Tri-State's New Workshop Arrives at Boonton Yard

Tri-State took delivery of new 20-foot shipping container at Boonton Yard on Saturday, June 16. This container will now serve as Tri-State's storage shed and workshop, opening up space in the Erie C330, which until recently was home to the restoration team's tools and equipment.

Having secure storage and work space in Boonton opens up new opportunities for Tri-State. It allows the group to expand upon the growing collection of tools which help carry out projects, and allows us to keep inventory of parts which are use for restoration projects and keep 19 operational.

This purchase is part of the many improvements that Tri-State has been making to Boonton Yard for the benefit of volunteers who work on Tri-State and URHS projects. Tri-State recently brought an on-site restroom to the facility, and with the new container in place, will have an outdoor sink installed. The group plans to prioritize more amenities that will improve the volunteer experience in Boonton.

Plans are to give the container a new paint job with Tri-State signage and to install the very-necessary ventilation.

19 Back in Service After Heavy-Duty Repairs

Tri-State's M&E 19 was fired up and run for the first time this year on Saturday June, 9. This was following several weeks of repairs to the engine's oil cooler. 

At the beginning of the season, volunteers found that oil had leaked into the water/coolant system--evidence of a failed oil cooler. Upon further inspection, it was found that at least one tube in the locomotive's oil cooler had failed, and dumped several gallons of oil into the lower-most pipes in the cooling system. To fix this, volunteers would have to inspect each of the dozens of tubes in the oil cooler, remove and degrease all of the affected plumbing, replace gaskets and bolts, and then bypass the broken oil cooler tube(s).

ALCo Century locomotives have a unique oil cooling system. The oil is water-cooled in the same way that the block is. Four hundred small tubes carry coolant through the oil in an intercooler which sits a the lowest point in coolant system. Because the oil cooler is so low, water can settle there, making it prone to freezing in the winter. Evidence of prior fixes from its career on the M&E and TP&W could be seen when the access panels on either end were removed. 

The most logical solution for this problem is not to "fix" it, per se, but to bypass broken tubes by plugging either end. This is a common practice in industries that use heat exchangers or intercoolers for variety of purposes. It eliminates the need to remove and rebuild the device and its affect on performance is negligible.

Tri-State's volunteers spent several weekends taking apart plumbing, disposing of oil, degreasing parts, and even cleaning the oil cooler tubes with a rifle brush. After all the tubes were cleaned, it was found that only one had ruptured. That one tube was plugged, and the oil cooler was reassembled. The first test run of 19 was successful, and the engine performed up to expectations.

In the following months, improvements will be made to 19's electrical system, and it will get its first 92-day inspection under Tri-State.

Tri-State Railway Historical Society ACQUIRES Rahway Valley 70-tonners from URHS

January 12, 2018


RV 16 and 17 pose for a professional photograph at Kenilworth, NJ, site of the railraod's headquarters, on January 19, 1956.  (Michael Caputo photo, Richard J. King collection)

RV 16 and 17 pose for a professional photograph at Kenilworth, NJ, site of the railraod's headquarters, on January 19, 1956. (Michael Caputo photo, Richard J. King collection)

MORRISTOWN, NJ – The Tri-State Railway Historical Society, Inc. announced Friday that it will be acquiring Rahway Valley Railroad (RV) GE 70-tonners Nos. 16 and 17. The United Railroad Historical Society of NJ (URHS), owner of the locomotives, voted to transfer title to Tri-State after the latter organization pledged funds and resources to make immediately-needed repairs, and to explore options to make one of the two units operational.

Learn more about Rahway Valley 16 and Rahway Valley 17.

In the summer of 2017, it was found that No. 16 has four severely damaged axles which prevent it from moving any sizable distance. In recognition of its historic significance to New Jersey, Tri-State adopted the project of repairing the locomotive to permit its movement to Boonton. The group’s equipment committee has developed a formal plan to repair the locomotive and, after culling resources and funds, Tri-State’s Board of Directors expressed interest in formally acquiring the locomotives.

