CONGRATULATIONS RAILFANS! The TRHA has purchased LRC locomotive number 6917 from VIA Rail Canada. This unique piece of Canadian railway history has been saved. A special thanks to everyone who donated as we could not have done it without you! Now the fun really begins...
Congratulations! We have saved LRC #6917! But we still need your help to get her up and running and fully restored!
The LRC (Light, Rapid, Comfortable) was built by Bombardier (MLW), Alcan and Dofasco in co-operation with CN and later VIA Rail Canada as a higher speed rail option for the busy Quebec City - Windsor Corridor. The locomotives were capable of travel up to 125 MPH (limited to 100 MPH in service) and powered VIA's Metropolis express train between Toronto and Montreal. These locomotives were a common sight throughout the Corridor from their introduction in 1981 until their retirement in 2001.
The LRC coaches are still the mainstay of VIA's fleet in the Corridor, and are currently being rebuilt for another 20 years of reliable service. The LRC perfectly straddles past and present. The engine was the last locomotive in North America built with an Alco 251 prime mover, and the LRC concept was the grandfather of Bombardier's high speed train program. Building upon ideas tested in the LRC, Bombardier has become one of the world leaders in high speed passenger rail equipment.
We Got It Running!
Mark Kaluza photo.
For the first time in over ten years, an LRC locomotive has pulled an LRC train! And for the first time in history, an LRC locomotive has pulled a rebuilt LRC coach!
With the generous help of our friends at VIA Rail Canada, the Toronto Railway Historical Association's preserved LRC #6917 hauled three LRC cars for testing purposes and for ESU was on hand to record the amazing sound for Rapido's upcoming HO scale model.
TRHA’s mechanic, Chris Fox, and master electrician John Carey have devoted much of the last two months to working on 6917 and chasing out all of the gremlins that moved in since the locomotive was stored in 2001. The hundreds of hours these two men have put into 6917 have been entirely on a voluntary basis because, simply, they wanted to see this piece of Canadian railway heritage come back to life. And that it did...
Brendan Frisina photo.
It is no exaggeration to say that the test run of 6917 was a complete success. We hooked up our locomotive to three LRC cars provided by VIA, put it into RUN, turned on the HEP, and voila - all three cars had full electrical power and the lighting and air conditioning worked flawlessly. 6917 was now pulling train 67, the Metropolis, once again - at least in our minds! The people at VIA - at head office and on the ground - are amazing for helping us with our restoration efforts.
Now that 6917 is running, there is some real work to be done. The first step is to prepare 6917 for certification so it can run on the mainline. Chris has that under way, with the help of numerous VIA employees helping him during their days off. A lot of people want to see 6917 pulling trains in service again!
Matt Soknacki photo.
The next step is to prep 6917 for painting. This requires some significant elbow grease as we need to sand down a lot of the peeling paint (using orbital sanders) and fill the worn areas with Bondo. If you have experience with these sorts of things and you want to play a role in the revival of 6917, please contact me as we could use your help. Our goal is to have 6917 prepped for painting by the middle of August.
Finally, we will be painting 6917 after it leaves VIA's property, hopefully in early September. We can't divulge where it's going yet, but rest assured you'll hear all about it when we can.
We need your help to pay for the paint job. Please click here to donate to the restoration of 6917. If you work in the paint industry and you are interested in donating the paint we need, the TRHA is a federally-registered Canadian charity and can provide a tax receipt for your donation. You would be contributing in a big way to the restoration of this important piece of railway history. Please contact us if you can help.
You can support our LRC restoration effort by purchasing a Rapido Trains Inc. HO scale model of 6917. Please click here or on the image above to order. The funds from the sale of the 6917 models will specifically be earmarked towards the repainting and exterior restoration of the locomotive to as-new condition.
HO Scale Bombardier LRC 6917 Start-up
Matt Herman photo.
Matt Herman (ESU Loksound) and Jason Shron (Rapido Trains Inc.) do a web search for "How to start an LRC".
The TRHA mechanic, Chris Fox, worked with several TRHA volunteers throughout
2011 and 2012 to get LRC 6917 operational. This was done in part so that the crew from ESU Loksound and Rapido Trains Inc. could record #6917 for the unit for their upcoming HO locomotive models.In October 2012, we got very close - the engine turned over but wouldn't fire on its own. We then discovered that all of the fuel injector pumps were leaking, and that stopped us in our tracks.
After trying through numerous channels to get new fuel injector pumps donated, the TRHA finally decided to have the pumps rebuilt.
Chris, Dan Garcia, Michael Guy, and a couple of other volunteers worked over the last couple of weeks to install them.
Call security! Some shady characters somehow got into the Toronto Maintenance Center.
Matt Herman (ESU Loksound) and Dan Garcia (Rapido) during the startup attempt.
On Monday 5 May, Matt Herman from ESU, Justin King, Chris, Dan and Jason all worked hard to do the final preparations. VIA coupled up a train of two RDCs to give the LRC something to pull, but when we tried to bar the engine over we discovered it had seized since 2012. Some moisture had gotten into the pistons and developed rust, and the engine would not turn over at all.
We disassembled the fuel injector assemblies and poured 1 litre of WD-40 over each piston (and all over Jason's clothes) and left it over night.
The next morning, Chris assembled a 20-ton jack and blocking, and he and Dan ratcheted the engine over. After a long slog, they got it to turn over and it started going smoother and smoother. After clearing the engine room and reassembling the injectors, we tried again. It took a few tries and a boost from VIA F40 #6436 (at right), but we finally got the engine started.
But when we tried to throttle up, we discovered there was a blockage in a compressor valve and the throttle wasn't responding.
