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. Specifications:
Weight of tender loaded: 326,900 lbs.
Water capacity: 17,000 gallons
Oil capacity: 5,800 gallons (originally, now a storage area)
The tender's service and restoration history is as follows:
- 1930 - Entered service as the tender for Great Northern Railway's first S2 class Northern, the 2575.
- 1950's - GN retired 2575, removed the locomotive from the roster, and converted the tender to a fire protection car for use in the Klamath Falls area.
The conversion included installation of a hand brake, modifications to the air brake
system, replacement of the locomotive-tender drawbar with a standard coupler,
and removal of the oil tank to make way for two new engine-driven pumps and shelving for the storage of a fire hose and other equipment.
It was painted maintenance-of-way red.
- 1970+ - Renumbered to BN 973165 sometime after the 1970 merger of the GN,
NP, CB&Q, and SP&S to form the Burlington Northern.
- 1985 - Retired from the BN roster and moved to Portland for scrapping.
- 1985 - Chris McLarney, former President of the PRPA, discovered the tender when the car was located in BN's Hoyt Street yard in the spring of 1985. He put in a donation request to the BN and W.W. Francis, Executive Vice-President, Seattle Region, agreed to have the tender donated to the PRPA. After the car was received by the PRPA, it was repainted in BN colors (black, white and green) and emblems from the GN, NP, SP&S, CB&Q and Frisco were placed on the sides. While preparing the tender for its new paint job in 1985 the PRPA crew discovered the paint from the original
GN goat herald on the sides of the oil tank and the original locomotive number on the back of the water tank.
- 2007 - PRPA began the process of upgrading the tender's friction bearings to roller bearings, which are safer and
are now required by host railroads. The project is unfortunately much larger than it first appeared because the trucks must be completely rehabbed. David H. Hickcox's book
Great Northern Steam & Electric in Color states that the S2 class Northerns were the only GN steam locomotives to keep their original tenders from the time they were built until they were scrapped. The tenders built for the S2 class were the only tenders on the GN that were of all welded construction. All the S2's were converted to roller bearings on all axles during the 1940's. Since our tender was received with friction bearings, the trucks
must have been swapped at some time, perhaps when the car was placed in maintenance-of-way service.
- 2010 - The tender's trucks were completely disassembled, repair welds were made, myriad replacement parts were fabricated, brake rigging was straightened, roller bearings were installed, and the trucks were reassembled.
After this year-long, determined, consistent effort, the tender was placed back on its trucks and rolled out of the way of the UP's scrappers (the yard north of the roundhouse where the tender had been sitting had to be cleared by the end of the year in order to make way for UP's expansion of its intermodal facility). the rehabilitation of the tender's trucks