Railroad Picture Archive photo from Jeff Carlson.
That looks like a new candidate for the Scrap Line column header, but it's potentially a lively corpse.
A new Minneapolis-based organization, the Coalition for Sustainable Rail today announced plans to rebuild and modify ex-Santa Fe 4-6-4 No. 3463 into “the world’s first carbon-neutral higher-speed locomotive.” The engine was built by Baldwin in 1937 and has been on display in Topeka, Kan., since 1956. The group has already acquired the locomotive from the Great Overland Station Museum and Education Center in Topeka.The locomotive is the last surviving 84" driver Hudson in the United States (the representatives from The Milwaukee Road going to scrap in the early 1950s, and the representatives from Chicago and North Western surviving in ore-thawing service until the early 1960s, when they also went for scrap.)
It is therefore fitting that a seven-foot drivered 4-6-4 with technical support in the Twin Cities be rebuilt to burn cleaner fuel ... and set a new steam speed record?
Seeking to develop a high profile and prove its technology, the group plans to use a modified 3463 in an attempt to break the world speed record for a steam locomotive, operating it at speeds up to 130 mph. It has named the venture “CSR Project 130.”The plan appears to be serious.
Once its modernization is complete, CSR 3463 will have little in common with the smoke-belching steam engine it once was. Featuring a gas-producer combustion system, improved steam circuit, modernized boiler, low-maintenance running gear and steam-powered electric generator (to power the passenger train), CSR anticipates 3463 will be able to pull a passenger train with electric-like performance for less than the cost of diesel-electric locomotives. In order to further prove the viability of biocoal and modern steam technology, CSR plans to test the locomotive in excess of 130 miles per hour, out-performing any existing diesel-electric on the market and breaking the world steam speed record. In light of this achievement, CSR has named this endeavor: “Project 130.”Keep in mind, though, dear reader, that a Milwaukee F-7 spun the dynamometer at Pennsylvania's Altoona test plant at 140 mph.
Steam dreaming aside, let's see how this project progresses. After two years of frustration with the extension and upgrade of the Hiawatha service, something new in midwestern railroading appeals.