Latest News

   Flanging at Open House

   Open House Presentation

   Smokebox Ordered

NEXT MAJOR SECTION ORDERED - The PRR T1 Trust is excited to announce we have ordered the next major section of the boiler, the Smokebox. This is a very important part of the combustion/exhaust cycle of a boiler. We will provide updates on construction and attachment to boiler in coming weeks. The smokebox will be made and welded to the boiler by Continetal Fabricators of St. Louis, MO.





   A 5550 Status Update

   Front Tube Sheet Under Construction

Capable of withstanding over 300 PSI of pressure, the front tube sheet is an essential component of the boiler, the beating heart of the new T1. The order has been placed, and the front tube sheet is under construction now at Continental Fabricators in St. Louis, Missouri.


Front Tube Sheet Assembly for 5550 with dry pipe flange and twenty (20) brackets. Material SA-516-70 and SA-675-70 Estimated weight: 3,000 pounds Cost: $33,270


These images serve to illustrate the complexity of the engineering involved in producing the front tube sheet for PRR T1 5550.

   Fire Doors for 5550

Made of ductile iron and cast in Maryland, 5550’s fire doors were cast in a batch that was split beween Norfolk & Western 611, Chesapeake & Ohio 1309 and Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis 576.

Each of the doors is divided into twenty sections for sponsorship purposes. Each section can be sponsored for $100 and donors are more than welcome to sponsor multiple sections.


The fire doors for 5550 appear to be book-end chickens.

   A Small Piece Finds Its Way Home

As the original T1s continued to vanish through the mid-1950s, the late Art Audley, then a young man, found himself exploring #5543 as it awaited its inevitable date with the scrapper’s torch. While photographing the locomotive, he noticed a front marker light hanging loose by its wires and decided it would make a great keepsake.

Following Mr. Audley’s passing, the marker light found its way into the hands of a T1 Trust member and joins the whistle as one of the few original T1 parts left in existence. The marker’s red color is appropriate given its intended use on the PRR which was only when the locomotive was facing in reverse on the rear of a train.



Marker light from PRR T1 #5543 along with previously acquired original PRR T1 whistle.


One of Mr. Audley’s photographs showing the prow of 5543 on the scrap line. The marker light that he removed can be seen just at the edge of the frame with the lens hanging loose.


A PRR technical drawing showing the design of the lamp housing and lens for the marker light.

   Third Boiler Course Complete

The Trust’s supporters came through once again and helped to fund the third section of 5550’s massive boiler, made by Continental Fabricators in Saint Louis, Missouri. With the third course welded in place, the boiler now stretches an impressive 18 feet, 2 inches in length, over 93 inches in diameter and tips the scales at over 25,000 pounds.


The third course welded onto the second clearly shows the third course tapered only on it's bottom half. Photo credit goes to Don Morice. Former VP and fireman of Frisco 1522.


5550’s Boiler; all cylindrical pieces completed.

   Rear Tube Sheet Cut

The tube holes were cut at Gemini Industrial Machine in Dover, Ohio with work donated to the Trust. The holes were cut with a water jet using a pressure of 60,000psi



A water jet cuts precision holes in the rear tube sheet for PRR T1 #5550


The complex array of holes necessary to house the tubes for PRR T1 #5550


Engraved blanks from the tube sheet are available as a donation premium for the 5550 Boiler Club.

   The T1 Trust Makes Another PRRT&HS Visit

In May 2018, the T1 Trust made a visit to Altoona, Pennsylvania in order to attend the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society (PRRT&HS) Annual Meeting. The T1 Trust presented two lectures to the PRRT&HS describing the progress being made on 5550 and the challenges yet to be overcome.

During the convention, 5550’s completed cab was displayed at the nearby Everett Railroad. Special thanks to the Everett Railroad, and Curry Rail for helping make this exciting event possible.


The cab for 5550 seems to dwarf Everett #11


Completed cab for 5550 displayed at the Everett Railroad.

   Boiler for #5550 Taking Shape

The first and second boiler courses for PRR T1 #5550 have been welded together. Please help the T1 Trust raise the $25,000 necessary to complete the third and final cylindrical boiler section. The goal is to have donations pledged by April 15. Photos courtesy Gary Bensman


The First and Second Boiler Courses Joined


The Boiler For PRR T1 #5550 Under Construction at Continental Fabricators, St. Louis, Missouri

   Rear Tube Sheet Under Construction

Members of the T1 Trust travelled to Chattanooga, Tennessee this week to begin work on the rear tube sheet for PRR T1 #5550. Jason Johnson, the T1 Trust’s General Manager and Gary Bensman, one of the Curators of the 5550, were joined by Steve Morgan, Al Philips and Rick Rowlands. The five used the McCabe Flanger, housed at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM), to bend 5/8” boiler plate into the rear tube sheet for PRR T1 #5550. Special thanks goes out to the TVRM for their kind hospitality and for generously allowing the T1 Trust to use the McCabe Flanger.

