No. 576 Boiler Report Now Available

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Findings on the Boiler Inspection of NC&St.L No. 576

Condition Is As or Better Than Expected; Repairs to Continue as Soon as Possible

During the first few months of 2020, experts in steam mechanics and Nashville Steam volunteers inspected the current condition of No. 576’s boiler. Because of this cooperative effort, we have successfully identified all trouble areas of the boiler and have developed the scope of work for the boiler repairs. These efforts are already underway with volunteers logging, measuring, and removing nearly 70% of those “trouble” areas for repair and replacement prior to the temporary suspension of our mechanical work sessions. Our friends at World Testing, Inc. have provided their skill and resources that enabled the ultrasonic thickness (UT) testing to be completed, metallurgical analysis of all original boiler steel including calculating the tensile strength by using a hardness tester in conjunction with the metallurgy. All of this information is vital so that our engineers can accurately calculate the minimum thicknesses of each boiler plate, identify all trouble areas to address, and to ultimately ensure that the boiler is safe and suitable for service.

The repairs required to No. 576’s boiler will primarily focus on the areas surrounding and making up the firebox with the exception of some pad welding as allowed in 49 CFR 230 to the first boiler course due to corrosion from sitting on display in Centennial Park for 65 years. All work will be in accordance with 49 CFR 230, mandated by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), and will follow applicable railroad standard practices and the ASME and NBIC requirements.

The work that has been identified is as follows:

  • Front tube sheet weld repairs to torch cut and nicked areas from its first tube replacement in 1947
  • Pad welding corroded areas to the exterior of the first course.
  • Replace a handful of rivets at the front course to tube sheet and butt strap seams due to heavy rivet head corrosion.
  • Replace rear tube sheet due to unacceptable weld fit / high low at seam to combustion chamber and cracked tube and flue bridges. Rear tube sheet has been removed and material is ordered for the new one. Once on hand, the new sheet will be laid out, flanged, stress relieved, and all tube and flue holes cut into it with a water jet machine.
  • Repairs to top rear combustion chamber syphon are necessary due to cracking. Combustion chamber syphon is removed and out for repairs.
  • Both inside firebox side sheets will be replaced all the way to the mud ring due to excessively driven staybolt heads and thin lower portions of the sheets. Once time and effort were spent on welding up each staybolt hole to cut new threads, it was determined that it is cheaper and easier to replace the sheet when necessary to replace all of the staybolts in the area. Both inside side sheets are removed, all staybolts are removed, and sheet material is on order. Rivet heads were cut off to allow removal of the sheets. Rivets will be driven out next and replaced once the new sheet is installed and welded in.
  • Wrapper sheet (outside firebox sheet) will require four flush patches, whereas the old sheets will be cut out, and new sheets formed, fit, and welded in to take the place of the original steel. These repairs are due to corrosion. Additionally, the top of the wrapper, sometimes referred too as the “roof sheet” will require some pad welding in areas that are marginal in thickness.
  • The backhead will require three flush patches due to corrosion and some pad welding in a few other locations.
  • Both inside rear corners of the firebox have been removed for replacement due to cracking.
  • Both arch tubes have been removed and will both be replaced as this was a common component regularly replaced during the age of steam.
  • Other repairs include replacing a large number of the boiler studs and flexible staybolt sleeves (and associated flexible staybolts) due to corrosion.

Major work on the boiler started in early March but was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Material has been ordered for all sheet repairs and flexible staybolt sleeves and caps and we plan on getting back into high gear as soon as it is safe to do so.

It does look like a lot of work, and is, but it isn’t anything the experts involved with this project haven’t done before or can’t handle now. Keep in mind that the railroads commonly replaced many of these noted parts of the boiler that we shouldn’t have to change again for many years and will help ensure that No. 576 will be a reliable locomotive once restored and operating. The timing of this work to be completed is dependent on the availability of workers with the knowledge and expertise to conduct the needed repairs and consistent funding for the materials and contract work. We are very pleased with the condition of the boiler despite more than six decades of being exposed to the elements. The shop workers who prepped No. 576 for long term display clearly took pride in their work and ensuring the last remaining J-3 steam locomotive would be around for generations!

NSPS Receives $100,000 Grant for No. 576 Restoration

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Key Grants Help Maximize Donor Contributions in 2020, as Restoration Continues

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – The fundraising campaign behind the restoration of legendary steam locomotive No. 576 has now crossed the $1 million raised threshold, with the announcement of a $100,000 grant from the Walter J. Ferguson Foundation.

The non-profit Nashville Steam Preservation Society (NSPS) is spearheading the fundraising and restoration, with a goal to return the locomotive previously on display in Centennial Park since the 1950s to full operational condition in the next few years. In December, former railroad executives and rail history supporters Richard Tower and Wick Moorman announced a matching grant up to $300,000 in contributions of $1,000 or more made by Dec. 31, 2020. The Walter J. Ferguson Foundation grant is taking advantage of that match, and encouraging others to get involved.

