Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Tennessee Valley Railroad News



E8 Locomotive Restoration Journey: From Artifact to Resilience | TVRM Blog Series Part 2

It All Started with A Birthday Party Second of two part series

In this thrilling second installment of a two-part series, Robert Frye takes us through the remarkable journey of reviving an E8 locomotive from the brink of extinction. This painstaking labor of love began with the team’s determination to transform the locomotive into a reliable, daily-use machine devoid of breakdown fears.

This led to a series of major updates to its obsolete features. The E8’s #24 brake system, notorious for frequent inspections, was first on the list. Attempts to replace it with a modern #26 system proved impractical due to the awkward positioning of controls for the engineer. A #30 brake system was the ultimate solution with its perfectly-positioned controls and extended maintenance interval. This change necessitated a creative modification of the cab to accommodate the new controls.

Major cab enhancements followed, including the replacement of old windows with federally-mandated bullet-resistant glass, introduction of new defrosters, and a modern electrical system. Obsolete electrical components made way for advanced ones, enhancing the locomotive’s overall functionality. Further, an engineer’s seat salvaged from a scrapped Canadian Pacific locomotive was installed, offering a blend of comfort and history.

The #30 brake system’s integration involved meticulous installation of hundreds of feet of copper tubing, thanks to Mike Overlander’s dedication. Simultaneously, TVRM shop forces were busy reviving the two engines within the locomotive. They went through a careful process of disassembly, cleaning, lubrication, re-gasketing, and reassembly, finally culminating in pressure tests to ensure the absence of water leaks. The old, worn-out components were gradually replaced with new injectors, rebuilt governors, load regulators, and water pumps.

The fuel tank was given a thorough cleanse to rid it of old, stale diesel fuel using Steam Engine 630’s heat. The result was a perfectly clean fuel tank. Other major updates included the installation of new draft gear and couplers and a 10KW generator for powering cab’s heating and air conditioning.

One significant challenge arose when the locomotive was found to be 8,000 pounds light at the rear due to the removal of two steam generators. The team ingeniously solved this by adding high-density concrete as ballast to compensate for the lost weight.

In conclusion, the transformation of the E8 was indeed a laborious process, involving a massive team of dedicated individuals. The locomotive that was once a dilapidated artifact is now a symbol of historical preservation and mechanical resilience, ready to hit the tracks once again.

S&C TVRM 2nd QTR 2018