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Happy Birthday No. 1702!

On September 9th, 2017, the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad celebrated the 75th Birthday of our steam locomotive No. 1702. The specialty excursion ran between Dillsboro and Bryson City, North Carolina, featuring photo runbys at select locations. In Bryson City, the passengers enjoyed a turntable demonstration, a ninety-minute layover, and a celebratory birthday cake. After lunch, 1702 performed multiple runbys on the trip back to Dillsboro, including a stop at the famous wreck scene from the film “The Fugitive!” Sporting special white “Extra” flags, 1702 performed twelve runbys for the passengers over the course of the day, a new GSMR record!


This excursion was the first time No. 1702 completed a trip facing both directions without the assistance of diesels. We thank the passengers who chose to ride this historic excursion, your support assures that special excursions are possible in the future.

If you did attend the 75th Birthday Celebration of No. 1702, send in your best photo and be entered to win a FREE steam cab ride on a regular excursion of your choosing. To submit your entry, visit our submission form located HERE.

To view the remainder of the 2017 steam schedule, visit our website, located HERE.


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Thank you to Smoky Mountain Steam for the use of these video clips, more videos are available on their YouTube channel located HERE. Make sure to watch in High Definition!

21414624_10156532127168561_957725291915216489_o.jpgThe train crew who made this historic run possible, kudos fellas!


A Home Away From Home

Steam locomotives like 1702 require constant maintenance and care during their regular operation, this gives little to no time to make the sixteen-mile run back to our steam shop for servicing. To help assure that 1702 is properly cared for, a new steam shed has been constructed next to the turntable in Bryson City. The steam shed will allow for the locomotive to be stored under cover while being serviced and awaiting future excursions. Construction was led by Tom Falicon, the shed measures seventy-five feet in length, forty feet wide, and nearly thirty feet tall. 1702 will be on display each evening following the day’s steam excursions.

To view 1702’s 2017 calendar, click: HERE

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And………We’re BACK!

Hello 2017!!! 1702 is already having a busy year as we begin prepping for its 75th Birthday! To start us off we will begin with a brief overview of our winter maintenance.

After finishing the 2016 operating season, 1702 underwent a federally mandated annual inspection, the first annual inspection for the locomotive since it returned to operation. After a successful inspection, the locomotive was given new spring rigging for the driving wheels, cylinder packing, air pump lines and piston rings.

Other work was also completed on the tender brake rigging, steam turret, and headlight. Smaller projects such as stripping and polishing the brass number boards, painting the upper porthole cab windows and bell interior, and creating a new whistle lever handle, were also completed.

A big project for the steam shop over the winter was constructing a cross compound Westinghouse air compressor, which was composed of miscellaneous parts. With all of this complete, 1702 was ready for her debut at the 2017 Association of Tourist Railways & Railroad Museums known as HeritageRail Alliance Conference, on April 27-29. More to come about this successful conference in our next blog!

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The engineer’s side of the cab on No. 1702


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The Fireman’s side of the cab on No. 1702

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The new Westinghouse cross-compound steam air compressor

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New lines on the air pump.

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The new cosmetic details on No. 1702, Brass number boards, red porthole windows, and a cherry red bell interior.

#1702 Official Celebration

Since the re-debut of #1702 we have made sure to take time and celebrate the return of this historical steam engine not only with our employees but our community as well. Because of the unique nature of GSMR’s public/private partnership with Swain County we indeed have a lot of fantastic supporters to celebrate with.

Friday, Aug 5, GSMR celebrated the official debut of #1702 with a specialty ceremony and evening reception train. Our guests along with employees enjoyed a train ride with #1702 leading the way to the Fontana Trestle and back while dining on a fantastic spread of food prepared by our excellent Food and Beverage Staff.

The evening began with a special ceremony in which our owners Al & Carol Harper recognized all the hard work and dedication of the steam engine restoration crew, turntable crew, and Swain County community leaders. Specialty plaques that will be placed inside the cab of #1702 and at the turntable were also unveiled. We made sure to grab some photos to share!

See below, our restoration crew paused for a photo op with some of the Harper Family, GSMR General Manager and GSMR Superintendent of Operations.


(Left to Right) John Campasino, Robert Franzen (Steam Services of America), Brian Brooks, Kim Albritton, Marshal Harris, Joe Stewart, Al Harper, Carol Harper, and John Harper.


More of The Harper Family enjoying #1702!

Mr. Harper cut the ribbon and officially christened #1702!









The Pressure’s On!


Our last blog post featured a few videos of the flue tube instillation and we are happy to report that the boiler is ready for water and pressure (hydro static testing)! A huge step in our final months of completion before our scheduled return of #1702 this summer!

Since the completion the guys have been using compressed (120lbs per square inch) air to test the pressure inside the boiler. Steam Services of America contractor Bob, explained that by using soap and water they can easily locate where the leaks are allowing the air to escape, causing suds to appear. Once identified the leaks will be sealed. The next step is the hydro test which should be conducted sometime this week. After the test is completed a few minor additional items that the boiler needs can be installed and the boiler can be prepped for initial fire-up testing.
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Last week Brian worked to complete the fabrication of the water column that will gauge the water level in the boiler.

