Category Archives: General Museum News

News, events, and other tidbits about the WW&F Railway Museum

Build Locomotive 11: August Update

WW&F locomotive #7
WW&F locomotive #7

This report on No. 11 includes some fabulous news, as well as updates on actual progress that moves the project forward.

First of all, we have received two substantial donations for No. 11. An anonymous member has donated $50,000 to the project, which really provides us a kick start! In addition, the Bluewater Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, located in Royal Oak, Michigan, heard about the project and donated $10,000. This chapter, which is going out of business, has sold off its collection of passenger equipment and is donating the proceeds of that sale to what it considers worthy causes. Many, many thanks to both donors.

In addition to these wonderful donations, this FundRazr crowd-funding has reached about 45% of the $17,000 goal we set for ourselves. Just in July, three people each donated $1,100 or more, entitling each of them to a replica of WW&F No. 7’s Baldwin builder’s plate. The pattern for the plates has been made and delivered to Cattail Foundry, which is producing 10 plates for us — we’re quite optimistic that others will want one. Thanks to everyone who is supporting us through FundRazr.

The engineering group has developed a timetable for the manufacture of No. 11. Over a five year period, it is hoped that No. 11 will go from paper and electronic images to the actual live, steaming, operating locomotive. Phase 1 — building the main frame from from front to back, including the cylinders and rear frame castings. Phase 2 — adding the running gear including pilot and rear trucks, drivers, etc. Phase 3 — finish all foundation work including driving gear, valves and brakes. Phase 4 — boiler and tank installed on frame. And finally, Phase 5 — completion and testing of the new locomotive.

Frames for locomotive #11
Frames for locomotive #11

On Aug. 3, the frames and other parts made by Precision Grinding Inc. in Alabama were delivered to Sheepscot and are temporarily stored in Bay 1

This month, quotations for water-jet production of parts, plus a request for quotations for production of the cylinder half-saddle sections, will go out. The cylinders are cast in two identical sections which are then machined and bolted together, thus the “half-saddle” nomenclature. In addition the drive wheel centers and the eccentric cranks will be cast.

3D Model of #11's Cylinder Casting
3D Model of #11’s Cylinder Casting

Last but not least, No. 10 was recently moved from shop track 2 over to track 1, not only to provide shop space for coach No. 9’s construction, but also so No. 10’s boiler construction and other necessary work can continue. During the move, a rolling inspection of No. 10’s running gear was performed, revealing no problems.

Locomotive 10 on the move
Locomotive 10 on the move

Tickets Are Now on Sale for Our Reopening in August!

Tickets are now on sale for all of our train services later this summer!  Detailed descriptions for these special events can be found at the “Book Now” link on the top right of this page or at the links listed below.

The safety of our guests and volunteers are paramount to our reopening.  All guests are directed to please read our WW&F COVID-19 Pandemic Safety Plan before visiting our Railway at 97 Cross Road in Alna, Maine.

Here are a few highlights of our planned events in August and September:

The first public trains since 1933 to Milepost 8 August 7th and 8th!  These evening trains will traverse our Mountain Extension to the foot of Trout Brook Bridge.  This fundraising excursion will also include a photo run-by and a pie and lemonade celebration at Alna Center.

Learn more and book your special tickets for a Milepost 8 Excursion at https://fareharbor.com/embeds/book/wwfry/items/244380/calendar/2020/07/?full-items=yes

Our Annual Picnic Saturday, August 8th will celebrate a great step in the preservation of Maine’s two-foot gauge railroad equipment with the opening of the Maine Narrow Gauge Collection in the newly completed Car Barn Extension. There will be antique auto rides, 2 locomotives in steam, food available (for pre-purchase), guided tours, and more!

Learn more, order your picnic lunch, and book your Annual Picnic tickets at: https://fareharbor.com/embeds/book/wwfry/items/244377/calendar/2020/07/?full-items=yes

Handcar Hops at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Saturdays August 22nd, September 5th and September 19th.  This is an opportunity for 2 to 4 guests to take handcar ride out on our mainline with a WW&F brakeman.  After some brief safety and operation training, you will set out on a 90-minute adventure via a pump car used by railway workers maintaining this line in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Learn more and book your Handcar Hop at: https://fareharbor.com/embeds/book/wwfry/items/244381/calendar/2020/07/?full-items=yes

Ice Cream Eggspress 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturdays August 22nd, September 5th and September 19th.  What do you get when you combine Ice Cream and Eggs?  Frozen Custard? No—The Ice Cream Eggspress!  We’ll have locally-made, award-winning Round Top Ice Cream on hand, along with an egg hunt for children who missed out on our usual Easter Eggspress trains this year.

