The long saga continues, but on Nov. 7, 2012 she returned to Phillips!!!

The photos would not appear to show progress, but she now has:

New tubes (the only planned item)
New firebox
New staybolts
New smoke box
New dry pipe
and a bunch of lesser stuff.
Yes, she passed her preliminary hydro test!

Before she goes back into service she still needs:

New throttle poppet valve
New accessory steam manifold and mounting bracket
New exterior plumbing installed by a steam fitter (old was removed in Phillips)
New insulation (asbestos abatement was done in Phillips)
Reapplication of boiler jacket and all the other "stuff" we removed in Phillips.
Final hydro test.


We started with a $25,000 budget on a $18,000 quote for retubing and the necessary inspections. We've spent over $131,000 (as of Mar 1, 2014). We don't owe any money, but we don't have enough for coal even if the engine was running.

You can make a PayPal or credit card donation to our Steam Fund right here. But, please note that if you are one of those who is blessed to be in a position to make a donation of $1,000, or more, we would rather have a check to avoid the 2.2% PayPal fee per transaction.
This fund is for items relating to the care and feeding of Monson #3 (leased from the Maine Narrow Gauge Museum). This includes such items as boiler rebuild and maintenance, running gear overhaul, coal purchases, water & coal handling facilities and equipment. Due to the difficulties outlined near the bottom of this page - we desperately need money just to complete the boiler work.
To direct your donation to the Steam Fund, click here:

If you wish to make a donation by check, please send it to:
Attn: Steam Fund
Box B
Phillips, ME 04966

And please add a memo designating "Steam Fund Donation."


The remainder of this page is a history of the work over the last 5 years.


We had hoped to complete this project in it's entirety over the winter of 2007-2008. However, one does not undertake an invasive and expensive task such as this without a lease agreement that is satisfactory to both parties. We are very pleased that on March 15, 2008 we signed a lease agreement with the owner, Maine Narrow Gauge Museum, that places this locomotive in our hands for the next 15 years. The lease requires us to pay for the boiler work (estimated $25,000) to bring the locomotive to FRA ready status (Form 4), and to perform certain running gear and general maintenance (an additional $10,000).

This view through the smokebox shows a tube being cut free of the flue sheet at the firebox end. If you look closely, you can see that all of the tubes have already been cut from the smokebox end.

To the apprentice steam engineer go all the nasty jobs. Here is Noah MacAdam cutting tubes from inside the firebox. The grates and ash pan are still in place.

Have you ever seen the inside of a steam dome? The big round object is the throttle valve. It's linkage has been disconnected and can be seen laying on top of the cut tubes. The pipe on the right side is the steam feed to the auxiliary turret in the cab (injectors, blower, generator, steam brake, lubricator).

Noah has come up for air. Here he models the latest boiler rat apparel consisting of a blacksmith's leather frock worn over well sooted denim. Note the absence of most of the plumbing and appliances. Those are tube ends sitting on the pilot deck.

Sorry, no picture, but the asbestos abatement team arrived on May 8th and had the locomotive divested of all it's asbestos by the next day. Now it is a race to see how much more we can strip from this locomotive before she is trucked off to the boiler shop.

Finally, on 8/23/08 the stripped down engine is shipped off to Boothbay for the actual boiler work.

On 3/14/09 the front tube sheet was all polished up, ready for the new tubes. On the same day, 82 of the 96 tubes had their ends polished before we ran out of the specialized sanding disks.

This is what Monson #3 looked like as built in 1912. While we won't achieve this exact appearance, we hope to cosmetically backdate her to close to her "as built" condition. We anticipated completion of the boiler work and a return to Phillips sometime in April 2009. But that would still cause her to miss the beginning of the operating season as there is much reassembly left to do once she gets back to Phillips.

