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September 8, 2013

Rock Island 905 project continues

DUNCAN — The primary goal was to move the Rock Island 905 10 feet to continue the restoration project that started in 2004. But the truck used in lieu of heavy machinery didn’t have quite the pull to move the 905, so the locomotive stayed put for the time being.

Regardless of the stubbornness of the steam engine, members of the Save the 905 organization weren’t deterred from the project. Instead, they acknowledged that portion of the project may have to hold for now.

Mike Stuckert, president of Save the 905, said there are many plans to continue the restoration of the locomotive. For the organization members, Saturday was a work day to continue the project that began when the organization formed.

Since the project began, the train has been through several upgrades, from the removal of asbestos to being move east in Fuqua Park as part of a train depot museum.

“Next we’re going to work from the boiler section to the cab, where the asbestos was,” Stuckert said. “All that has to be filled in. We’re going to roll on pickup bed liner. We’re trying to stop the rust.”

The Rock Island 905 project began toward the end of 2004, because some Duncan community members were concerned about the deterioration of the locomotive. The train initially arrived in Duncan in 1954.

David Ballard joined the Save the 905 organization in 2007 and was active until March of 2008 when health issues caused him to sit out for about a year.

Ballard said it has been enjoyable bringing the Rock Island 905 back to life, after it had been sitting almost ignored in Fuqua Park for years.

“It’s part of our history,” Ballard said.

The train depot was created as a way to highlight the 905, and to draw more attention to Fuqua Park. The museum is open five days a week and is run by the same volunteers who chose to restore the locomotive.

Stuckert said the organization is working to stop rust so future generations can enjoy the train. He said the pickup bed liner will probably be in place this fall.

“Hopefully by Christmas, we can get the rust stopped,” Stuckert said.

Once the rust problem is addressed, there will be more work to do. Stuckert said Styrofoam and sheet metal will be added to the locomotive to aid in the restoration. He said this probably won’t happen until the beginning of 2014.

“The reason it will be the beginning of next year is we don’t have the sheet metal or the people lined up,” he said. “We can’t do the Styrofoam until the sheet metal is ready to go on.”

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