The Restoration of Engine 9

The Project

Locomotive #9 is the only surviving locomotive from 3 different railroads: the Sandy River & Rangely Lakes (SR&RL), the Kennebec Central (KC), and the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington (WW&F). Additionally, it is the oldest of the Maine Two Footer locomotives (built 1891), and only one of possibly two locomotives surviving from its builder, the Portland Company of Portland, Maine. Therefore it is a unique engine.

A major expense of the restoration will come from the new boiler. Ultrasounds on the old boiler indicated excessive disintegration in certain spots. In addition, the boiler was built with a "modified lap-seam" which is now illegal to operate under Maine law. Rather than to destroy the old boiler with numerous patches and fixes, it was decided to preserve the historical integrity of the old boiler, and to set it aside for future generations to view, while building a new boiler for the locomotive to run with and giving it many more years of life. The new boiler is planned to match the old boiler as closely as possible, working within today's rules and guidelines.

Additionally, the locomotive was assembled with the boiler an integral part of the frame. This technique was used on early standard gauge Forneys, and was used by the Portland Company when it first built the two foot gauge locomotives. Later techniques used by Portland and Baldwin disconnected the boiler from the pulling forces of the train and built a frame around it, much like most locomotives were built. Therefore 9 will be re-assembled with this new frame piece around its firebox.

The third Saturday of every month is currently designated as a #9 Work Day. On these days the focus is to hit the project with many hands so that significant progress can be made. The project continues on other days, of course, with the view to making the dedicated work days more significant.

Project leader is Jason Lamontagne.

Current News

Work has begun on constructing a new rear frame for the locomotive, as well as continuing work on fixing the "forward" frame of the locomotive. A pattern is being constructed for the throttle valve. Bids are being taken on the casting for the frame piece connecting the forward and rear frames.

Photos below are images of the locomotive project. They may take extra time to load.

Several volunteers form the backhead. Photo courtesy of Stephen Hussar. #9's boiler, under construction at Boothbay Railway Village. Photo courtesy of Stephen Hussar.
backhead 9's boiler
Construction of the mudring. Photo courtesy of Stephen Hussar.

Past Milestones

2007: The old boiler is separated from the forward frame, and kept intact with the rear frame. Construction of the locomotive boiler reached a half-way point in June, when it received heat treatment to de-stress the boiler from the welding, in Strasburg, Pennsylvania. Work began to separate the smokebox from the old boiler. Work also began on fixing up the old frame, beginning with the repair of an old gas weld which looked like a bees nest.

2006: Construction of the boiler began at Boothbay Railway Museum, after the completion of drawings. After a photographic record of #9 was made, dismantling of the engine began in the fall.

2005: Considerable study and discussions were held regarding the new boiler's construction. The old boiler was part of the frame of the engine and all of the train was pulled through it. In today's engineering environment that represents an uncomfortable situation. Finally an opinion by the Federal Railroad Administration was reached that should #9 ever come under FRA jurisdiction, it would not be acceptable with the original design. Therefore much time and thought was put into the new design of the boiler and the new frame for #9 which must go around it.

2004: Official requests for bids were put out on the construction of #9's boiler. Ultimately Boothbay Railway Museum was chosen to build the new boiler.

2002: Members and friends were extremely generous during the 2001 fundraiser and with giving in memory of Harry Percival. More than $20,000 has been raised.

2001: Fund raising began for the restoration with the inclusion of #9 in the annual fund raiser. $5000 was asked for, more than $10,000 was raised. Additionally, it was announced that donations made in memory of Harry Percival (who died in December of 2001) will go toward the #9 restoration.

2000: In September the WW&F Board of Directors concluded several years of negotiations with the locomotive's owner with the signing of a long-term, 25-year renewable lease. This marked a major milestone, as it allows the WW&F to pursue the restoration of the locomotive to an operating condition.