Boothbay called on 4/6/09 and informed us that they found a large flaw in the casting from when the dry pipe was originally cast. Unfortunately it will not pass inspection. We have given them permission to build a new one, which they have already designed. It is a setback but we will be better off with a new updated drypipe. The engine may even perform better with the new design. For those not familiar with what a "dry pipe" is, it is the piece that runs through the boiler between the throttle (see photo above) and the firebox. Since it runs through the boiler, any failure of this piece bypasses the throttle and applies the full boiler pressure and steam flow capacity directly to the cylinders. A possibility to be carefully avoided! CROWN SHEET PROBLEM
A 6/13/09 visit to Boothbay revealed that they have not been able to work on the crown sheet problem that was reviewed with the boiler inspector late in April. It is the common weakening at the point where the crown sheet rolls over to mate with the firebox tube sheet (i.e. the junction between the top of the firebox and its front). The repair method has been agreed with the boiler inspector, but the shop forces have been distracted by breakdowns on Boothbay's own equipment and the usual demands of now having entered the tourist season. The optimistic date for a return to Phillips is now early October.

These last two problems came with additional costs in both time and money. So, if you are in a position to donate to this effort, please do!


And things continued to worsen over the winter! Below is an edited summary of emails distributed to the SR&RL Board of Directors and other interested parties by our President:

Webmasters note: I hate to put this much text on a web page, but in this case it is the best way to convey just what happens in projects like this.

11/15/2009: The first thing is that Boothbay could not get it done before the end of November. As I wished to have #3 back by early December so we could have the winter to put it back together, I told them not to turn the drivers this year. [Webmaster's note: as part of the lease requirement "Turning the driver wheels, re-arching the springs, and repairing the water tank shall be completed by the Operator no later than December 31, 2013".] On Tuesday [Boothbay] called ... they had found more cracks and pockets in welds when they cut out the rest of the corners. In addition, more bad or broken stay bolts were found. These could not be seen until removal of the firebox corners. [Boothbay] placed calls to The State and Federal inspectors and [the MNGM and SRRL steam program leaders]. [MNGM and SRRL] agreed to the plan put forth by [Boothbay]. The Federal inspector did not wish to make a special trip so he said to do what ever was needed. [The State inspector] decided he needed to come and see the boiler himself. [Boothbay] started cutting into the firebox to find clean metal. Unfortunately they found more cracks and pockets in a longitudinal weld. They also found severe cracking in the stay bolts that they removed. [The State inspector] showed up while they were doing this. He was not happy with the situation. He ordered that all welds that the law covers be x-ray-ed. If they are found to be bad they are to be ground out and re-welded. Also if they could not prove that the stays had good welds all the stay bolts have to be replaced. This is between 200 and 300 stays. So far every weld that they have cut open has failed. It has been decided that the fastest and most economical way to accomplish this is to remove the boiler from the frame and place it on the shop floor. Also all flat sheets and the crown sheet will be cut out and replaced. The reason for this is that all of the stay bolt welds would have to be ground out and filled in. It is faster to install threaded stays and heat treatment is not necessary. The curved sheets will be ground and filled, as it will be faster and cheaper. The crown sheet is marginal so it is safer and smarter to replace it now. ... [Still hope to] have it running by July 4, 2010.
11/22/2009: On Friday [Boothbay] called and said that all of the welds had been x-rayed. All of the welds passed except on the backhead of the boiler. There are six roughly two-inch long bad spots. These can be ground out and re-welded and re-tested. The stay bolts are still all bad. We will still go ahead with cutting out the flat sheets and crown sheets and replacing them to speed things up and save money in the long run. ...
2/5/2010: ...recently spoke with ... Boothbay about #3(MNGRR). [They] said progress was good. They have finished with all of the cutting out of bad metal and are preparing the boiler for welding in new metal. They are ordering the metal and building the forms they will need. Later this month they will begin heating and beating the new metal to shape it. ...
3/3/2010: ...took a quick trip to Boothbay today. I took over 40 pictures. I deleted some of the worst ones. I apologize for the quality of some. I borrowed a digital camera and I'm not used to it. You will see the bad welds and the extent of the removal of material to fix all of the problems. You will see the new smokebox and the repairs being made to the curved sheets. The large shiny holes are where they have ground out the bad metal to find good. They will weld it back to size them for staybolts. You will see bad staybolts found throughout the boiler. Lastly you will see what a steam engine looks like inside. All of the various hidden parts are exposed for all to see. ...if anyone has access to an accurate lathe or can get a machine shop to donate some labor to turn Flexi-staybolts it will save us money. Flexi-stays cost $100 each. There are $2800 worth needed. Boothbay has the steel to make them and drawings to go by. If anyone wishes to help please contact [] and we will put you to work. Heat and beat will start soon also. ... The schedule is still tight so any help will speed things up. We can still make it by late July if we all help a little.

