Museum Hires Contractor to Lead Pennsylvania K4 Restoration

The Railroaders Memorial Museum announced Thursday that it was launching a campaign to raise $2.6 million to restore Pennsylvania 4-6-2 1361. Photo by Steve Barry. 

Museum Hires Contractor to Lead Pennsylvania K4 Restoration

By Railfan & Railroad Staff

ALTOONA, Pa. — The owners of Pennsylvania Railroad K4 1361 — an iconic locomotive with a checkered past — announced Thursday they had hired a team of restoration professionals to get the 4-6-2 back on the main line. 

The Railroaders Memorial Museum has hired FMW Solutions of Soddy-Daisy, Tenn., to lead the effort. FMW is no stranger to steam locomotive restorations, having led the recent rebuild of U.S. Sugar 4-6-2 148 in Florida and assisting with the ongoing restoration of Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway 4-8-4 576. FMW will also assist in strategic planning for the eventual operation of the locomotive.

Museum officials estimated that the rebuild will cost $2.6 million. Fundraising efforts are being led by Railroaders Memorial Museum board chairman and former Norfolk Southern CEO Wick Moorman. 

“The legacy of the PRR, the K4, and the industrious identity of Altoona makes this extremely special to us,” said Davidson Ward, president of FMW Solutions. “Our team is prepared to assist RMM turn a new page in this project. Our hope is to make the locomotive a viable ambassador for Altoona and the Commonwealth for years to come.”

PRR 1361 was built at the railroad’s Altoona Works in 1918 and ran until 1956 when it was put on display at Horseshoe Curve. In the late 1980s, the locomotive was restored to operation but a series of major mechanical failures sidelined it after just two years. In the 1990s, the locomotive was sent to Steamtown National Historic Site for another restoration, but that effort eventually fell apart. The locomotive returned to Altoona in pieces. Since then the museum has worked on parts of the locomotive, including the tender, but progress has been slow. 

In 2019, the museum hired FMW Solutions to do a detailed inspection of the locomotive, including an assessment of the locomotive’s boiler—determining its integrity and reparability. The assessment has been reviewed and approved by the Federal Railroad Administration. 

Museum Executive Director Joseph DeFrancesco said he hopes the local community — the community that built the locomotive more than a century ago — gets involved with the effort to rebuild it.

“These large hunks of steel represent far more than technological developments; they are testament to the enduring legacy of Altoona’s hardworking laborers of bygone times,” DeFrancesco said. “The Spirit of Altoona is a tangible reminder of the citizens who built the world’s largest railroading complex. This restoration project will link our local history to the broader industrial heritage of America.”

For more information, visit the museum’s website.

This article was posted on: June 24, 2021