• Silver Lake Railroad

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England

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  by Cosmo
Ok, I've held off commenting on this one for a while, but-
Will is not incorrect.
I've had a good look at the loco in question and it's NOT in good shape.
Cab appliances: GONE.
Crown brasses: Shot.
Most rod bearing surfaces: exposed to years of weather with no care or lubrication
much piping either missing or broken.
So,... start with a comparable locomotive size-wise, say, Monson #3 or WW&FRR #9 and...
...remember, this engine, unlike the latter 2 examples has spent YEARS outside, uncapped, no protection...
So, AFTER replacing the boiler (say, $1.5- 2k, depending) you're still looking at a LOT of work, FRA or no.
Remember, there aren't a lot of the parts the thing would need "just lying around," so a lot of custom work and fabrication would need to be done.

Now,.. DON'T GET ME WRONG! I'm not saying that steaming that thing would be impossible, BUT...
1) there are better engines to start with, in better shape to start from.
2)SLR has a nice little operation now that keeps them free from FRA's attention. Firing up a locomotive would be an invitation for them to come take a look, and insularity is no longer a guarantee they won't at least come LOOK. They've been up to Wiscassett, they just like what they see they don't feel inclined to interfere.
3) Look at what WW&F had to do to #9, including replacing the entire boiler, THEN te smokebox, and pretty much the entire FRAME.... and that was on a locomotive that was sheltered for most of it's life when it wasn't running.
Now, look at MNGRR and #7... and SRRM up in Philips and what happened to MNGR #3... even small engines can be EXPENSIVE. So $500k? Fair enough estimate. If not entirely for the restoration, then to have enough left over to RUN the doggone thing later.
That's not even getting into having a shop to take care of the thing, which SLR just aint got. Sure, they have the CSRR nearby, but who wants to truck the thing over there every time something breaks?
A nice cosmetic job is what works best for SLR, and that's what they did.
Now, if, say, "Crotch Island Historical Society" or some such was formed to restore it to it's original appearance,...
  by Reader#108
I have to say.....it is a shame when someone takes an objuective look at something and turns it into......

well......a clusterpost.......

Pete, I have a bunch of respect for your knowledge and wisdom but for chrissake......until someone actually

climbs inside the boiler and checks things out, all of these numbers and comparisons are nonsensical.

And, I was there with you the day we looked at it.....all 7 minutes worth.
  by steamer69

Quite right though....NO ONE knows what the possibilities for that locomotive are or could be. And Mr Scopanator, I'll pony up the cash for that little chooch when you give me a 20 year lease. Before talking like you know what your talking about.....do some resurch. Remember, I've done it before with an engine like that, and I could do it again in a heart beat.
  by Cosmo
Hey Bill,
Look, as far as the numbers go, I'm going by what I've seen from other projects of similar sized engines. And you're right, nobody KNOWS,... but from past experience we can get a pretty good idea.
Like I said, restoring that engine is not "impossible," but for SLR? Impractical by their own assessment, and I'm inclined to agree.
One thing I did not make mention of is that the engine is missing it's saddle tank. Now, maybe it wouldn't cost AS much as constructing a new boiler (which, in some cases proves to be less expensive than repairing the original,) but it's a lot of steel, and last time I checked steel isn't exactly cheap.
But seriously, this is what one group has run into with an engine that was in service shortly before they started and (they thought) "only needed tube work" :
So, all I'm saying is, sure, somebody COULD restore the thing, but SLR has their reasons for not wanting to be the ones.
  by Reader#108
Pete,.......I'm not saying role the tubes out ......and the operation being a donation ride would hinder this.....I was more talking about the overkill on restorations and the numbers. NOBODY knows or can ballpark that locomotive.
  by Cosmo
Reader#108 wrote:Pete,.......I'm not saying role the tubes out ......and the operation being a donation ride would hinder this.....I was more talking about the overkill on restorations and the numbers. NOBODY knows or can ballpark that locomotive.
That's my point. If you're going to start something, start HIGH, otherwise you run into the problems that other groups have had in the past.
SRRP thought they were looking at $18k of boiler, plus asbestos (not an issue with the SLR engine, but) plus transportation, so $25k sounded like a good place to start from. They have spent over four times that and still have a lot to do.
When you look at in that perspective, I cannot blame the SLR guys for deciding it's not practical given the scope of their operation.
  by SilverLakeRailroad
Pete- Thank you for attempting to explain. You seem to understand our perspective and I'm sure Bill and Brett get the situation as well so this is a bit ridiculous...

