School’s out, shorts are ‘in’, the temperature is up and The T1 Trust is buckling down in our drive to make 2018 the best year yet for 5550.
In early May the Trust made its annual visit to Altoona, Pennsylvania for the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society (PRRT&HS) convention. There, two lectures were presented on the progress so far being made on 5550 and the challenges we continue to face. During the convention, 5550’s completed cab and rear tube sheet were displayed at the nearby Everett Railroad. We would like to thank the Everett Railroad and Curry Rail for helping make it happen.
Tube holes cut at Gemini Industrial Machine in Dover, Ohio with work donated to the Trust. The holes were cut using a pressure of 60,000psi
The T1 Trust: So we're going to go in to a little bit about your work in rail preservation. How did your background in railroading help form the relationships you have with decision makers, BNSF and Union Pacific?
Doyle: In the Freedom Train days, I dealt with a lot people on a lot of railroads. I came here to Portland to rebuild the ‘49, and I dealt with the BN, and the SP and the UP, and formed some relationships with some of the officers there. So when I started looking for a job and come out here, I'd talked to all three of them, but SP offered me the best opportunity, so I went with them. And over the years I've developed relationships with a lot of railroaders, both big and small you might say.
The T1 Trust: Based on that, what advice would you give other rail preservation efforts that intend to operate mainline? I know it's a little difficult these days.
Doyle: Yeah, I get a lot of calls from people and groups, "We wanna rebuild this steam engine. We wanna rebuild that steam engine." And my first question is, "What are you gonna do with it when you get it done?" You gotta have a plan. To rebuild the engine, just to be told, "No, you can't run it." Seems kind of an exercise in futility. So if you're really serious about wanting to rebuild a steam engine, have a plan of what you're gonna do with it when you get done with it. Same with any piece of railroad equipment, whether it's a passenger car, or a caboose, you gotta have a place to keep it. I know a lot of people buy rail equipment and then they say, "Oh, jeez, where am I gonna put this thing?"
The T1 Trust: You can't put it in your garage at home.
Doyle: Well, you can, but it won't fit under the garage door.
The T1 Trust: Regarding interactions with Class I railroads, we want to know what not to do. Can you give us a few examples that you've witnessed or seen from afar where the sort of interactions that have, in your hands, been so successful, turned out to be counterproductive or even harmful by others?
Doyle: If you're gonna deal with the railroad, it's real hard to do, especially in the world today, because railroaders today are different than the railroaders that I grew up and worked with. It's more of a business. To them, it's just like a factory, manufacturing forklifts.
The T1 Trust: Yeah.
Doyle: The railroad is just a business. A lot of them have a hard time understanding the passion for trains and railroading that some people have. So you need to find somehow to develop a relationship with somebody on the railroad that understands what you're trying to do.
The T1 Trust: And why it matters to you.
Doyle: Why it... And to them, mostly get them to tolerate you.
The T1 Trust: Let's see…how has your family been effected, both positively and negatively, by your professional path as a railroad preservationist?
Doyle: Well, my wife and I never had any children, so we never had family issues. And that's a big problem for railroaders that are out of town a lot of the time. And it leaves the wife at home to deal with the children and all the day to day operations of a home. So she had a job, was a professional and we sort of supported each other. Been married 47 years, we must be doing something right.
The T1 Trust: It worked out.
The T1 Trust: What do you have planned for the future here at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center?
Doyle: Oh, my. I'd like to see this place continue to grow. We're working on a turntable project now. I'd like to get that in. There's a second floor that needs to be built up there for more exhibit space to make this a really classy railroad museum. I have some other ideas, but I'd like to see us put up a water tank, a railroad water tank.
The T1 Trust: That would be very cool.
Doyle: I want to build an atmosphere that looks like a railroad.
The T1 Trust: Not just a place where railroad stuff has come to be viewed.
Doyle: Yeah. And hopefully we can remain an operating museum, not just a static display of, "Here sit the engines, and this is what they used to do."
The T1 Trust: But you know better than anyone else, they are alive.
Doyle: Oh, boy. Closest man ever come to creating life, I can tell you that. [chuckle]
The T1 Trust: So just a few more questions for you. How did you first find out about The T1 Trust?
Doyle: I... Of course I'm on the internet. I don't get involved with the communications, but I read a lot. And a friend of mine that was one of my mentors when I was younger, Wes Camp, was part of it. And I went back to Baltimore a couple... Three years ago, and gave a talk to the NRHS chapter, and he was there and talked to me, and wanted to know if I'd be on their advisory board. And I said, "Well, sure. I'd like to promote anything that I think is gonna be successful."
The T1 Trust: So with regard to the Trust's overall activities and trajectory, what do you think has been the most helpful activity that the trust has undertaken so far?
Doyle: Being serious about what they're doing. They seem to have some backing. And they have some good people that know how to lead it in the right direction. And that's the key. If you're determined and you don't get discouraged, and you just keep plodding forward, you'll be a success.
The T1 Trust: Moving slowly is better than not moving at all.
The T1 Trust: Would you add anything to our to-do list?
Doyle: No, I don't... I'm interested at what goes on, believe me. I get pretty excited when I see some of the progress you've made. And other people look at it and say, "Well, why did they just cast one driver?" Well I learned a long time ago, especially like with the PA Project, you've gotta do something that excites you to give you motivation to keep going. And those sort of projects give you that motivation to keep going.
The T1 Trust: In your estimation, what is The T1 Trust's greatest challenge?
Doyle: What are you gonna do with it when you get it done?
The T1 Trust: That's a question we've been asked many times. And finally, what do you believe is the Trust's greatest asset?
Doyle: The people. Any trust. If the people believe in what they're doing and they're dedicated to it, that's your greatest asset.
The T1 Trust: Excellent. Well thank you very much, Doyle. I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with us today.
Doyle: Great. My pleasure.
While the fabrication of the boiler shell is quite the milestone, there is still a great deal to be done in order to get 5550 completed and on the road. With that in mind, The Trust has started the Boiler Club in order to ensure that we keep up the momentum we’ve built so far. You may learn more about the Boiler Club and become a member by clicking here.