The engine was moved so that they could prepare to reposition the tender behind the engine. While preforming the first movement test they discovered a few needed repairs to the entrance track of the steam shop.  Those will be repaired before the next move.

While #1702 was outside the guys enjoyed giving it a much needed wash!

20160405_142304 3452-MMS-1460367373199-attachment1-20160405_140750 3453-MMS-1460367381100-attachment1-20160405_143221

_MG_0898You can certainly see a change in the firebox interior with the instillation of the tubes and flues and now the transverse arch tubes. These transverse arch tubes are the newest addition. Originally arch tubes were inside the firebox but this new transverse design will prove to be more efficient in circulating the water from the side sheets to the top crown sheet allowing the water to be heated faster and more efficiently.

Steam Services of America also delivered the 30 New Sets Super Heater Units in March. The SH Units will be installed once the hydrostatic testing of the boiler is finished and the boiler is being prepped for fire-up. The SH Units which are installed in the smoke box and lay inside the flues inside the barrel of the boiler take the saturated steam generated in the boiler and reheat the steam through the SH Unit piping from the gases from the firebox which travel trough the super heater flues heating the steam inside the SH Units. The saturated steam is about 450 degrees Fahrenheit when taken out of the boiler and heated to approximately 650 degrees Fahrenheit after passing through the SH Units. Once the steam is superheated it then enters into the valves and pistons where the steam goes to work moving the engine drive wheels.


Our anticipation is growing with the excitement of finally seeing #1702 back on the line! We hope that you have booked your ticket. If not, find all the information HERE.



The Final Staybolt!

Exciting news from the steam shop! After months and months of work the FINAL STAYBOLT was completed! The last of the 1,175 staybolt was finished this past Tuesday and the guys were certainly excited to check that task off the list!

Here are some videos courtesy of Brian and Marshall.

There has been great progress with the tender. The inside has been cleaned and prepped for paint. The air and steam gauges have been sent off to be calibrated, and it will be prepped for a new wheel set. Pressure testing was completed and it passed with no leaks!


Say hello to Tony and Eli! These guys have been working on the compressor. It has been stripped and the cylinders have been honed. They are checking the gauges in the compressor to make sure they are still round. The valves have been measure determined the clearances.



The tubes and flues were delivered from Germany. Next expected to be delivered are the ferrules, which are the copper rings that are placed around the tubes and flues to seal.

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Also arrived are the new injectors. The power reverse has been removed for cleaning and it was tested last week – it’s good to go!

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The shop received a flue roller from our sister railroad D&SNGRR. This will be used to install the flues, which should begin next month!



Buddy has begun working on the cab carpentry. New beadboard will be replaced throughout the interior. The exterior has received some deserved attention. A lot of the rough patches and holes are being filled in, welded or bonded over to create a new fresh and smooth surface.



Our last exciting arrivals are the builder plates! These are casts of the original plates, and will be one of the final pieces placed on the engine before it’s set to return to the rails!


Riveting Day!

Finally after months of anticipation, riveting day finally arrived!

We were able to get some great video footage of the riveting process. Enjoy the videos below!

Turntable set in Bryson City!

After months of hard work we are happy to say that the turntable has been set. Although this doesn’t complete the entire project this is a major advancement! Enjoy some photos from today’s setting.

Project Manager, Tom Falicon was able to push the very first full rotation of the table!

In addition to our exciting Steam Shop Tour taking place during the RailFest celebration, the turntable will be open for viewing and photos. Tom Falicon will be present to answer questions! Visit the turntable site behind the GSMR parking lot on Saturday Sept. 5,  9-10AM & 3:30 – 4PM!

The steam shop has been busy with the latest rounds of sheet work.

They are fitting, reforming, trimming and reaming the side sheets. A few of the sheets have been placed inside the boiler so that they can be properly marked and grounded for the best fit. A new contractor, Gary, has been working alongside the team for the past few weeks.

Joe has been busy on the engine lathe making new belly brace bolts.

Brian and Marshal were also able to craft some formers for the boiler plate.

There are still tickets available for the Steam Shop Tour and the guys are looking forward to showing everyone around! If you haven’t made your reservation you should. This will be the first ever specialty Steam Shop Tour hosted during RailFest, we’d like for all of our steam patrons to join us if you can!

Early June Update

We’ve got a short update for this week! Most of the work has been centered on drilling the new staybolt holes. As of Tuesday they had drilled well over 1000 holes.



The new piece of the throat sheet was returned with the 8-degree bend needed and the holes for the flexible staybolts have been drilled.

Marshall has been working on readying the section where the new throat sheet piece will be placed.


February Photo’s

Here are a few photos from last month’s progress! A lot of the focus has shifted to completing the stay bolt work on top of the engine and continuing to polish the main and side rods.

An engine lathe has been moved into position at the shop allowing for the machining of parts to begin.