Its an adorable little steam engine and grabs people's attention from the road. This is why we have the engine in the first place. Believe it or not having that thing sitting out by the street helps us quite a lot!

Having an operational steam engine is something we all would like to see, but our operation is not set up to accommodate a locomotive of that sort. The tracks would need work to accommodate the weight, the fuel costs would increase, not to mention labor involved with running the thing. Any equipment other than what we use is virtually unrealistic in our situation. I haven't even started to mention the work it would need to bring it up to operational standards.

If someone were to come in and purchase the railroad with the mindset of changing the ENTIRE scope of what the "Silver Lake Railroad" is, then and only then would running that little steam engine POSSIBLY be feasible and perhaps even profitable, but thats a gamble I would never be willing to take and everyone currently involved is on the same page.

Brett- I completely understand that everything is fixable and it may be possible to fire the porter one day. I believe you could probably single handedly get the thing going, but please take a moment to think what we are. We offer a relaxing little ride that uses unique equipment. We have a little depot, diner, etc. Its a genuinely adorable place and the by donation aspect quite simply makes people happy. We are only there because the kindness of the volunteers and most importantly the owner who is willing to invest in a place that is not profitable, but just there to give people an affordable place to enjoy. "As you and I both know..." In the world we live in an operation like this is so unrealistic and rare to even exist, but the fact of the matter is that it does.

With that said I appreciate your input and willingness to share your vast Steam knowledge, however, our view is that we want to continue to offer the program we currently have for as long as humanly possible without biting off anything more than we can chew.

Will Scopa GM
  by steamer69
Before you preach about what can or can not be done. Look at a property like Passumpsic. They don't even get paid for rides.....and we have made the equipment work. For every reason you give me as to why you "can't".....I can cite 4 or 5 reasons why you can. It all comes down to priorities. It is very understandable that the priorities may or may not be the same, but the priorities should not be used as an excuse. Don't be ashamed of a direction that you feel is right, but be able to back it up with something more than an excuse.

What do you want the operation to become? A viable money making venture? With what you have, you have a good thing going. Taking it to the next level, that's all up to you. I'm sure that your business model and the operation plan hinges on funds that are made as well as investment from the owner. Capitol improvements are done with liquid capitol that is invested into the operation in many forms. Do not discount one at the expense of the other. A successful railroad is waiting to be made. It takes time, and forward thinking.....as well as volunteers and people with experience who are willing to help you out. I am not dumping on you or Silver Lake. I am offering possibilities to grow your business model. I wish you all the best of luck, and another wonderful season. Healthy debate about direction is good, as long as it moves the operation forward. Especially as a GM, your first responsibility is to the railroad, then the volunteers. Building a comprehensive business model based on organic assets will help you with this. What you have there is a gold mine. A discovering and engineering survey on the engine is free and wouldn't hurt. At least then you would know where you really stand.
  by Cosmo
steamer69 wrote: A discovering and engineering survey on the engine is free and wouldn't hurt. At least then you would know where you really stand.
Says who? Nothing is "free." Even volunteer hours count toward the bottom line, either as dollars spent or dollars saved.
Maybe you could find someone qualified to do so conduct a D&E on the thing, but their time would still translate into money, whether they're paid for the work or not.
Also, SLR does not have a machine shop the level of Passumpsic's. They don't have a steam mechanic/machinist on site. Granted, they have mechanical people, people who know speeders, and people who are willing to donate time to such things, but they don't have STEAM people.
Could they find such people? SURE! Are there some who live nearby? Maybe. This brings us back to the whole time/$ thing.
But Brett, ol' buddy... at the end of the day, what it boils down to is this: Starting a steam program where one does not currently exist. And that would NOT be free, or cheap.
Again, I'm not saying the effort would not be worthwhile for someone with the time/energy etc to put into it, but SLR just aint that kind of operation. They are what they are and they're not looking to change. Their reasons are not "excuses," they're reasons. They're not Boothbay, CSRR, MNGRR or any other operation, they are what they are by virtue of who they are, and that makes them unique.
I'm sure if someone with the cash, a shop, and a lot of time and the expertise to do so ponied up the money to buy the CIRR Porter from SLR they'd be happy to sell. Until that happens it's something neat to look at and grab people's attention... what's wrong with that?
  by steamer69
Yawn.....same old story, same old line........
  by Cosmo
It is what it is.
  by b&m 1566
Just for discussion purposes. In a perfect world, if I had the money to spend at my expenses, if I were the owner and man in charge, if I wanted to make the operation bigger the first thing I would do, is submit a bid to the state for operation between Mt. Whittier station and Madison station. Why, I believe you will get more support operation wise if the base of operation was out of Mt. Whittier station. With its closer proximity to the junction of 16/25 the public exposure would be greater. I'm not saying 113? doesn't have its fair share of traffic but most thur traffic is bye-passed by rte 16. I believe Mt. Whittier gives you a better option to build a small service bay if needed as well.
  by Reader#108
B&M.........you hit it on the head.


