Yes, the tender is indeed nearly complete, with the exception of a few small appliances.
The boiler has passed ultrasound and hydro, and the driver tires have been turned. The rods have been refurbished and the driver boxes are properly re-Babbitted and machined. The pilot truck is about halfway done, and steelwork on the new cab is about 1/3rd done. A lot of major work is completed, but many smaller projects remain. The best news though, we are well past the 1/2 way mark and into the re-assembly phase. She is now, slowly but surely, beginning to look like a locomotive again.
We fully expect she'll be ready by July, but we hope to have her done a bit sooner. She'll need a shakedown run or two before she goes into service.
There's nothing really "under wraps," no real "state-secrets." The shop doors have been open during good weather, and folks are welcome to come see, when there's someone around. The tender, resplendent in her new paint is sitting right out beside the shop on track 5 for all to see.
Meanwhile, #97 waits for the funding and the materials necessary to renew her are accumulated. This will take time, but it will happen.
The thinking there is to be able to have #97 back up by the time #40 needs to go down for any great length of time.
It will be a fun, busy, and eventful season at the Valley this summer, especially for me,...
...it's official, I'll be starting as a Student Fireman, as well as a deck-hand on the boat! :D
"It belongs in a MUSEUM!"