Just as flowers are blooming this spring, parts for 5550 continue to pop up like daisies. As the days get warmer and the nights get shorter, America’s Premier Steam Locomotive continues to grow in size and support.
Work on the 5550 locomotive is underway, and the T1 Trust is rapidly gaining attention as the premier new-build steam project in the United States. More than that, the T1 Trust has come to symbolize the rebirth of American Industry. An example of effective cooperation between the T1 Trust and the professional railroading community can be seen in the work being done on the locomotive's cab. Curry Rail Services believes in the T1 Trust, and wants to be part of the group’s success. Curry is therefore building the cab on extremely favorable terms.
In similar fashion, the New Jersey based defense contractor JAKTOOL provided the T1 Trust with the CAD engineering work necessary for cab construction. Perhaps some of the most exciting news to date is that JAKTOOL has begun CAD modelingof the T1 locomotive’s massive frame.
Cab sub-components awaiting final assembly at Curry Rail Services, Hollidaysburg, PA
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 -10ºF (-23ºC)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: https://prrt1steamlocomotivetrust.org/station/Boxpok-Driver
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.
The whistle shown here was recently donated to the T1 Trust for use on 5550. This whistle has been independently verified as a genuine original PRR T1 whistle by "Horn & Whistle" magazine. To listen to the whistle's sweet and mellow tone, please visit the T1 Trust's audio gallery: https://prrt1steamlocomotivetrust.org/video_view.php?vid=9
5550’s iconic prow continues to take shape under the watchful eye of our skilled craftsmen. Some of the most recent images are shown below.
Welding the prow’s aluminum skin requires a deft hand and delicate touch.
This image shows the application of the bottom portion of the prow. The next step is the English wheel, followed by the prow's roof.
There are fifty drawings for the locomotive’s streamlining available for sponsorship on the T1 Trust's website: https://prrt1steamlocomotivetrust.org/station/index.php?route=product%2Fcategory&path=61_103_128
Over the past few issues of the T1 Trail Blazer, former PRR employee Roy West has been kind enough to share his memories from over the years and his thoughts on the T1 Trust and its goals. Here is the fourth and final installment of that interview. The T1 Trust thanks Mr. West for his time and support of the group’s endeavor.
The T1 Trust: So, Brad told me that you got a chance to ride behind one of the T1s when they were in service. Is that the case or is that...
Roy West: I didn't ride in it.
The T1 Trust: But I was... No, I'm sorry, go ahead.
Roy West: I rode behind them. Times like... In other words, one thing or another, took me up to Fort Wayne or Chicago or Cincinnati and those places, and... And I didn't pay a lot of attention to it.
The T1 Trust: Right.
Roy West: So, I mean, my direct experience with the T1 was minimal to zero. I was aware of them and people talked about how fast they were and everything. So, yeah, basically I was running behind them.
The T1 Trust: Okay, that was just a question I... Was kind of in my head. Let me see, let me look through my questions here real quick. How did you first learn about the T1 Trust and what were your initial thoughts and how do they compare to your thoughts now?
Roy West: Let me think, this is, I'm going back about four or five months now. Back at this from about February, I think. And I was looking around on the web on my phone. I'm very good at computers, but I have a sort of a night pad that I use. For some reason I was looking up engines. I occasionally, I've stayed interested in railroads and they... I go up to them. Maurer's train auctions. And here it is, a very good train... Nothing but trains. And for some reason, whatever I was looking for... And maybe I was, for some reason or other, I might have been looking up the T1, I came across your site that said that you're gonna build one from the ground up. And as I said, it was, I'll tell you... I felt an almost physical hurt, that everything else managed to be saved and the T1 wasn't. I didn't mind the S1, the Q1, the Q2. But the T1s, I think the T1 was the most beautiful engine ever made.
The T1 Trust: I’d agree with that. What would you say is the most important reason to rebuild this particular engine and what would it mean to you, personally?
Roy West: Well, I'll probably never see it.
The T1 Trust: You never know.
Roy West: I'll have to make it to 99 and that's with no hitches. It's just not, as I said, I have almost mourned. Well, I think I told you about Martin Clement saved one each of every piece of rolling stock for the Pennsy and some of the other stuff, but he was no longer president when the T1 was getting phased out. And had he been the president at the time, I'm sure they would've saved one of them. I guess I didn't hear about the T1 not being saved until probably when I was, yeah, going up and visiting the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum up in Strasburg and all that. I said, "Where's the T1?" They said, "Oh, we don't have a T1, they were all scrapped and... " Whatever, however I found out about it, I was just very sad, very sad about it. Hearing about this, it's just so audacious, I just... Your head just... You know at my age, I don't go to as many things as I used to and I've sort of dropped out of a lot of things, but this really got my motors going.
The T1 Trust: Let's see here. Well, then we'll lead neatly onto this question. Why do you think T1s were all scrapped with not a single example saved?
