Saturday, October 19, 2013

J. Neils Shay Rebuild sn-1643

Chapter 1

The hope for the future is to construct a loop of track so rides will be available.

It my pleasure to add this post concerning news about the sn-1643 Shay that resides at the Heritage Museum in Libby Montana (see my other blog posts here and  here) Dave came across my blog in December and informed me that the "4 Spot" was moved to the engine house and preservation efforts have begun! I was very excited to hear this and Dave has been gracious enough to supply moving pictures for us to enjoy. Dave lives in Troy Montana and like the rest of us, loves trains. He will be an active member of this restoration and hopefully will keep me "in the know" with information and hopefully more pictures!
With that said, we hope you enjoy the pictures. I will update this post as news arrives.

Donations of time and money are always welcome, please help the Heritage Museum continue on with their efforts to restore this great locomotive.  For information on the restoration of the Shay, and how to help with donations of money or labor.  There is always someone there on Saturday mornings working, either on the Shay or parts to be cleaned up and painted for it.  They have cleaned a outbuilding near the Enginehouse for a workshop and Railroad office.  "We have a wood stove for heat, 1 file cabinet for papers and blueprints of the shay.  Also a large table for working on the smaller Engine parts." 

For more information. please go the the webpage link listed below.

 "The first few pictures are of the move from the parking lot to the Enginehouse"-Dave

 "Nice crowd to watch. Had to reset the loader position to pull to enginehouse from cookshack."

 "Hooked back up to engine for move into house"

 "Mission accomplished. Secure for the night"

 Here is our friend Dave and his wife
 (the official photographer and jackhammer operator :) ) 
They are two of the many volunteers at the Heritage Museum who volunteer their time and labor to make sure our history is preserved. 
Many thanks to all of you. 

Updates Feb 12, 2012

 The first picture is of cracked stack flange, next two are of the original shotgun stack.  We took the Balloon stack off .  Working on fixing the stack flange or having a new one made. 

 "The next three pictures are of shroud and train air brake tank removal."

"This picture is of petticoat in smokebox.  Ron and I took it out of smokebox this afternoon. "

"This picture is of broken fitting that was welded into boiler is the water supply lines for the boiler.  Have to bore out and re-thread the holes."

"The missing whistle of long ago."

 "The water injector valve on the Engineer's side."

"The fireman's controls for burner nozzle."

 The back of boiler "controls"

"Exhaust steam nozzle"

"The exhaust nozzle piping in smokebox, smokebox firetubes and petticoat out of smokebox"

Updates 02/18/2012

 #7 Fireman's side of steam dome. #8 Engineer's side of steam dome.#040 Steam dynamo for Engine lighting.

 Fireman's side water supply line under tender,#053 fireman's side of Engine,#058 Engineer's side of cab, all rotted out. pic's 061,062  steam cylinders , 2x4 holding up right side of cab.

 Ron and I worked most of Saturday on the Engine.  Have 2 more pieces of shroud to take off the boiler.  These pictures are before and after. 

The 2x2 blocking was to hold the shrouding in place.  No insulation was put back in after the last boiler repair.  They just painted it. Getting ready to take metal cover off cylinders

Found a squirrel pine cone stash in behind the cylinders.  Had two inches of fresh snow this morning. Sun came out and melted most of it. We really enjoy seeing those pictures on the internet.  That way everybody can see how things are coming along on the restoration of the shay. 

UPDATE 03/04/2012
 This Saturday we made good progress on the shay. Sheila started cleaning out the firetubes, "all 127 of them"! We found two that are plugged up.  Had to build a tool to clean them out. These first three pictures are of the smokebox and Sheila at work.

We had to remove the stack to have room for the forklift to reach the steamdome.  Next up steamdome lid.

 Here is better view  the stack flange, we may have a new casting made. chained up the lid, and walked to the ground. Doug, our cement guy came over this afternoon to help.  Now the next pictures are of inside the steamdome.

 Here is a view of the steamvalve.  The pipe at about 11 o'clock position is the main supply to manifold in cab.  Gauges, valves come off that manifold.  The throttle arm is under the steamvalve. Some of the smaller parts we will take over to the office to cleanup and paint. 

March 17, 2012 Updates
Removing the smokebox cover.

 Moved the Shay back about 8' so we can take the water and fuel tanks off.  I got this tool  pinch bar* from a guy in Troy. He had it in his garage for quite a while and decided to put it in a yard sale.  It doesn't move much, but it works great to move the shay.  

Update 04/09/2012

Our friend Dave hasn't had much time to work on 1643, life has that way of getting in the way of a hobby!
Dave hurt his back while working on the shay, so of course he needed to take a little time off, while he did, he drove down to Virginia City MT to visit family and take some photos. Here is what he caught from his lens.  Hope you get well soon Dave.

Happy Easter Dean,  Had a nice trip down south last week. Thanks for the info about the train engines at Deer lodge. Also took some pictures of the Railroad at Virgina City Mt.  Will getting in contact with those folks about getting one of those passenger cars for pulling behind the Shay. They also have a nice old Great Northern Caboose there that would look great behind the Shay. Still no word on Ok for boiler test on Shay.  I sent a picture so maybe things will speed up alittle.  The old sharp stick method works the best!! to get things going. Didn't do anything on the Shay this weekend. The snow has melted there at the Museum, so will start marking rail lengths, to get ready for more track laying out back of Enginehouse. Thought about a switch near the Enginehouse for a siding.  Have two complete switches with the trimmings. Will start marking out on the ground the track route.  A turning -y- will be the first order of business.  Will keep you posted on things.  Dave E. 

Milwaukee Road E-8 at Deer Lodge

Milwaukee Road Little Joe E70

Milwaukee Road Ribside Caboose

Virginia City MT


  1. Fascinating stuff, thanks for posting this. If I lived within an hour's drive I'd probably be there most Saturdays to pitch in...unfortunately nowhere near being the case : )


  2. Its great to see that Montana will once again have a live steam locomotive; something that has been missing since Alder Gulch #12 went down.

    If you are interested in obtaining those passenger coaches at Virgina City (Nevada city), drop me an e-mail.

  3. The Railroad Committee is having a Shay work day this Saturday the 19th starting at 9am. We will be finishing the removal of parts from the boiler so we can get an accurate ultrasonic test of the boiler thickness (strength) in advance of a working visit from Stathi Pappas. We have a group of people working together and if you wish to join us, please come or call Don 406-291-8288 or text.