Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Preservation Society decided that a “partnership of restoration” with the McHugh Company was the best way to get the organization’s 1947 GE diesel locomotive restored back to operating condition.
The Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Preservation Society owns the historic Muddy Creek Forks Village and 8 miles of former Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad. For many years the preservation society has operated a heritage railway ride using speeder cars. The non-profit group plans to once again operate full-size trains over their restored rail line.
The organization acquired a derelict GE 45-ton diesel-electric locomotive that had not operated in more than 25 years. The 45-ton side-rod locomotive was purchased new from GE by Roebling Steel Company in 1947. It was used to move steel products around the company’s New Jersey site until the plant closed in 1983. The Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Preservation Society acquired the locomotive in 1999, and moved it to Muddy Creek Forks, PA.
The group realized to get the locomotive back into operating condition and to meet FRA standards, it would be required to contract the extensive part of the work out to a qualified locomotive rebuilding company. When selecting a contractor the all-volunteer group wanted to work with a company that has extensive knowledge of vintage diesel locomotives and that also has a good reputation of working well with heritage railroads. An agreement was made that had the locomotive restoration to be performed in two phases. This would allow the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Preservation Society to provide certain repairs by utilizing their volunteer staff on phase one so it could meet their budgetary requirements.
The first phase of this project was started at Muddy Creek Forks, PA by the volunteers of the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Preservation Society during March 2016. The organization’s work scope included: rebuilding the two diesel engines and radiators, replacing the steps and handrails, replacing the damaged sheet metal on the cab and doors, repairing the two engine hoods and doors, building a new steel battery storage box, and repairing the fuel tank.
McHugh Locomotive & Equipment agreed to donate on-site inspections and provide technical services to assist the volunteer staff with their part of the restoration work. The Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Preservation Society volunteers soon realized that lacked the necessary facility, repair equipment, and volunteer resources, to properly perform and complete their part of the phase 1 of the restoration.
The organization decided to contract a larger part of the project to McHugh Locomotive & Equipment. The locomotive and various component parts were loaded onto tractor trailers and transported to our facility. The locomotive frame and the two truck assemblies were completely disassembled and inspected. During inspection various defects were found that will have to be repaired.
The Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Preservation Society planned to continue other parts of phase #1 during 2017 and 2018. This work was to include rebuilding the two old Cummins HB type diesel engines assemblies with radiators, rebuilding the two air compressors, repairing the two engine hoods with exhaust systems, repairing various other miscellaneous parts and components.
Unfortunately, by mid August 2018 the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Preservation Society volunteers had not been able to get started on any of the necessary repairs to the two Cummins HB diesel engines. McHugh Locomotive & Equipment was asked if it would consider donating additional services to assist with the restoration of the locomotive.
We agreed to the society’s new request and two service technicians with the necessary equipment traveled to the MA & PA RR off-site location. To future assist the society with their dilemma, some of the McHugh Locomotive & Equipment employees have agreed to donate their time of labor to help project lead Larry Freeman at our facility with making minor repairs to both Cummins HB diesel engines. However, we recommended that both of the two old Cummins HB diesel engines should not be placed into the rebuilt 45 ton GE locomotive and that they should be replaced with other rebuilt diesel engines.
In 2018 we amended our contract with the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Society to allow a qualified volunteer member of the organization limited access to our shop facility. This will provide a very unique opportunity to the society that will enabled the organization to complete their part of the locomotive restoration by having access to our equipment and specialized tools, along with assistance of the McHugh staff when necessary.
On September 4, 2018 the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Society suffered a devastating flood in Muddy Creek Forks. The designated volunteer that was scheduled be at the McHugh facility was required to assist the group with rebuilding track. The project was further delayed due to the Covid-19 crisis.
The second phase of our work scope began during 2018 by the staff at McHugh Locomotive & Equipment. The two traction motors and gearboxes were rebuilt and placed into storage. We also disassembled the two truck assemblies and found that they where in near scrap condition. The axle support boxes were worn out, and required to be remanufactured. This extra work jointly split between the MA & PA volunteer and the McHugh staff. However several major components of the truck assembly were scrap and needed to be replaced. The two truck main bolster frames were bent beyond repair, the 4 side-rods were bent beyond repair, and the 8 equalizer beams were worn down by 1-3/4″” at the journal box seat areas. The estimate to supply the required replacement components was approximately at $40,000. So the project was put on hold until replacements parts and components could be found.
In August 2019 McHugh Locomotive & Equipment located a GE 45 ton locomotive that had all of the necessary replacement parts required for the MA & PA locomotive and we purchased it. JC McHugh decided to assist the MA & PA with a partial trade of part of the work scope and to also provide a partial donation of these required parts and components to the group, so they did not have to secure any additional funds for these required components to finish the two truck assembly repairs..
The two replacement truck truck assembly work will be scheduled between more pressing jobs saving the society money. Once the truck assemblies are completed, the locomotive frame will be placed back onto the two reconditioned truck assemblies. Then the locomotive will then be placed into our shop facility so the remainder of the phase 2 restoration can be completed. We are all looking forward to returning the locomotive to the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Preservation Society at Muddy Creek Forks, PA. When the restored locomotive returns back to the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Preservation Society it will be the first motive power of a full size train to depart the historic Muddy Creek Forks, PA village and travel over the line since 1984.
In spite of a number of issues including a flood and a pandemic, the project is moving along slowly and McHugh Locomotive & Equipment continues to work with the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Preservation Society to find ways to save the organization money on the project without compromising quality.