Learn more and buy your tickets on the Ice Cream Eggspress at: https://fareharbor.com/embeds/book/wwfry/items/245517/calendar/2020/07/?full-items=yes

Evening Picnic Special 5 p.m. Saturdays August 22nd, September 5th and September 19th.  Bring your own or order a boxed picnic made by Treats in Wiscasset.  BYOB and enjoy the beautiful fields around Alna Center station as the day winds down.

Learn more, book tickets and order a ready-to-go boxed dinner if you’d like for your Evening Picnic at: https://fareharbor.com/embeds/book/wwfry/items/245523/calendar/2020/07/?full-items=yes

Campfire Trains 7 p.m. Saturdays August 22nd, September 5th and September 19th.    Enjoy a talk by a local author, music, stories, stargazing, or the magic of taking a lamp-lit train listening to the sounds of a steam train working through the night’s darkness.

Each train will have a special theme:

We hope to see you soon on the Sheepscot Valley Narrow Gauge!

Build Locomotive 11: July Update

So how do we get from “wouldn’t it be cool” to the actual locomotive? An engineering team, led by Jason Lamontagne, joined by Rick Sisson, Harold Downey, Eric Shade, Gordon Cook and Alan Downey, is using modern methods to take the locomotive piece- by-piece from a series of sketches to computer-assisted designs and finally to the shop to become a real piece of iron or steel.

BLW Builder's Photo WW&F 7

WW&F No. 7 was scrapped in 1937. Fortunately for the team, Baldwin Locomotive Works had developed a very methodical and logical approach to locomotive construction. Virtually every piece and part that went into a Baldwin locomotive was of a standardized design. Baldwin engineers relied on the company’s Manual of Standard Practices, which defined the dimensions and materials for every component, for guidance. By following those specifications, these components could be made, no matter the gauge or size of the locomotive.

BLW Standards

Our WW&F team is following those same standards as they design and draw the many components, which, once assembled, will become WW&F No. 11. The team meets weekly on Zoom to discuss progress and challenges. Each member of the team has been assigned a series of related components, which will become sub-assemblies of the locomotive. Rick Sisson manages a spreadsheet to track completion of drawings and patterns, while Eric Shade carefully checks each drawing against the standards.

Monkeys at Work

The process begins with an old-fashioned sketch on paper, with the necessary dimensions indicated, sometimes with an arrow pointing to a particular place or a circle indicating an area for special attention. Following the sketch, several two-dimensional computer drawing are made, including all dimensions for rivet or bolt holes, angles, fillets or any other modifications.

BLW Valve Drawing

The exciting part comes next, as the two-dimensional drawings are converted to a 3-D images using one of several Computer Assisted Design programs. A 3-D image offers the design team the opportunity to “see” what the finished object will look like. The image can be manipulated on the screen to allow viewing from any angle, it can be enlarged to show detail, and in very complex designs, such as the cylinders, it’s even possible to see interior details. Various smaller parts can be “stacked” on the screen to show the final product. In fact, a 3-D image can be “printed” to make a foundry pattern.

3-D rendering of crossheads, guides and main rods

The first parts manufactured in 2020 for No. 11 should be at Sheepscot soon. These are the two main frame rails and two pallets of smaller parts. All were made using CAD prints produced by the engineering team and sent to Precision Grinding, Inc. of Bessemer, Alabama. Parts were produced by computer-controlled plasma-cutting, a polishing process known as Blanchard grinding and final machining.

Polished Main Frame Member

The fund-raising for No. 11 continues apace. The first on-line campaign on FundRazr kicked off on June 11 and raised its first $1,000 in less than two days. In addition to the on-line contributions, funds were mailed directly to the WW&F post office box. Our goal by the end of 2020 is $17,000, which will set up the budget for the first year of the project of $50,000. Have you donated yet?

Don’t forget the special gift for anyone who donates $1100 or more in a single check. We will give each of those generous individuals a full size bronze replica of WW&F No. 7’s Baldwin builder’s plate, produced at Cattail Foundry in Gordonville, Pa.

Replica Builder's Plate

Learn more and donate at: build11.wwfry.org

Now Is the Time to Build 11!

The mission of the WW&F Railway Museum is to restore and reconstruct the operation and equipment of the original railroad as completely as possible. To that end, our organization has begun reconstruction of Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway’s steam locomotive No. 7.

