary Bensman of Diversified Rail said a crew of 4-6 could finish the engine in six months if an additional $530,000 was raised. The locomotive had already cost $1.8 million with at least $800,000 from the state of Maryland.

When completed No. 1309, would become one of the largest steam locomotives in regular service in America, and the only Mallet type in operation east of the Mississippi.

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