East Broad Top notebook: work continues to restore the steam locomotive and improve the passenger car fleet

The M-6 switchman directs a work train south of Colgate Grove during ongoing work to restore more East Broad Top tracks. (Dan Cupper)

ROCKHILL FURNACE, Pa. — Progress on the revival of the East Broad Top Railroad continues on multiple fronts as part of ongoing efforts since the acquisition of the narrow gauge railroad by the nonprofit EBT Foundation in February 2020 A few updates:

— Work is continuing to bring steam locomotive 2-8-2 No. 16 (Baldwin, 1916) back into service, possibly later this year. EBT staff remain silent on the exact details of its progress, but the restoration, renewal or replacement of the following devices and parts have been completed: air tanks, dynamo, piping, two air pumps, two Hancock Inspirator injectors , new ceramic insulation and new boiler jacket.

Tender Tank No 16 was returned to Curry Rail Services, where it was manufactured earlier this year, for further work on Thursday after EBT staff riveted original components to it . Tender truck assemblies will soon be rebuilt, with new brasses and tread blocks.

— Significant but unspectacular work continues on the passenger car fleet, at the rate of one car every week or every two weeks. EBTF employees are renewing major components of all former passenger freight cars and the railway’s two wooden vans, including air brake systems; new steps with non-slip material; new or reinforced end platforms; replacement of worn benches and other wooden components; replacement of brake hoses; and the replacement of old trunnion waste with new lubricating pads on the carriages, all of which are of the classic single trunnion design.

Tools on shop bench
The restored East Broad Top airbrake test bed. A calendar from June 1956, the last year of operation of the railway, remains above the bench. (Dan Cupper)

Master mechanic Dave Domitrovich thanked Ron Freitag of Strasbourg Railway for sharing his knowledge of braking technology and noted that EBT had received a single-car test rig, which now helps the crew check the effectiveness of air brake systems for annual inspections. . In addition, the railway’s original airbrake test rig was restored to working order.

– The track team, in conjunction with volunteers from the Friends of the East Broad Top, continues to work to close the approximately three quarter mile gap between the current end of the track used for public excursions and the restored wye at Colgate Grove. The Picnic Grove marked the northern terminus of tourist-era operations (1961-2011). The crew is replacing sleepers, improving drainage and clearing brush in an S-curve just north of the Runk Road bridge, which is as far as the public rides now extend.

— A project financed by the FEBT to raise the store warehouse, which had started to sink into the ground, is well advanced. Other FEBT projects include painting the car shop and staffing the group’s museum in Robertsdale, the southern end of the railway. Archivist Julie Rockwell, whose work is supported by a Friends grant, continues to work with railway records [see “East Broad Top hires archivist,” Trains News Wire, June 21, 2021]. The Friends of the East Broad Top exceeded their fundraising goal for 2021 by 92%, raising $150,000 from an initial goal of $78,000.

Jose P. Rogers