Trevor Hartford photo taken Feb. 4, 2010. Somewhat scary image with the whole firebox gone! Not just the inner shell, but the outside of the waterlegs too. This is described above as "all flat sheets and the crown sheet will be cut out and replaced."

Trevor Hartford photo taken Feb. 4, 2010. Similar to above shot, but with the 3/4 view you can see that the curved sheet has been preserved and work is being done on the stay bolt holes.

Eric Hinkley photo taken March 3, 2010. Notable here is the new smokebox welded on. You can also see the old backhead (inner and outer walls still stay bolted together) leaning against the boiler.

Noah MacAdam photo: November, 2010. This is the new firebox flue sheet all ready for its edges to be rolled over. Though not visible in the photo, all but the outermost row of flue holes have been cut into the sheet. The outer row is drilled later so the sheet will not deform when the edges are rolled.

Noah MacAdam video: November, 2010. Here is the actual process of rolling over the edges. The overall heating is to avoid temperature stresses on the sheet.

Noah MacAdam photo: November, 2010. The "finished" product. Excess material will be trimmed to fit the crown and side sheets.

In February, 2011 we finally see some serious progress. Here, the right side sheet and backhead have been welded back in place.


For a little rest from the boiler, how about a photo study of what the rest of an inside frame Forney looks like?

Eric Hinkley photo taken March 3, 2010. Naturally, the rest of this little treasure gets to bide its time out in the cold, looking very sad and naked.

Eric Hinkley photo taken March 3, 2010. Looking down on the valve gear link assembly. Yes, this is what Inside Stephenson looks like on a 2-footer chassis. Outboard of the frame members you can see the two rocker arm cranks that transmit the motion to the slide valves. Crammed between the frames you are looking at the reversing gear. The lighter lever on top is part of the lifting arm crank that connects to the reversing quadrant in the cab.

Eric Hinkley photo taken March 3, 2010. Again, looking down at the link assembly. You can see the four eccentric rods that come from the eccentrics on the rear axle. They extend off to the right in this photo.

Eric Hinkley photo taken March 3, 2010. The rear axle (with eccentrics) showing the other ends of the four eccentric rods. Real cozy isn't it?

Eric Hinkley photo taken March 3, 2010. A general view of the engine chassis. On the far side is the lifting arm crank. Just forward of and between the rear drivers is the brake cylinder.

Eric Hinkley photo taken March 3, 2010. Were you beginning to think there was no empty space between the frames anywhere? That is the front axle. In the extreme foreground is the top of the cylinder saddle. Outer ports are live steam to the cylinders, inner ports are the exhaust.


So, where does this leave us? Frankly, with no money at all! The lease agreement with Maine Narrow Gauge Museum calls for us to spend up to $25,000 for the boiler work and another $10,000 for the running gear work. Well, we have deferred the running gear work. The boiler work was originally expected to be a "simple" re-tubing with the asbestos abatement and inspections that come with that. But that scope of boiler work was only estimated at $18,000. As of October 2012, the SR&RL has paid $126,000 and that did not include the $1200 transportation cost. Also not included are the cost of the new throttle valve and accessory steam manifold which are yet to be delivered.  At least the work list is "reassembly." Now that we have her back in Phillips there is a lot of work to do before she goes back in service.We need any financial help that steam lovers can give us! Please send whatever donation you can!

To direct your donation to the Steam Fund, click here:


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Revised: 3/1/2014