While most of the flanging was accomplished using the pneumatic McCabe, the top corners of the tube sheet are too tight a radius for the machine. These tight spots required the “heat and beat” method of flanging. As the name implies this involves heating the metal and then applying a 5lb sledge. A custom steel die is responsible for the beautiful shape achieved and a “flatter” prevents the sledge from marking the steel.

The next step for the tube sheet is heat treatment, which relieves stress in the steel. Following stress relief, the tube sheet will go to the water jet cutter where the holes for the boiler tubes and flue tubes will be cut.


Fully Flanged Tube Sheet for PRR T1 #5550


Overhead View Showing Flanging of the Tube Sheet for PRR T1 #5550


Jason Johnson Heating and Beating Corners that are Too Tight for McCabe Flanger

   $5,000 Grant Awarded

The T1 Trust has been awarded a $5000 grant to help cover the expense of brake work necessary to put the long haul tender back in service. This brake work consists of a COTS (Clean Oil Test and Stencil) of the tender’s brake system, rebuild of the brake valves and repacking the brake cylinders. The total estimated cost is $10,000. The T1 Trust wishes to thank the Tom E. Dailey Foundation for helping to make this important work possible.


    First Two Boiler Courses Ordered

The T1 Trust has placed the purchase order for the first and second boiler courses for T1 #5550. The order was placed with Continental Fabricators, Inc. in St. Louis, MO on January 26, 2018. This is a major milestone, as the boiler courses represent the largest parts yet built for #5550. The two sections are over 93” in diameter and nearly 12 feet long. The boiler code steel is 1” thick and weighs over 12,000lbs. All welds will be x-rayed to ensure perfect seams. The sections will include wash out plugs and openings for water delivery.

Continental Fabricators is a strong player in Railway Preservation. In fact, Continental Fabricators is presently working on 3 other steam locomotive boiler projects, and they have been providing boiler repairs and new construction for steam locomotive preservation efforts since the 1980’s.

The PRR T1 Trust boiler engineering team lead by Wolf Fengler, continues engineering the remainder of the boiler and firebox to meet and exceed current ASME standards. He is assisted by T1 Trust Engineering Committee members Gary Bensman, Dave Griner, Scott McGill and Jason Johnson.

Click here to donate and support the 5550 Boiler Construction Fund:


   Stoker Donated for 5550

The T1 Trust has received the needed stoker trough, gearbox, coal crusher, 7x7 motor and reversing valve; all of the parts needed to complete #5550's tender stoker unit. These hard to find parts were donated October 5, 2017 by Warren Lathom and Gary Bensman.


The Stoker Unit for 5550

   Tender For 5550

The T1 Trust has purchased the 200,000-pound PRR long haul tender #6659 from the Western New York Railway Historical Society (WNYRHS) that had been used behind an M1 locomotive. Essentially a T1 tender minus the streamlining, this acquisition negates the need to build a new tender for the T1 locomotive. Design, construction, and fabrication of a new tender was estimated at $3 million out of the project's total $10 million budget.

The tender holds 31 tons of coal and 18,000 gallons of water. The tank is the last of its kind - no other Coast-to-Coast tenders with 16-wheels are known to exist. The tender is in excellent condition with sealed hatches, minor surface rust, and well-preserved trucks, thanks to the tender's low side walls that sheltered the trucks and bearings from weather. Jason Johnson, the T1 Trust's General Manager remarked after having visited the tender for a thorough inspection, "I just can't get over what great shape it's in".

The long haul tender was originally acquired by the WNYRHS to replace the gutted-out short tender for their PRR 2-10-0 I1sa locomotive. As part of the purchase agreement, the T1 Trust has agreed to fully restore the I1's tender tank to its original specifications as part of the WNYRHS's planned cosmetic restoration of the I1 locomotive. The cost of the I1's tender restoration is estimated to be approximately $75,000.

The T1 Trust has also made arrangements to store the tender at the WNYRHS's museum site, the Heritage Discovery Center, in Buffalo, NY for up to 30 years at a cost of $1 per year where it will be displayed alongside the PRR I1. WNYRHS President, Joseph Kocsis, Jr. expressed much enthusiasm for the agreement, "We're grateful to partner with the T1 Trust to make 5550 a reality. They bring a great deal of expertise to the table and we look forward to working with them in the restoration of our I1 tender and seeing the long haul tender return to its intended use".

T1 Trust members will travel to New York to complete a renovation of the brake system and replace the oil in the roller bearings. In addition, the Trust plans to sandblast, prime and paint the tender in the appropriate Brunswick green paint scheme. The overall cost of the tender preservation effort is at least $45,000. About half of the work will be donated, and the T1 Trust is seeking donations to cover the remaining cost.

