Rebuild the #1744 – 2021 Fundraising

The Pacific Locomotive Association and its Niles Canyon Railway would like to thank you for being a part of our heritage railroad community. Balancing operational expenses and reduced revenue due to Covid-19 restrictions since March of this year continues to be a challenging mission for our museum. Our supporters have helped bolster us greatly with …

The Pacific Locomotive Association and its Niles Canyon Railway would like to thank you for being a part of our heritage railroad community. Balancing operational expenses and reduced revenue due to Covid-19 restrictions since March of this year continues to be a challenging mission for our museum. Our supporters have helped bolster us greatly with financial support throughout this unprecedented time. The many hours of work from our volunteers have allowed us to continue some of our restoration projects while also allowing us to bring back train operations to Niles Canyon when we were given the appropriate approvals.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the PLA Board of Directors reviewed and adopted a long- term plan presented by the Steam Department to expand our fleet of steam locomotives for train operations. With lots of creative planning and logistics we purchased the Southern Pacific 2-6-0 steam locomotive #1744. This is another milestone for the PLA. We are committed to our goal for long-term sustainability of the Niles Canyon Railway as the premier all-volunteer west coast operating railroad museum for diesel and steam power. The historic SP #1744 is an exceptional fit with the PLA mission statement as it operated for many years out of Oakland on the SP Western Division and in California’s Central Valley.

This rebuild project is unique in that the locomotive was already disassembled and an extremely thorough restoration had been started by the previous owner. The #1744, however, still requires significant boiler work, mechanical work, and reassembly to restore it to operating condition.

Our NCRy Steam Department volunteers have already been busy starting to clean and prime #1744’s frame.

The scope of the project is outlined in a five-year restoration plan to spread out the impact on funding needs. We started a phased fundraising program with Phase I to complete the frame and tender transportation to our Brightside yard and the boiler trucked to Antonito, CO for contract rebuilding. We are now entering Phase II of the restoration plan that starts repairs to the running gear and boiler.

Did you know that main components for the boiler rebuild are 2000 staybolts of different types and sizes? The current staybolts are no longer serviceable and new staybolts must be custom machined and fabricated from raw stock. The average cost to create each staybolt is $60.00 for a total cost of $120,000.

Interior of #1744’s boiler shell after sandblasting and Apexior coating at Stockton Locomotive Works in Antonito, CO. This work took place on 12/1/2020.

To begin to address the fabrication of the needed staybolts for the boiler and to start the running gear rebuild, the Pacific Locomotive Association is launching Phase II fundraising efforts now with the goal to raise $75,000 or more over the course of 2021. The current rebuilding timeline has us budgeting to spend $75,000 each year until the rebuild is complete. If we can raise more than $75,000, we feel the five year rebuild timeline can be reduced.

Your donation will be essential for us to meet our goal of $75,000 to continue our work throughout the coming year. Would you please consider making a donation to help us kick off this phase of #1744’s restoration?

Checks are also welcome and may be made out to the Pacific Locomotive Association. Add in the memo section of your check that your donation is for the #1744 so we make sure to properly direct the funds. Mail to: Pacific Locomotive Association,SP#1744 Restoration,  P.O. Box 515, Sunol,CA 94586-0515

Your directed donations can only be spent on the project for which the donation was earmarked until the project is completed, or in other words when the SP #1744 is once again steaming on the Niles Canyon Railway.

Along with future mailings and articles in our newsletter, The Club Car, we will be posting updates to our website here and social media sites to mark our fundraising and restoration progress.

Thank you very much for your support, and we hope to hear from you soon.

SP #1744 on an excursion on the Knights Landing Branch of the SP – John West photo – Used with permission