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Steam DepartmentSt. Louis-San Francisco 1630





About the Department

428 and ashpan (bottom center).
Photo by Rick Miller.
The steam department is responsible for over 25 Steam Locomotives in the collection. The department also maintains two running locomotives according to Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) requirements. The volunteers come from all walks of life. Their vocations include lawyer, speech pathologist, salesperson, systems analyst, teacher, fireman, chemical engineer, welder, machinist, and bus mechanic. Only one person has worked for the railroad in real life. The department head is a salesperson with no professional railroad experience. However, he has over 25 years of experience maintaining and restoring steam locomotives from volunteering at the museum. The department is structured with a department head, an engineer qualifier, a fireman qualifier, and a crew caller.

Facilities and Equipment

John Skinner uses a lathe to make a pattern for a casting.
Photo by Victor Humphries.
While the department may not have the expansive facilities and machinery that the railroads once had, its facility is better equipped than most museums in the country. The department has all the tools and machinery needed to maintain and restore locomotives. The department's machinery includes a shaper, lathes, a drill press, welding equipment, a drop table and a 90-inch wheel lathe. The drop table, currently under restoration, will allow us to drop locomotive wheels/axles from a locomotive. The wheel lathe, also under restoration, can accomodate a locomotive's wheel up to 84 inches in diameter.

Long Term Plans and Projects

The department has several long term plans/future projects. One plan is to add an addition to the current shop building which includes an overhead crane. Another long term plan is to put in a turntable and to construct a roundhouse to better display the collection. A future project is to complete the restoration of the wheel lathe to operational condition.

Volunteering

Engine Crew of the 1630. Left to right, Tim Jurek, fireman and Dan Paulissen, engineer.
Volunteers can come out as much as they would like or are able to. Whether you can come out once a month or every Saturday, we are happy to have you. No experience required! Most of the department's volunteers have no mechanical or railroad experience. Some volunteers started out with only a basic idea of how a steam locomotive works. New volunteers will have the opportunity to expand their knowledge of how a steam locomotive operates by working with veteran volunteers. You will have a chance to meet new people with similar interests. We are all interested in preserving the steam locomotive for future generations. After a period of time working in the shop, volunteers have the opportunity to become part of the engine crew. A volunteer can become a Student Fireman after passing the Operating department's rules test, eventually qualifying to a Fireman. After a few years as a fireman, a person can become a Student Engineer, eventually qualifying to an Engineer. While these are some of the benefits to volunteering in the Steam Department, being a member has other advantages. If this interests you, fill out the membership application and become part of the "Steam Team". Since safety is the museum's number one priority, steel-toed shoes, gloves and safety glasses are a must.

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