WW&F No. 7 (Baldwin Locomotive Works Const. No. 31692) was a 28-ton 2-4-4T Forney built in 1907.  In 1931, the locomotive was damaged in a roundhouse fire at Wiscasset and was scrapped six years later.  In keeping with the tradition of giving new motive power the next available consecutive number, the reconstructed No. 7 will become our WW&F Railway No. 11.  Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania Archives photo.

Build 11: Why Reconstruct Locomotive No. 7?

As a Baldwin Locomotive Works product (together with No. 9 representing the Portland Company), our Museum will be preserving the range of motive power preferred by the historic WW&F Railway and other Maine two foot gauge railroads.

Baldwin was a widely recognized and popular U.S. locomotive builder.  This will serve to promote involvement in the project by individuals interested in steam locomotion and the construction of new steam locomotives generally.  Moreover, the size of this locomotive (compared with a standard gauge locomotive) makes the project achievable and economical.

Larger locomotives (like No. 7) are needed to traverse the WW&F’s soon-to-be-reopened Mountain Extension with its 4% winding grade.  As a 28-ton locomotive, No. 7 will not only handle this grade with ease, it will represent the heavier class of locomotives used by the historic railway.

Build 11: Raising Money and Building Interest

At the end of 2019, the WW&F Railway Museum successfully completed our 21 Campaign to raise funds for new boilers for our existing No. 10 and planned No. 11, actually exceeding the goal by about 7%.  Now we’re ready to embark on the next major campaign, to raise funds to complete construction of No. 11.

In May, a purchase order was sent to Precision Grinding, Inc. of Birmingham, Alabama. This firm has produced the main frame sections and several smaller items such as brake levers and suspension elements that require plasma cutting and precise grinding.  Most of our order has been completed and will be shipped to Sheepscot shortly.  Here we see a portion of the frame being plasma cut.

Our engineering team has been preparing drawings and 3-D renderings of the many components required for the new locomotive, and recently the main frames and a number of other components have been fabricated off site. It is expected that construction of No. 11 will take 4 to 5 years, depending on our ability to raise funds and the availability of volunteer labor.

We need your support! The estimated cost of building No. 11 is $250,000. Although we do have a good head start on the necessary funds, we need additional dollars to complete the locomotive.

Build 11: $17,000 for 2020 Vision

The goal of this campaign is to provide funds to keep the momentum going through 2021. Through the support of our friends and followers, we have enough funds on hand to not only simultaneously complete the boilers for Nos. 10 and 11 during the coming months, we can take advantage of ordering components together, timed now when the costs are at all-time lows.

We estimate that $50,000 each year will be required to purchase materials and keep construction on track. The 2020 Vision of $17,000 will complete the funds needed to move forward with the project through 2021—ensuring that the project does not fall idle due to the lack of resources. In 2021, we will be fundraising for 2022’s anticipated expenditures.

Build 11: How Can I Learn More or Help?

Here’s an easy way to contribute: Set aside $11 each month for No. 11.  Or maybe $11 every two weeks ($22 each month).  Recurring donations provide steady income for the project, while larger donations are sought.  Recurring donations such as these can be set up via the Donate button on the upper right of this page or by using your bank’s online bill paying service.

If you’d like to learn more about the Build 11 project or make a one-time donation, please visit our FundRazr page at build11.wwfry.org.  Here you can learn many more details about the project, including volunteer opportunities!

Thank you for your interest and support, as we continue Rebuilding Maine History!

No. 11’s bell and headlight, awaiting their locomotive!

(Not Entirely) Quiet Times on the Sheepcot Valley Narrow Gauge

Times are quiet on our Mountain Extension near Trout Brook bridge.  We had planned a busy Spring Work Weekend in late April as we prepare for our Mountain Extension’s opening, but the pandemic has delayed that work.  That hasn’t meant we had to stop all progress on our Railway.  Stewart Rhine photo.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly all the non-profits, businesses and our other friends in the Sheepscot Valley, not to mention across the rest of Maine, the U.S. and the world.  Like our friends, our Railway is no exception.  We are currently closed to the public and nearly all our volunteers.  We currently plan to open to the public August 8th and to our volunteers sooner, all of course dependent on guidance by the CDC and state of Maine.

That doesn’t mean, however, our progress has completely stopped!

Alna Center Pavilion

Stewart Rhine photo.

Just before pandemic restrictions hit in mid-March, a small volunteer crew had finished the erection of half of the pavilion at Alna Center, including its roof.  Once pandemic restrictions are lifted, we plan to set the footings for the rest of the posts and then erect the rest of the building.