Roy West: It was the bean counters. The president who followed... Martin Clement. Martin Clement started as a rod man, in other words, he was a tracks up railroader. And I understand that Jim Symes, don't quote me, I would have to double check that, 'cause I remember my impression of President Symes was that he was a lawyer, he started out as a lawyer in one of the departments and... That was what was happening with the railroads or with a lot of corporations. McNamara who damn near put Ford under, he was an accountant. You know, all these corporations came out of World War II cash-heavy. I mean they really had money. But their stuff was worn, in other words, all sorts of things right away, new rolling stock, a whole lot of stuff was needed. But, when these bean counters got ahold of it, what they called them the whiz kids. One of the things they cut back on was maintenance and renewal.
They look good when they really should have been not showing such great a profit and again, to infrastructure, and basically... And Perlman, he was another lawyer. I don't like Perlman, you know, at the New York Central. I don't think he gave a s*** about the railroad business. I mean, yeah, to the extent that it would make them a lot of money, but what it took or any feeling, any toward... Because he scrapped every last thing he'd get his hands on and I understand only two or three, two or three engines managed to survive and they were engines that somehow or other, you didn't know about.
The T1 Trust: What do you see as the Trust's greatest assets?
Roy West: The people. It's people, it's plans. That was the other thing, in other words, one, the fact that somebody wanted to bring us back, this is fine. Here in Philadelphia, I've been tracking and sometimes I've been advising a few people and trying to save the liner, the SS United States. It presents a lot of road blocks, it's a big undertaking.
The T1 Trust: Okay. What do you think are the greatest challenges that the trust faces and how do you think that they might best be overcome?
Roy West: Well, they've done a great job of finding all the... What do you call it? You know, practically all the drawings and this and that. And their plan, everything that they've done is good. Now, the thing is, and this is where, I guess the time comes in, is getting out, getting known, and covering a $10 million, not... Some [unintelligible] this was where I spent a lot of time in advertising and PR.
Another thing, we need a couple of big hitters and we really need really extensive publicity. We've had very good publicity in the train... In the train magazines, we had pretty good coverage. Yes, they're the people who would be interested, but one, it's not that big a group, and the other problem, a lot of it is aging. In fact, I was, this weekend, Brad and some guys were down here at Camp Hill, Pennsylvania that's where they have the Railroad Technical and Historic Society national meet and they brought a driver.
The T1 Trust: Isn't it beautiful?
Roy West: Oh, the whole idea is beautiful.
The T1 Trust: I don't know if I mentioned it, I saw it when I was in Ohio, it's a gorgeous piece of metal.
The T1 Trust: I have, let's see, one more big one here. We've kind of touched on everything else either directly or indirectly, so, we've got a lot to work with here. The last one is pretty simple: Is there any other advice that you would give to the T1 Trust?
Roy West: Other than just trying to get the word out more generally and just keep plugging it, and of course, concentrating on the money. Like I said, the two things that got me going, and I think I needed both, one without the other. One was that they were gonna see the T1. But when I read the plans, even from the first flyer out, 'cause this sort of thing was my business for years, advertising and public relations and such, and my marketing ideas, it's one of the best bullet-out plans for something like this I have ever seen. And if anybody has a chance of doing this, I think it's this group. No, I don't know if... I might have been interested but I don't think I might have gotten my... It's reactive. If I didn't really see a bright light at the end of the tunnel, and we're finally gonna get there. So that's sort of... I guess it's money, money, money, money.
The T1 Trust: That's the way of the world.
Roy West: Yeah. That's what it's gonna take.
The T1 Trust: Exactly.
Roy West: And the thing is, the other thing, in casting, generally, why, you never know who would be attracted by this. Like I said, I've contributed, for me, fairly heavily, and as I said to Brad, if I were there in the kid's place, and I had the $10 million I'd say, "Well, let's just do it." But I don't have quite that... My portfolio isn't quite that fat.
The T1 Trust: Unfortunately, neither is mine.
Roy West: But I'll tell you, one thing I was really impressed with, going up to this national gathering for the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical group, and there was a lot of them. It was a pretty geriatric crowd in some ways, middle aged enough, aren't too many young people. But what I was impressed was the distance some of these people came. It was just like the whole... In the East Coast and some people came in from the West. There was a whole contingent came down from New York state and New England, and... There was several hundred people there and I was impressed with how far away the people came from. That tells me that there's still a lot of interest in railroads and it's widely spread.
The T1 Trust: It's nice to see, it really is. People see the importance in it.
Roy West: But anyway, you got any more questions?
The T1 Trust: No, I think we're good.
Roy West: Alright.
The T1 Trust: I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me.
The Pennsylvania Railroad T1 Steam Locomotive Trust is making history, one piece at a time. If you’d like to help, please visit the Trust’s website at t1trust.org and pledge your support today. The secret to building Pennsylvania Railroad T1 # 5550 is really quite simple. The project’s success relies upon many people giving what they can on a regular basis. Please consider becoming a regular monthly donor. Slow and steady wins the race. Consistent monthly donations help the Trust plan out engineering and construction tasks by allowing the opportunity to budget in advance. Please consider a regular monthly donation of 15 dollars, that’s about 50 cents a day to bring back the mighty and elegant Pennsylvania Railroad T1.