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Friends of No. 9 Restoration Update: A Deeper Dive

The Friends of No. 9 are diving more deeply into the restoration of Engine No. 9, the last piece of the Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway. The next steps will go deeper into the 101 year-old steam locomotive, repairing more corroded metal, straightening the sagging frame and getting the engine closer to looking new.

Nearly the whole locomotive will be disassembled as we look for hidden damage or the corrosion that acts like a cancer on the metal. We have removed the 6.5-ton boiler so we can access and repair the I-beam frame members, the locomotive’s backbone.

Historical Architect Joe Breeze spent hundreds of hours researching and drafting the intricate construction of No. 9’s pilot or “cowcatcher”. Very few Heisler locomotives had them. Using Photoshop, Joe lightened the coal black shadow areas of a 101-year old photo to find details he needed. Other photos helped too. He traveled to railroad museums to see the elements in their construction. The pilot is a complicated assembly of parts. Joe created an intricate blueprint and a foam core model to help illustrate the recreation. We thank him for his extraordinary effort and dedication to No. 9.

We are so very grateful to the donors who make our work possible.

October 24, 2022

The Friends of No. 9 met at Millerick brother’s workshop to view the progress and discuss the upcoming work, including lifting the 6.5-ton boiler from the frame to make structural repairs. Left to Right - Rick Beach, Eric Macris, Roger Smith, Jeff Millerick and Bruce Lowenthal.

October 3, 2022

Lloyd Butler and Joe Breeze discuss construction of a new pilot (“cowcatcher") for Engine No. 9.

Jeff and Don Millerick are lifelong metal workers and rail fans. They have enjoyed not only seeing and understanding the nuances of construction in the 36-ton locomotive but also the challenges of restoration, like recreating similar looking parts with modern materials. Here, the Millericks consider rebuilding the firepan where an 1800º fire burned furiously to create the steam that powered the engine up Mt. Tamalpais.

Ad-Lite crane crew members prepare to lift the boiler from No. 9’s frame.

October 26, 2022

After 101 years outside, corrosion had fused the steel smokebox, nuts and bolts and the steel frame together making it impossible to lift the boiler assembly without cutting the rusted steel free.

November 16, 2022

The I-beam framework of No. 9 had been chewed up by corrosion. It had also developed a sag and bow over time. The Millericks were repairing those while replacing the most damaged steel. (Note new top and bottom "flange” plates in the foreground.)

As we replaced corroded steel, each seam at the replacement requires several welding passes to make the seam strong. Then it gets ground as smooth as glass to blend the new steel with the old. Then it gets painted.

We're trying to keep as much original material as possible. This is historic Pennsylvania steel, embossed with the word "Lackawanna", a famous steel company that was absorbed into Bethlehem Steel Co. the year after No. 9 was built.

As the Millericks began clearing away the old rusty scales they found worse corrosion beneath it. More repairs, more time will be needed here than they had hoped. Some areas were so thin you could drive a nail through them.


This is our restoration goal. Engine No. 9 in 1921, when it began work on Mt. Tamalpais.


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