Pacific Railroad
Preservation Assoc.

Auxiliary Tender

GN 2579 was another S2 class 4-8-4, seen here with its tender in Minneapolis.
July 19, 1950
Collection of Eric Larson

The PRPA painted the tender in a "BN Heritage" scheme,
acknowledging the railroad's generous donation.
Terry Kimzey photo

Auxiliary Tender

Tender up on blocks while its trucks and brakes are refurbished.
October 19, 2007
Photo by Terry Thompson

Tender reassembled and resting next to Brooklyn Roundhouse

Tender back on its trucks waiting to move out from Brooklyn.
October 10, 2011
Photo by Terry Thompson

Back in the days of steam, railroads placed water and fueling towers along their lines to replenish their locomotives, spaced according to the demands of their trains. We're now well into the third generation of the diesel age, however, and nearly all of these structures have long since been removed. This means that steam locomotives operating out over the country's mainlines have to receive their water and fuel from sources never meant to supply the quantities needed, and it can take many hours for a large locomotive like the 700 to be topped up. To extend the 700's range and help alleviate this problem, the PRPA has acquired and is currently refurbishing an auxiliary tender to carry a supplemental supply of water.


The "aux" tender is of a "Vanderbilt" design with a cylindrical tank for water and a characteristic angled tank for oil. It was built by Baldwin for the Great Northern Railway's S2 Class Northerns. Specifications:

Weight of tender loaded: 326,900 lbs.
Water capacity: 17,000 gallons
Oil capacity: 5,800 gallons (originally, now a storage area)
Construction: welded (the S2 tenders were the only ones on the GN of all welded construction)


The tender's service and restoration history is as follows:

Photos from the 2010 Rehab Work

Photo of tender truck being disassembled

Washing the Brakes: The first step in rehabbing the trucks is to remove all the brakes and brake rigging (after carefully documenting how it all goes together, of course). This accomplished, it's time to clean up the brake rigging. Here, Chris Chen uses a pressure washer to get off the dirt and grime. All the brake parts--and there were many pallets of them--will be further scraped, ground, and wire brushed by hand. Most will be given new wear parts machined in-house, and some were bent straight or even re-manufactured entirely. Photo by Matt Baccitich.

Photo of tender truck being disassembled

Truck Disassembly: The tender body has been jacked up and the trucks, now free to move, have been rolled off to the side. In this photo, Charlie Harrison pulls the last axel of truck #2 aside while Doyle McCormack uses the carry deck to lift the end of the truck. The machines are right at the limits of their capabilities. Photo by Matt Baccitich.

Photo of tender truck being disassembled

Bolster Repairs: The center bolster (the circular area Gary Oslund is grinding on in this photo) is the part of the truck upon which the tender body rests. These were found to be a bit battered so repair welds were made, which are here being cleaned up. Several areas of the truck bodies were repaired in the same way. Photo by Matt Baccitich.

Photo of tender truck being disassembled

Front Coupler Pocket: Having finished the rehab of the brakes and trucks we found that the reassembled tender sat several inches higher than it had before. This raised the coupler too high, so we re-engineered the front pocket to correct. Given that the front pocket was originally designed to accommodate a draw bar rather than a coupler, this repositioning is not entirely unexpected. Photo by Matt Baccitich.