18 May 2018. For all of our friends who are interested in our steam locomotives we apologize for our lack of communication and updates in the past few years. We are going to try our best to provide you regular updates on our progress! For this post, here’s a brief overview of where we are:
The HVR has three steam locomotives.
The No.300. At this time we have no plans to restore the 300 to a working locomotive. We are however, cleaning it up to make it a more accurate representation of what it was like in its working days. We will be applying some paint, as well as adding a few more external parts in the near future. We plan to keep it “out front” for people to enjoy.
The No. 618. The 618 was parked in 2010 and moved into our shop to begin its boiler inspection and a major restoration project in 2014. Much work has been done. In future installments of this post, we will provide some video, images, and narrative on those segments of the restoration which are complete, as well as those still to be completed. Returning the 618 to service is our highest restoration priority.
The No. 75. The 75 has been in the shop, and also undergoing a major restoration, for a long time! Much work has been done – and much remains to be done. Except for those times when it makes sense for a 618 task and 75 task to be done at the same time, we are concentrating our efforts right now on the 618. Later we will provide more details of the 75 status and progress. We have every intention to return the No. 75 to revenue service as soon as possible.
The HVR Business.
The Heber Valley Railroad is an Independent Agency of the State of Utah. As such we generally survive on ticket sales, and do not receive ongoing regular financial support from the State or any other source. From an operations perspective, we function like a private company. We have received, and work hard to receive grants, donations and other support from private and public sources to help preserve the HVR, but in general we survive and work on steam locomotive and other restoration project from selling rides on our historic train. In recent years we have been blessed with some growth and success. This has allowed us to fund steam locomotive restoration work, as well as acquire other assets the HVR needs to be viable in the long term. The challenge of our recent growth and success is that it requires us to consume most of our shop and labor resources in maintaining our passenger cars and diesel locomotives. This leaves us much less labor for steam locomotive restoration than we want. Its a problem, but we’re grateful that it’s generally not a financial problem. Restoring our steam locomotives is taking a long time. But steady (if slow) progress is being made, and it remains a very high priority for us.
Safety and Technical Capability.
The HVR has a small but highly talented operations team. It is headed by Michael Manwiller, our Chief Mechanical Officer. We are very fortunate to have someone with his experience and expertise here to guide us. We have made big strides under his mechanical leadership and he enjoys the full confidence and support of our leadership group. Maintaining a diverse train set that runs more than 550 trains per year and carries more than 110K passengers, and at the same time carefully working through complex steam locomotive and other restoration projects, all with a very small staff, is indeed a challenge. Thanks to Mike for the great job he does. That same pat on the back goes to our other train operations team members. We are so grateful for their skills, talents, hard work, and dedication to our mission.
Friends and Partners.
The HVR couldn’t function and succeed without many great friends and partners. The list is too long to name here, but we are so appreciative of our Advisory Board, The Heber Valley Railroad Foundation, and many, many individuals and organizations who volunteer, advise, and contribute financially and in so many other ways. In future posts we will mention some of them and their valuable assistance. Thanks!
We’ll conclude this introductory post by thanking you, the interested supporters of the HVR. We are all doing what we do to preserve this historic railroad experience for current and future generations to enjoy. We want to hear from you, and we need your help to succeed in our mission. We hope that in some small or large way, this is also your mission.
Stay tuned for frequent future updates on our steam locomotive restoration and other news from the Heber Valley Railroad!
Mark Nelson, Executive Director
The No. 618 steam locomotive is in our shop and undergoing its FRA-required boiler inspection, as well as a significant restoration. The boiler inspection work is essentially complete. The No. 618 is also being converted from coal-burning to oil burning. In addition she has been fitted with new tires, and is having a number of other repairs, and new components.
The question everyone wants to know is when will the No. 618 be back in service? Our plans are for that to happen this year (2016). Predicting when we will complete all of the tasks is very difficult! The HVR has a small staff (six people currently). Our first priority has to be maintaining our primary train service. Track inspections and maintenance, as well as repairs and maintenance of our diesel locomotives and passenger coaches, takes a large amount of our time. Another important source of labor is our wonderful volunteers. They work with us to complete many of the tasks associated with bringing the steam locomotive back into service.
As we get closer to that important date, we will keep our friends and customers informed. We plan to have a major celebration which we hope all of you will attend when she steams down the tracks again! Thanks for your interest and support, and stay tuned for more 618 updates here.