The last evolutions

December 2, 2001 (Info by Patrick Durand)

News for all supporters of the 1718/1818 Preservation Project.

I have been at the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry today, December 1, 2001 working on #1718/1818 and GE 1604. It was 0 degrees F today but still got all the snow plowed away from the troop sleeper box cars so we can off load all our spare parts that still need to be moved from Clear Air Force Station by truck.

On October 8, 2001 during my absence from Alaska the locomotives arrived at the Museum. Mr. Jerry Ware, and Mr. Richard Morris coordinated the Museum volunteers and worked with the Alaska Railroad section gang. The main line tracks were separated and bent over on temporary ties to connect with the Museum tracks. Slowly the 1718, 1604 and two historic box cars were moved onto the Museum track and secured. All went well and the locomotives are now home.

A single pitched shed roof 20 foot by 80 foot was erected just before fall freeze. We still need to lay 160 foot of track under the shed and then we will have covered storage for the locomotives. All spare parts and tools will be stored in the two box cars, which are a W.W.II troop sleeper and troop kitchen that the Alaska Railroad had converted to box cars in 1947.

Formal announcement along with a copy of a recent photograph of 1718 and the donors list will be sent to all donors of record if we have their mailing list. We hope a lot of rail fans will come to MATI in Wasilla, Alaska to visit these veterans of the rails.

November 30, 2000 (Info by Patrick Durand)

The Donors plate has been installed in the locomotive and also on a birch wall plaque with a photo of the locomotive in the gallery of the Museum in Wasilla. A paper copy of the plaque is being sent out with the thank you letters and receipts to donors this week. I'll photograph the plate at the Museum and forward that image to you for posting as well.

We have prepared the tracks at the museum so they can be moved this winter. Our ties are not ballasted in but rather they set on top of the ballast. This way they can be shoved around with our forklift to arrange space as it is needed with out turnouts. We prepared critical sections that may require movement this winter, by lifting the ties and placing a block under one rail. This will keep the ties from freezing down to the ground. Just bumping them with the snow plow or fork lift will loosen them so the track panel can be moved around as needed.

We will keep pushing to get the job done. Considering the Alaska Railroad will be making this 200 mile move free of charge and bending the rail into the museum at no charge, we cant push too hard.

November 29, 2000 (Info by Patrick Durand)

I just returned from a four month trip to the West coast and mid west chasing trains. On return I found that the Alaska Railroad had not yet been able to move the locomotives from Clear AFS. They are still secure there. There is no snow at the Museum so in the last week we have been able to align tracks at the Museum and prepare rail and ties to receive the locomotives if the Alaska Railroad wants to bend the main line rail for a "Chinese switch" yet this winter. We are ready for them.

We currently have steel on the ground to build a shed 20 by 80 with clearance for the two locomotives. I may hold out for a larger structure but it would be a start. An information up date will be mailed to all donors as soon as the move is made.

June 30, 2000 (Info by Patrick Durand)

After several weeks trying to get a National Stock Number for the right hand water pump for a 567B engine, I finally made the decision to remove the needed pump from Locomotive #1500 at the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry. #1500 is inoperative, needs two traction motors and an air compressor rebuild and lots of electrical work before she would ever run. We will put the old pump parts back in for static display.

Now I am ready to schedule a trip to Clear AFS for July 10 or 11 to complete installation. At that time a progress report with all the newsletter articles will go out to the contributors. Please advise the #1818/1718 family of friends that progress is being made and we expect the locomotive to move to Anchorage at the end of the very busy Alaska Railroad passenger season after September 15, 2000.

Richard (Dick) Morris, has agreed to coordinate that move with the railroad in my absence from Alaska this fall. We are asking the ARR to store the locomotives in Anchorage until spring 2001 when they can be moved back north 48 miles to the Museum under their own power.

At the Museum we have a Naval Reserve Unit of SeaBees (Naval Construction Battalion) 17 people strong, doing construction work on a volunteer basis for two weeks. These folks men and women are all from the New Orleans, LA area and are putting in 12 hour days. Funding is from from an "Ice Tea" DOT grant passed through from the State of Alaska and the Matanuska Susitna Borough. One of the jobs is laying track to receive the locomotives. There may be money left to buy the steel for a 40 ft by 60 ft building to house two locomotives.

