Jan 1, 1993

Information about the rebuilding of Milwaukee Road “Northern” steam locomotive #261 from the”Friends of the 261″ Inc.

261 rebuilding progresses
Work shifts to Minneapolis General Electric shop

After months of work performed at the Wisconsin Central Ltd. engine house in Green Bay, Wis., work on Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 #261 has now shifted to Minneapolis, Minn. where rebuilding will be completed. The locomotive was moved to Minneapolis by Wisconsin Central Ltd. on September 20-22, 1992, and it is now safely tucked away in the heated, fully equipped General Electric apparatus shop adjacent to the Soo Line’s Humboldt Yard in north Minneapolis. The G.E. Shop, which specializes in rebuilding traction motors for diesel locomotives, is an ideal location to complete the work on 261. It is equipped with indoor railroad tracks and has large overhead
cranes for moving heavy parts. G.E. has been most gracious in allowing the repair of 261 to take place at their facility. The company has undertaken the task of rebuilding the trailing wheel truck of the locomotive, and has allowed North Star Rail crews to use its tools and other equipment.

Since the locomotive arrived at the G.E. facility, much work has been accomplished. All of the boiler and firebox surfaces have been ultrasound tested and inspections of the stripped-down boiler have been conducted by North Star Rail, Moorhead Boiler of Minneapolis, Diversified Rail Services and the Federal Railroad Administration. The inspections revealed that the boiler and firebox are metallurgically and mechanically in excellent condition, with all shell thicknesses conforming to proper specifications. In November, an 18″ x 60″ patch was installed on the knuckle portion of the rear flue sheet, in an area where cracks commonly occur (such cracks had developed on 261 ). The patch was fabricated by Moorehead Boiler. Of the 261 ‘s 3800 “staybolts,” only 150 have required replacement.

The superheater tubes and flues have all been pulled out of the front of the locomotive, and new ones already on hand are being reinstalled. Most major appliances have been shipped out to various shops for repair work, and will be reapplied as they are returned. So far, rebuilding is on schedule, with the first steam-up of the locomotive planned for later this year.

“Tool” car acquired, rebuilt

The first authentic piece of ex-Milwaukee Road rolling stock has been acquired for the consist to be pulled by 261. Former Milwaukee Road storage car 1959 trailed the 261 on the move from Green Bay to Minneapolis.

Painted in Milwaukee Road streamliner colors from the 1930s, the car was originally constructed in 1938 as an observation car for the “Twin Cities Hiawatha” and carried the name “Earling.” North Star Rail acquired the car from Wisconsin Central, ~built and repainted the car in time for the move to Minneapolis. The “Earling” will be used to carry tools and equipment necessary to service 261.

New books of interest

Two new railroad books may be of interest to members. “Friends” newsletter editor Steve Glischinski authored “Burlington Northern and Its Heritage” an all-color photo book that traces the history of BN, as well as CB&Q, Frisco, GN, NP, and SP&S. The book retails for S59.95 and is available from Andover junction Publications, P.O. Box 1160, Andover, N. J. 07821 or by calling 1-800-998-9839.

Another new book is scheduled for publication early in 1993. Titled “Milwaukee Road Steam Locomotives,” the book covers the history of CMSt&P’s steam fleet, including the 261. It is expected to be available early this year. Watch this newsletter for more details .-Frank Sandberg

Lost and found

During 261 ‘s years of storage and display, many items such as gauges, builders and trust plates, and other tools and equipment have gradually disappeared from the locomotive. North Star Rail, which is rebuilding the engine for operation, would like to have as much original equipment, or equipment typical of that found on the 261 as possible. Any items such as tools, trust plates, and locomotive parts or gauges, large and small, will be helpful in rebuilding the locomotive. If you have any of these items and wish to donate them to the “Friends of the 261” (your donation is tax deductible) please contact us. A reward is being offered for the return of original items.

Open house planned

Members of the “Friends of the 261” are invited to attend an open house at the General Electric Apparatus Shop in Minneapolis on February 27, 1993 to inspect the 261 firsthand. The open house is being held in conjunction with the North Star Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. Members will meet at the facility, located at 2025 49th Ave. North, at 1 p.m. February 27. To assist in estimating attendance, you must send in the attached registration form by February 15, 1993. Please remember that the G.E. Shop is a working facility, so appropriate clothing should be worn. If you have a pair of safety glasses, please bring them with you. General Electric has asked that interested individuals do not stop by or call their facility for information regarding the 261 or the tour. Please call North Star Rail at (612) 858-8859 if you have any questions.


FRIENDS OF THE 261 INC. 11686 Azure Lane, Inver Grove Hgts, MN 55077


© Friends of the 261. Archived Northern Lines Newsletters are copied from original wordings of letters sent out on the date in header. Format maybe different from original letter but the articles remain the same. All addresses, contact info, promotions, discounts, rewards and pricing in archived letters are no longer valid.

Recent Posts

2023 Northern Lines

Things may have seemed quiet over the summer for the Friends of the 261, but they have been quite far from that. Many things have been progressing in the shop of the 261.Friends contracted by MTM for A18Back in 2021, MTM (Minnesota Transportation Museum) contracted...

2023 Train Day

RRHMA participates in Midwest events Equipment makes appearances at Union Depot Train Days, Franklin Park Railroad DazeRailroading Heritage of Midwest America participated in two Midwest railroad events in June, part of fulfilling our mission to promote public...

RRHMA awarded $31,000 by the Emery Rail Heritage Trust

Railroading Heritage of Midwest America would like to announce the award of $31,000 by the Emery Rail Heritage Trust to go towards the return to service of the Sleeping Car/Lounge Caritas. We would like to thank the Emery Rail Heritage Trust for its continued support...

RRHMA to Expand operations to Silvis, IL

Railroading Heritage of Midwest America to expand operations to Silvis Illinois shop & rail complexThe rail complex will be developed as a multiuse commercial development, historic preservation, restoration and future transportation museum. SILVIS, Ill. (Jan 10,...