Our pavilion will serve as a nearly all-weather venue at our Alna Center station for special events like our Easter Eggspress, Music on the Railway concert series, evening talks, Fall Festival and Victorian Christmas.  Our thanks to Bath’s Maine Maritime Museum, with provided us the opportunity to repurpose this building they had used to shelter the recent restoration of their schooner Mary E.

Car Barn Extension

Brendan Barry photo.

When the pandemic hit, we were well along with our Sheepscot Car Barn Extension.  In order to secure the building, a small group of local volunteers, following social distancing guidelines, have worked to finish the walls, roof and doors to secure the building.

Portland’s Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum has provided much of the funding for the extension to, in part, shelter a portion of their collection.  Once completed, this building will provide an exhibition space highlighting the story of the Maine two-foot gauge railroads, while sheltering historic equipment of both our Railway and Maine Narrow Gauge.

Railroad Maintenance

Mike Fox photo.

A spring inspection of our railroad found two culverts in early need of repair.  Since our 2020 public trains are delayed, a one to two-man volunteer crew has been performing these repairs to keep our rail line open and avoid impacts to our eventual public train service.

Our Gift Shop

Stewart Rhine photo.

Just as pandemic restrictions hit, our gift shop team was finishing up renovations to our Sheepscot gift shop.  When it reopens, our shop will have a new cleaned and painted floor, a wider aisle and new displays.

While our Sheepscot gift shop is closed, our online gift shop is always open!  Purchase the newly printed Third Edition of Two Feet to Tidewater,  peruse our other sale items or make a donation to help us keep the lights on while we are closed.  Thanks!

“Virtual” Annual Meeting Set for May 2, 2020

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and stay-at-home order currently enacted within the State of Maine, the 31st Annual Meeting of the WW&F Railway Museum, as set for May 2, 2020 at 2pm, shall take place via electronic teleconference, rather than at the historic Alna Center Meetinghouse, as previously announced.

All official business of the Railway will be conducted at that time, including the election of officers. Votes by proxy (as already sent to all members of the organization) will be tallied during the meeting; members are highly encouraged to vote by proxy in advance of the meeting.

To join the Annual Meeting electronically, please use the following web link: http://meet.google.com/xst-qfra-cch

Or call: 413-338-0028
PIN: 506 194 966#

Additional detailed instructions, as well as agenda items and reports (once available), can be found at:
http://forum.wwfry.org/index.php/topic,3672.msg45775.html

Opportunity in Crisis – CLOSED until AUGUST 8, 2020

crisis = danger + opportunity

The Chinese characters for “crisis” consist of “danger” and “opportunity”. While somewhat optimistic, the truth is that in the midst of a dangerous crisis, opportunities can arise. The WW&F is seizing the current crisis to move forward as a stronger organization.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Museum has suspended public train rides, including special events, until a grand-reopening can occur on our “Annual Picnic”, August 8, 2020.

While this is disappointing, we thought it would be most beneficial to our volunteers, partners, and visitors to make this decision now so that plans can be made as the pandemic subsides and our lives return to normal.

This decision has an immediate effect on the following events and activities, some of which have been planned for several months:

  1. The Spring Work Weekend has been cancelled. It will be replaced with several additional work sessions to be held once “social distancing” restrictions have been lifted.
  2. The Annual Meeting will be held via teleconference. Interested members should visit our web site for details on how to participate.
  3. ALL public trains, special events, and private charters that were to take place before 8/8/2020 are cancelled. Some may be rescheduled, if possible. These include “Alna Day” (7/11) and two “Music on the Railway” concerts (6/27 and 7/25.) We will be contacting affected organizations, partners, and ticket holders in the coming weeks.

Those who received vouchers for free train rides in 2020 should be aware that these tickets are no longer redeemable until after August 8, 2020. Instead, we will honor them as best as we can during the remainder of the 2020 operating season.

Moreover, the operating schedule for Fall 2020 will not include scheduled train service on most Sundays. Instead, we are hoping that we can offer a full slate of train rides and special events, including concerts, presentations, festivals, pumpkin trains, Christmas Tree trains, and (of course, the ever-popular) Victorian Christmas. These details are still being developed and will be announced when finalized.

The opportunity here is that while the rails lay dormant, our volunteers are free to work (as appropriate) on the backlog of maintenance tasks that were scheduled for this Spring, but curtailed due to the pandemic. This also will allow (we hope) new faces to join our volunteer corps on scheduled work days (weekends and week days) through to our grand re-opening on 8/8/2020. Again, these dates and tasks will be announced as soon as they are developed (and social distancing rules are relaxed.)