Please take a moment to help preserve the tender for 5550. To learn more, please visit the T1 Trust’s Fundraising Center and make a tax-deductible contribution today. All donors who direct $500 or more to the 5550 Tender Preservation Fund will have their name engraved on a plaque which will be affixed to the tender.


   Cab Complete

The T1 Trust is pleased to announce the realization of the cab for PRR T1 #5550. Slated to become the fastest thing on thirty-two wheels when finished, PRR T1 #5550 is no mere replica or restoration project, but rather the next locomotive in the PRR T1 duplex class.

In a homecoming of sorts, the cab for PRR T1 #5550 is shown here at Curry Rail Services in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. Pennsy faithful will celebrate the fact that the cab for 5550 was built in the former PRR Samuel Rea Car Shops, now occupied by Curry Rail. Among a growing list of T1 Trust corporate sponsors, Curry Rail is the premier provider of locomotive products, freight car repair and car manufacturing for the railroad industry, additional details can be found by visiting the Curry Rail website at

The new T1 is a team effort, and a special thank you is also owed to defense contractor and T1 Trust Corporate Sponsor JAKTOOL of Cranbury, NJ. JAKTOOL spent hundreds of hours converting archival PRR blueprints into the CAD model used for construction of the cab. This CAD model was then sent to Gemini Industrial Machine in Dover, OH. Gemini, also a long-time sponsor of T1 Trust, used an extremely precise CNC waterjet cutter to produce the parts for the cab. The parts were then shipped to Curry Rail where final assembly culminated in expert welder Eddie Martin fabricating a piece of history.


This photo taken at Curry Rail Services in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania the week of July 10, 2017 shows (L to R) Mark Ritchey, President Curry Rail Services, Zach Hall, T1 Trust Representative, Eddie Martin, Chief Cab Fabricator, Curry Rail Services


The cab for PRR T1 #5550 at Curry Rail Services, Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania

   Prow Complete

The T1 Trust is pleased to announce the completion of 5550's iconic prow. Starting with archival blueprints and sheets of aluminum, the T1 Trust, along with corporate sponsor Gemini Industrial Machine in Dover, Ohio, have achieved success. Many different lines from the locomotive's art deco aerodynamic shroud come together like a crescendo to form the T1's prow. Gemini dedicated hundreds of hours to mastering this complex interlocking of shapes and contours; the result is a breathtaking work of art. From CAD modeling, water jet cutting, and fabrication, to body work and paint, Gemini Industrial Machine exceeded every expectation; and built the prow on extremely favorable terms. The T1 Trust is grateful to be partnered with such a remarkable organization.

Prow Painted front.jpg

Although the prow appears black, and some might call it Brunswick Green, the actual color is Dark Green Locomotive Enamel.

Prow Painted side.jpg

Fresh from the paint booth, the keystone and other accoutrements have been applied.

Prow Bodywork front.jpg

Body work finished, the prow awaits the paint booth.

Prow Silver front.jpg

Metal work finished and ready for body work, the prow is resplendent.

   Matched Set

March 15, 2017 was a defining moment for the T1 Trust, and marks the first time the two halves of the T1 locomotive's number 4 wheel set were united. The T1 Trust withstood blustery conditions and a wind chill of 10 below zero as the second Boxpok driver for 5550 was retrieved from Beaver Valley Alloy Foundry in Monaca, Pennsylvania. As one views the locomotive, the number 4 wheel set is the wheel set closest to the cab. The new driver was cast in the same custom formulated Nickel Steel, and heat treated to match the physical properties of the first driver. Interested donors will find detailed information on the T1 Trust's driver sponsorship program here:


The T1 Trust demonstrates the willingness necessary to bring back America's Premier Steam Locomotive.


Together for the first time; 5550's number 4 wheel set.

   Did Someone Call a Cab?

Again relying on original PRR drawings in combination with modern day technology, the T1 Trust has begun work on the cab for 5550. The images below show pieces of the cab, which like the prow, were cut from aluminum sheets using a CNC machine. If you would like to make a dedicated donation in support of the T1 cab construction please send an email to





ARRIVED at Curry Rail Services (CRS) in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. This image shows all the pieces of the T1's cab on a custom built skid awaiting assembly. Among a growing list of T1 Trust corporate sponsors, CRS is the premier provider of locomotive products to the railroad industry. Pennsy faithful will celebrate the fact that the cab for 5550 is to be built in the former PRR Samuel Rea Car Shops, now occupied by Curry Rail.

