The Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum’s century-old steam train has been offline for nearly two years as it needs costly and time-consuming repairs.
Over the weekend, the locomotive received its “1472 inspection,” an examination that happens only after 15 years or 1,472 service days, whichever comes first. It’s considered the most comprehensive inspection of all for the trains.
Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad Operations Manager Stathi Pappas, who has been working on trains for about 15 years, conducted the evaluation of the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum’s 1916 Baldwin locomotive No. 15.
The steam train has not been up and running since it was taken offline in March 2019. Repairs to the train’s boiler were originally estimated to cost about $150,000, and the CCRM secured a grant of $154,000 from the state’s 2020 supplemental capital budget in April 2020.
Through Pappas’ routine inspection, he found additional repairs that are needed in the boiler, but the exact cost of those repairs is still being determined.
“We were evaluating some additional conditions to make sure there were no more discoveries that would come up later as we were working on it. We did find some additional scope of work,” he said.
There are a lot of rusted materials throughout the locomotive’s boiler that have become too thin and need replacing, Pappas said. Since the locomotive is a pressure vessel, it has to be kept up to standards set by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).
“In general, I’ve certainly seen a lot worse and this is all very achievable. The institution is staying serious, having secured some of that state funding and then is doing some additional capital campaign work. I think this is all very achievable,” Pappas said.
Using all of the proper techniques and materials, the replacement could take about six to 12 months, Pappas estimated.
“Work would have been proceeding on that locomotive much sooner had it not been for the COVID restrictions and everything else,” Pappas said.
In addition to the replacements needed in the locomotive’s boiler, the running gear could also use some upgrading, Chehalis City Council Daryl Lund said. The exact costs have not been determined, but he said if repairs aren’t completed now, the costs will only increase as the train gets more wear. Lund would like to see a capital campaign begin in order to get all parts of the steam train updated.
“It’s worth spending the money because it’s a gold mine for our community … I know that the railroad can bring thousands of tourism dollars to our community,” Lund said.
Pappas said that steam trains are becoming less and less common throughout the country and the local community is “lucky to have an organization that is dedicated to preserving the steam train.”
“Anything more that people are able to donate, it’s basically already a winning team at this point, so it’s going to do maximum benefit to the project and the institution and the local economy as well,” Pappas said.
To find more information about the CCRM or to donate toward repairs of the 1916 locomotive, visit the CCRM website at steamtrainride.com.