Richard King, Tri-State’s Treasurer, has tirelessly researched the RV and authored two books on the subject. “The Rahway Valley was a small railroad which meant much to many. The stories of its operations tell of characters larger than life, from the three generations of the Clark family which managed it to the countless men and women that worked there in its 95-years” said King.

The locomotives will be stored in Boonton, NJ at the URHS rail yard. No. 17 is currently in Boonton, but No. 16 needs heavy repair before it can be moved. In early Spring, the locomotive will be lifted and will have its trucks disassembled. Three axles will have the journals turned at UTC/RAS in Morton, PA and the brasses for the corresponding axles will be re-poured to accommodate the new journal dimensions.

RV 16 and 17 on display at the Whippany Railway Museum in 2014.  (Richard J. King photo)

RV 16 and 17 on display at the Whippany Railway Museum in 2014. (Richard J. King photo)

This will enable the locomotive to move over NJ Transit’s Morristown and Montclair/Boonton Lines without issue. This work is funded by generous grants from private donors. Tri-State has allocated funds to have both locomotives professionally evaluated for a potential return to service.

Nos. 16 and 17 were constructed, respectively, in 1951 and 1954 by General Electric in Erie, PA for the Rahway Valley Railroad. The RV was an 11.8-mile long short-line railroad which operated between Roselle Park and Summit, NJ, with a branch line to Maplewood, in Union and Essex Counties. The railroad operated a succession of 15 steam locomotives during its lifetime until purchasing No. 16. One steam locomotive was kept operational until the arrival of No. 17 three years later. The RV’s last steam locomotive, No. 15, is on display at the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, PA. The railroad hauled a variety of freight, including cement, lumber, coal, plastic, and steel, and operated passenger service until 1919. In 1986, the RV was acquired by the NYS&W and Nos. 16 and 17 were removed from the property in favor of EMD power. The railroad was abandoned in 1992.

Nos. 16 and 17 are moved into storage at the Troy Hills Bulk Transload Facility, pending shipment to Boonton, NJ.  (Kevin Phalon photo)

Nos. 16 and 17 are moved into storage at the Troy Hills Bulk Transload Facility, pending shipment to Boonton, NJ. (Kevin Phalon photo)

Nos. 16 and 17 were donated to URHS by the New York, Susquehanna, & Western Railway (NYS&W) in 1995. They were moved to the Morristown & Erie Railway (M&E) in Whippany, NJ in the early 2000s. Nos. 16 and 17 were cosmetically restored by the Whippany Railway Museum and displayed there for the past decade. Neither locomotive is operational. In 2016, the Morristown & Erie Railway entered into a car storage agreement and requested that all surplus equipment be removed from the property. The URHS arranged to have both locomotives, along with an old wrecking crane and idler car, moved to its yard in Boonton, NJ in April 2017. Unfortunately, No. 16 developed hot journals and could not complete the move.

The Tri-State Railway Historical Society, Inc. was formed in 1964 as a non-profit educational organization dedicated to the preservation of New Jersey's rich railroad heritage. The group restores and operates historic rail equipment, publishes The Block Line magazine and other railroad books, and holds railroad events to involve the public in New Jersey railroad history. Learn more at


Fundraising Campaign for Lackawanna 663

Become an "Injector Collector"

As the proactive caretaker of the world's oldest, unaltered, operating F-unit, the Tri-State Railway Historical Society will be replacing all 16 fuel injectors in Lackawanna 663. The locomotive will turn 70 years old in 2018. To ensure long term operation, Tri-State is looking to raise $2,000 to support the purchase and professional installation of the injectors. Interested in purchasing an injector for 663? Learn more by clicking here.

DL&W 663 at  Railfest 2017. (Michael L. Kaplonski photo)

DL&W 663 at Railfest 2017. (Michael L. Kaplonski photo)