SP #1744 Project Keeps on Rolling One Wheel at a Time

The Steam Department has had a really busy past few weeks and has accomplished a lot on the SP #1744 Project. The big news is that the 1744 drivers have been moved to Sacramento and by the time you read this blog post, the machine work required on them has been completed.

The Steam Department has had a really busy past few weeks and has accomplished a lot on the SP #1744 Project. The big news is that the 1744 drivers have been moved to Sacramento and by the time you read this blog post, the machine work required on them has been completed.

Two of the 1744’s driver sets with their tires removed sitting in Brightside yard before they headed to Sacramento and the California State Railroad Museum.

With the wheels out of the frame and the tires removed (read our blog post on the removal), the wheel centers needed to be turned to true up the circumference so the new tires fit properly, the thrust bearings on the back of the wheels replaced and the axle bearings trued up. In addition, cracks found in the wheels needed to be repaired before the wheels were turned.

The PLA does not have the machine tools to do this work thus a Request For Quote(RFQ) was sent out to four reputable steam locomotive restoration contractors to seek their help in performing the work. After discussing the project with each firm and reviewing their quotes, PLA decided to contract with Stockton Locomotive Works (SLW) to do the driving wheel work.

Stathi Pappas, Owner of Stockton Locomotive Works, works on machining the first set of drivers for #1744 on the California State Railroad Museum’s Monarch Missile Master lathe, a piece of equipment originally owned by the U.S. Government for, yes, turning missile nose cones.

As SLW doesn’t have a lathe large enough to turn 63” drivers, PLA made arrangements with the California State Railroad Museum (CSRM) for Stathi Pappas to do the machine work in their wheel lathe at the Sacramento CSRM Shop. Stockton Locomotive Works was chosen to perform the work as their quote was the most reasonable given all the factors of cost, shipping, and local quality control. In addition, PLA has always tried to maintain good working relationships with other heritage railroads and the cooperation with CSRM furthers that goal. Performing the work in the old SP Boiler Shop will provide good public outreach for both organizations and allow CSRM shop staff an opportunity to show the potential of their facility to support heritage railroading.

The CSRM’s Monarch Missile Master lathe; originally used by the U.S. Government to machine missile nose cones.

Finally, doing the work in Sacramento is just a great story as the locomotive is returning home, where she was shopped many times by Southern Pacific. In fact, we recently obtained from Shirley Burman several Richard Steinheimer photographs of the 1744 undergoing running gear work in November of 1956 at the Sacramento Erecting Shop. The late repairs performed in Sacramento by Southern Pacific are most likely why SP #1744 was chosen as the Walnut Grove excursion locomotive for the “End of Steam” fantrip in 1958 and ultimately led to her being preserved.

Please take a look at this series of photos taken during one of the work days on the drivers as the first set was up on the lathe while the other two were receiving crack repairs.

The SP #1744 Project needs YOUR DONATION to help pay for the wheel work in Sacramento so we can continue to do the other work on the boiler and running gear planned this year! Donations can be mailed, made online at: www.ncry.org, directly at the button below or on our Steam Website which you can also visit to keep up with more details on the progress of the restoration.

Thank you for your support for this important restoration project!

Stathi Pappas, Owner of Stockton Locomotive Works, mans the CSRM lathe as a cutting pass is being made on the first set of #1744’s drivers.

Photos and video by Christopher R. Hauf – Used with permission