Restoration of Pennsylvania Railroad E6s Atlantic No. 460, the Lindbergh Engine
By Charles Fox, Director, Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
Project Update: September 2010
A major milestone in the restoration of E6s No. 460 has been reached with the removal of all lead-based paint from the locomotive and tender.
Planning for the restoration of No. 460 began in earnest in the spring of 2010. Initial surveys had indicated a substantial amount of rusted steel would have to be replaced in the cab and tender.
At that time, it was also determined that the locomotive was covered in several layers of lead-based paint, all of which would have to be removed before steel replacement could begin. The nature of lead-based paint is such that lead is released into the air in a gaseous form when the painted surfaces are heated by activities such as cutting, grinding and welding, placing unprotected restoration workers at a risk of exposure to toxic levels of lead.
After considerable research, it was decided to employ the Sponge-Jet® method of paint removal. The Sponge-Jet® process is similar to traditional sandblasting in that the surface to be cleaned is bombarded with abrasive media. In this case, particles of grit-impregnated sponge are used instead of sand. The sponge media itself absorbs a considerable amount of the dirt and dust generated by the cleaning process, making it perfect for the removal of hazardous materials where air quality is a concern.
The Sponge-Jet® process had other advantages over traditional sandblasting. The sponge media is reusable, unlike sand, which can only be used once before it must be disposed of as lead-contaminated waste. Sponge media could be cleaned and reused up to 15 times, producing far less waste than traditional sandblasting. A second consideration recommending the Sponge-Jet® method was the fear that sandblasting could harm the fragile brass bearings of the locomotive, damaging the bearing faces and restricting the manner in which we could move and display the locomotive in the future.
For economic, preservation and environmental reasons, sponge blasting seemed the proper choice. The I. K. Stoltzfus Service Corporation of Lancaster, Pennsylvania was hired to perform the sponge blasting and began work on July 6, 2010. Work was officially completed on August 27, 2010.
The results of the paint removal process exceeded our wildest expectations. The sponge media completely removed all of the paint from the locomotive and tender, leaving behind a clean surface perfectly profiled for new paint.
Other than the obvious areas of damage caused by exposure to the elements, No. 460 proved to be in remarkably good shape—the exterior boiler surfaces covered in plasticized paint during asbestos abatement activities earlier in the decade had suffered no additional damage from exposure to the elements.
The brass bearings, moveable linkages and cylinders of the locomotive were all undamaged by the sponge blasting process. Sponge-Jet® is headquartered in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. They are the world’s leading manufacturer of dry, low dust abrasive blasting media and equipment.
The locomotive proved to be liberally covered in casting numbers and other markings long obscured by many layers of paint, among them the original timing marks punched into the crosshead guides on both sides of the locomotive.
The name “J. J. Gority” was stamped into the crosshead guide on the engineer’s side. Apparently, Mr. Gority at one time set the timing for the locomotive.
Further examination showed that No. 460 contained a great number of parts originally manufactured for other E6s locomotives. The drive wheels on the fireman’s side were number stamped for locomotive No. 460, but those on the engineer’s side were stamped No. 1565, as was the valve stem crosshead on the engineer’s side. The valve stem crosshead guide on the fireman’s side was stamped No. 759, the air reservoir on the fireman’s side was stamped No. 690 and the air reservoir on the engineer’s side was stamped No. 782.
Pennsylvania Railroad locomotives No. 690, No. 759, No. 782, and No. 1565 were all E6s class locomotives. All were scrapped in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
We had long known that No. 460 was displayed with the class 70P66 tender originally built for locomotive No. 1565, but had not realized there were so many other orphaned E6s parts present on No. 460.
One of the last three E6s locomotives in service, No. 460 had clearly benefited from the demise of her sister locomotives. Certainly no better testimony could exist for the benefits of the standardization that characterized the Standard Railroad of the World.
Now that the paint removal process has been completed, No. 460 will be moved back into the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania’s restoration shop, and work on repairing the tender will begin. Restoration of components removed from No. 460 prior to the sponge blasting process—most notably the train control box, the locomotive bell and the air-powered bell ringer—continued while the paint removal was underway.
The air-powered bell ringer has been restored to operating condition, with the result that No. 460’s bell has sounded for what is probably the first time in many decades.
It is our intention to restore No. 460 to her appearance during her last period of service, 1952 to 1955. With the continuing assistance of and support from our many valued friends, we are certain this will be one of the finest and most accurate restorations of a Pennsylvania Railroad steam locomotive ever completed.