By Justin Franz
The group restoring New England’s only surviving mainline passenger steam locomotive is expecting to take delivery of a brand new tender later this month. New England Steam Corporation teamed up with Millinocket Fabrication & Machine to build a new tender body for Maine Central 4-6-2 470, currently under restoration near Ellsworth, Maine, on the Downeast Scenic Railroad.
The locomotive’s tender should be completed this week and delivered to the restoration site later this month, according to New England Steam President Richard Glueck. The tender will eventually be placed on the original frame, which was recently sandblasted. The group is currently restoring the locomotive’s original trucks as well. Glueck said he hopes to have the tender completed next year. The tender will eventually receive MEC’s iconic speed lettering.
While most of the restoration work has happened in Ellsworth, some work has been done by local contractors. Keeping the effort in-state was a driving principle for the group.
“We have people here in Maine who can do the job and do it well,” Glueck said. “We want people to be able to see the locomotive when it is done and be able to point to a piece and say to their kids or grandkids, ‘I made that.’”
Locomotive 470 is one of only three surviving MEC steam engines in existence. The American Locomotive Company built the passenger locomotive in May 1924. The locomotive powered the railroad’s last steam-powered train in 1954. It sat on display in Waterville for decades before New England Steam purchased it in 2015. It arrived on the Downeast Scenic in 2016.