   Second Driver Ordered

It's back to Beaver Valley Alloy Foundry in Monaca, Pennsylvania for the second driver. On December 9, 2016 the T1 Trust ordered the next driver to be cast for T1 number 5550. This driver is expected to be cast by March 6, 2017 and represents the second half of the number 4 wheelset. This new driver will be cast in the same custom formulated Nickel Steel by Beaver Valley Alloy and heat treated to match the physical properties of the General Steel Castings 2% Nickel Steel alloy. Interested donors will find information on the T1 Trust's driver sponsorship program here:


   Archives Work Draws to a Close

Less than three years into its existence, and two years ahead of schedule, the T1 Trust has managed to acquire a nearly complete set of original T1 blueprints. Largely obtained from the PRR collection housed in the Pennsylvania State Archives at Harrisburg; each historic document has been digitally scanned, meticulously catalogued, and uploaded to the Trust's file repository for use in building America's Premier Steam Locomotive.

A total of 1638 T1 mechanical drawings are now in the Trust's possession. These include 87 miscellaneous shop tools and PRR specifications that can be applied to the T1, with the remaining 1551 detailing the Locomotive and Tender. The master tracing list included only 1530 drawings, but our search has turned up a number of superseded and revised drawings that reflect design changes implemented after the master list was published. As a result, the total number of locomotive and tender drawings needed has increased to 1798.

Of the 247 drawings not yet in our possession, 91 are "E" size drawings that we have yet to search for. The remaining 150-odd drawings are confirmed to be missing from the archival collection in Harrisburg. We may be able to find some of these in other collections, such as the PRRT&HS archives in Lewistown, but many will require searching microfilm records. Fortunately, most of the missing drawings for the locomotive are relatively minor details, like pipe clamps, fittings, and fasteners, and are small format drawings that would require only a single frame of microfilm.

The tender likewise is mostly complete, however we still require several of the large format drawings for the frame, front and rear sills, and tank streamlining. Each of these may encompass up to 16 frames of microfilm, so significant post processing will be needed to reconstitute the complete drawing. Typically, we spend about two hours processing drawings for every hour spent scanning. Piecing together a single large drawing from microfilm slides can take eight hours apiece. To date, we have invested about 41 days in research and scanning activities in Harrisburg, comprising 237 man-hours of labor, with another 500 hours in processing and uploading files afterwards.

Again, the Trust has done more with less through the efforts of dedicated volunteers, coming in under budget and ahead of schedule. Please take a minute today and sponsor a drawing, help the T1 Trust Bring Back Wicked Cool.


PRR holdings ath the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg.


Box of archival PRR mechanical drawings pulled for examination.


Title block from an original PRR T1 mechanical drawing.

   Prow Construction Well Underway

The "shark-nose" prow is one of the T1's defining features, and the T1 Trust is hard at work bringing back this distinctive attribute for 5550. Referencing original PRR drawings, the T1 Trust has started work on 5550's iconic prow. Seventy-eight individual parts will come together to form the 800-pound prow which is constructed primarily of aircraft-grade 6061 aluminum. The total estimated cost of the prow is just under $20,000 and the expected time frame for completion is 4-6 months.

The readily recognizable prow of the T1 has several unique features. Located in the top of the prow are two oval openings that allow heat to escape to prevent heat build up in the all aluminum structure and sheet metal. If the skin were allowed to get too hot, it would likely warp. There is also a built in internal heat shield to protect the headlight from further heat. This heat shield is completely removable so that cinders could be cleaned out that may have fallen through the top openings during regular operation. The prow itself is located outside of the smokebox, so it would not be subject to hot gases and cinders coming from the firebox.


The prow frame with 5550 Keystone temporarily affixed to confirm mounting bracket locations.


,Prow parts shown in CAD


Prow model assembled in CAD


Cutting prow parts using CNC water jet cutter.

   Doyle McCormack Joins The T1 Trust

The T1 Trust is pleased to announce the addition of Doyle McCormack to its advisory board. Best known for his work restoring and operating the Southern Pacific Daylight #4449, McCormack brings over 40 years of railroad preservation experience to the T1 Trust.



   The T1 Trust Featured in "Popular Mechanics" Magazine

In what amounts to a "first" for any Railroad Preservation effort anywhere, the PRR T1 Trust was featured in the September 2016 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine. The PRR T1 Trust's marketing plan all along has been to appeal to the general public. With this article featuring the PRR T1 Trust in Popular Mechanics, the organization has made a great leap forward in its effort to achieve mass acceptance among rail fans and the wider public at large. Popular Mechanics was particularly fascinated by the Trust's work in bringing back General Steel Castings' Nickel Steel for use in the T1's driver. The September issue of Popular Mechanics revealed details familiar to supporters of the T1 Trust.


