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Reading No. 2100 Returns East

“Custom, fate, and hard necessity combined to make the Reading T-1 one of the most extraordinary 4-8-4s ever built,” William S. Young wrote in the December 1959 issue of Steam Locomotive on the occasion of T-1 No. 2124 having been removed from storage to power the Reading Company’s first- ever “Iron Horse Ramble” excursion. Now one of these celebrated locomotives appears poised for a comeback. In mid- April, the 501(c)3 non-profit American Steam Railroad Company Inc., of Mount Vernon, Ohio, announced that it had reached an agreement to lease Reading No. 2100, which has languished in storage at Richland, Wash., since 2007. On May 21, No. 2100 was delivered its new home inside the former Baltimore & Ohio roundhouse in Cleveland, Ohio, which is owned by the Midwest Railroad Preservation Society. A full restoration to operating condition is planned. No. 2100 was the prototype for the T-1

class, a group of 30 4-8-4s constructed in the Reading’s own shops (located in the railroad’s namesake city in Pennsylvania) between 1945 and 1948. Designed for heavy freight service, they were not brand-new locomotives but instead utilized smaller parts salvaged from class I-10a 2-8-0s that were combined with new cast engine beds, drive wheels, and boiler courses (provided by Baldwin), which were mated to fireboxes from the Consolidations. Number 2100 was converted from 1923-built I-10a No. 2020 in September 1945.

The T-1s proved themselves capable machines, especially in coal train service, but their careers were cut short by the arrival of new diesels. All were placed in storage by the summer of 1952. A brief excursion career for T-1s 2100, 2102, and 2124 lasted from 1959 until 1964 (2101 was also saved as a standby engine but never used on the Rambles). In 1965, No. 2100 was sold for scrap to Striegel Supply & Equipment of Baltimore, Md. No. 2100 and sister 2101 languished at Striegel until 1975 when they were purchased for the American Freedom Train project. No. 2101 was restored to operation using parts borrowed from 2100. After falling into disrepair, No. 2100 finally received a new lease on life in 1987 when it was sold to the newly- formed “2100

Corporation,” which

overhauled the 4-8-4, made several test runs, but never operated the locomotive in excursion service. After changing hands again, No. 2100 was sold at auction in 1998 to RailLink Limited of Edmonton, Alb., and was moved to the Elgin County Railway Museum in St. Thomas, Ont., where it was converted to burn oil and fitted with decorative red panels and ditch lights, and named Ferroequus. It ran one brief season between 2005 and 2006 on the financially unsuccessful Golden Pacific Railroad dinner train operation out of Tacoma, Wash.

American Steam Railroad spent more than a year working with No. 2100’s private owner to bring it to Cleveland; in early 2015 consultants were brought in to evaluate the locomotive and prepare it for shipment. Movement of the 4-8-4, its tender, and auxiliary tender the 2300 miles from Washington to Ohio was made on flat cars, largely over BNSF rails.

The list of what needs to be done before No. 2100 can steam again is extensive. ASR has identified that an ultrasound test of the firebox is required, along with the rebuilding of appliances, removal of the drive wheels, and inspection of moving surfaces such as crankpins and bearings. Ditch lights and other embellishments added by Golden Pacific have already been removed in order to bring No. 2100 as close to standard Reading specifications

as possible.

The boiler is in good condition, with serviceable tubes and flues, and will not require FRA 1472-day inspection work until 2021. The stoker and other coal- firing equipment that were removed in St. Thomas have remained there and will be reunited with the engine in the near future; post-restoration, No. 2100 will burn anthracite as originally designed. No. 2100’s return east brings it closer to its surviving sister locomotives. No. 2101 resides at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, while No. 2102 remains in storage on the Reading & Northern in Port Clinton, Pa., and 2124 is at Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, also in the Keystone State. American Steam Railroad was formed in 2005 to preserve Frisco 2-8-2 No. 1352, currently stored in Taylorsville, Ill., and also slated to move to Cleveland. “Fire Up 2100 is a great example of the type of programming that American Steam Railroad will pursue moving forward,” stated ASR CEO Steven Harvey in a press release. “2100 has a lot to teach us about not only the highs and lows of our country’s industrial revolution, but the railroad preservation industry itself.” For more information and to make a tax- deductible donation visit the ASR web site at

Reading T-1 No. 2100 Shipped East

Former Reading T-1 No. 2100 was delivered to Rockport Yard in Cleveland, Ohio, by Norfolk Southern’s BF10 crew on May 17. Acquired by American Steam Railroad, the venerable coal-hauler will be rebuilt and restored inside the ex-B&O roundhouse owned by Midwest Railway Preservation, Inc. A few days later the engine and two tenders were moved to Campbell Road Yard for interchange to the MRPS. Funds are being raised by ASR to reverse a 2007 conversion to burn oil and return No. 2100 to coal-burning operation.



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