As the fireworks fly on our country’s 240th birthday and families head out on well-earned vacations, we at the T1 Trust still have our heads down and are working hard on our labor of love.
The T1 Trust's marketing plan all along has been to appeal to the general public. With an article featuring the T1 Trust scheduled to appear in the September 2016 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine, the organization has achieved a great leap forward in its effort to become a household name. 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 will reveal more and should hit newsstands sometime in August, so keep your eyes peeled and please help to spread the word.
The T1 Trust’s Chairman, Bradford Noble, DO, (L) and General Manager, Jason Johnson, (R) represent the T1 Trust in a photo-shoot organized by Popular Mechanics magazine at Beaver Valley Alloy Foundry on June 8, 2016.
While 5550 will need her massive driving wheels to move her down the tracks, the ‘shark-nose’ prow is one of the T1’s defining features. 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 timeframe 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 T1 Trust is pleased to announce its newest Advisory Board Member, 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.
The T1 Trust has commissioned the world's premier LEGO train designer, Anthony Sava from Texas to create plans for the LEGO T1 #5550. The LEGO T1 #5550 faithfully reproduces the powerful and graceful Art Deco design of the full size PRR T1.
After months of preparation and planning, the plans will soon be available at www.t1trust.com for a donation of $55.50. One of the Trust's first donation premiums accessible as a digital download, the plans include carefully illustrated instructions as well as a parts lists for the LEGO T1. In addition, the digital download contains a comprehensive FAQ section along with 1 hour of free technical assembly assistance from an expert LEGO builder.
The T1 Trust values railroad history and recognizes that the men and women who experienced the original T1’s in person won’t be with us forever. We never tire of learning about their observations whenever the opportunity presents itself, and we’re proud to share those adventures with our readers. Mr. Roy West had an eventful career with the PRR and was kind enough to speak with the T1 Trust about his experiences involving the T1, and also what it was like in general working for The Standard Railroad of the World. Like past interviews, this will be broken up over multiple issues of “The T1 Trail Blazer” since Mr. West was able to relate so many fantastic stories.
The T1 Trust: I just want to thank you for taking the time to talk to me here. We'll get started with how you got your job with the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Roy West: Well, actually I guess you could say we were a railroad family. My father had 20 some years with the Pennsy. One of my four elder brothers was a policeman or a railroad policeman for about 11 years. And when I came out of college in 1956, my father said "What was I gonna do?" I was too short. And so he said "Well what about the railroad?" And I said "Well, who do you know to talk to?" He took me into seeing the Chairman of the Board and the Chairman of the Board then was yeah, Martin Clement and he was what they call not from the tracks railroad or he came from a prominent family in Sunbury, Pennsylvania. In fact, his father was a Major General commanding the Pennsylvania State National Guard and... But he went to Trinity and after Trinity he came out with a degree in engineering. He started as a broad man, basically working out on the roadbeds. And he wound up as the President and then the Chairman of the Board and... But he was the kind of person that just an ordinary employee of the railroad could come in without an appointment, bring his son, introduce him and see about a job. And so that's who I wound up talking to and he said "Well, what do you wanna do son?" And I've heard that Public Relations was just being the glamour job about that time. I said "Public Relations." That's was a Thursday and Monday I started as a trainee in the Pennsylvania [Railroad] PR Department. That was 1956 and of course that was a heck of a start because railroad's practically invented public relations back around the turn of the century. And the Pennsylvania Railroad Department was probably one of the best most professional in the country. So getting the chance to start out there, it was a major head start.
The T1 Trust: Absolutely.