   The T1 Trust at the 2016 PRRT&HS Annual Meeting

The T1 Trust was well represented at the 2016 PRRT&HS annual meeting in Camp Hill, PA. The T1's BOXPOK driver was on display and attracted A LOT of positive attention. Members of the T1 Trust gave two lectures to attendees about the 5550 project and staffed an information booth.



   Curators of the 5550

The T1 Trust announces it's Advisory Board, the Curators of the 5550. Providing advice and guidance to the non-profit T1 Trust, the Curators of the 5550 develop strategies to raise funds toward the construction of 5550, assist with marketing, promotional and educational activities associated with 5550 and The Pennsylvania Railroad T1 Steam Locomotive Trust, Inc.

The Curators of the 5550 are:

•Gary Bensman, a veteran steam locomotive rebuilder and preservationist. Bensman has overseen the restoration of more than 60 locomotives and serves on the Trust’s engineering committee.

•Wes Camp is the Trust's chief operations officer. A retired Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Master Mechanic, Camp was vice president and chief mechanical officer with Ross Rowland’s High Iron Co. and chief mechanical officer of the American Freedom Train.

•Dave Griner worked for Hartford Steam Boiler & Inspection Co., and has been involved in projects for the Strasburg Rail Road, Union Pacific, Virginia & Truckee, and the Durango & Silverton. Griner helped draft the current steam locomotive code, and his role at the T1 Trust involves project management, boiler design, and code compliance.

•Martin E. Hansen, general counsel to the T1 Trust has been practicing law for nearly 40 years. During that time he has organized the purchase and sale of over 45 steam locomotives, as well as entire railroads. Hansen also has experience operating and restoring steam locomotives.

•William “Bill” Withuhn, Curator Emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. Withuhn has written multiple articles about the PRR T1 and co-authored the current Federal Inspection and Repair Standards for Steam Locomotives. He aids the T1 Trust with fundraising and marketing.

•Jim Wrinn is the editor of Trains Magazine and the author of several railroad books. Wrinn serves the T1 Trust as a liaison to the professional railroading community and as a key fundraising resource. 

•Wayne York brings his experience as the only still active founding member of the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, the keepers of Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765. York serves the T1 Trust as a strategic planning advisor and assists with the networking required for such a complex and specialized project.

   First Driving Wheel Cast

The T1 Trust made history today when it cast the first Boxpok (box spoke) driver the United States has seen in nearly 70 years. Unlike a typical spoked driver, the Boxpok driver is almost entirely hollow. This design promotes a favorable strength to weight ratio and allows the fine tuning necessary for high speed operation. This is perfect for the PRR 4-4-4-4 T1 design.


First Driving Wheel Cast Video

   Secrets of General Steel Castings Revealed

During the beautiful sunset of steam, many powerful high-speed passenger locomotives were produced. Yet only a select few rode on the magic carpet of their day: the illustrious Boxpok driver. Fashioned using General Steel Castings' Nickel Steel, the last Boxpok driver was produced nearly 70 years ago. Through old-fashioned detective work, The T1 Trust was able to identify the chemical and material properties for General Steel Castings' Nickel Streel. However the annealing process remained a trade secret and a mystery, until now.

Working with Beaver Valley Alloy and a national materials testing laboratory, The T1 Trust has used 21st Century technology to successfully replicate General Steel Castings' Nickel Steel. In bringing back this extinct class of steel, the Trust is one step closer to its ultimate goal, a fully operational T1 locomotive.

Please consider a year end tax-deductible gift to help The T1 Trust keep moving forward.


T1 Trust Promotional Video

   Driver Center Casting Pattern Complete

The T1 Trust is pleased to announce the completion of the casting pattern to be used in the production of the T1's Boxpok drivers.


The T1 Trust's General Manager, Jason Johnson (L) and Marty Novotny (R) from Liberty Pattern stand next to the driver center casting pattern. The drivers are 80", the 72" driver center receives a 4" thick steel tire which of course goes all the way around, adding the additional 8" which results in the final driver diameter of 80".


This image shows the drags (rear surfaces) of all the core boxes for the T1's driver in an assembled position. The products of these drags and their copes (front surfaces) will be sand cores that will maintain the hollow, weight saving area inside the Boxpok driver.

   Let's Get Rolling Kickstarter Success

160 generous T1 Trust supporters pledged $22,577 and made it possible to move forward on the complex wooden casting pattern required to manufacture the massive Boxpok drivers for PRR T1 #5550.


   All New Kickstarter Campaign

Designed to help raise $20,000 needed to create the modern casting pattern for all eight wheels, The T1 Trust launched a new Kickstarter campaign on July 8, 2015. Highlights of the campaign include never before seen rewards ranging from T1 Trust coffee mugs to full sized bronze 5550 keystone number plates cast from the original pattern and even an opportunity to run the T1 locomotive once it's built. For more information click on the image below:

   Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society Anual Meeting

The T1 Trust was invited by the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society to participate in that group's annual meeting held from April 30 to May 3, 2015 in State College, Pennsylvania. The T1 Trust presented two lectures and staffed an information booth at the conference. The headlight for 5550 was revealed at the meeting, and important announcements were made concerning the progress of the 5550 CAD model, corporate sponsorship, and new opportunities for donors who wish to support the project.


