Questions RE: Locomotive 3463

Q: Where will locomotive No. 3463 be based?

A: We are working  with local collaborators, including the Great Overland Station, to develop a home for No. 3463 in Topeka, with the intention of that home base being in the vicinity of the Great Overland Station museum in North Topeka, Kansas. This facility would serve as a protective shelter for the locomotive, enabling the general public the ability to interact with the artifact, though serving to protect it from the elements. More information will be made available as the arrangements are finalized.

Q: How will No. 3463 be moved from the Kansas Expocentre to its Facility?

A:  CSR will work with a national rail equipment moving company to return No. 3463 to the general railroad system. A preliminary move plan has already been developed based on proven techniques involving panel track and heavy-duty tractors. 

Q: Will No. 3463 be returned to operational condition?

A:  Once we have developed a home base for No. 3463 in Topeka, CSR will perform a detailed mechanical and boiler survey to scope out the work required to return the locomotive to operation. If there is a viable approach to restore and, more importantly, a realistic plan to operate the locomotive, CSR will begin the heavy work required to return No. 3463 to steam. 

Q: What if the results of the mechanical and operational feasibility study mean that No. 3463 won't be restored to operation? 

A: In the event that our analyses of the engine and the feasibility for operation show that the restoration to operation of No. 3463 is not viable, CSR will return the locomotive to its appearance when donated to Topeka by the Santa Fe Railway in 1956. 


Q: What about CSR Project 130 and plans to modify the locomotive? 

A: When we announced "Project 130" in 2012, we envisioned using No. 3463 as a proving ground to see if torrefied biomass fuel and other innovations could pave a new path forward for the steam locomotive in the 21st Century. We still believe in those objectives, but sometimes plans change.

A dispute over the ownership of the locomotive delayed our original plans nearly five years. However, we did not let this unforeseen roadblock distract us from our ultimate goal of testing our hypotheses in the search for modern steam innovations. Since 2012, we have determined that torrefied biomass fuel is indeed a viable fuel for a steam locomotive. CSR is also underway with a large grant project to develop an advanced steam electric generator employing a modern locomotive-style boiler and piston engine, allowing us to verify nearly all of the research items we sought to investigate with No. 3463. 

For those reasons, we have opted to revise our approach with No. 3463 in accordance with our mission: to preserve as well as innovate, we are initiating a plan to possibly restore No. 3463 as an artifact instead of a testbed.

Q: What about pursuing a speed record attempt? 

A: Part of the approach with the aforementioned "Project 130" was to attempt a world record speed trial with No. 3463, with a goal of traveling at 130 mph. This would have broken the record set by the British steam locomotive Mallard in 1938 of 126 mph. While No. 3463 was engineered for speed (see Baldwin Advertisement below), the transition away from "Project 130" also means CSR is tabling an attempt at a speed record. For those interested in seeing a speed record attempt, we recommend you check out the PRR T1 Trust Project

Biofuel Questions

Q: What is Biocoal?

A: Technically known as "torrefied biomass," biocoal is cellulosic biomaterial that has been thermally processed in a low-oxygen environment. Since it is made from biomass, it is net-carbon neutral and, while it exhibits all of the positive traits of coal, including low ash content, high energy density, hydrophobicity and grindability, it does not contain heavy metals, sulfur and net carbon impact of the fossil fuel.

Q: What does Biocoal look like?

A: Biocoal, before it is densified, resembles the chipped biomass that enters the reaction. Generally dark brown in color, biocoal produced by the Natural Resources Research Institue (NRRI) at the University of Minnesota can be custom densified to fit the end use. Whether creating small 3/8" x ½" pellets for use in a furnace, 1.5"x1" pucks for use in the medium sized boilers, or larger briquettes to be ground and burned in fluidized bed combustion, biocoal has the unique ability to fit any end use or transportation mode.

Q: What is Torrefaction?

A. Torrefaction is a French word meaning: to roast. Initially developed as an outgrowth of the coffee roasting industry, torrefaction involves the "mild pyrolysis" of cellulosic biomass. In layman's terms, the woody material is heated up in the absence of oxygen, driving off a certain percent of volatiles, drying the material and, through proper densification, making the material both hydrophobic and energy dense. Part of the success of torrefaction results from the reuse of gasses driven off in the heat of reaction. This, combined with the unique characteristics of the increase in net calorific value of wood when dried, lends torrefaction overall thermal efficiency of up-to 96%, an efficiency that is rarely met by other biofuel conversion processes.

Q: How is Biocoal different than charcoal?

A: Biocoal and charcoal are significantly different in both manufacture and characteristics. Charcoal is made in an oxygenated atmosphere in a process that is roughly 20-40% thermally efficient (as opposed to 96% thermally efficient for torrefied biomass). Manufacturing charcoal is a more time-intensive process that results in a greater portion of material being driven off and a less dense product.