July 2023 Update

Things have been busy the last couple months at the RRHMA shop in Silvis. National Railway Equipment (NRE) has been working on Centennial DDA40X diesel #6936, making any repairs necessary to bring it back to operational condition.

Work continues on Union Pacific 2-10-2 #5511. The fire brick has been removed to facilitate the upcoming inspection of the firebox. The safety valves have been removed and are on their way for rebuilding, and the dynamo (used to generate electricity for headlights and lighting on the locomotive) has been removed as well.


On Challenger 4-6-6-4 #3985, the safety valves have been removed and sent out for rebuild. Lube lines are in the process of being removed in order to have new ones made. Cylinder and valve heads have been removed for cleaning and inspection; the majority of the valve gear has been removed for the rear engine. Inspection of stay bolts and the firebox continues, along with plenty of cleaning and scrubbing on the rest of the engine and frame. The front flue sheet is being prepped for removal and replacement. The inside of the cab is having items removed it as well, in preparation for rebuilding.

A recent addition to the RRHMA – Silvis fleet is BNSF Railway #537, originally built as Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway #537 in 1990 by General Electric. This model B40-8W was donated by our friends at BNSF. Ordered as part of the AT&SF Super Fleet of new EMD and GE diesels painted in Santa Fe’s famous Warbonnet passenger diesel paint scheme, the AT&SF was the only railroad to order the B40-8W. #537 is the first of the type to be preserved, although the model is still operated by four short lines in addition to BNSF.

An inspection by NRE, which shares the Silvis shop with RRHMA, indicates the unit is in good condition and can be returned to service with minimal work. In the long term RRHMA is considering returning the unit to the famous Warbonnet red-and-silver colors it wore when built.

Each year BNSF is a sponsor of the North Pole Express at Union Depot in St. Paul using Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261, and supports Train Days at the depot each June by moving equipment in and out. BNSF recognizes the importance of having good relationships with communities and the public, and we are grateful for their continuing support.

RRHMA was recently hired by CPKC to paint one of its newly acquired cars through their recent merger. CPKC, now owners of former Kansas City Southern business Veracruz, asked if RRHMA could handle the task of painting the car in CPKC’s colors of Auburn Night Mist to match the rest of their business car fleet for use on future trips. In only a couple of months time, RRHMA crews sanded out old lettering, repaired damaged exterior paneling, then primed, painted, and lettered the car in CPKC colors. 

The wheels have arrived for Union Pacific Big Boy #4014’s tender! Brand new wheels are at the ready for RRHMA crews to install under #4014’s tender. While a lot of work needs to be done before they are installed, they will look great when they are.

If you would like to support RRHMA and its mission to preserve railroading history, become a member or donate today.