The Restoration of Engine 6520
During the spring of 2015, Dave Thethi our Heritage Park locomotive specialist, spent a considerable amount of time and talent in getting Engine 6520 running again. Various problems had invaded the locomotive over many years of storage; frozen injectors, electrical issues and other mechanical challenges. In the early summer Engine 6520 came to life once again and hummed with the sound of a well tuned F-unit, ready to head down the mainline at 90 mph. However, the air brake system was very out-of-date and the locomotive was not legal to operate beyond the Park limits. David Walmsley and Trevor Mills were able to assist, and removed all the air-brake valves on the 26-system, and sent them to the U.S. for rebuilding. Upon the valves return, all were re-applied and system-tests of the equipment were completed. She sat until the summer of 2016, and needed to be restored cosmetically. With almost more rust than paint, and huge boils of rust on her nose and sides - she greatly needed exterior sandblasting, and the proper application of body fill and primer.
There were many steps to the restoration of Engine 6520:
- Getting funding and help
- Where to restore
- Removing rust and old paint from the nose and sides
- Welding the defected areas
- Body fill and profile sanding
- Sand and finish the body work,
- Professional spray painting
The summer meant warmer weather which is an important time for restoration as it can be messy and noisy, so it must be done outside. It also presents the possibility of getting help of a summer student, so Rob McBeth recommended his friend, Brodie Moffet to do the restoration. Last year 16 year old Brodie had assisted in some repairs and corrective action on the business car Alberta. He has an amazing talent when it comes to woodworking and general construction skills and this project would expose him to a whole new set of learning opportunities in metal and welding. David has over 25 years of experience in railway equipment restoration and volunteered to teach Brodie the various aspects of repair and restoration. David pitched the idea to Don Evans and he made a most welcome donation for the materials and labour.
At the rear of the car shop was a seldom used tent enclosure as most locomotives could not fit under it as their horns and bells were too high and hit the upper structure. So David and Trevor jacked up the tent supports and placed a supply of 8 inch square beams underneath, providing enough clearance for restoration space for all of the museums rolling stock.
Engine 6520 was badly weathered with many years of old paint and significant amounts of thick rust that had to be removed. It took over a week to remove the rust on the nose and sides needled with an air operated needle gun. Under that old paint and rust many holes were discovered, some large enough to put your hand through. It then took over two weeks of repair, as each hole was cut out with a grinder with a cut of wheel, a new steel patch was created and welded into the void. David showed Brodie the process of MIG welding the patches in place and he took over from there entirely on his own.
Once all the defect areas were welded, David and Brodie moved on to sandblasting of the nose and sides. The museum did have a sandblasting pot in the shop, and through some major efforts, it was made to operate again and a compressor was rented from the local rental shop. Each day about 5-6 hours of sandblasting was accomplished, followed by the application of body fill and primer to prevent the rusting of the newly blasted metal.
Brodie removed the door, and cut out the massive defects, cut new steel patches, and expertly welded in replacement segments. The door then received body fill and profile sanding to accomplish a perfectly smooth nose door.
Every aspect of the restoration experience was about learning, cooperation and safety. David and Brodie would determine the best project or task for the day, go through the planning process, establish any risks and select what safety equipment was required for that task. Part way through the project, our very valued member and volunteer Jim Saunders made a cash donation to the project and to keep everything running smoothly.
Brodie is now back in school with quite a story to tell about how he restored Engine 6520.
Next step on Engine 6520 is a month’s work to sand and finish the body work, then professional spray painting. A special quality paint is required with a need of $10K to accomplish completion. We are anxious to get Engine 6520 in full working order.
“This is an example of a beautiful outcome for the WCRA and for a very talented and devoted 16 year young adult. It is through the collective effort Don Evans, Robert McBeth, Brodie Moffet and myself, that we were able to create that positive outcome in 6520, “states David Walmsley.
David A. Walmsley is a restoration specialist at D&B....Design and Build positive and beautiful outcomes. He is also renowned around the Heritage Park for his restored 1910 vintage Pullman private rail car.