Project 3713 – Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is Project #3713?
A: Project 3713 is a partnership between the Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley Railway Historical Society and the Steamtown National Historic Site to restore Boston & Maine steam locomotive #3713 “The Constitution” to active service at the Steamtown museum site in Scranton, PA.
The exact date of the locomotive’s return to service cannot be known at this time. All parties involved would like to have the locomotive back in operation during 2021. Fundraising and mechanical variables will impact the completion schedule.
Q: What are the fundraising goals of Project #3713?
A: Project 3713 is currently raising $750,000 dollars for the restoration of Boston & Maine steam locomotive #3713 “The Constitution” at the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, Pennsylvania. As of January 2019, $350,000 was still left to be raised.
Q: What is the history of #3713?
A: In 1937, a Boston & Maine Railroad public relations campaign tasked New England school children to name 10 of the road’s premier passenger locomotives. One locomotive stood out from the others, #3713 named “The Constitution.” When steam locomotives gave way to streamlined diesel power on the B&M, railroad management worked with avid railroad preservationist F. Nelson Blount to save “The Constitution” from the scrapper’s torch and serve as a lasting artifact of the steam age. Her last run under steam was in 1956.
Today, this stunning example of American engineering and construction is a prized part of the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, PA. After more than 50 years in retirement, an ongoing restoration effort is readying her for a return to mainline service at the Steamtown NHS.
From her construction in Ohio, through her service in New England to her preservation under the U.S. National Park Service, “The Constitution” embodies the powerful combination of science and enterprise that defines the historic impact of the railroad industry in the United States.
Q: Why is #3713 called “The Constitution?”
A: When the Boston and Maine took delivery of its second order of Pacific-type passenger locomotives from Lima Locomotive Works in 1937, it sponsored a contest among New England schoolchildren to name those 10 engines and 10 other passenger engines. The contest was open to any pupil in any community along the railroad and included students from kindergarten to the final year of junior high school.
The railroad promised to paint the names on the sides of the locomotive and to attach to the locomotive a plate with the name of the boy or girl who suggested the name, as well as the name of his or her school. The contest elicited more than 10,000 names for the 20 engines. A 14-year-old named J. Schumann Moore of Lynn, Massachusetts, a student at Lynn’s Eastern High School, suggested the winning name for No. 3713: The Constitution. – from “Steam over Scranton: The Locomotives of Steamtown”, a special history study conducted for the National Park Service by Gordon Chappell.
Q: Why isn’t #3713 in service already?
A: The operation of steam locomotives is governed by regulations designed to maximize the safety of the crew and the public. These rules require locomotives to be stripped down and inspected on a regular basis. For a locomotive like #3713 which is being restored after decades of inactivity, the work is even more intense. Every element of the locomotive must be inspected and repaired to acceptable standards. She cannot enter service until this work is done.
Q: How much work has been done on #3713 to date?
A: The restoration of #3713 has seen considerable progress since the locomotive was disassembled for repair. The firebox, boiler, smokebox, engine truck and trailing truck have been the main beneficiaries of this work. Material is on hand to further the restoration, including tender wheels, axles and bearings which were donated to the effort.
As work progresses, updates will be posted to www.project3713.com
A recent focus as been on the smaller wheels of #3713. She was designed with a 4-6-2 wheel arrangement. Nicknamed “Pacific,” this type of locomotive has four smalls wheel in the front (the lead truck), six large drive wheels in the middle and two smaller wheels in the rear (the trailing truck).
The lead truck (also known as the engine truck) is an assembly that helps guide the locomotive through curves. The lead truck of #3713 has had frame repairs done while the axles are offsite at a contract wheel shop awaiting roller bearing work and new wheels.
The trailing truck frame had been bent in a mishap when #3713 was in regular service on the Boston & Maine Railroad. The frame requires extensive work to bring back into alignment so as not to cause rapid wear of the pedestals, boxes, spring rigging, and tires once #3713 returns to service. Some work has been done and continued restoration of the trailing truck is required.
The boiler of the locomotive is a large pressure vessel where water is heated and turned into steam. #3713, like most steam locomotives running in the United States, is subject to federal guidelines governing safe repair and operation of a boiler. A flush patch to fix an area in the first course of the boiler has been fitted. A repair of the third course crack has been started. We are awaiting final Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) approval to complete the repairs. When #3713 is ready to return to operation, her boiler will be fully certified for service by the FRA.
Q: Why isn’t the restoration finished, yet?
