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 Post subject: Re: Progress on 1309?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:45 pm 

Joined: Thu May 06, 2010 10:30 pm
Posts: 611
Location: Bucks County, PA
Charlie wrote:
Since the $530,000 figure was mentioned in their press release on September 13th, apparently no money has been raised in the last 3 months. At this stage of the game, would reassembling the locomotive and putting it on display be a viable option?


If I had put all sorts of money into a locomotive (over 2 million dollars?) and that question was brought up with $500K left to go - I'd sure as heck be upset if I had donated money towards its operational restoration, only to have it "put on display" instead.

If it were only a temporary reassembling and temporary display, until the final funds are raised, that's another story.

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 Post subject: Re: Progress on 1309?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 7:19 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
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Location: Youngstown, OH
The video talks about contractors quite a lot, yet I know that there once were qualified steam people on the payroll at the WMSR. Perhaps had they done more of this project in house the could have spread their funds a bit farther.

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 Post subject: Re: Progress on 1309?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:01 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8399
Location: Baltimore, MD
Rick Rowlands wrote:
The video talks about contractors quite a lot, yet I know that there once were qualified steam people on the payroll at the WMSR. Perhaps had they done more of this project in house the could have spread their funds a bit farther.


The allegation has been made that a condition of state grant money was the use of outside contractors. If true, this probably has to do with bureaucratic rules set up to somehow assure monies are properly spent and not used to line one's own pockets or whatnot.

And if true, it may serve as a bit of a cautionary tale about the "easy money" of government grants.


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 Post subject: Re: Progress on 1309?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 12:30 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2010 2:41 pm
Posts: 96
Charlie wrote:
Since the $530,000 figure was mentioned in their press release on September 13th, apparently no money has been raised in the last 3 months. At this stage of the game, would reassembling the locomotive and putting it on display be a viable option?


What would putting the locomotive on display achieve?? According to that video, the railroad is committed to restoring the locomotive and as Jim has pointed out, received substantial donations to do such. What purpose would putting it on display serve other than exposing the fresh boiler and mechanical work to the elements effectively undoing any progress made to this point?

DC


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 Post subject: Re: Progress on 1309?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 12:59 pm 

Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2016 9:35 pm
Posts: 70
Rick Rowlands wrote:
The video talks about contractors quite a lot, yet I know that there once were qualified steam people on the payroll at the WMSR. Perhaps had they done more of this project in house the could have spread their funds a bit farther.



Sadly this is a snapshot of the state of a lot of steam locomotive projects in this country. Contractors show up and almost magically generate work for themselves, hire their friends, and suck up all available money. Then once a group is out of money, they're on to the next victim... I mean.... uhhh, customer.

In my opinion, often times, contractors don't have enough "skin in the game." They ultimately don't have to answer for cost over-runs because when the money is gone so are they. They just get to say "Well you agreed to pay us and now you're out of money.... Call us when you have more money... bye."

There are good ones too who don't abuse the trust placed in them but, the bad ones have ruined a lot of cool projects for the rest of us.

It happens a lot with government contractors too. Everyone wants to be in charge but no one wants to be responsible.

I can't be sure that's really what happened here but, seems to be the industry standard.


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 Post subject: Re: Progress on 1309?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 4:22 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 57
It also seems that the organizations that use outside contractors are much more hush-hush about the restoration and get downright agressive when asked questions about the restoration.

Many operations that actually seem to accomplish things, like IRM and Strasburg (and others for sure!) are very open about the work they do and the timeline.

A simple questions like "do you think it will be ready by 2019" should not be met with "it will be done when it's done" or "sure if you donate some money."


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 Post subject: Re: Progress on 1309?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 5:14 pm 

Joined: Sat Nov 28, 2015 7:28 pm
Posts: 174
Location: Northern WV
If an organization is "hush-hush", that's about the only criticism they will get. If they lay out details, someone is sure to criticize each and every one.

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 Post subject: Re: Progress on 1309?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 5:46 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 57
WVNorthern wrote:
If an organization is "hush-hush", that's about the only criticism they will get. If they lay out details, someone is sure to criticize each and every one.