Roy West: Now one thing I might mentioned too is I learned, when I was there Mr. Clement was President from 1935 to '48 and of course that was through the depression and then the war and then after the war. And unlike a lot of other railroads, he really... They couldn't... Between the depression and the war there wasn't much opportunity building much in the way of new equipment. And so at the end of the war, everything was pretty well beat up but at the same time, he realized there was a lot of stuff there that was going to be historically important. What he did was he started setting aside basically one each of every type and class of rolling stock from engines to caboose to whatever, stowed them up in Northampton, Pennsylvania. And they were subsequently passed to donate to the State of Pennsylvania with the understanding that they would have a museum which would be contiguous to operating steam railroad which of course now is the Strasburg Rail Road out there. And the world of historic preservation certainly in railroads owes real debt of gratitude to Mr. Clement because a lot of the other railroads they saved precious little and...
The T1 Trust: Like the New York Central. No Hudsons or Niagaras were saved.
Roy West: Oh [Alfred] Perlman just scrapped everything he could get his hands on and the thing is well that was the problem. After World War II the... Practically all corporations came out of World War II cash-heavy. I mean just bags full of profits sitting and more or less unspendable because of everything went to the war, but at the same time they were also... They're pretty worn in other words like the Pennsy Rolling Stock and everything and the right of way and the equipment all needed upgrading, replacement, you name it. And they were starting to do that, but the problem was about that time is when the railroads and other corporations started to fall into the hands of people that came up the route of being lawyers or accountants or something like that. The bean counters and one they didn't particularly care for the history of the thing, but they would take charge and they would make the bottom line look very good by deferring maintenance and replacement when absolutely they should not have. One example was the Camelback engines. Of the thousands that were made and run for twenty years on twenty-odd railroads, only three have survived. There's one at the Strasburg Railway and two at the B&O Museum down in Baltimore. And like we said, the New York Central and all. The thing is the thing that happened with T1, the T1 would have probably been saved, but the last of them were not... The last of them wasn't taken off the books. They were not using them probably by toward the latter part of the '50s, but the last of them didn't come off the books until after Mr. Clement retired 'cause I'm sure if he would have seen to it, one of those would have been saved. That iconic engine of course wasn't saved nor was the Q2 or some of the other engines.
The T1 Trust: Do you believe that engines like the T1 and the Q2s that were might have been viewed as unsuccessful in some regards and engines like the J1, which if memory serves was based off a C&O design, they were not saved because it might have been detrimental to the railroad's image in the future or is that just one of those rumors? I'm just looking for your opinion on that.
Roy West: Well, one of the problems. I think the Pennsy was a little late in switching to diesel. They had been almost pioneering and of course in long distance electrification. Some of that reluctance to switch might have been due to the fact that Baldwin Locomotive was here in Philadelphia. In fact you could practically stand at Penn Station and throw rocks at them [chuckle] at Baldwin Plant that was just north of that station and just off, just north of the absolute Center City. And they were very close. They were practically in bed with each other, the tremendous influence back and forth. And one of the things I remember with a young man I worked for was saying that one of the mistakes the railroad made in the '30s was when they electrified which they did from primarily from New York to Washington and West as far as Harrisburg that the railroad would have been far better off had they electrified their main line right up over the mountain and mountains into Pittsburgh, Chicago and St. Louis. That would have been a big saving. And they didn't take that opportunity at the time.
And the thing was they were... For example of course the famous GG1 and which of course was so Loewy, the outer design was styled by him, by Raymond Loewy as was the S1. The T1 was styled by Loewy and there were a number of "modern looking" steam engines at the time. They tend to look... They sort of follow a variation on a bullet front. In a way the T1 almost anticipated the look of the shark nose of Fairbanks-Morse diesels and that shark nose, without a doubt is one of the best looking engines ever made anywhere and the thing was, it was a hell of an engine, but the engineers your engineers had to know what they were doing with them and some didn't. And now the Q1 was not successful. They only made one, there were problems with it. The Q2 was very successful. I forgot how many of them they made, but they made them and they had a fairly long run of the... All of them were used primarily in freight. And the T1 now, the problem I think a lot of people say about the T1 was possibly the decision to put a poppet valves instead of Walschaerts that may have had something to do with it. The other thing was that those engines were inherently so fast that they didn't have governors on them and the engineers were tempted to when they get on a flat heading say between Pittsburgh and on out, and if they were behind at times they would crank up and unofficially they think that there were times when those engines cranked up 130 and 140 on a straightaway with a 11 car or a longer train, and they apparently raised hell with the Poppet Valves. They were high maintenance, and they did have a tendency for one of the sets of drivers to spin if the engineer was too heavy, but...