“My father loved steam locomotives and appreciated their significance to America’s history, and we are proud to support Nashville Steam’s campaign to bring No. 576 back to operation,” said Linda Krater, the late Mr. Ferguson’s daughter who now oversees the Foundation. “Beyond the history, we teach our children now about the elements of STEAM education – science, technology, education, arts and math – and this project offers all of those opportunities, both today and for generations to come.”

The approximately $2 million restoration is well underway at the Tennessee Central Railway Museum, located in the Railyard District just east of downtown Nashville, with the locomotive disassembled and key components and appliances being restored and reinstalled. Recently, technicians from NSPS sponsor World Testing, Inc. have been performing ultrasonic and metallurgical testing on the boiler components that generate the steam that powers the engine, and have been impressed with the present-day integrity of 1942-era American steel.

“We have been very pleased with the condition as the engine and coal tender have been mostly disassembled and inspected,” said NSPS President Shane Meador, who has led successful locomotive restoration efforts across the country. “The incredible financial support we’ve seen from Nashvillians, Tennesseans and folks around the nation has been a blessing to our efforts. It takes a community of people to be successful, and we welcome anyone with an interest to get involved.”

Whether as a volunteer or donor, many opportunities exist to join Nashville Steam in the restoration campaign. Head to to learn more.

New $300,000 Matching Grant To Boost No. 576’s Restoration!

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Restoration Currently Underway Pending Funding; Donation Could Mean $600,000 Boost

 NASHVILLE, Tennessee – As Nashville’s legendary steam locomotive No. 576 is disassembled and each component refurbished, the campaign to support its full restoration to operational condition has gotten another big boost of private support. Former railroad executives and rail history supporters Richard Tower and Wick Moorman have partnered in offering to match up to $300,000 in contributions of $1,000 or more made between now and Dec. 31, 2020.

“The restoration of No. 576 is well underway – our greatest challenge is funding, so this is an incredibly important gift,” said NSPS President Shane Meador. “If we can raise the funds to maximize the matching potential, then we will be well over halfway to our goal, and the restoration timeline can remain on track.”

Richard Tower loves railroads – the history, the significance, the engines that run them, and the process of restoring them to their former glory for the benefit of future generations. Through his family’s San Francisco-based charitable foundation, The Candelaria Fund, which he runs with his wife, Caroline, Tower has played a significant role in bringing numerous historic locomotives back to live rails.

Professionally, his career in railroad operations with Amtrak, Southern Pacific Transportation Company and the engineering firm Wilbur Smith Associates spanned from Washington, D.C. to Detroit, Chicago and San Francisco. He became president of The Candelaria Fund in 1997, and has been involved in multiple successful historic rail preservation projects. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad Company, where he served as vice president and treasurer for four years, was named the Best Train Ride in North America by USA Today, and became a National Historic Landmark in 2012.

Charles W. “Wick” Moorman is the former president and CEO of Amtrak, and earlier served as chairman, president and CEO of Norfolk Southern Railway, the company he joined as a college student in 1970. In 2010, Moorman was named Railroader of the Year by Railway Age magazine, and in 2011, he helped spearhead the revival of 21st Century Steam, Norfolk Southern’s popular steam locomotive excursion program.

“The Candelaria Fund has a preference for those organizations that are primarily led by volunteers, and which have active community support and involvement,” Tower says. “With our limited resources, we are interested in efforts that help communities and individuals to collaborate to promote their interests, and Wick Moorman has stepped up in a big way to increase the amount of challenge to encourage it,” Tower said.

“We are aware that much more money must be raised – this is a $2+ million project – before the locomotive can begin pulling excursion trains, but we are confident this can be done,” he says. “We have been impressed with the spirit and energy of the Nashville community and their affection for this symbol of the city’s history. It is our hope that this commitment inspires local Nashville area businesses, charitable organizations and individuals to join us and surpass what we’ve already done.”

To date, the non-profit Nashville Steam Preservation Society (NSPS) has raised approximately $1 million toward the total project cost, and is deep into the restoration at the Tennessee Central Railway Museum, located in the Railyard District just east of downtown Nashville.

“It takes a community to be successful with a project of this scale, and we are very thankful for the efforts of supporters like Richard Tower and Wick Moorman. We have a couple hundred volunteers, all of whom are contributing their unique talents and expertise,” said Meador, who has led the restoration of several historic locomotives around the country.

To donate to the restoration of Nashville’s legendary No. 576, visit:

Country Music Legend Marty Stuart Joins Effort to Restore No. 576

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Artist-in-Residence Marty Stuart to Unveil Song About Nashville’s Legendary Steam Locomotive No. 576 at Sept. 25 Country Music Hall of Fame Concert
‘Songs That Tell a Story’ Show to include “The Duchess” to Honor History, Raise Funds for Restoration

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Five-time GRAMMY-winning artist Marty Stuart loves a good country ballad, and so many of them revolve around trains. Now he and his longtime bandmate, Harry Stinson of the Fabulous Superlatives, have written a song to capture the spirit and history of Nashville’s most iconic steam engine: Locomotive No. 576. The World War II-era J3 Class Locomotive served Nashville’s Union Station for years before being retired to Centennial Park, where it sat for 65 years. No. 576 is now undergoing a complete restoration, and will soon be put back into service pulling passenger excursions from downtown Nashville.

