Even as winter retains its icy grip on much of the country, things are really heating up here at The T1 Trust. So while you wait for spring to bloom, grab your favorite warm drink and enjoy the latest issue of the Trail Blazer.
From the very start we’ve had people asking us “What about the boiler?” Well…wonder no more! Continental Fabricators of Saint Louis, Missouri has joined the first two courses of 5550’s boiler together. Rolled and welded together with precision, we need your help to get the third course fabricated and joined this year.
These boiler courses were rolled from inch-thick steel and in total, they weigh 12,000 pounds!
In late February, T1 Trust General Manager Jason Johnson and curator Gary Bensman traveled to The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee where they were joined by Steve Morgan, Al Philips and Rick Rowlands. Once there, work began in earnest on the tube sheet that will become part of 5550’s firebox.
The sheet steel that will become the tube sheet before work began.
Jason Johnson (L) and Gary Bensman (R) laying out the pattern for the tube sheet prior to cutting and flanging.
Al Philips cuts out the tube sheet for 5550 with a plasma cutter.
Flanging the tube sheet for 5550 with the McCabe Flanger.
Jason Johnson takes his trusty five-pound sledge to the places where the McCabe Flanger cannot go.
The finished product: one fully flanged tube sheet.
As construction of the boiler for PRR T1 #5550 continues, the T1 Trust’s partner JAKTOOL is donating hundreds of hours of expert CAD work into engineering the frame for the T1. The accompanying image shows the most recent frame rendering with cylinder details added. JAKTOOL Engineered Solutions is located in Cranbury, NJ and specializes in product development, analytical services, and prototype manufacturing. The T1 Trust wishes to thank all of its Corporate Sponsors; their generous support is Bringing Back History, One Piece at a Time!
In February, we got a chance to sit down and talk with steam preservationist and T1 Trust Advisory Board member Doyle McCormack. He was kind enough to share his life story, his time with SP 4449 and other steam locomotives as well as his opinions of and suggestions for The T1 Trust. His interview will be split into two parts over the Spring and Summer issues of the newsletter.
The T1 Trust: Alright. So first of all, I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with me today.
Doyle: My pleasure.
The T1 Trust: We'll start out talking a little bit about your childhood, where you grew up and what your parents did.
Doyle: Well, I grew up in northern Ohio, a little town called Conneaut. And my dad worked for the railroad. My mother actually worked for the railroad during World War II. So I come from a railroad family, and always wanted to be a railroader.
The T1 Trust: Well, that kind of neatly leads me onto my next question. Do you recall, obviously, your first experience involving trains?
Doyle: Oh, yeah. September 22, 1953.
Doyle: My dad being a train dispatcher, used to have to make a qualifying trip over the division every six months. And every once in a while he'd take one of us boys with him, and there's three of us. And I was the only one that was really crazy about trains, and we went on a freight train, 132 miles, two hours and 40 minutes with a steam engine. And it was on that trip that I decided I wanted to be an engineer.
The T1 Trust: It's a great memory, I bet.
Doyle: Yeah, I was 10 years old.
The T1 Trust: So it was as one of those nickel plate Berks [Berkshire]?
Doyle: Indeed, it was.
The T1 Trust: Alright. Why don’t you talk us through your teen years and your higher education?
Doyle: I barely made it through high school. [chuckle] I always... I knew what I wanted to do when I got out of school, and for the most part, I thought they weren't teaching me anything I really needed to know. So I did just enough to get by.
The T1 Trust: I think we've all had those moments. [chuckle]
Doyle: Yeah. And unfortunately when I got out of school we were in a recession, so I joined the navy for four years, and a week after I got out of the navy I was working on the railroad.
The T1 Trust: Why don't you walk us through your early professional life on the rails. Where you got started and positions.
Doyle: When I got out of the navy they weren't hiring anybody in the engine service, but I talked to the road foreman, and of course he was a friend, a friend of my dad's. And so I had to take a job as a telegrapher, but I didn't... In those days we weren't using the telegraph, it was all teletype and telephone. I worked at that for six months and in February of '66, the road foreman called me and says, "Well, I'm gonna hire 10 men. You want a job?" I said, "You bet." So, next day I was working as a fireman.
The T1 Trust: You worked up conductor to...
Doyle: No, in those days the engine crews and train crews were two absolutely separate crafts. If you went into train service you became a brakeman and eventually became a conductor, and if you were in engine service you went to work as a fireman, and eventually became an engineer. So I never worked as a conductor.
The T1 Trust: Okay, I stand corrected. You said you were from Conneaut, Ohio. What brought you to Portland?
Doyle: Well, I got involved in Conneaut, 1968 with Ross Roland and the [Nickel Plate Road] 759, and I worked with him for a few years and we did the golden spike trip in '69. And it was on that trip he came up with the brain child of doing the Freedom Train, so I got an opportunity to go to work on the Freedom Train, came to Portland, worked on the daylight, and after the Freedom Train was over went back home. Well there's an old saying, "You can never go home."
Doyle: And my wife and I got home, we were there for a while and started looking around saying, "What the hell are we doing here?" So I met people on the railroad out here, came out here, and looked for a job and landed a job on Southern Pacific.
The T1 Trust: And you worked with them up until you retired?
Doyle: Well, yeah. '78 I went to work on the SP, and of course it was absorbed by the Union Pacific, and then finished my career on the Union Pacific and retired in 2003.
Interview will continue in Summer 2018 Newsletter
A Call to Action
Every part of 5550 that we make is a step towards her completion and this journey rides on your continued donations and generosity. Our goal is to have the funds for the third and final course of the boiler raised by April 15th, a total of $25,000. Every donation helps and with yours, you help to tell the world, “It can be done!”