The T1 Trust Lecturing to the PRRT&HS


The T1 Trust's Representatives at the PRRT&HS Annual Meeting (L to R) Gary Bensman, Brad Noble, Jason Johnson, Scott McGill, and Wes Camp


Assembly of all parts currently modeled, showing piston rods, crossheads, axle assemblies, side and main rods, and complete wheelsets for front and back engines. Parts correctly located in vehicle position per elevation and arrangement drawings. 46 unique parts modeled, 36 drawings referenced, 592 total parts in assembly.
To see further details on the progress of the 5550 CAD model please visit the Gallery.

   5550 Headlight

Built from original PRR T1 blueprints by Gary Bensman, the headlight to adorn 5550 may now be sponsored in the Trust's Fundraising Center. The name of the headlight sponsor will appear on The T1 Trust website and a handsome donation certificate will be issued. As an enduring expression of gratitude, the Trust will also have the name of the headlight donor engraved onto the headlight casing.


   5550 Has Rails To Run On

The question most asked to the T1 Trust is, "Where will it run when complete?". We are pleased to announce that the Trust has received three letters of invitation to operate on various railroad lines around the country. We have received formal letters from Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, PA, the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso, MI and the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad in Independence, OH. All three organizations have a long track record of handling mainline steam locomotives and can easily support the T1 locomotive operation when complete.


   5550 CAD Model Begins To Take Shape

"From the Rails Up", that is the approach taken by the T1 Trust's dedicated group of CAD modelers. Working from original PRR blueprints and mechanical drawings which have been extracted from the Pennsylvania State Archives, the 3D CAD team is producing a virtual model of 5550. This 3D CAD model will ensure that once produced, all the parts "fit", the model will also facilitate simulation testing and identify any potential areas of concern. Furthermore the CAD model offers the T1 Trust an advantage in negotiating with vendors. Since all the design work is finished, in many cases the CAD "math" can be exported directly to automated devices such as CNC machines. The T1 Trust is acutely aware that cost saving measures such as this are essential in making the 5550 Project a reality. The assembly in the picture contains: Driver axles (main and front), Driver axle bearings and spacers, Frame shoes, Drive wheel centers (main and front), Side rods, Main rods Crossheads, Crosshead shoes, Piston rods (front and back), Piston rod nuts, spacers, and plugs

See full size image of current Drawing

   The T1 Trust In Dennison

The T1 Trust is full-steam ahead for 2015. Starting this month, visitors to the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum in Dennison, Ohio will be able to see the magnificent prototype 80" T1 wheel on display. Located on former PRR mainline, Dennision was a frequent service stop for the T1, and a fitting location for the Trust's stunning exhibit. The Trust owes a debt of gratitude to the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum for giving us such a great location to showcase our effort. In related and equally exciting news, The T1 Trust has solicited it's initial bid to have the first two wheels cast in steel.


   The T1 Trust Granted Unfettered Access To USATC #611

On December 23, 2014, engineering staff from The T1 Trust met with Denny Fisher of Bill Miller Equipment Sales in Eckhart Mines, Maryland. The purpose of this visit was to introduce their personnel to the 5550 project and to conduct a preliminary examination of the former US Army Transportation Corps (USATC) Locomotive #611, currently stored onsite.

611 is a USATC S160 class consolidation (2-8-0). She was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia, PA in 1943, and was originally numbered 2628. This class of locomotives was designed for use by the US Army, to provide a fleet of motive power for transporting military supplies abroad, and restoring railroad service in war torn countries during and after the war. A total of 2,120 S160's were built, and served in Africa, Asia, South America, and throughout Europe.

The 611 is of interest to the T1 trust because of what happened during her service after WWII. She was part of the motive power roster at Fort Eustis, Virginia. From 1946 until 2010, Fort Eustis was the home to the Army's Transportation School, where soldiers were trained in rail, marine, amphibious operations and other modes of transportation. In the early 1950's, 611 was modified to replace her original Walschaerts' valve gear and piston valves with an experimental derivative of the Franklin Type B1 rotary Cam Poppet valve gear. Despite being scavenged for parts to keep other S160's running at Fort Eustis, the valve gear is complete, and 611 is now the only remaining locomotive in the world fitted with any version of Franklin Rotary Cam gear.

