A significant milestone was reached in July with the removal of all asbestos from Engine No. 9.
Engine No. 9 is a steam-powered locomotive built in 1921. As was common in that era, asbestos was liberally used to insulate the boiler and keep the steam generated inside from cooling back into water. As a first step in the restoration of No. 9, and for the safety of the public when No. 9 is eventually put on display, it was necessary to remove the hazardous material. We teamed up with Central Valley Environmental, a local hazardous materials removal company, that performed the remediation. The first step was to construct a containment structure, to keep any material that was uncovered safely contained.
Then, the sheet metal jacket covering the boiler was carefully removed, uncovering the asbestos and jute that had surrounded the boiler for many decades. When those materials were taken away to a hazardous material disposal facility, the original boiler was revealed. It is rusty, but in good shape. We are already thinking about the best way to clean up the rust. Even though the outside of the boiler won’t be visible when the restoration of No. 9 is completed, we want to be sure to preserve the internal workings of the locomotive for historical purposes. Unmanaged rust would eventually devour all of the metal.
Finally, the asbestos removal work yielded an unexpected surprise. At some point after No. 9 was put on display in Scotia, someone removed an original window frame from the engine in pieces, lit those pieces on fire and tossed them into the firebox. The firebox is the place where fire once raged beneath the boiler, burning furiously to create steam to power the locomotive. Surprisingly, the wooden pieces were only partly burned. They still have some of the original red paint that was used on the locomotive when it was brand new. This will help us tremendously in recreating the exact color of the livery of the engine when it was first put into service on Mt. Tam.
Our thanks to Central Valley Environmental and to all of our supporters who have helped us reach this point.