Restoration of a century-old locomotive underway in downtown Chattanooga

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Part of the Lucey Boiler Co. property on South Holtzclaw Avenue in downtown Chattanooga is the new site for the historic restoration of a 102-year-old Florida steam locomotive.

For restoration work, FMW Solutions, based in Duluth, Minnesota, which operates out of Soddy-Daisy, expanded the capacities of local stores in Tennessee by leasing a portion of the Lucey Boiler Co. site. , the company said in a statement about the project.

Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Locomotive No.1504, built in 1919, traveled the East Coast for more than three decades before being retired in 1952 and donated to the city of Jacksonville, Fla., According to Kelly Lynch, director. by FMW Solutions. special projects.

Lynch said work could take three years or more on the 52,000-square-foot Lucey Boiler site, which is being redeveloped by Southern Spear Properties in Lucey Quarter, a mixed-use community gathering place. It is located next to the old Chattanooga Belt Railroad.

The locomotive and the new development will attract attention.

“Lucey Quarter will be a historic destination for residents of Chattanooga and the Southeast,” Southern Spear President Sean Compton said in a statement. “The rebuilding of this incredible machine will create a buzz and be the jewel of our historic redevelopment. FMW solutions are amazing in the work they do and take pride in applying their craft. We are thrilled with this partnership and look forward to making it a Chattanooga staple for many years to come. “

Locomotive 1504 is the largest remaining locomotive of its type on the Atlantic Coast line and was acquired from the city of Jacksonville earlier this year by Sugar Express LLC, based in Clewiston, Florida.

FMW has been working in collaboration with Sugar Express since 2019, in particular for the successful restoration of the Sugar Express locomotive No. 148, now in service at the Florida site.

Work to prepare the steam engine for a move began in July, Lynch said.

The steam engine was dismantled August 21-26 to be moved from its exhibit to the Osborn Prime Convention Center in Jacksonville with assistance from Tomahawk Crane and Rigging of Jacksonville, the cities of Chattanooga and Jacksonville, Deberardini Heavy Haul and Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum.

“Once in Chattanooga, work immediately began to further disassemble the 1504 and dismantle the boiler for ultrasonic inspection,” Lynch said.

FMW’s initial estimates call for up to three years for the work, “but the duration of a locomotive restoration may be affected by what more detailed inspections and dismantling reveal,” he said.

Photo provided by FMW Solutions / Atlantic Coast Line Steam Locomotive # 1504 has been dismantled in Florida for transport to Chattanooga for restoration work that could take up to three years or more.

When fully restored, # 1504 will operate in Florida’s Lake Okeechobee area as part of a regional rail tourist attraction, according to Sugar Express. It will join the n ° 148 there.

FMW has been busy at its Soddy-Daisy and New York stores, and the South Holtzclaw site has been a boon to the business and future development of Lucey Quarter, executives said.

“With our client’s facility being heavily involved in restoring historic passenger cars and supporting the continued operation of the Sugar Express, it was prudent and cost effective to move the engine here to a dedicated space near our facilities. and our existing employees, instead of moving our crews. in Florida for the duration, ”Lynch said.

This means passers-by in Chattanooga could see work going on on the current project.

“As Southern Spear strives to redevelop the space, the Boiler Workshop will be visible and visible to guests and visitors, so the work on 1504 will likely be part of the overall draw and be a unique feature. and the backdrop for the activities they have planned here as the site grows, ”said Lynch.“ We know the developer wants to celebrate and keep the industrial and railroad history and our work here will help meet this bill. “

In the meantime, there is a lot of work to be done to bring # 1504 back to life.

Shane Meador – FMW Solutions’ vice president in mechanics and lifelong train enthusiast who began volunteering at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum at age 13 in 1991 – said No. 1504 would now be reduced to the tiniest nuts and bolts for a full assessment.

“Really, we don’t have any records on this locomotive and it’s been outside since 1960 in Florida, which isn’t the best of environments for a piece of metal to sit outside,” he said. -he declares.

A complete appraisal and inspection of the demolished locomotive and its boiler leads to a scope of repair work and a cost estimate. The locomotive’s chassis will be evaluated in the same way, he said.

“The big drive wheels and stems are actually frozen; they don’t rotate, ”he said. “We’re going to take this all apart very carefully and take care of it.”

The work team will repair or manufacture spare parts as needed, he said.

Meador said the current plan is to do 80% of the catering in Lucey and the rest in Florida.

“Our use of the Lucey Boiler facility will also serve as a starting point for our continued growth in research and development of alternative fuels; which is another area of ​​growth for our business and signals another investment in Chattanooga,” a- he declared.

Contact Ben Benton at [email protected] or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton.


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