ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe 4-8-4 No. 2926 was steamed up on July 29 to gain experience with how a 2900 boiler does its job. On hand for the event was Matt Casford who works for BNSF Railway in Texas and is an engineer on AT&SF 4-8-4 No. 3751, which is owned by the San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society. He ran the show in the cab and was assisted by Henry Roberts, fireman apprentice from the New Mexico Steam Locomotive & Railroad Historical Society, the organization that is restoring No. 2926. Local Federal Railroad Administration inspector Dan Lucero also attended.
Initially, steam pressure was increased to about 70 psi to change from compressed air running the blower and the atomizer to steam doing those jobs. Then pressure was increased to 260 psi when a safety valve lifted. That is short of the desired working pressure, and they were not successful at getting it adjusted properly. After the safety valves get more work done on them, more steam-up days will follow. However, steam pressure was used to run appliances like the dynamo, air compressors, and injector successfully. Prior to this test, they could only run on compressed air.
“And then we used steam to blow the whistle, which makes a lovely sound compared to it being blown with compressed air,” says Mike Hartshorne, NMSL&RHS president.
Work remains for No. 2926. “We’ll let her cool off for a bit,” Hartshorne says, “pull the safety valves for some work, and get back on the job jacketing, installing valves and pistons, finishing the electrical system, and installing the [multiple-unit] box.”
NMSL&RHS is a nonprofit organization formed in the mid-1990s and staffed solely by volunteers whose mission is to fully restore AT&SF No. 2926 to operational status. Baldwin built the 4-8-4 in 1944, and AT&SF retired it in 1953. In 1956, it was donated to the city of Albuquerque who chose to display it in Coronado Park. It remained there until June 23, 2000, when it was towed out of the park and taken the short distance to its restoration site.
Although no visitors were allowed on site for the steam up, they are always welcome to visit on Wednesdays and Saturdays, which are normal workdays for the restoration crew.