Progress can only be made in response to plans laid in advance. Thanks to all you folks who helped realize the purchase of both #1718 and #1604 so we can realize some of those plans.

May 16, 2000 (Info by Patrick Durand)

NOTICE: e-mail change for Pat Durand: new address is:

MRS1 #1718/1818 is in secure storage at Clear Air Force Base under the care of the Power Plant crew. Pat Durand visited on May 9, 2000 and took some update photos. Mr. Shoemaker, Plant Superintendent and Mr. Graves, Property Officer, welcomed Pat and after a brief paperwork orientation introduced Larry Wegener who is in charge of the rail operations among other tasks. The coal fired plant is right in the middle of the base surrounded by a large array of radar gear. The base is in a secure spot at the end of a spur road off the Parks Highway 250 miles from Anchorage. Pat was given permission to photograph the locomotives but admonished not to include the "scenery". No more secure place could be found to store a locomotive!.

Behind locked fences, Larry drove Pat up to #1718 sitting in the sun outside the coal shed where hoppers are thawed out and dumped inside a sealed building. The building doubles as loco storage when not full of loaded hoppers. The locomotive exhaust spark arresters had been removed and stashed on the rear platform as they will not fit through the doors. Pat was amazed at the condition of the locomotive, as you will be on study of the photos. No rust in sight!

Remember, this loco was built in May of 1952 and has been in and out of service many times. The bright yellow and blue ALASKA paint job was actually camouflage applied when she powered the Alaska Command ALCOP Mobile Command Post train in 1980s. The MRS1 was painted to pass for any other ARR locomotive. The locomotive is finely detailed in well applied paint finishes that would make any MUSEUM paint crew envious. This locomotive has been in regular service at Clear and is ready for Sacramento Rail Fair tomorrow! If you doubt, look at the cab and control stand photos.

The man primarily responsible for the paint job maintenance is Mr. Brad Shepherd, now retired from the Coal Crew Clear as the group is known. Larry introduced me to Patrick Geagan, Tim Dugger and Al Maddox all members of the crew and cross trained as locomotive engineers. Al took Pat on a tour of #1718 and pointed out some of it's quirks which he has offered to document along with operating instructions unique to the loco. A three phase electric (no one has three phase) engine heater and battery charger is included to be mounted in the short hood. They never used the device but saved it for MATI. Unfortunately, the right side water pump ate the impeller and shaft and the crew had already removed it. Steps are underway by MATI for obtaining a replacement. Al offered to get the batteries charged up with a few days notice so when we return with the pump she can be fired up and tested.

Al then led Pat into the recesses of the storage building where they boarded USAF GE 80 tonner #1604. Al apologized that the snow plow pilots had to be removed to go on their replacement locomotives. He suggested always starting Engine 2 first as it seems to have better compression than Engine 1. After closing the main battery switch, flipping #2 switch and pushing the start button, about two revolution of the crank had her in power and #1 followed without a hitch. Idling for a brief warm up, #1604 was under way out of the building for photos. The Air Force blue is faded to baby blue but a little loco wax will bring it back. Why all this interest in an 80 tonner from May of 1952, you wonder? Well, for less than the cost of a coat of paint she has been added to the deal and is now part of the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry roster as well.

The saga will continue when a right side water pump for the 16-567-B engine is secured and the Alaska Railroad has a window of opportunity for a slow 25 MPH trip by two locomotives to the Museum. The crew at Clear is pleased that all their efforts at maintaining these locomotives, the tools of their labor, will be enjoyed by visitors to the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry, in Wasilla, Alaska. Thanks to friends who made this possible by their contributions to the MRS1 #1718/1818 Preservation Fund.

March 21, 2000 (Info by Patrick Durand)

Efforts by railfans to preserve MRS1 #1718/1818 are receiving good coverage from a number of internet sites. The train crew at Clear Air Force Station tells me the locomotive is complete with batteries and some fuel in the tank. The "right side" water pump is out, but fortunately we have a replacement at the Museum on F7 #1500 which was built seven months after the MRS1. The October 1998 photo shows her in better shape than in 1993 when she went to Clear. The power plant train crew at Clear deserves recognition for the excellent care they have given this old warrior under extreme arctic conditions.

