Be a part of the story!

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A new children’s book published by the Virginia Museum of Transportation will tell the story of an unlikely friendship between a boy and a train that blossoms into a magical, life-changing journey for them both.

YOU can be part of this amazing story!

Queen of Steam Blog Post
The 32-page storybook will be exquisitely illustrated in full color, featuring not only the engine you love, but you — or someone you choose to honor — can also be a part of the illustrations!

Men and women, boys and girls of any age can be pictured!

What a perfect way to honor an older relative or friend who inspired your love of 611, or to excite your children or grandchildren with the magic of trains!

Your donation of $300 per honored person will include him or her in an illustration in the book and underwrite production costs, making this charming book possible. Our donors will receive:

* two complimentary copies of the book, signed and personalized by the author and illustrator, noting the page that includes your honored person’s likeness
the joy of sharing their love of 611 with thousands of children in this and future generations

* the tax deductible portion of your gift is $262.

Individuals will be included in groupings that illustrate the action in the book. Faces will be approximately 3/4 inch in diameter — about the size of a U.S. dime. The original illustrations will be painted in oil on paper for the greatest richness in color.

Our artist is beginning her illustrations now, so reserve your spot today!

This opportunity is limited to the first 50 book donors.
Images must be received by January 20.

The Museum’s creative team is widely acclaimed:

Nancy Ruth Patterson (above) and Ann Glover (below)

Nancy Ruth Patterson, an award-winning children’s novelist, will provide creative direction. Her five novels for young readers, including The Christmas Cup and
The Shiniest Rock of All, have been honored on reading lists in 10 states.

Alice Standish, who will author the book, will graduate from the Hollins University Children’s Literature Graduate Program in May before beginning her studies in Children’s Literature at the University of Cambridge.

Ann Glover will illustrate the book with lush, full-color illustrations. She is a well-known Roanoke artist whose work has been featured in The New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly as well as in museums and private collections throughout the country.

Signed copies of the book are anticipated in the VMT Museum Store and its online store in mid-2015. The original illustrations will be available for purchase on a first-come, first-served basis after the book is published.

Please see for more information and to submit your photos!

Questions? Contact Fran Ferguson, Director of Development, at 540-342-5670 ext 105 or for more information.

Priming the tender

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Taking advantage of a mild day in Spencer, the crew from Willetts Railcar Repair primes the tender. At the end of the day, there was no remaining evidence of black, Tuscan or gold. (Photo by Preston Claytor.)


Painting the tender

Work resumes in Spencer

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In Spencer, the restoration crew celebrated the new year in the best way possible: With welding torches.

After a long (and well-deserved) holiday break, the restoration crew went straight to work. Some of the work this past week: a washout plug sleeve was welded into place and the drawbars were removed for inspection.

Washout plug sleeve.Scott Lindsay


Drawbars inspection.Scott LindsayPhotos by Scott Lindsay.

Bringing her back to life

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In early June, Larry Stanfill arrived at Streamliners at Spencer to see the incredible line up of locomotives. He expected to stay a few days.

Larry works on the staybolts. Photo by Scott Lindsay.

He’s still there.

That’s because he took one look at the 611 and knew that he wanted to be a part of her restoration. “I heard the call for volunteers and decided to fill out an application,” he says. “I’m glad I did.”

Larry volunteers two days per week and is enjoying the tedious process of restoring the locomotive. “I’m impressed most by her size,” he says. “It’s amazing to see how the 611 was designed and engineered.”

Larry’s time in the restoration bay has seen him sorting through mechanical drawings, cleaning and inspecting staybolts and helping in any way he can. “I’ve gotten to know all 2200 of those staybolts,” he says. “That’s a lot of staybolts.”

Larry has loved trains since he was “knee high to a grasshopper,” he says. “I love steam locomotives. It’s almost like they’re alive – you can hear them breathing. I think it’s a good thing we’re restoring the 611. It will remind people how the railroad helped build our country.”

Flue season!

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Late last week, the flues for the 611 arrived in Spencer. The flues help to heat the water that creates the steam that powers the locomotive.


Photo by Scott Lindsay

Restoration almost halfway complete!

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The Virginia Museum of Transportation and the Fire Up 611! Committee are pleased to report that the restoration of the Norfolk & Western Class J 611 Steam Passenger Locomotive is approximately 45 percent complete.

“We are pleased with the professionalism, technical expertise and passion our mechanical team and volunteers are bringing to this project,” says Beverly T. Fitzpatrick, Jr., executive director of the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

Busy weeks ahead

In the next few weeks, the mechanical team, led by Scott Lindsay and Tom Mayer of Steam Operations Corp., will install a new rear flue sheet and finish installing the stay bolt caps. Bob Yuill is continuing the repairs to the superheater units. The air compressors are close to being reassembled and the feed water systems are being inspected and made road ready.

Work also continues on 611’s tender. Within the next few weeks the tender’s stoker screw and tender deck will be made as good as new.

flue sheet out

The old rear flue sheet after being removed from the 611.

staybolt caps

Staybolt caps have been inspected and cleaned and are almost all installed.

stoker screw

The stoker screw on 611’s tender.





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Bob Yuill, a former Norfolk Southern General Foreman for Steam —  is tasked with inspecting and repairing all 60 of the 611’s superheaters.

The Elesco Type E superheater units re-heat the steam generated by the boiler, increasing its thermal energy and giving the 611 more efficient power. Bob inspects each superheater carefully, looking for any defects or thin spots in the steel tubes. After the superheaters are inspected and fixed, Bob fills the superheater with water and hydrostatically tests the units. If a superheater does not pass the test, Bob rebuilds the unit to its original design specifications.


Bob Yuill, steam expert, and John Otey, mechanical volunteer, work on the superheaters.