OCTOBER/2004: RCT&HS Aquires Auxilary Tender #90691

At the Wilmington & Western’s Greenbank station on the afternoon of September 10, the lowboy truck trailer is in position with temporary ramps, ready to receive the tender. The yellow W&W crane in the distance will be used to pull the tender the last few feet onto the trailer. (photo by Rick Bates)

The tender is slowly pushed up the ramp onto the trailer by a W&W locomotive and an idler car, both out of view to the right. (photo by Rick Bates)

The tender is loaded and the truck is ready to depart Greenbank, late afternoon Friday September 10. (photo by Rick Bates)

Westbound on US 422 the morning of Saturday September 11, the tender has just passed the Oaks exit. The photo is taken just beyond the point where the highway crosses the right-of-way of the Reading’s former Perkiomen Branch. (photo by John Hall)

The rig pulls into the parking lot at Temple station, site of the RCT&HS’ temporary museum. (photo by Mike Soulia)

RCT&HS volunteers work to carefully unload the tender. (photo by Mike Soulia)

A longtime goal of the RCT&HS was finally achieved on September 11, 2004 with the delivery to Temple of RDG #90691, the auxiliary water car which was originally a steam locomotive tender. It was built in 1901, serial number 7128, making it the oldest piece of rolling stock now owned by RCT&HS. The records are incomplete, but we believe it was assigned to several different locomotives, including in the 1930s class E-3b #1409, an 0-8-0 camelback switcher. In 1943, the tender was converted into a water car for the Tamaqua Fire Fighting train, receiving the roster number 90691and thus becoming a piece of non-revenue work equipment (see article in Bee Line 1987-1). Sold for scrap by the Reading in 1966, it initially ended up on the short-lived Wawa & Concordville tourist railroad, and then was trucked to the Wilmington & Western RR, where it was stored for many years.

About a year ago, the RCT&HS obtained ownership of the tender by donation and started looking into ways to get it shipped to us. Because of its age, although it has no significant mechanical problems, shipment by rail on its own wheels was out of the question. Fortunately, it is short enough to be easily carried on a lowboy trailer. Friday September 10 was the big day when the Wilmington & Western diesel switcher brought the tender from their shops at Marshallton to the loading point at their Greenbank station.

RCT&HS volunteers improvised a ramp and “rails” on the bed of the truck, and the W&W locomotive gingerly pushed the tender up the ramp and onto the truck. An idler car was between the tender and locomotive. Finally, a W&W crane pulled the tender the last few feet onto the truck. By late afternoon, the tender was securely tied down, and the oversized load started on its way toward Reading, as it had to be out of Delaware by dusk. Friday night, it was parked off the side of the road beside the northbound US 202 on-ramp at the beginning of the West Chester bypass (did anyone see it there?).

Saturday morning, the tender was trucked the rest of the way to Temple, taking a rather indirect route via Oley and Blandon to avoid low bridges in Reading. Arriving just after 10:00 a.m., a large RCT&HS crew was on hand to set up the ramp for unloading, and to begin winching the tender off the truck with chains and a car mover tool. A locomotive then pulled it the rest of the way off the truck, and everything was safely completed by noon.