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Grease Cups

It’s a small thing, a grease cup. But on a 1921 steam engine grease cups were very important, gently providing a steady supply of grease to massive metal bearings spinning hundreds of times a minute in the bowels of a locomotive. 

This spring, the only surviving steam engine of the Mt. Tamalpais and Muir Woods Railway is 99 years old. For the last sixty-seven years, the locomotive has been on public display. Over time, sadly, pieces have disappeared. Some of the missing pieces include parts of the small but important grease cups— their lids. The lids kept dirt out and applied pressure that forced grease from the cup into the moving bearings. This Heisler locomotive has 14 grease cups; 13 were missing their lids. Part of restoring No. 9 is restoring those lids.

An illustration from a Heisler locomotive booklet shows the location of some of the grease cups used in the engine. The one complete surviving cup showed us what we were looking for. 

Steve Cardellini, one of our volunteers, discovered identical pieces, the last remaining stock on an internet website. Using the donations generously provided by our supporters, we bought them. 

When we restore the locomotive’s steam engine these new stamped steel grease cups will replace the old incomplete, dusty and dirt-filled cups, just one of hundreds of details we are managing in the restoration.


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