Well the way I've kinda looked at it and I tell people this when I talk to them and maybe I'd like to see if you agree or disagree with this, but the engineers who were transitioning to these T1s from the K4s, they'd really had no experience with effectively a super power design, high pressure 300 psi and the T1 as opposed to I think its 210 on the K4s, and they just kinda went out there and ran them like they ran the K4s and that's why they had issues with wheel slippage and the like.
And also the thing is that for one thing the engines themselves were relatively, because of their design they were relatively light as duplex or compound engines were. They were a fairly light engine and particularly the front end would very easily spin if they... Like I said, if a guy's ham handed and they were used to driving a lower pressure engine, it's sort of hard to retrain somebody that's done things a certain way for maybe 15, 20 years from an older piece of equipment. My opinion was one hell of a great engine, and that's the old story, bad news travels, bad news, to paraphrase the famous line about lies and truth, the bad news can get around the world before good news has its shoes on.
The T1 Trust: [laughter] Indeed it does.
Roy West: Also the other thing you know its funny, I think this is part of human nature, people who wanna look knowledgeable, more knowledgeable than they really are have a tendency to gravitate to bad news or negative reactions. If you come out and... Put it this way, if you come out and say something that's really "Oh this is great." etcetera and so forth, well if it doesn't quite live up to that you hear about it. There's the twisting in the wind, but if you're a naysayer and well the thing goes on to be successful and not be what it was or certainly was better than you said it would be, I think people tend to forget the naysayers.
The T1 Trust: They do.
Roy West: And I tell you where I ran into this. I spent part of my career as an advertising writer and I came up with... 'Cause I used to have the headhunters after me because I wind up with some really crazy stuff. But the guy that I first went to work with... I shifted from Public Relations to Advertising after about 12 years and the boss that's facing the scene, his whole thing was if you wouldn't tell your doctor you're going... You don't walk and tell your doctor what's wrong with you or what to prescribe. But people do that with advertising. Everybody's a maven. People who wouldn't think of taking a pencil to a drawing or to a picture would fiddle with copy. And one reason... the stuff that I wrote was so successful was, and some of them was spectacularly successful, but Ernie, Ernie Greenfield's thing was if you gave him the go-ahead to be your ad agency, he did what he tells you to do. If you went to second customer or didn't go along with him, he used to go to another agency and consequently, in other words if I could sell him, it was sold.
And the place where I ran into that... What I sort of perceived in management is... And this I think is just human nature even if somebody isn't a naysayer. But let's say a program gets figured out and let's say it's something really new and bold and if it's passed around, the more people it gets passed... It goes back to the thing about the giraffe is a horse created by committee, that the more it gets passed around, the more likelihood it will not succeed. 'Cause let's say in other words, everybody that will send us around, and say "Charlie, what do you think of this?" It takes a really strong personality and there are not a lot of them that way to look at something and say "Hey, this is great. This is genius." Don't do a thing. Don't change it. For one thing, that means sticking your neck out, but again if it's a flop, everybody will remember you said not to change it. It's a little like cover your ass sort of thing.
The T1 Trust: Exactly.
As work begins on the T1's iconic prow, we need your support in the form of drawing sponsorship: https://prrt1steamlocomotivetrust.org/store/category2.php
Sponsorship of any drawing is greatly appreciated, drawings pertinent to the prow include:
For those so inclined, Founders Club Memberships are still available:
Thank you to everyone who is helping to build America's Premier Steam Locomotive.