For the first time in two years, the No. 7 steam train steamed up and passed inspection. The locomotive has been out of commission since 2018. (PHOTO COURTESY WVI INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE SOCIETY))

For the first time in two years, the No. 7 steam train steamed up and passed inspection. The locomotive has been out of commission since 2018. (PHOTO COURTESY WVI INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE SOCIETY))

No. 7 Baldwin locomotive steams up for first time in two years

Port Alberni-based steam locie has been dormant since a boiler problem halted train trips

After two years of silence, Port Alberni’s No. 7 steam train fired up and passed a boiler inspection at the end of October.

The 1929 Baldwin locomotive quit in July 2018 after 17 years of reliable service transporting tourists between Port Alberni’s train station and McLean Mill National Historic Site. The No. 7 was also used for the annual Santa Train, giving hundreds of children from around central Vancouver Island the chance to talk to the jolly old elf himself while taking a ride aboard the steam train.

Volunteers have spent the past two years fixing the locomotive’s boiler—retubing it, replacing the tubing sheets and reconfiguring the locie’s firebox, according to an Alberni Pacific Railway social media post.

Active and retired boilermakers from Local 359 began the challenge of re-tubing the boiler in October 2018, after the boiler quit earlier that year. Barry Dobrenksy, Michael Roxbrough, Sarah Smith and Brent Pennington all donated their time for the project. Only Dobrensky lives in the Alberni Valley: the other three travelled here from the east side of the Island.

“This No. 7 boiler rebuild is their biggest gift to the city,” Western Vancouver Island Industrial Heritage Society (IHS) volunteer David Hooper said in March 2020. “Boilermakers’ time is valuable and they have donated more than $150,000 worth of their time and skills.”

The boiler inspector travelled to Port Alberni to inspect the No. 7, and it was successfully steamed up to 200 pounds—its regular operating pressure.

While this is a major milestone in repairing the locomotive, the APR and Hooper both noted a lot of work remains before the train will be rail-worthy again.

Hooper said the boiler still has to be insulated, the saddle tank put back in place and all the valves, levers and gauges in the engine cab need to be re-installed. The City of Port Alberni also needs to decide whether it wants to operate the train again: a lot of work still remains to be done on the train tracks.

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional DistrictHeritagePort Albernirailway

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Volunteers with the Alberni Pacific Railway prepare the No. 7 Baldwin locomotive for a boiler test, two years after the locie was silenced. (PHOTO COURTESY WVI INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE SOCIETY)

Volunteers with the Alberni Pacific Railway prepare the No. 7 Baldwin locomotive for a boiler test, two years after the locie was silenced. (PHOTO COURTESY WVI INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE SOCIETY)

Just Posted

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP locate driver and vehicle, but are asking for video footage

Students from AW Neill Elementary School in Port Alberni write anti-bullying messages and draw colourful chalk art around their school for national anti-bullying Pink Shirt Day, Feb. 24, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY LISA ARBANAS)
Chalk art brightens public walkway on Pink Shirt Day

Students from AW Neill Elementary in Port Alberni write messages of hope

Mary Mason of Owls Path Foundation presents plans for a Nuu-chah-nulth Cultural Centre to Port Alberni city council. The structure pictured in this image is the Copenhagen Opera House. (SCREENSHOT)
Nuu-chah-nulth cultural centre pitched for Port Alberni

Three possible locations put forward for multi-million-dollar centre

An endangered Vancouver Island marmot suns itself on rocks at Mount Washington, near the Comox Valley. Learn more about this endangered species with the Alberni Valley Nature Club. (PHOTO COURTESY SANDY MCRUER, AV NATURE CLUB)
Marmots, underwater mysteries part of Alberni Valley Nature Club lineup

Club kicks off membership drive with series of Zoom chats

The current exhibit at the Rollin Art Centre. The art gallery has COVID-19 protective measures in place. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
ARTS AROUND: Rollin Art Centre puts out a call to artists

Port Alberni’s Community Arts Council will hold a pandemic-inspired art exhibit

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Comox Valley RCMP conducted a raid of a problem house on 20th… Continue reading

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

Most Read