As record-setting cold settles in across much of the United States, keep warm with the latest issue of the Trail Blazer, your place for news on America’s coolest new steam locomotive.
Boiler Update – Thanks to our supporters, 2018 was a banner year for The T1 Trust and with your dedication, we can make 2019 even better! These CAD models show the smokebox, stack (chimney), smokebox door and extension (in blue) as well as illustrating how the T1’s iconic prow attaches to the smokebox extension.
Front Tube Sheet Assembly
With 5550’s rear tube sheet completed and boiler construction continuing, our attention now turns to the front tube sheet. Weighing in at approximately 3,000 pounds (1,360 kg.), it will cost $33,270 to fabricate. Donations to the construction of the front tube sheet can be made by clicking here.
Call to Action
Help the T1 Trust take the next step in boiler construction for T1 #5550. The Front Flue Sheet shown above has a complicated array of braces and stays which allow for the 300 psi super-power boiler pressure needed for the T1 to meet and exceed its epic design requirements. Able to pull a 1000 ton train at 100 mph, the T1 was just what the PRR needed to get passengers from Pittsburgh to St. Louis and Chicago quickly. Now the T1 Trust needs your help to finish the job we’ve started on the boiler. The Front Flue Sheet is made of 92” diameter, 5/8” thick boiler plate with an estimated weight of 3,000lbs the cost for construction of this essential boiler piece is $33,270 with your help It Can Be Done! Please visit https://prrt1steamlocomotivetrust.org/station/index.php?route=boiler/boiler and become a member of the T1 Trust’s Boiler Club today.
Fire Doors Cast
Made of ductile iron and cast in Maryland, 5550’s fire doors were cast in a batch that was split beween Norfolk & Western 611, Chesapeake & Ohio 1309 and Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis 576.
Each of the doors is divided into twenty sections for sponsorship purposes. Each section can be sponsored for $100 and donors are more than welcome to sponsor multiple sections.
An Interview with David Huelsing
Last fall, The T1 Trust had the opportunity to speak with the current president of the NRHS St. Louis Chapter, David Huelsing.
The T1 Trust: First things first, I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with me this afternoon.
David Huelsing: No problem.
The T1 Trust: I’ve got a few questions here for you. We’ll start off, I’ll just have you introduce yourself.
DH: Well, my name is David Huelsing and I’m the President of the St Louis Chapter of the NRHS (National Railway Historical Society).
The T1 Trust: Please describe your childhood for us, where you grew up and what your parents did.
DH: [chuckle] Okay. I grew up in St Louis, my dad owned a music store, my mom was an English teacher.
The T1 Trust: Do you recall your first experience or memory involving trains or railroading and did that in any way inform your life’s work, and if so, how?
DH: I had the HO scale layout as a kid. I guess the first rail thing in memory I remember would be going to see what at the time was number 8444 pulling a train into Kirkwood Station here in St. Louis.
The T1 Trust: It’s a beautiful machine.
DH: Yes. That would have been 1984, right after the UP took over Missouri Pacific there.
The T1 Trust: Is the NRHS your primary occupation or is it something you do on the side?
DH: No, that’s just a hobby. I work for a company that sells laboratory reagents to hospitals.
The T1 Trust:Alright. Could you walk us through your early professional life and how you found yourself at the NRHS?
DH: I joined the NRHS around 2004, I think, 2005. I joined to go to the convention, they were up in Portland that year, and I wanted to go ride the Daylight. Eventually I got involved with the local chapter and was program director for a while, then became president.
The T1 Trust: You say they were up in Portland, was that the year… You just kind of triggered a memory. Was that the year they had 3985 up here?
The T1 Trust: No? Okay. ‘Cause I remember…
DH: They did a double header… Are you up in Portland?
The T1 Trust: I am yeah, I’m in…
DH: Oh, okay. No, they did a double header with the 700 and the 4440…
The T1 Trust: Oh, I remember that, yeah.
DH: Columbia River.
The T1 Trust: 3985 came to town around that time. I couldn’t remember if it was if it was involved with that because I wasn’t in town. I remember my dad telling me it was here and I was really peeved I missed it. [chuckle]
DH: Nope. It wasn’t that year.
The T1 Trust: Okay. [chuckle] Alright. Let’s see. How did you first learn about the T1 Trust? What were your initial thoughts and how do they compare to your thoughts now?
DH: I think I heard about it in a couple of magazines and then Red did a program for us, I wanna say maybe about five years ago I’m guessing. I don’t remember… It was around pretty close to when you first got started with that thing.
The T1 Trust: It would have been late…
DH: What year did you guys get started with that?
The T1 Trust: I believe it was late… It’s amazing as you get older time just goes faster and faster. I think it was late 2013. I joined in early ’14, if I remember…
DH: Okay. It was probably within the first year of getting going on that, he came St Louis, did a program for us.
That interview, he came and did a presentation and then we had a video feed with somebody doing some of the work with the mechanical drawings and stuff, and he was somewhere else, I don’t remember his name.
The T1 Trust: What were your initial thoughts of the organization and how do they compare to your thoughts now?
DH: I was pretty impressed with the plans. I liked the idea. They seemed to have thought it out pretty well. It’s a monumental task, but I’ve been following it over the last couple of years, and impressed with the progress they’ve made so far.
The T1 Trust:I like to hear that. Down to brass tacks here, why did you organize the fabricators shop tour, what was that like for you?
DH: Ron was the one that organized it.
The T1 Trust: That’s right, I apologize.
