WE'VE COME A LONG WAY!

   "Thank God we're at the end because if we had to start all over now, I don't think we could do it," said Robert E. Kimmel Jr., president of Railway Restoration Project 113, in converstion with the Pottsville Republican Herald in an article published in January of 2012.  The article continued:

 

    The locomotive was originally built for the Central Railroad of New Jersey in 1923.  It was used for about 30 years by the CNJ to move train cars around the yard and never hauled passengers, although it could have, said project volunteer Russ Horoschak, Minersville.  It was bought by the Philadelphia & Reading Coal & Iron Co., now Reading Anthracite Co., circa 1953, and stored in Locust Summit, outside of Ashland, from 1953 until the 1980s when Kimmel's father, Robert E. Kimmel Sr., bought it and moved it to Minersville.  Kimmel said the restoration began as a full-time endeavor in 1999 and took 10 years until they got it to steam. It has taken more than $600,000 and about 60,000 man hours by volunteers; had the labor not been donated, the total would be close to $1.5 million.

 

    "It's just incredible, the amount of hours in a steam locomotive restoration," Kimmel said.  "It's all labor intensive, so everything you do, even the smallest job, is hours of work."  The biggest expense was the customized parts that must be built for the train, as regular steam engines went out in the 1950s.  Horoschak said one staybolt costs $45 and 1,000 staybolts were needed to be replaced for the firebox, the area where the fuel is burned.  Each bolt goes in a sleeve that costs $25 each.  About $100,000 was spent refurbishing the firebox, where anthracite coal was burned, producing heat to boil the water in the boiler.

 

    "When this locomotive came here, it was totally stripped down.  There was almost nothing on it," Kimmel said.  "Every part was gone. All we had was the boiler, the wheels, the frame, that was it.  So we started from scratch with what little we had and had to rebuild it."  Most of the money has come from grants, private funding, and fundraisers like the Anthracite Steam calendar sales.  Funding sources also include the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Schuylkill River Greenway Association, Alcoa Foundation, First Federal Charitable Foundation and the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

Photo © Mike Del Vecchio

Located northeast of Harrisburg and southwest of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, along Pa. Route 901 you'll find the borough of Minersville.  The surrounding region, rich with anthracite coal deposits, had rail service from the Reading Company, a railroad with ties to the Central of New Jersey. (The Pennsylvania Railroad also came to town in the old days, as did the Lehigh Valley.)  Along the old Reading sits a depot, now owned by the Reading & Northern Railroad, along with one of only two surviving CNJ steam engines. Number 113, a large 0-6-0, has been restored to operation by dedicated volunteers working under the banner of Railway Restoration Project 113, with Robert E. Kimmel, Jr., as president of the group.  The last CNJ steam engine to operate, for Reading Anthracite Company, #113 retired for good in January 1960.  (The last CNJ steam to run on the CNJ railroad itself was camelback #774, on September 25, 1955, as part of a railfan excursion from Jersey City, N.J., to Jim Thorpe.  A fan favorite, #774 nonetheless did not escape the scrapper's torch.)  After sitting in the weeds in Locust Summit for some years after last operating, #113 got donated to Historic Red Clay Valley, Inc., a group with ties to the Wilmington and Western Railroad, in Delaware.  Bob Kimmel, Sr., bought the engine in June of 1986 and moved her to Minersville in February, of 1991; restoration efforts began in 1999, with a complete teardown of everything above the running gear.  A lot of time and money later, the engine now runs again in Anthracite Country!

 

For photos of the restoration process, click here.

    The repairs are 90 percent complete, meaning the locomotive is at the point where it's operable and could move under its own power, Kimmel said.  He said a steam locomotive makes its own air with a steam-driven air compressor and makes its own electricity with a steam-driven electrical generator.

    Kimmel said that in the past year a lot of time went into putting up its appliances, including the air compressor and all the piping.  The locomotive had to be jacked up to complete the wheel work.

    The finishing touches that are left include adding the insulation jacket, woodwork in the cab, which is being refurbished at Oak Welding, Schuylkill Haven, and remaining cosmetics.  The final touches won't be added until the locomotive is first operated -- just so the committee can make sure that everything is working and it won't have to be taken apart again.  Horoschak said there aren't too many steam engines still in existence that burn hard coal.

    Although Kimmel said he was unsure what the locomotive will be used for when the restoration is complete, he's hoping to use it as a mobile exhibit for history purposes regarding the steam-engine era: "I'd like to take it to Pottsville someday and bring it to Union Station," Kimmel said. "That would be neat, but who knows if that could happen?"

 

WE'VE COME A LONG WAY SINCE THEN!  Please look through the rest of this site to learn more about the restoration process and #113's recent operations.

© 2014-20 Railway Restoration Project 113       113 East Sunbury Street    Minersville PA  17954     570-544-8300     rrproject113@hotmail.com

 

All photos not otherwise credited  © rrproject113.org                                                                                Web site built and maintained by  Oren B. Helbok

 

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