1997: The rear truck under the tender is rebuilt, a broken archbar is found and replaced. The locomotive operates with compressed air in May, June, and August. The boiler undergoes an ultrasound test. Results indicate some areas are too thin to safely hold up under full steam pressure. The Board of Directors decides reboilering will be necessary to bring the locomotive back into service, and begins negotiations with the owner.

1996: Replicas of the engine's builder's plates and number plates are cast. The boiler passes hydrostatic tests. A new replica headlight is built. The locomotive operates under its own power, via compressed air, in October. It is believed this is the first time it has done so since 1934. The throttle is rebuilt.

1995: Following the death of Alice Ramsdell in December 1994, a lease agreement is reached with the executor to the estate for #9. The locomotive returns to Maine just hours before the celebration of the WW&F's centennial anniversary of regularly scheduled train service. Valve gear is removed, cleaned, and replaced. Many other areas of the locomotive are inspected and cleaned.

The Saga of Engine Number Nine

a poem by Fred Morse

I'm engine Number Nine
of Maine's Two-Footer fame.
I reside at Sheepscot Station
in the town of Alna, Maine.

I'd like to tell my story
from beginning to the end,
and I hope with all your kindness
I'll be able to run again.

I was born in Portland, Maine
in "1891",
‘twas the shores of Casco Bay,
where my life begun.

I was christened Number Five
and sent upon my way;
to the Sandy River Railroad,
that was to be my stay.

I ran the rails from Farmington to Phillips,
almost everyday,
keeping people happy
all along the way.

In "1908", that was the date,
that I really thought was swell,
I had more track to travel on,
and my number changed as well.

From Number Five to Number Six
when my company did combine,
The Sandy River Railroad
and the Phillips and Rangeley line.

For many years I traveled these rails
with passengers galore,
I carried the mail and freight,
and also much much more.

I blew my whistle and rang my bell
as I'd pass through the towns,
and people waved and cheered me on,
as I would make my rounds.

Alas! In "1925"
my life would change again,
I went to the Kennebec Central line,
as it was known back then.

They made me Number Four,
as it seemed the thing to do,
and I started work all over again
with a brand new crew.

I pulled many loads of coal
from the shores of Randolph, Maine,
to our nation's "soldier's home",
Togus was its name.

Passengers, as well as freight,
were also pulled by me.
I worked real hard until "‘29",
then rested till "‘33".

My life was then to change again,
it seemed that it was so,
I was always kept a running
and always on the go.

I was sent to the Sheepscot Valley
to the Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington line.
The railroad to the coast it was,
and I felt that it was fine.

I became engine Number Nine,
away with Number Four,
and that's the number I have
now, and forevermore.

My work on the Two-Foot railroad
ended mighty quick,
for part of my poor old frame
got really very sick.

And then in early June,
the 15th to be sure,
number Eight went off the track
and the railroad closed its door.

I thought my days were numbered,
as well they might have been,
if it hadn't been for a railfan,
who had spotted me right then.

I was taken to Connecticut
and put inside a barn,
and there I sat for many years
upon the Ramsdell farm.

After all those years of slumber
my luck has changed again,
I've returned to Sheepscot Station,
I remembered, way back when.

Each summer Saturday morning,
I'm pushed outside the door,
and there I set watching Number Ten,
go by me with a roar.

I'd love to be upon those tracks
heading for Alna Center,
but "alas" there's work to do
before that phase I'll enter.

I'm told that a brand new boiler
will get me on my way,
so now we have to have some funds
to really make my day.

Being engine Number Nine
with all those years of rest,
I've come up with a plan,
I really think is best.

Both old and young should have a chance
to help me to succeed,
a small donation of nine dollars each,
would help me in my need.

So keep those coins aflowing
right into Sheepscot, Maine,
and before you'll even know it,
I'll again be the head of a train.

Your names shall all be entered in a log,
on the station desk,
and I hope to have ten thousand names
to help me in my quest.

That log I'll carry with me,
when I am on my way,
T'will travel to Alna Center
because You've made my Day!

This page modified . Copyright 2001-2008 by WW&F Railway Museum/James C Patten