611 Test Fired! No complications yet.

Shouldn't be long now before she's all back together! Cool, cool, cool!

Those heavyweight side rods used on the non-streamlined Class J-1 locomotives always appear to be so massive compared to the lightweight side rods used on the streamlined locos.
I don't know... Not really much of a looker without the "glossy covers". :hehe: Interesting photo by the way.
Why did they have such heavy connecting rods? That's something that always puzzled me about the J's.

The J-1s made during WWII had those heavyweight side rods because making the lighter ones required a more exotic mix of lightweight metals, used Timken roller bearings, and in general made use of "strategic" war materials. The pre- and post-war locomotives all used a piston, piston rod, crosshead, side-and-main-rod assembly that was a special light-weight design by the Timken Roller Bearing Company, part of the effort to achieve the most perfect counter-balancing possible. According to vibration calculations, the balancing theoretically would have allowed speeds of up to 140 mph without the rail damage that could have occurred with conventional designs.

According to Wikipedia, " In 1943, 605–610 were delivered without shrouding and lightweight side rods, due to the limitations on the use of certain materials during the war; due to these distinctions, they were classified J1. But, when N&W showed the War Production Board the reduced availability numbers because of this, the Board allowed the J1s to be re-fitted as Js with the lightweight rods and shrouding in 1944."

#610 was one of the J-1 "war babies", and after rebuilding with lightweight rods and steamlining, the PRR tested #610 at 110 mph, near Crestline, OH, in 1945.
Personally, I believe that both the un-shrouded and more recognizable shrouded versions are both handsome locomotives. However, if you want to know an even better locomotive; it's the Atlantic Coast Line's R-1 4-8-4s.
Several hundred railfans showed up for #611's send off party, when she left Roanoke (pic below) to begin rebuilding in North Carolina.

I expect there'll be one heck of a party when "The Spirit of Roanoke" returns to her hometown under steam!


When I visited #611 on display at the newly opened Roanoke Transportation Museum in the 1960s, I couldn't imagine her ever running again. Then, when she rebuilt and running in the '80s and 90s, I couldn't imagine a time when she wouldn't be running. Now, 20 years after she last ran under steam, it'll be wonderful to see the queen of steam riding the rails again!

Next up: Raising $2 million to $2.5 million for a maintenance facility and the construction of it (in Roanoke, most likely.) The facility will be used to maintain #611 so that she can run for decades. The facility will also house an educational center that can teach science, technology, engineering, math and social sciences to students of all ages.
Last edited: