Heritage locomotive restoration funding
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Heritage locomotive restoration funding

Irvon Weber, manager of steam operations for Waterloo Central Railway, and Trevor Pffaf, whose company made a $35,000 donation towards the retrofit of Montreal Locomotive Works No. 9 Steam Locomotive. [Bill Atwood]

The Waterloo Central Railway’s retrofit of a nearly 100-year-old train recently got a huge boost.

Pfaff Mechanical Insulation Inc. donated a total of $35,000 to the organization for the continued repairs to Montreal Locomotive Works No. 9 steam locomotive, which was built in 1923. That model was in operation until 1963 and was donated to the group in 1986.

Government regulations require a retrofit every 10 years, according to Irvon Weber, manager of steam operations for the railway.

The current retrofit started two years ago at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Whenever you take something apart that’s 100 years old, it’s hard to know where to stop – there’s always something you find. We thought we had lots of time. We repaired a lot of things – rebuilt the compressor, and just on and on – and then when we finally took it out, we found some more things that we missed,” he said.

The locomotive was driven three times this year, however it is not currently functional and needs additional repairs to get back into service. The $130,000 cost for the current retrofit is money well spent, Weber said.

“It’s an artifact that needs to be kept alive,” he said, noting there is a balance between keeping restored trains as close to original as possible and making them safe by today’s standards.

“You can’t get original parts anymore. So you have to make the parts, and the parts have to be certified,” he explained

The donation from Pfaff Mechanical has allowed the retrofit to continue.

Led by employees Zia Darr and Chirs Roche, the company also took part in the restoration, including insulating the boiler, the steam engine and the firebox.  Owner Trevor Pffaf said the heritage railway group is an important part of Waterloo Region.

“I’ve had family members that have volunteered and spent time, and I know that there’s a lot of people that enjoy it and appreciate it being here and the fact that you can ride it is pretty amazing as well,” Pffaf said.

While Pffar said it was an easy decision to make the financial contribution, he also acknowledged the volunteers give their time to the railway.

“Our portion of it is a small portion of what actually goes into keeping this around financially. If you add up the time, labour and the expertise that’s here on a regular basis it’ be unbelievable,” Pfaff said.

The final repairs will be done within a few weeks.

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