The Abilene steam locomotive will make its last run this weekend before the engine overhaul

September 27—Railroad fans who appreciate steam engines have one last chance this weekend to board a train powered by Abilene’s Santa Fe locomotive 3415 before it is taken out of service for the maintenance required.

Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad officials announced Monday that the 103-year-old engine will undergo a special overhaul mandated by the Federal Railroad Administration every 15 years. Although the FRA only requires a full engine boiler safety check, the railroad plans to make further engine upgrades that will further extend the life of the antique locomotive.

A&SV President and Managing Director Ross Boelling said that although the railway’s volunteer team carry out regular daily maintenance work on the iconic locomotive, the task ahead actually requires the engine to be dismantled. and examine the condition of each component to determine the extent of repairs needed before actual engine work can be performed.

“Steam locomotives are like your automobile. These large engines are subject to normal wear and tear,” Boelling said. “But unlike your car, steam engine parts can’t just be bought and installed. They have to be made from scratch, and that takes time.”

Boelling said the procedure could take up to 18 months, meaning the engine will still be out of service during that time.

The Santa Fe 3415 traveled more than 1.8 million miles from its construction in 1919 until its retirement in 1953. The engine first flew regular routes between Kansas City and Chicago, and later the Santa Fe used the engine on its southwestern routes between Kansas City and Fort Worth.

The engine was donated to the City of Abilene in 1955 where it remained in Eisenhower Park for nearly 40 years. When the Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad was founded in 1993, the city agreed to donate the engine to the new railroad organization, where enthusiasts aimed to get the engine running again. In 1996 the engine was moved from the park to the old Rock Island track now used by the A&SV. The railroad used a combination of grants from the Kansas Department of Commerce and the Department of Transportation, along with approximately 12,000 hours of volunteer labor to complete the project. Since its introduction to the A&SV engine range in 2009, the locomotive has only been used on holiday weekends and other special occasions.

The estimated cost of the renovation is approximately $350,000. The work will be done by volunteers and A&SV specialists from Durango and Silverton, a popular steam railroad in Colorado. Boelling said the railroad was working on a series of grants to help fund the renovation project. The A&SV also welcomes contributions from the general public.

The steam engine will power the A&SV’s normal Abilene-to-Enterprise excursion runs on Friday and Saturday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., while Sunday trains will run at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. The locomotive will also power dinner trains on Friday and Saturday nights at 6 p.m. The Friday train will be picked up by Lucinda’s Katering of Abilene and will feature a beef brisket dinner. The Saturday train will be served by Kansas Legends of Abilene with the Bookville Hotel’s famous fried chicken dinner. All excursion and dinner trains will depart from the historic Rock Island Depot in Abilene.

Boelling said Steam Excursion tickets cost $40 for adults and $20 for children ages 3 to 11. Dinner train tickets are still available for $85. All tickets can be purchased on the railway’s website, www.asvrr.org.

Boelling added that on Saturday, as part of the Dickinson County Heritage Days celebration, the A&SV will make short trips from the Heritage Center to Jeep Road between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., with the road’s vintage 1945 diesel locomotive. of railway pulling the precious wooden passenger 1902 MKT of the railroad. auto. Passengers can purchase cheaper tickets on the grounds of the Heritage Center for $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 3-11.

Jose P. Rogers