We still need pledges and the actual donations sent into the Museum. The report indicates payments received and commitments made as pledges. I'll keep you posted as pledges become actual payments in the MRS1 Preservation Fund. Thanks for your continued support.

March 8, 2000 (Info by Patrick Durand, 8/3/2000)
1718 MRS1 acquisition approved for MATI as of March 5, 2000
State of Alaska and DRMO have accepted the proposal for purchase of EMD MRS1 #1718 by the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry in Wasilla, Alaska. Now it is time for all those folks who believe saving #1718 is a great idea to step up. We, rail fans need to raise the money for the preservation of this unique locomotive. Immediately we need $3,000 for the purchase price. I promised the Museum this acquisition would be covered by private donations.

The project is being coordinated by Pat Durand for the Museum and communication can be directed to:
Phone 1 (907) 696 3273
Eagle River, Alaska

Contributions should be address to:
Museum of Alaska Transprotation and Industry
MRS1 Preservation Fund
P.O. Box 870646
Wasilla, Alaska 99687 USA

Your financial support of this project will be promptly recognized and appreciated.

If you wish to donate by credit card: Visa or Mastercard you can call or FAX your donation amount along with credit card # and expiration date to: (907) 376 1211 or FAX (907) 376 3082.

February 10, 2000 (Info by Patrick Durand, 9/2/2000)
Good news! While there are still some paper work hurdles and the $3000.00 purchase price to raise, it is the intention of the Museum of Alaska Transport and Industry (MATI) to finalize purchase of MRS1 #1718. The State of Alaska property managers and the DRMO system are processing the paperwork to arrange the purchase. Transportation to Wasilla from Clear, AFS will require permission and cooperation from the Alaska Railroad.

October 4, 1999(Info by Curtis Fortenberry)
I was at Clear AFS yesterday (30/9/1999), it's still there sitting on a siding, stacks removed. They tell me it's being excessed through salvage. I checked the DRMO page, and it's not yet listed. The folks at Clear said that an Army team came up last week to evaluate the unit for training purposes, but they thought it was too old to be useful to the training effort. They may have delayed the paperwork till it was evaluated.

Monday, January 25, 1999 (Based on info by Frank Dewey, ARR locomotive engineer, through John Combs website)
Just got back from 2 days of switching in Whittier. We arrived Friday morning about 0200 hrs. Anchorage -10, Whittier +10, stripped ARMS barge of railcars, set-up ACT cars for loose stow and contanierized freight. Very interesting cargo:
2 General Electric 80 tonners for Clear Site. US Army # 1650, 1679. They were carried on 2 special DODX flats # 40006, 40007, these flats had rail permanently mounted on them with end ramps to run the locos right off or on to them.

Friday, January 22, 1999 (Thanks, Curt Fortenberry.)
ARR/USAF 1718 is still at Clear AFS. The replacement 80 tonners were due in to Anchorage yesterday. Clear hasn't even done the paperwork to surplus the engine, although they expect too once the new engines arrive and they are checked out. It could be summer before the engine leaves the station. It has friction bearings, and will probably only move on special restrictions.

Wednesday, January 20, 1999 (Thanks, Shane G Deemer, for the info.)
Both of the 80 tonners were delivered to the ARR in Seattle last week. They still have a boat ride to Alaska, plus transit to Clear AFS.

Monday, January 18, 1999 (Thanks, John Combs, for this forward.)
Locomotives to replace the GE 80 ton and the EMD MRS-1 #1718, were to arrive in Anchorage this Sunday, but we did not see them in the Anchorage Yard.

Thursday, January 14, 1999: an important mail arrives (Thanks, John Combs, for this forward, sent to him by an ARR engineer.)
Mike Presley was talking with the crew at Clear Site this weekend and was told that they are to receive 2 GE 80 ton locomotives to replace the GE 80 ton and the EMD MRS-1 #1718, that they have. They expect the "new" locomotives this week.

December 1998: Rail magazine Extra 2200 South, Issue 116, stated on page 31: (Thanks, Tim Moriarty, for this info!)
80-ton GEs 1650 and 1679 are being transferred from Bayonne, NJ to Clear Air Force Station, which is about 80 miles south of Fairbanks, in Alaska. They will replace 80-ton GE 1604 and MRS1 1718 (which is still fully painted Alaska Railroad).
Sounds like the last MRS1 is finally being retired!