Bill Miller Equipment Sales has graciously offered the T1 Trust unrestricted access to the 611, for the purpose of reverse-engineering the valve gear. In the coming months and years, we will be sending members of the engineering committee to Maryland, for the purpose of dismantling and blueprinting all of the surviving valve gear components. Our course of investigation will include:

  1. Determine direction of rotation of driveshafts relative to spiral gearboxes.
  2. Confirm direction of rotation for camshafts.
  3. Dismantle and blueprint one or both spiral gearboxes.
  4. Dismantle and blueprint one or both driveshaft intermediate support assemblies.
  5. Dismantle and blueprint driveshaft joints and determine tube section dimensions.
  6. Remove cambox assembly to examine mounting features and wedge details.
  7. Remove cambox top cover / reverser assemblies to examine inside of cambox, determine current condition and setting of cams.

Dismantle and blueprint cambox assembly to determine component part details and cam profile. Measurements will be taken using a combination of manual inspection tools, as well as 3D scanning equipment if available. We will attempt to determine material alloys used if non-destructive methods can be utilized. Finally, 3D solid models of all existing components will be created in CAD, and serve as the basis for creating a new set of B2 camboxes. We anticipate this effort will take place over the next several years.


In addition to serving our interests, the information we collect may someday be used to help restore the 611 to operational condition. To that end, a full duplicate set of prints and CAD files of the B1 parts will be provided to Bill Miller Equipment Sales for reference. The T1 trust would like to extend their thanks to Bill Miller, Denny Fisher, and all of the staff at Bill Miller Equipment Sales for their support of the 5550 project.


USATC 611 as she now appears at Bill Biller Equipment Sales, with Western Maryland Tender.


Close-up of firemans's side valve gear, showing cylinder and valve heads, cambox, and driveshaft.


Engineer's side drive gearbox and return crank assembly, currently removed from locomotive. This assembly draws power from the main axle to drive the valve gear. One of the side rods is in the foreground. The short shaft with the universal joint to the left of the main housing is the end of the driveshaft assembly. This will be the first item that the T1 Trust will be dismantling to create new blueprints for the Franklin Type B gear.

   Work Has Begun On 5550's Prototype Driver Center Casting Pattern

On Thursday December 4, 2014 work began on the prototype driver center casting pattern for 5550. Made of high density foam, the pattern will serve as a proof, allowing for the further refinement of the driver center CAD model.

To see these being created: Video 1    Video 2





   5550 Launch Painting Released In Support Of The T1 Trust Founders Club

The first official painting of 5550 was completed in August of 2014. A total of 250 prints were then made and these were signed and numbered by the artist. The painting was unveiled to the public on December 1, 2014 and has been featured in railway magazines around the globe.

In order to start the T1 Project rolling, the Trust has established a Founders Club for individuals donating $1,000 (in up to four payments of $250). Join The Founders Club Today and help us to start building 5550.

Members of the Founders Club receive:

  • Reserved seating on the first excursion train pulled by 5550
  • Reasonable access to 5550 at all times
  • An invitation to join one of the committees building 5550
  • First choice of components and drawings to sponsor
  • Quarterly newsletter The T1 Trail Blazer
  • Discounts on 5550 merchandise
  • Limited edition print of the first official painting of 5550 signed and numbered by the artist, Jonathan Clay

Membership in the Founders Club is a unique opportunity to get in at the beginning of the T1 project. Space is limited however, due to the number of prints.

   The T1 Trust Speaks To Washington D.C. NRHS Chapter

On Friday November 21, 2014 The T1 Trust spoke to the Washington D.C. Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. The Trust's presentation was delivered by CMO Scott McGill and described the history of the PRR T1 Class, as well the progress and goals of The T1 Trust. The talk was a big hit with those present and Scott was able to field some excellent questions.


   The T1 Trust in St. Louis

On Wednesday November 5, 2014 The T1 Trust spoke to the St. Louis Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. The presentation covered the history of the PRR T1 Class, as well the progress and goals of The T1 Trust. The Trust's Chairman, Brad Noble was there in person, with CMO, Scott McGill presenting via teleconference. The Trust enjoyed a great response in St. Louis. Thank you to all those in attendance for making this wonderful evening possible.

St Louis NRHS Logo.JPG

   The T1 Trust Machines First Driving Spring Link Pin

The Driving Spring Link Pin is a part with a certain amount of historical drama. The backstory is this: the T1 has been accused of excessive wheelslip. Part of this reputation may come from the fact that in the case of the two prototypes 6110 and 6111 the front and rear engines were tied together by the spring rigging. After it was determined that the front engine tended to lift off the rail in curves with this arrangement, the PRR modified the two prototypes. The suspension for the front and rear engines was separated. The front engine was equalized with the leading truck and the rear engine was equalized with the trailing truck. The original PRR drawing (E431144) bears the result of this modification in that the total number of Driving Spring Link Pins on 6110 and 6111 was reduced with two black lines of pencil from 10 to 8. This modification was carried forward on all 50 production units, and with that you might say the PRR solved the slipping problem.

