Restoring A Locomotive

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In Nelsonville, a group of dedicated volunteers is in the process of transforming a rusty old steam engine locomotive into a shiny show piece.

This Hocking Valley Scenic Railway project is led by a father-son team with a passion for railroading. The team is working on the restoration of a 1920’s Baldwin steam locomotive.

"It was built for Ohio Power,” Bob Baughman said. “It was used for around Steubenville area. It was a shuttle engine for coal from over the coal mine to the power plant.”

His son is Rob Baughman said initial signs showed the almost century old locomotive wasn’t in terrible shape. That was 11 years ago. “I’ve been involved ever since,” Rob said. ”We really didn’t know what we were getting into. We are on the downhill part now.”

It's a good thing the Baughmans love trains because the restoration is a lot of work, but they've got a lot of help from 25 volunteers – who show up on the first Saturday of every month to get this locomotive showpiece ready.

“We kind of build on everybody’s expertise and if you don’t have an expertise we kind of build your expertise into that,” Bob Baughman said. “We try and get everyone involved into the greasy stuff but also the good stuff that is here.”

“We are talking about people from pretty much every walk of life,” Rob said of the team of volunteers. “We have four college students that come from OSU in Columbus. We got a guy that comes up from Marietta. He works as a machinist in a machine shop, big pipe company down there. We’ve got a guy that comes up from Belpre, he’s a plumber.”

The work is being done at the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway Engine House in Nelsonville. It's a big building filled with functioning diesel locomotives, a partially restored caboose and snowplow and all sorts of spare parts and tools.

"A lot of the stuff we took off, we didn’t throw away,” Bob said. “We have it in box cars here in pieces we can use for patterns when we start assembling everything back into place.”

Sometimes, figuring out just how to make a part look just like the original took some research.

“Some of the stuff was a mystery to do such as the cab for the locomotive,” Bob said. “One of our members did some research found some models in a railroading magazine and with photographs was able to reconstruct the cab almost identical to the original one that was on here.”

The men sometimes work in crawl spaces and other times get covered in grease and grime and always for free.

Bob Baughman said his goal is to finish next summer.

"All of this is relevant to what happens at the boiler shop,” he said. “The boiler shop which is in Middleton, just east of Cleveland we sent that boiler up about a year and a half ago. They are in the process of putting it back together and hopefully within the next two months we should get our boiler back.”

Rob Baughman said he's really looking forward to the rollout of the restored locomotive.

"Oh yeah, it will be a special day for myself and my father and everybody involved,” he said. “It should be really good day for the railroad and the region. There are a lot of people that will travel hundreds of miles to see an operating steam locomotive. I’m one of them. I travel all over the place to see them. Hopefully, we bring a lot of people into the region."

Bob Baughman figures the steam engine locomotive restoration will cost about $100,000 and part of his job is fund-raising, which he's still doing.