Engine engine number nine.... Tucked away in stall #1 of the WW&F Shops is a long-term project that is about to come to fruition. The locomotive seen here is an 1891 product of the Portland Company, in Portland, Maine. This 18-ton Forney was the 662nd locomotive to be built in Portand, and one of only 10 that the company built for service on Maine's 2-foot railroads. Originally built for the Sandy River Railroad, she also served the Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes Railroad and the Kennebec Central, before being purchased by the WW&F in 1933, when that line found itself literally out of usable power. She served the WW&F as their Number 9 for just a very short few months before the line ceased operation and went under. Before all of the WW&F's equipment could be scrapped, this engine was rescued by some folks from Connecticut, who hoped to set up a narrow gauge railroad park on their property in Thompson, CT. Nothing ever came of that plan, and old Number 9 spent the next 50 years in a barn....no kidding.
In the 1980s, the fledgling WW&F Museum in Alna, Maine, became aware of the engine's existence and eventually, a relationship developed between the owners and the museum, which allowed the engine to return to Maine for a possible restoration to operating condition. Over the next decade, evaluations were done and it was determined that the engine's boiler was not suitable for an operational restoration. The museum then elected to raise the funds and have a new boiler built, that would give Number 9 a new lease on life.
During 2012, the project to restore WW&F Number 9 has accelerated, under the leadership of WW&F CMO Jason Lamontagne. A new smokebox was fabricated and attached, along with the original stack. The frame, which had some damage from its 40-year career, was carefully repaired and is now in place, supporting the boiler. Work on the running gear is now in full swing. Out of view to the left in this photo, the original wooden cab is being lovingly restored, preserving as much of the original wood as possible. The original water tank and fuel bunker are also under restoration.
When completed, this locomotive will have a new boiler, but aside from that, much of the original historic fabric will be preserved. Although the timeline for her triumphant return to the WW&F rails is a work in progress, the museum folks would very much like to have her operational sometime in 2013, for the 80th anniversary of the last time she ran. If that happens, it will be a defining moment for the museum. For with Engine Number 9, Boxcar 309, Flat Car 118, and Coach 3, the WW&F Museum will finally be able to field an entire mixed train of the line's original equipment.