Andy Pullen, one of the Trust's finest machinists, has produced the first of eight Driving Spring Link Pins for 5550. To make the part, Andy worked from original PRR mechanical drawings extracted by The T1 Trust from the Pennsylvania State Archives. Andy is no stranger to steam locomotives and his more than thirty years of experience as a machinist includes two years spent working for the Norfolk Southern Steam Program. Andy currently serves as a machinist for the US Naval Academy in the Division of Engineering and Weapons. The pins Andy is producing in his elaborate home machine shop are available for Part Sponsorship here. To sponsor the original PRR drawing number E431144 with it's remarkable penciled edits, follow this link.



   Western Maryland Scenic Railroad Steel Wheels Festival

The T1 Trust was invited by the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad to participate in the inaugural Steel Wheels Festival on September 27, 2014 in Cumberland, Maryland. The festival provided a great opportunity to promote the Trust, and for networking with other organizations and individuals. Thank you to everyone who came out to support The T1 Trust.

Scott and Brad WMSR.jpg

   501(c)(3) Status

The T1 Trust is pleased to announce it is now officially a public charity with tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code. Contributions made to The T1 Trust are fully tax-deductiible. This applies to financial pledges, and also to the donation of material and services.

   The T1 Trust in Altoona

On Tuesday June 24, 2014 The T1 Trust spoke at the Railroaders Memorial Museum in Altoona, PA to the Horseshoe Curve Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. Again the Trust enjoyed a warm reception, and a great outpouring of support. The Trust's Marketing Director, David Haslam was there in person, with Trust Chairman, Brad Noble, and CMO, Scott McGill presenting via teleconference.


   Kickstarter Success and Keystone Complete

Saturday May 31, 2014 marked another 'first' for The T1 Trust. The group's initial Kickstarter campaign came to a successful conclusion, raising over two-thousand dollars for the Trust. The campaign centered around the bronze 5550 Keystone Number Plate. The plate was cast in early April and machined at the Strasburg Rail Road Shops. The 5550 Keystone was subsequently polished and painted, and is now ready for donor's names to be engraved on the back.


   The T1 Trust Meets With FRA

On Friday May 2, 2014, The T1 Trust passed the credibility litmus test. Three members of The T1 Trust traveled to the US Department of Transportation Headquarters in Washington, DC for a meeting with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The Trust's representatives consisted of Chairman, Bradford Noble, DO, Chief Mechanical Officer, Scott McGill, and Director of Operations, Wes Camp. The group met with three members of the FRA Motive Power & Equipment Division, Staff Director, Gary Fairbanks, Mechanical Engineer, Harold Weisinger, and Senior Safety Specialist, Steven Zuiderveen. The meeting lasted for over three hours, and allowed the Motive Power & Equipment Division to get a feel for who and what The T1 Trust is. The message delivered to the agency was clear, the Trust intends to build a fully FRA compliant locomotive. As a result of the meeting, the Trust was able to establish firm contact with the FRA moving forward. It looks like clear track ahead!

   5550 Keystone Number Cast In Bronze

The 5550 Keystone Number Plate pattern was cast in bronze on Saturday April 3, 2014. Special thanks is due to T1 Trust Member Chuck Blardone for donating his time, talent, and effort to make this happen. The pour took place at an Amish forge in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The images that follow are a rare and unprecedented look behind the scenes at an Amish forge. We couldn't ask for a better birthing place, and the photos document the inception of T1 5550 as she transitioned gracefully from dream to reality. Full Gallery Link

1 Pattern In Sand.jpg

2 Pattern In Sand Complete.jpg

3 Completing the Mold.jpg

4 Pouring Bronze 1.jpg

   5550 Keystone Number Plate To Be Cast In Bronze

The 5550 Keystone Number Plate pattern was made by Chuck Blardone, a member of our group, and editor of the PRRT&HS Keystone magazine. Chuck used mechanical drawings we extracted from the PA State Archives, and dropped the pattern off at the forge March 12 in preparation for the next bronze pour in 3-4 weeks.





   The T1 Trust Assists The ASME With Staybolt Study

The T1 Trust has assisted the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Section I, PL Sub-committee, in obtaining historic documents necessary for acquiring funding to study locomotive boiler stay bolt technology.

   The T1 Trust To Present At The PRRT&HS Annual Meeting.

The T1 Trust To Present At The PRRT&HS Annual Meeting. The T1 Trust has been asked to present two 45-50 minute talks at the May 1-4, 2014 annual meeting of the PRRT&HS, in Camp Hill, PA. The request came personally from Bruce F. Smith, President of the PRRT&HS, and The T1 Trust has gratefully accepted the invitation.

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