News & Reviews News Wire New boiler will allow Buffalo Creek & Gauley No. 4 to run again

New boiler will allow Buffalo Creek & Gauley No. 4 to run again

By Alan Byer | February 10, 2022

Donations sought for $300,000 project

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Black and white photo of steam locomotive with caboose
Buffalo Creek & Gauley 2-8-0 No. 4 and a former Baltimore & Ohio caboose return from interchange with the B&O in 1964. The locomotive will receive a new boiler and return to operation. (A.W. Byer)

CASS, W.Va. — Buffalo Creek & Gauley Railroad 2-8-0 No. 4, the last steam locomotive in revenue service on the fabled West Virginia short line, will steam again, thanks to a plan to obtain a new boiler for the Consolidation.

John Smith, CEO of Cass Scenic Railroad and West Virginia Central Railroad operator Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, tells Trains News Wire, “I’m meeting with the contractor” — Sistersville Tank Works Inc. of Sistersville, W.Va. — “and the [Federal Railroad Administration] steam inspectors at the start of the new year, to finalize as many of the details as possible prior to the start of constructing the new boiler to make sure we eliminate as many surprises as possible.

“We have the first two progress payments on hand and will do our best to raise the remaining $300,000 to finish. Once work on the boiler is started it is estimated to take one year to complete.”

Those interested in helping fund the effort can visit the new BC&G No. 4 website and click on the “donate” page.

The locomotive last operated as Southern Railway No. 604 for the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, N.C., hauling visitors on the grounds of the former Spencer Shops from 1987 until the locomotive’s FRA-mandated 1,472-day service inspection in 2001. During disassembly of the 2-8-0, museum staff discovered more damage than anticipated, and work eventually stopped when Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 came to Spencer for restoration. The museum sold No. 4 to Durbin & Greenbrier Valley in for $150,000, and the locomotive and its tender were moved to Cass in late 2015.

Geared steam locomotive in operation
Cass Scenic Railroad Heisler No. 6 previously received a new boiler from Sistersville Tank Works, which has been selected to produced a boiler for BC&G No. 4. (Alan Byer)

Evaluation by the Cass shop crew determined the boiler shell was in good shape, but the flue sheets and firebox would require replacement. Because the Cass crew was busy maintaining its geared-locomotive fleet, and there would be no place to operate No. 4 until the Greenbrier River line was completed, management determined replacing the boiler would be the best option. Sistersville Tank Works, which constructed a boiler for Cass Scenic’s Heisler No. 6 some 20 years earlier, was chosen for the job. (More information on Sistersville Tank Works is available here.)

Greenbrier River progress; 2022 parade of steam

In other news involving Cass and the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley:

— The pandemic and a subsequent steel shortage stalled work on the Greenbrier River line to Cass in early 2020 at a bridge spanning Trout Run, 6 miles from Cass and 9 miles from Durbin. But work is now set to resume.

“A contract was signed in late August and the steel will be onsite no later than May1st,” Smith says. “It will take between four and eight weeks to set the girders and assemble the myriad of cross members and gussets to have the bridge in service. We’re planning on nothing earlier than Sept. 1st to open the line between Cass and Durbin.”

— Smith said Cass will run another six-locomotive “Parade of Steam” on June 18, and that the FRA has granted an waiver to allow operation of 50 vintage railcars between Cass and Durbin and on the Cass hill.

2 thoughts on “New boiler will allow Buffalo Creek & Gauley No. 4 to run again

  1. No. 4 was in every way a relatively modern engine when built except it had no superheater. It’s not mentioned here but surely they will have the foresight to make that upgrade, regardless of the “history” of the engine. I’ve always wondered why they built the engine saturated. An anachronism the day it rolled out. I also hope they correct that hideous tender Quaker & Eastern had done for it. Maybe she won’t be “Old Slobberface” anymore.

  2. I’m confused. If the evaluation by the Cass shop crew determined the boiler shell was in good shape, why have they decided that replacing the boiler is the best option?

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