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BCK #43 - 2008 Updates


2008 - 2009
by: Scott H.


         It was now spring of 2008 and the elusive Dave Clark paid us a visit! After a two hour inspection this big burly man announced "no problem!" He had everything needed except a large "wheel loader" to move the engine if needed, a 500 amp DC Welder and the time to do it. He also didn't like the "wimpy" pilot guards I had installed and suggested a couple of six foot 1/4" plates would do a much better job. He left North Collins with a wink of his eye and nod of his head and said "I'll call ya!"

         We continued on with the tasks at hand as the months ticked by. Jim bought some very heavy 1/4" plate steel which I fabricated into two very nice looking "snow-plow" plates that even have rounded corners. Eight stout 7/8" bolts were used to secure them to the pilots. (c)2008 smph50 - Two new 1/4 inch steel pilot guards are installed front and rear. (10K) - CLICK to Enlarge (100K)
         Summer came and went as did fall and winter. In the spring of 2009, we turned our attention back to PRR #4483 which was due for another paint job. 10 gallons of "Dark Green Locomotive Black" and a Gallon of "Safety Orange" soon had the old guy looking great just in time for a visit from the Horseshoe Curve Chapter of the NRHS. My monthly phone calls to Dave sometimes got a response of "we're getting close!"

         Then in the first week of November, 2009 I got the call I had been waiting so long for, "are you ready?" The race was on to line up use of the wheel loader and to get the big generator. Months ago we had talked with TJ Winter, now the owner of Winters Rigging, who gave us use of the loader whenever needed and I found a local rental company that had the 500 amp welder. Now with three days advanced notice, getting the loader was not a problem but the local welder was now out on long term lease and the nearest one was in lower Pennsylvania! Fortunately, Mr. Robert Dingman of the NY&LE Railroad in Gowanda had one we could rent and that second week of November 2009 turned out to be one of the nicest weeks all Fall!

         Early on Monday morning the 9th, I picked up the welder from the NY&LE yard in Gowanda and then a beastly CAT 962 wheel loader from Winters. The CAT made short work of off loading the welder and then we "wrestled" the two 100 ton lifting jacks, wheel lathe and a whole lot of accessories from Dave's stake bed truck. By 2:00 pm the chips were flying!

         One of my biggest fears was that after all this time and waiting for the day to come was that one or more of the traction motors would not operate. If you remember, they haven't run in at least nine years but Dave said "whatta ya worried about?" "they'll be fine!" and he was right! Each traction motor has two "field" and two "armature" leads and it was just a matter of picking the correct pair to get the motor to rotate toward the lathe after adding 400 amps of current to get it moving.

(c)2009 smph50 - 100 Ton lifting jacks under the traction motor. (10K) - CLICK to Enlarge (100K)          The cutting process was pretty straight forward but required quite a bit of work. First we spotted the locomotive over a pair of good ties using the CAT Loader. Two large steel plates were then put under the front edge of the traction motor spanning the good ties. Now came the "fun" part, dragging and pushing the two 100 ton jacks over the railhead and sliding them under the motor. These stout but very powerful jacks weigh over 150 pounds each and you are doing this on your hands and knees while trying not to whack your head on any low hanging metal parts. With the jacks in place, start pumping! About 50 strokes of the long jack arm were needed to get each wheel 1/2" above the rail. Now we could wrestle the "lathe" onto the railhead and lock it down. Again, easier said than done.

         Wood blocking and wedges were used to support the outside edges of the lathe and then three large "spanner bars" were wedged in between the frame of the locomotive, the lathe and the motor. These bars helped cut down on vibration or "chatter" as the cutting bit chewed into the steel wheel. Once everything was solid, the welder was fired up and we flipped the polarity switch and dialed up the current to give the wheels a speed of about 10 mph. Now Dave could go to work as he cranked the cutting bit into contact with the wheel and worked it back and forth to remove the high flange and flatten the wheel tread. All the set-up took about two hours and the cutting process was done in less than an hour.

          When one wheel was done we got to tear it all apart and move the lathe to the other rail and then repeat the entire process from step one for each axle.

         By Thursday, six freshly cut wheels sparkled in the afternoon sunshine as Dave drove away to face "just another day at the office." On Friday the 13th, we returned the welder to the NY&LE RR. (an adventure in itself), added fresh oil to the journal boxes and finally re-secured and insulated all the loose traction motor leads. We called Pat from the BSOR for a final inspection and told him we were ready for the move!(c)2009 smph50 - Freshly cut wheels sparkle in the sunlight. (10K) - CLICK to Enlarge (100K)

         On the 25th, Pat called and told me they were ready to pick up the locomotive that morning. Another flurry of phone calls assured the use of the big loader to move the engine up the siding and extra hands if needed. The old switch was thrown, and the CAT pushed the locomotive out onto the mainline.

         All went well as #43 was set in behind Buffalo Southerns' RS11 - #5010 and the couplers locked. After an air test and nine years resting on that lonely siding, Buffalo Creek #43 was heading north to Hamburg! At 3:30 pm, the engine was spotted behind the small parking lot of ArtCraft Toy Trains Hobby Shop located in the old Erie Railroad Depot.


         This is not the end of this story. Much remains to be done and anyone can help! It has always been my belief that with tools and supplies, electricity, and a restroom nearby, more of our membership would be able to help with our preservation efforts especially if you are a diesel fan. Please do not hesitate to email me at  if you want to spend some time making things happen. Remember that we also have one steam engine and two cabeese right across the tracks that could use your help no matter how small the task might be. If you cannot physically help, any donation to this project no matter how small will help. Finishing the replacment of the cab windows, a full paint job and purchasing 14 batteries are next on the "to do" list. We'll keep you posted on our progress!

The WNYRHS greatly appreiciates all the generous donations to this project to date. However, we could still use your help! All Donations to the WNYRHS, Inc. are Tax-Deductable! If you would like to mail in a donation, send it to

WNYRHS Inc., PO Box 416, Buffalo, New York 14231-0416
         Click the PayPal Button to make a Secure Electronic Donation. THANK YOU!

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