DH: We like to do a lot of different tours of different rail sites and stuff in the area, when we can. I think they had a write-up in Trains Magazine earlier this year that they had the work going on with the T1 and the 1385 there, so I think he decided to go ahead and contact him and see if we could come down and tour their facility.
The T1 Trust: What was the most impressive thing that you saw there?
DH: Well, they have three locomotive boilers in the shop at one time, it’s pretty impressive.
The T1 Trust: I would say so, yeah. [laughter]
DH: Just the fact that that kind of work’s going on here in St. Louis is pretty amazing. But I mean the whole shop and facility, it was neat to see that kind of work going on.
The T1 Trust: I think it’s… It kind of flies in the face of… There’s this common belief that we can’t build things like that anymore. People believe that we don’t have the know-how or the ability but it certainly is there.
DH: It’s there, it’s not what it used to be but it’s definitely there.
The T1 Trust: Nothing lasts forever, but the fact that there are people out there who are willing is refreshing. [chuckle]
The T1 Trust: Did you have any chance to speak with any of the staff at Continental and if so, what was their take on the work of… On the T1 boiler?
DH: I mean, I believe that our tour guide’s name was Fred, the guy that took us around, the shop manager, and he just kind of walked us through, pointed out the different work going on in different areas of the shop. Didn’t spend whole lot of time on the T1 boiler. I think… I don’t know. Is that… I guess not…
Currently a project going on that was kinda off to the side of what they were working on, currently at the time, I think…
The T1 Trust: I understand there were others that had their attention as well.
DH: Right. Yeah, I mean, they just walked through, pointed out what some of the different machines were, and the type of work they were doing to different pieces of equipment. I guess we spent about an hour or so touring the shop.
The T1 Trust: Ron tells me it was pretty loud. [laughter]
DH: There was work going on, so we had to… It was a weekend, but they still had staff there working and welding and banging and everything else going on that goes on in a metal shop.
The T1 Trust: Yeah. Let’s see. Was there any mention of the steel tariffs, if they would be affecting Continental in their day-to-day operations, or the work on the boilers?
DH: Somebody did ask about that, they said that doesn’t really affect them so much because most of what metal they buy is North American anyway.
The T1 Trust: Okay.
DH: They said that would affect the people that buy the imported stuff but most of what they get is North American.
The T1 Trust: Okay. I’ve got just a few more questions for you here.
09:17 DH: Sure.
09:17 The T1 Trust: What do you see as the Trust’s greatest assets?
09:26 DH: I don’t know, they seemed to be a pretty motivated group, they seemed to be doing pretty well as far as fundraising. I mean, the more progress they can show, I think the more successful they’re gonna be as an organization. The fact that they’re getting a lot of crucial pieces put together, and available, I think is definitely showing the determination to do the job and makes some progress.
The T1 Trust: That’s what we like to hear, we like to hope we are on the right path. [laughter]
The T1 Trust: What do you think the greatest challenges, are the greatest challenges that the Trust faces and how do you think they might best be overcome?
DH: I mean fundraising’s obviously gonna be a major challenge. Possibly an even bigger challenge is gonna be where it’s gonna operate it once it’s built. It’s getting harder and harder to operate any excursion equipment, especially on any main line situation. So that’s something they’re gonna have to look forward to and address, and have answers to, about what they’re intent and purpose is to do with it once it’s built and where they’re gonna operate it, and what equipment they’re gonna use with it once it’s done.
The T1 Trust: One step at a time though. [chuckle]
DH: Yeah. [laughter]
The T1 Trust: Can’t run it if you don’t build it.
The T1 Trust:Alrighty. Last quick question, is there any other advice you would give to the Trust?
DH: Just keep going. [chuckle] I mean I’m looking forward to seeing it, so…
The T1 Trust: I think we all are.
The T1 Trust: Do you have any questions for me, I’ll do my best to answer them, and if not, I’ll defer you to the powers that be.
DH: What’s the current timeline looking at as far as end game, when it’ll be completed?
The T1 Trust: We are still aiming for an on-the-road date of 2030, so we’ve got a few more years to go but…
The T1 Trust: You know, if a large cash infusion and obviously would bring that date a little closer. It’s all a question of the money, as you said.
The T1 Trust: And it’s a… If we can keep it the way we’re going, we will get it done and we will get it done in time, but as you know, Tornado in Britain took almost 20 years.
The T1 Trust: So we just… One step at a time and we’ll take the setbacks if and as they come, but right now we’re on schedule, so about another eleven and a half years. [chuckle]
DH: Yeah. Are they ahead of where they projected they’d be five years ago?
The T1 Trust: I think we are… We have reached the end of our, what we… I guess you would call it the “easy work” because you can go and pull drawings pretty cheaply and pretty easily. But now we’ve got the big metal to build, and the big parts and suppliers who can provide these things for us.
The T1 Trust: So, I have not heard anything from Brad or otherwise that would suggest that 2030 is not still the on-the-road date.
The T1 Trust: So if you know anybody…
DH: Where are they thinking of operating it?
The T1 Trust: We have had offers from several different railroads but at this point our goal is to get it built.
The T1 Trust: So unless you have any other questions, I appreciate, again, you taking the time to speak with me, and I apologize again for the delays. Today has been one of those days where it feels like every time I get my head above the water, somebody hands me something.
DH: Oh no problem. I get those days all the time. [laughter]
The T1 Trust:Alrighty sir. Well you have yourself a fantastic weekend and thank you again for your time. I appreciate it.
DH: Alright, you too. Okay, thanks. Bye.
The T1 Trust:Thanks.