The danger in this decision comes in the loss of ticket sales that was anticipated from April through July. We are mitigating this in a number of ways, including: federal assistance, a $10,000 loan from one of our anonymous members, and increased giving by those who are able to do so. We’ll be publishing more ways everyone can help out (including some that cost nothing) in the coming weeks.

Thanks again for your support of the WW&F. We will steam again. The narrow gauge will echo through the Sheepscot Valley once more. And the railroad of Big Dreams and Little Wheels will soldier on. Until then, be safe.

Our Museum is CLOSED until May 2nd; Spring Events Update Planned in mid-April

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our planned April 11th Easter Eggspress has been cancelled, as previously announced. Our Museum grounds, normally open for free to the public Saturdays year ’round, are now CLOSED to the public and are expected to remain closed until at least May 2nd.

During our Board of Directors meeting on April 11th, decisions will be made on the following spring events:

  • Spring Work Weekend April 24-26;
  • Our Annual Meeting May 2nd;
  • Start of scheduled Saturday public train service May 2nd;
  • Mother’s Day Tea May 9th; and
  • Start of scheduled Sunday public train service May 24th.

At this time, we anticipate most or all of these events will either be postponed or cancelled.

Further information can be found on our Facebook page.

Thanks for your understanding.

CANCELLED: Our 2020 Easter Eggspress

We wish to inform everyone that due to concerns over large group gatherings in relation to COVID-19, the WW&F is cancelling this year’s Easter Eggspress planned for April 11th. We are following Maine CDC’s recommendations in relation to the Coronavirus, out of an abundance of caution for our community. Thanks for your understanding.

A Reminder! Member, Family and Friends Activities During Spring Work Weekend April 24th – 27th!

UPDATE: IN RESPONSE TO THE CORONAVIRUS, THESE SPECIAL ACTIVITIES HAVE BEEN CANCELLED.

A reminder that the Wiscasset Woods Lodge, members John and Chris Kokas, and partners have lined up plans for several extra-curricula family activities during our Spring Work Weekend.  These events are open to everyone and do not require attendance at our Work Weekend or a stay at the Wiscasset Woods Lodge.

The deadlines for reservations are approaching March 27th and April 1st!  All Aboard!

Thanks to Saundra and Eric Neperud, owners of the Wiscasset Woods Lodge, and John and Chris Kokas, there will be several great opportunities for members, families and friends to experience Midcoast Maine during our Spring Work Weekend in late April.  A detailed itinerary , organized by the Wiscasset Woods Lodge, can be found on their website.

Activities planned by the Lodge include:

Friday, April 24th, 5 p.m.:  A Cooking Class with Chef Meghan—Homemade Ravioli.  Meghan Olcott, owner of Wiscasset’s Creamed Baking Company, will lead the class.  Cost $25 per person.  8 to 12 guests.  Reservations and deposits deadline April 1st.

Saturday, April 25th, 10 a.m.:  Midcoast Maine Wine Tour.  Visit five Midcoast Maine stops, including two wineries and a meadery during this day-long adventure, courtesy of Maine Winery Tours.  Cost $165 per person if 9 or less participate; otherwise $135 per person up to 12 people.  Reservations and deposits deadline March 27th.

Sunday, April 26th, 9.30 a.m.:  Walking Tour of Wiscasset and Castle Tucker.  2020 marks the 200th anniversary of the Maine’s statehood.  To commemorate, the day will start with a walking tour of downtown Wiscasset by the Red Cloak Lady, followed by a stop for warm drinks and pastries, and then a visit to historic Castle Tucker.  Sunday’s tour is designed to end in the early afternoon for folks who have travel plans to return home.  Cost $40 per person.  6 to 15 guests.  Reservations and deposits deadline April 10th.

Monday, April 27th, 10 a.m.:  Midcoast Maine Beer TourThe Maine Brew Bus will take participants to three breweries in Brunswick and West Bath, followed by a visit to Reid State Park (weather permitting).  Cost $150 per person if 10 to 23 participate; $115 per person if 24 participate.  Reservations and deposits deadline March 27th.

To reserve your space for these four events please call (207) 882-7137 or email Stay@Wiscassetwoods.com.

In addition to these weekend activities, the Wiscasset Woods Lodge is offering 10% off lodging for our Museum volunteers staying two nights or more during the Spring Work Weekend.  To get your discount simply type “WWF” into the promocode section just below where you choose the dates for your stay on the Lodge’s website, or call (207) 882-7137.

Our thanks to Saundra, Eric, Chris and John for organizing these great events!