“The Duchess (Queen of the Dixie Line)” will be unveiled as part of Stuart’s ‘Songs That Tell a Story’ acoustic show at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on Wednesday, September 25, at 8 p.m. in the CMA Theater. The song will be available for download on music streaming channels afterward, with all funds going to support the non-profit Nashville Steam Preservation Society’s restoration of No. 576. The organization anticipates the $2+ million project will take three to four years to complete, a timeline that is dependent upon fundraising.


“Harry and I both have a long history with this train, as do so many others. Johnny Cash was photographed for LIFE Magazine in front of it, and that guitar he’s holding is now one of my prized possessions. When you think about the soldiers that rode behind this engine to war, or the folks who traveled on it to Memphis and Atlanta, or the kids who dreamed about great adventures while climbing on it in the park – that’s why we wrote this song,” Stuart said. “We call her The Duchess, and she deserves to be honored. I offered myself to the Nashville Steam organization to let me be the hood ornament on the front of this campaign, and I’ll help any way I can to raise the funds and get her rolling again.”

This fall is perfect timing for the song’s release, with the release of Ken Burns’ eight-part documentary “Country Music” on PBS beginning on September 15. Stuart features prominently in the film, as do old locomotives that played such an important role in the lives and emotions of countless hit songs and the people who wrote and performed them.

To date, the Nashville Steam Preservation Society (NSPS) has raised nearly $1 million toward the total project cost, and is deep into the restoration at the Tennessee Central Railway Museum, located in the Railyard District just east of downtown Nashville. The organization hopes the song will bring much-needed awareness and funding to the campaign. “It takes a community to be successful with a project of this scale, and we are very thankful of the efforts of supporters like Marty and Harry. We have a couple hundred volunteers, all of whom are contributing their unique talents and expertise,” said NSPS President Shane Meador, who has led the restoration of several historic locomotives around the country.

“Road to Revival” YouTube Series Will Document No. 576 Restoration

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The Nashville Steam Preservation Society announces a new video series that will bring updates on the restoration of NC&StL No. 576. “The Road to Revival” focuses on various aspects on the disassembly, repair, restoration, and eventual reassembly of the 77-year old steam locomotive. Each episode will be 5 to 7 minutes and offer mechanical updates as well as historical insights and personal stories of Nashville’s locomotive.

Follow the “Road to Revival” on the Nashville Steam YouTube channel! Click the link below and subscribe to be notified about all new videos from NSPS.

CSX Donates Two Boxcars for 576 Restoration

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Two Donated Boxcars will be Used for Secure Storage of Key Equipment and Materials  

NASHVILLE, Tennessee—CSX Transportation has once again made a significant contribution to the restoration of No. 576, the legendary Nashville steam locomotive currently undergoing a full restoration.

As the successor company to the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railroad (NC&StL) where “The Stripe” ran the rails in the 1940s and ‘50s, CSX supported the train’s relocation from Centennial Park to the restoration site, and earlier this year donated a turntable that will facilitate future excursions once the locomotive is hauling passengers again. Now the third-largest railroad in North America has donated two boxcars that will allow the Nashville Steam Preservation Society (NSPS) to secure valuable equipment and key materials throughout the restoration process.

“CSX has been a tremendous partner to the Nashville Steam Preservation Society, and our success to date has been a tribute to that support,” said NSPS President Shane Meador. “From the planning stages through the move across town in January, down CSX rails to Union Station in March, and continuing today through additional contributions that make the restoration possible, our friends at CSX have been generously supportive and willing to help. We couldn’t be more appreciative of their care and support, for the benefit of future generations.”

Designed at the Nashville headquarters of the NC&StL, No. 576 was built and delivered to Nashville just in time to haul troop and supply trains throughout the southeast as America entered World War II. After the war, The Stripe operated in revenue service for 10 years before being donated to the people of Nashville. Over the years, it became an iconic backdrop for countless childhood memories and photographs in Centennial Park, including a 1960s LIFE Magazine cover featuring Johnny Cash.

The Nashville Steam Preservation Society formed in 2015 to preserve and celebrate the artifacts of Nashville’s rail heritage. NSPS secured an agreement with Metro Nashville in 2016 to lease the locomotive with the intention to restore and operate the steam engine for special excursions out of downtown Nashville. Over the last two years, NSPS has raised more than $800,000 of the approximately $2 million needed for restoration, and thousands of volunteer hours have been dedicated to moving the engine across town and the ongoing restoration.