Where is the criticism for Strasburg and IRM's restorations then?


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 Post subject: Re: Progress on 1309?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:15 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
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Location: Youngstown, OH
There are two philosophies in steam locomotive restorations. The first is the "Make it as good as new" approach. Everything is replaced or renewed that has more than a modicum of wear.

Then there is the "make it run" approach. Do what it takes to make it run, leaving marginally worn components for later on to make maximum use of available service life.

Both will get you an operating locomotive, but the costs are either totally upfront or spread out over a period of time. Was all of the work done to 1309 needed at this time, or could some of the components have lasted for one or two seasons of operation?

I try to avoid contractors as much as possible, not only because I am perpetually broke but because I would rather develop in house capabilities that can get the same work done for less. Since steam loco repair work is ongoing, it is not very wise to rely upon contractors to take care of that ongoing work. Contracting out machine work or specialized boiler work is fine, but project management and all other maintenenance activities must remain with the owners if costs are an issue.

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 Post subject: Re: Progress on 1309?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:33 pm 

Joined: Sat Apr 01, 2006 5:19 pm
Posts: 392
Location: Bowie, MD
I'm not in the industry, just an observer, but am a trained and experienced Program manager in a large, bureaucratic organization. My current program is small potatoes where I work, but has a budget 4-6 times the largest steam restoration projects out there (well, maybe not 4014). There are established methods to manage contractor costs and performance.

There are also established ways to manage risk. Steam restorations clearly have a lot of risks, but few unknown risks - risks never seen before - and so can also be tracked (eg: until you have inspected axle bearings, you need to carry a risk they need work) and manage through schedule (when do you inspect?), resources (who does the work, when would it be scheduled (worst case)) and impact on budget (are you carrying a management reserve?).

I'll observe that even the most skilled and experienced steam shops contract out certain types of work. Strasburg does (casting, pattern work, some large piece shaping). FWHS brings in contractors to do specific jobs. You can bring in a contractor to make schedule (augment staff) or bring a specific skill to bear. You can also be stuck behind a process (bureaucracy) that requires specific hoops (like using a contractor). That story that the MD state money required a contractor sounds interesting to me, if not because it almost surely results in the money flowing out of state and not into the local economy, but I've seen stranger things.

Program/project management isn't rocket science and nothing new. Leslie Grove had one heck of a process in place to build the Pentagon in two years. It's just a process to reduce risk that problems happen and to put in a framework to manage the problem when they arise. You also have to apply the correct level of project management to the project... ie you can manage a project to death.

Nutshell; I bet the best steam restoration programs have a good mix between in house and outside contractors, but good management is key.

If you want to learn more or even get trained, for one established program/project management process, Google "Federal Acquisition Certification for Program and Project Managers (FAC-P/PM)" for starters. Many organizations offer training courses. Just a few of the courses can really open eyes. I've had a couple of instructors who managed ship building programs went well, went poorly but all provided examples that might benefit this community. There are likely other programs out that that might be more suited for steam restorations (like building construction).

Bob


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 Post subject: Re: Progress on 1309?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 1:58 am 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 pm
Posts: 2097
IRM is mostly voluntary work and projects always seek donations, so an open reputation is the key to its survival. WM maybe on a differrent business latitude not exactly as a museum than more an operating railroad with a more pro approach. If they are not seeking public donations towards a project they have to find sources elsewhere, so off they go. They've made the commitment, one way or another the engine will get there.


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 Post subject: Re: Progress on 1309?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 10:03 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8399
Location: Baltimore, MD
Crescent-Zephyr wrote:
WVNorthern wrote:
If an organization is "hush-hush", that's about the only criticism they will get. If they lay out details, someone is sure to criticize each and every one.


Where is the criticism for Strasburg and IRM's restorations then?


"Why'd they fix XXX and not YYY??"

"They just let stuff sit outside and rust away! Where's that roundhouse they were supposed to build?"

"Look at the horrible condition of XXX sitting over there looking like a pile of scrap!! Don't they CARE?!?!?!?"