The next step is to find all of the electrical issues that could be causing the lack of throttle response, and we're going to try using the throttle from 6919, which was owned by Jason before it was scrapped so the TRHA could strip it of parts for 6917.
Success! As an added benefit there will not be any mosquitoes at the Toronto Maintenance Center this summer....
Our goal is to move 6917 before the end of May and Matt will record the sounds for our decoder. The TRHA plans to move it off of VIA's property before the winter so it can be stored indoors, with the goal to repaint it next year and lease it into service for a shortline railroad in 2015 or 2016.
Sometimes smoke is a good sign...
LRC locomotive 6917 leads a mid-day train to Montreal in 1985 Photo courtesy Kaluza-Mueller collection
12 SEPTEMBER 2012 UPDATE
It's been well over a year since our last update, but we've been busy. We spent all of last summer and fall working on 6917. Our mechanic, Chris Fox, along with many helpers from the TRHA's cache of volunteers, got the prime mover mechanically operational. After several weeks of work, it finally barred over - which means that everything moves smoothly.
The next step was to get a hold of some batteries and repair the electrical work. Thankfully, Chris has a brilliant understanding of electrical engineering and he was able to follow the diagrams generously provided to the TRHA by Exporail in Montreal. After a lot of work on the breakers and panels and after sourcing some CAT batteries that matched the requirements in terms of space and power, the loco was finally just about ready to start.
Last October and November we made several attempts to start 6917, but we were hampered by some electrical gremlins and battery contacts that kept melting! And then the winter hit and we had to button her up for the cold weather.br>
Over the summer we have got 6917 back to where we were and we plan to start her up (finally!) in September or October 2012. Stay tuned for more info in the coming weeks and months.
LRC locomotive 6919 at TMC after we removed most of the usable parts
17 JANUARY 2011 UPDATE
We have spent the last month removing parts from sister LRC locomotive number 6919, which was damaged in a sideswipe accident several years ago. This locomotive was owned by RB Railway Group in Lachine. RB Railway Group president Gerry Rosen generously gave us unfettered access to 6919 to take whatever parts we needed for the restoration of 6917. Locomotive mechanics Chris Fox (from Bombardier) and Rocky Panacci (from VIA) have been extremely helpful in telling us what parts to remove from 6919, and the whole crew at VIA's Toronto Maintenance Centre (TMC) have been very supportive of our efforts. Ownership of 6919 was transferred first to TRHA Board Member Jason Shron and then to Attar Metals of Mississauga. Attar Metals scrapped 6919 on Friday 14 January.
Tax receipts to donors will be sent out by the first week of February, and they will be packaged with VIA gift cards and/or model LRC coaches for qualifying donors. We don't yet have the hats or badges. They will be ready later in the year.
Over the next few months we will be working with VIA mechanics on their days off to fully restore 6917 to operating condition. More information will be posted here in the coming months, as well as the TRHA news page, which can be found here.
Dan Garcia, John Scalena (from VIA), Jason Shron, Michael Guy and Rob Doucet (from Western Mechanical) inspect the trucks of 6917 in the pouring rain, November 2009. Dan is wearing his invisible forcefield and as such is not affected by the rain.
Now that we have saved the LRC, what next?
Our original goal was to move the LRC to the Toronto Railway Museum at the John Street Roundhouse in downtown Toronto. However, initial inspections suggest that LRC 6917 could be operational a lot sooner than we originally thought. So we are now looking at keeping it off site as a roving ambassador for the TRHA.
The move to a local short line is still under negotiation, as our some other options which we will post here when we can. Since we have now started up 6917 and we're ironing out all of the bugs, the next step is to move it (hopefully in 2014) and then give it a complete cosmetic restoration, including new paint in its original scheme.
PLEASE DONATE TODAY!
What is our fundraising goal?
Now that we have 6917 operating, there are still plenty of things to do.
As mentioned above, our primary goal is to get 6917 moved and restored.
Stage 1: Fundraising Goal: Purchase the LRC - COMPLETED!
Stage 2: Fundraising Goal: Make it Operational - COMPLETED!
Stage 3: Fundraising Goal: Move it to a short line - approx. $3000
As soon as the major gremlins are ironed out, we plan to move the LRC. We are currently negotiating with an Ontario short line to move the LRC. We plan to move it before the winter of 2014/2015. We'll need to invest in some proper weatherproofing and covers to avoid moisture becoming trapped in the engine again.
Stage 4 Fundraising Goal: Make it Shine: $10,000
A cosmetic restoration of the locomotive, including automotive-grade paint professionally applied, will cost about $10,000. We will need volunteers to come help us sand down the exterior and fill any blemishes with body filler before the painters start their work. This will happen once the LRC has been moved from its current home at VIA's Toronto Maintenance Centre. We still need your help to restore 6917 and ensure that future generations of railfans and historians will be able to learn about and appreciate the LRC and its role in Canadian railway history. Please donate today!
This exclusive HO scale model of LRC locomotive #6917 can be yours, only from the TRHA!
Buy an exclusive model of 6917!
You can support our LRC restoration effort by purchasing a Rapido Trains Inc. HO scale model of 6917. Please click on the link below to complete your purchase from the TRHA. The price is $400 plus taxes. Shipping (via Canada Post surface mail) is included. Your credit card will be charged immediately, and your model will be shipped to you when it is ready in late 2015. You won't get a tax receipt for this purchase, but rest assured your contribution will go towards the TRHA purchase of the LRC.
DC/DCC with original LRC sounds
Newly-designed motor and gears for super slow-speed performance
Operating headlights, ditch lights, class lights and back-up light
Numerous extra detail parts, factory-installed
Separate metal grab irons and grills, factory-installed