Dwight has said it a thousand times...........CSRR would probably NOT have worked anywhere else.

But, as some folks who tend to be foamamatic are.......we have to take a slight suggestion and turn it into a Foaming Holy War

against this operation and that operation and this facility and that facility.

FACT-----Silver Lake is a Ride By Donation operation
FACT-----They run A6 and A8 Fairmont Speeders up and down the tracks with home made cars.
FACT-----They are a non-FRA property
FACT-----They have a static display steam locomotive
FACT-----They probably, at this time, either due to financial or structural issues, have no desire to run it.

FICTION----They are just like any other railroad
FICTION----They couldn't handle a rebuild of any type
FICTION----They don't have the space or facility to do work
FICTION----There is no interest

There is interest, of all kinds in what Silver Lake is......but I'm sure we can't see that from the bridge of the USS Lollipop.
Silver Lake is not just like any other railroad. Hell they have an 18 year old GM.....
There is ample room to build out a facility to house the equipment IF THERE WAS EVER interest in doing some work.
What would simply be needed, as in any project is $$$$$$$$$......which they do not garner in vast quantities due to the donation
ride status and the FACT that the railroad is limited to how many people can ride at any given time.
My guess Pete is that someone that we know, would go up to the facility, donating their time, and do a survey on the machine.
You know it, I know it, and about 227 people that will read this post know it. It may be neat to find out exactly what it needs.
HEY, even better! You could use it as a "draft pick"
Now, I understand that those who just sit around and chug-a-chug-a-choo all day have no idea what that is....kind of like girls,
but at the same token.....you could have a machine sitting there that is worth.....what? 65? 75? 35? thousand?
You do a survey, find out its not as far off as you think? Needs minor (in the scheme of things) work?
Now you have a piece of a puzzle that you can SELL to make MONEY to create an even more amazing experience there!
REVENUE GENERATION! WOW! Kind of like selling 15 to Ogema and garnering cash.......
kind of like swapping a Number 2 pick in the draft for that running back you needed......
BUT, there are alot of folks who just want to slam doors on things because it doesnt fit their my way or the highway way of thinking.....


  by Cosmo
Woah, woah, woah Bill, slow your roll dude! I'm not the one foaming or suggesting they do or be anything different from what and how they are.
could they be? SURE! But it's not my place to even say that they "should."
I like what they are and what they do, and the cool thing is that as they are they can play host to NARCOA events during their regular operating season on some of their busiest days of operation and not when their line is normally shut down, which is when most other railroads do that for safety reasons.
As for the steamer? Well, someone I do know who knows way more about machining and has many more hours with hands on restoration projects than me took a look at it also and this is part of why I say what I say about what it will take. Sure, you could discover some things "aren't that bad," but.. BUT...
let us agree that you nailed it on the head when you said "$$$$$$" which is what I've said all along.
Ok, one more time: Even if the initial restoration to operation cost "only" $250k, the other $250 (at least) would be needed for 1) track improvements, 2) shop construction, 3) equipping the shop properly to keep the machine going (and note here, that we can include donated materials and volunteered man hours in that amount), 4) EPA approved coal and lubricant storage facilities (because ones that could be granfathered don't exist already on site) 5)State Of NH boiler certification before you put pressure on the vessel, (or you'll need the $$ for fines,)...
...oh, did I mention that once you have a working steam engine on site open to the public your insurance liability goes through the ROOF?
Ok, ok, I admit, it IS starting to sound awfully "foamish" in this reply, so I DO apologize. (See? This happens,... I start on it intending to be only 1 or 2 sentences and.. yeah, yeah, I know.)
All I'm saying is that these days, unlike the 1960's or 1970's when so many other operations started, adding steam changes so much operationally and cost-wise, and that's a cost I do not blame SLR for not wanting to take on. You really need to already be taking in some serious cash before starting something like that.
  by steamer69
EPA approved coal.....

Can I find that next to the EPA approved asbestos?
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