A: Restoration of a steam locomotive that has been out of service for six decades is not an easy task. Each locomotive restoration has its own challenges with the pace dictated by mechanical requirements, available manpower and funding. The restoration of #3713 is moving along as quickly as these three variables allow. At this point in the project, fundraising is essential to bringing #3713 back under steam on an accelerated timeline.
The quality of the restoration also impacts timing. #3713 is being restored to exacting standards for service at the Steamtown National Historic site where she will see heavy service on a former mainline railroad through the Pocono Mountains. The demands put upon #3713 will be much greater than most of the steam locomotives operating today. When completed, she will once again be a very sound machine capable of the feats intended with Lima Locomotive Works constructed her eight decades ago.
A look through the history of steam locomotive restorations in America since the 1960’s will reveal a few projects that were completed in a matter of months and others that took decades to finish. Most restorations fall in the 2-10 year period.
Regulations governing the restoration and operation of steam locomotives have become quite stringent in recent years. In fact, federal requirements have changed during the restoration of #3713, requiring some work to be redone to meet the new specification.
This is the reality of operating and maintaining antique machinery in the modern railroad world.
Q: Is it true that firebox work needs to be redone?
A: The firebox is the part of #3713 where coal is burned to generate heat and make steam. As a part of the boiler assembly, the firebox is subject to the stresses of pressurized steam and extreme heat. Fireboxes are designed to tight standards and are governed by strict regulations. Fireboxes are built with specially designed fasteners called staybolts that keep the firebox and boiler securely attached.
Work commenced on #3713’s firebox earlier in the restoration process, but is not yet completed. Recent evaluation of the firebox by the FRA along with respected and qualified individuals from the locomotive restoration industry found areas of the new work that fall short of the required specifications for locomotive boiler construction. Rectifying the situation will require replacement of some of the previous restoration work; this is not showstopper in terms of time or cost. The right mechanical decisions will be made for the safe, long-term operation of the locomotive.
In late 2018 the Strasburg Rail Road was awarded the contract for the new firebox.
Q: Who owns #3713?
A: #3713 is owned by the Steamtown National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service located in Scranton, PA.
Q: Who is restoring #3713?
A: Project 3713 is a partnership between the Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley Railway Historical Society and the Steamtown National Historic Site. Work is being overseen by the professional shop staff of the Steamtown NHS.
Q: Why are donations being sought when #3713 is the property of the National Park Service? Shouldn’t the NPS fund the restoration?
A: Being a part of the National Park Service does not guarantee access to unlimited funds. The Steamtown NHS has to make budgetary decisions every year just as you or I have to do with our family finances.
Volunteers and friends play an important role across the National Park Service, Steamtown NHS included. The Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley Railway Historical Society has taken on the challenge of restoring #3713 in partnership with Steamtown.
Q: What role does the Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley NRHS chapter play in the restoration?
A: Project #3713 is a partnership between the Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley Railway Historical Society and the Steamtown National Historic Site. Currently, the L&WV group is focused on raising funds for the mechanical repairs required to get #3713 back under steam.
Q: Why was #3713 chosen for restoration over any of the other locomotives at Steamtown?
A: There are many exceptional steam locomotives in the Steamtown National Historic Site collection, representing some of the most famous and well-respected designs ever built and operated in North America. #3713 is one of the finest passenger locomotives to be designed, built and operated in the United States.
Steam locomotives, unlike their mass-produced modern diesel counterparts, were designed for the specific needs of the railroad they would serve on. Variables included the length of trains, speed of operation (and acceleration), grades and even more mundane elements such as the length of turntables at the engine facilities.
The lines upon which the Steamtown NHS trains operate are defined by steep grades. The demands of service on these former mainlines requires the ability to move a long passenger train at speeds of 40 mph. Back at the roundhouse, the historically-accurate 90’ long turntable limits the length of locomotives useful for operation. Of all the locomotives at Steamtown NHS, #3713 comes the closest to meeting all of the requirements. Her large drive wheels are perfect for passenger train speeds, her trailing truck booster engines provides extra horsepower for starting trains on a grade and her overall length fits comfortably on the Scranton turntable.
Q: How can I make a donation?
A: PayPal donations may be made via www.project3713.com
Checks may be mailed to:
#3713 Locomotive Restoration Fund
L & WV R.H.S., Inc.
P.O. Box 3452
Scranton, PA 18505-0452
Q: Is my donation tax deductible?
A: Project3713 donations may be deducted in accordance with current tax law.