"So they just took those cars and threw a roof and siding over them/brought in a turntable and never installed it. They should give them to somebody else that would RESTORE them!!!"

"Why didn't they fix up XXXXX?"


................................ sound familiar?


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 Post subject: Re: Progress on 1309?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 10:54 am 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 pm
Posts: 2097
IRM is still working on barns to get equipment inside, throwing tarps on does not survive long. They have a long line of steamers outside, it may look like rusting hulks but they are a better display to gawk at, most may never be restored, never say never tho. You have to look beyond the rust.


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 Post subject: Re: Progress on 1309?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 11:06 am 

Joined: Tue Jan 25, 2005 4:03 pm
Posts: 722
Crescent-Zephyr wrote:
WVNorthern wrote:
If an organization is "hush-hush", that's about the only criticism they will get. If they lay out details, someone is sure to criticize each and every one.


Where is the criticism for Strasburg and IRM's restorations then?


Speaking as someone in the marketing and communications industry, "hush-hush" is only a recipe for disaster. By avoiding the harsh light of day, you allow hearsay, agendas, rumors and vendettas fill the void. Organizations need to be the first voice in the conversation about them - as well as the loudest, most responsive and most consistent. Good communications should be an extension of your organization. It's an opportunity to confront problems before they begin and establish a touch point for the general public.

As to the limited critique of other organizations? Their credibility is earned through a bevy of other avenues. When you make the restoration and operation of a steam locomotive the key component of your marketing efforts, fundraising efforts and messaging while your regular operations suffer and other equipment experiences failures, there isn't much else to rely on.

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 Post subject: Re: Progress on 1309?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 1:17 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 10:34 pm
Posts: 618
I was given an answer to past restoration of the Mid Continent Fish car. A million dollars was spent on a professional out sourced restoration. The car was shipped out, restored and shipped back. The donor picked the project and donated the funds. Well you can look at this a lot of different ways. To criticize like I did about after that much money why was the trucks ignored and are in condition that we can't even use the car for special occasions? I presume they are not good as this is what I was hearing but never told by anybody in particular. I mentioned it and was told that if you understood the way the restoration was written up it was a cosmetic restoration and not to have the car put in service. So the trucks were not deemed important while the accuracy to detail and history was. Still blows me away but it is the way it is and it is the way things go. To me it looked like total mismanagement of the project. Guess not accurate on my part. Though there were some expensive cost overruns here too? Wasn't involved enough to throw to many stones.

Another non profit I belong too just got awarded a great donation from the armed forces through congress. People are griping about the legal responsibilities. This organization if going to have to make other people and themselves open to all sorts of scrutiny of government agencies. It is in the "rules of engagement". They, the WM have probably written up a business plan or something similar stating that the locomotive would be put into use as soon as possible so the funding will be put to use immediately and the donors and public will see a running locomotive soon? I have no idea if this is the case or not, but probably along these lines. Mid Continent could of done the Fish Car themselves for a fraction of the cost of using a professional contracting company. Right now if they had started on it would of been 20% done. All other project would continue and drain the work force from getting more done, or work would stop on everything else and people would scream foul play. Look back at how long it has taken IRM to finish two steam locomotives? No criticism intended, in house with limited funds/labor takes a lot of time. Get real.

Talk about not having skin in the game, how many people bitching about how they should run their railroad have any skin in the game themselves. We all have opinions and I have let a few out too over the years, but if your not in the game and don't have some sort of genuine knowledge of what and why it is nothing more than speculation and drama. I say this to myself as much as anybody else. Internet drama is the curse of the benefits of the Internet {thanks Al Gore}. We have all been guilty of this at one time or another when we voice our concerns, but if you were ever involved from start to finish in the restoration of a steam locomotive from the decision to start, funding, actual work whether contract or volunteer, to compliance and final finished product you would understand better on just what can go wrong. In all aspects, bad choice to start, loss of funding, unexpected repairs or rule changes that make previous work not good anymore. Sorry to ramble on so, just sounds like a lot of victim playing to me, with no validity and mostly opinion behind it. Regards, John.


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