Medco 4 Builder's Photo
Medco 4
Medford Corporation geared locomotive

 

***NEW*** September, 2012 Update: Boiler Rebuild is Complete ***NEW***

2011 Update on the Reassembly of the Medco 4

 

Medco locomotive No. 4 was a Willamette locomotive (it looks like a Lima Shay but it isn't) built originally for the Owen-Oregon Lumber Co.  This is a rare piece of railroad equipment.  Willamette Iron and Steel only built 33 locomotives.  Medco No. 4 is one of six Willamette locomotives that have escaped the cutting torch.

The No. 4 began and ended it's career in the forests of the Cascade Mountains around the town of Butte Falls, east of Medford Oregon.  It became the Medford Corporation (Medco) locomotive No. 4 in 1932 after the financially troubled Owen-Oregon Lumber went into receivership and was reorganized by the creditors as the Medford Corporation.  Medco 4 working in the woods near Butte Falls, OR.

    In 1959 the No. 4 was retired by the Medford Corporation and donated to the City of Medford.  It was moved to Jackson Park were it was turned into a piece of playground equipment by Medford City Parks.  By 1976 the locomotive had
deteriorated considerably.  It had settled into the dirt and was in danger of tipping over.  The City of Medford considered the locomotive a liability and was prepared to give it to a museum group in Portland.  Some local rail fans that were to become the founding members of the SO Rail successfully made an appeal to the city to retain the locomotive in Southern Oregon.  The Chapter became custodians of the No. 4.  It was rolled off its base which was then leveled and ballasted.  After the No. 4 was replaced on its base it was fenced by the city to reduce vandalism and the risk of liability.
No. 4 on display in Medford Railroad Park It was moved to the Medford Railroad park in 1986 where it remains on display. 

In September, 1997 the Society acquired the No. 4 from the City of Medford with intent of restoring it to operating condition.  During the time that the locomotive sat unprotected in Jackson Park most of the smaller, removable, and collectable parts were removed by collectors and vandals. 

In 1998 a grant was obtained to begin the restoration of this historic locomotive.  The $16,000 grant is to fund the costs of rebuilding the boiler and must be matched with volunteer labor hours and other donated materials and services.  Society members, led by Jerry Hellinga, began in earnest to dismantle the locomotive.  No 4 undergoing disassembly in Medford   January, 1999
Lifting the engine off No. 4 Perched atop the boiler, Jerry makes the final preparations for the engine (pistons, cylinders, rods, bearings, gears and valves) to be lifted from the locomotive's boiler and frame. Already the cab (in background) and fuel tank (out of sight) have been removed by the crane.  After the engine is secured in a steel frame, the boiler will be lifted from the locomotive frame. 

Prior to this day, hundreds of volunteer hours had been spent removing the remaining appliances, smoke box end plate, petticoat pipe (inside smoke box), smoke stack, sand dome, compressor, air tanks, firebox, miscellaneous piping and boiler flues.  They had also disconnected the drive lines running to the front and rear from the engine.

Standing atop the water tank on the tender (about the only part of the locomotive left intact), this view shows what a Willamette's frame looks like.  The cab had rested over lighter rust colored area.  On the right beam, the Johnson bar remains.  Notice how the frame sits to the left of center allowing the weight of the boiler to counterbalance the weight of the engine on the right side of the locomotive.  The boiler rests off to the right and the boiler tubes are piled on the left. No. 4's frame with cab, engine, boiler removed

 

DISASSEMBLED   More photos of the Willamette in pieces and the people working on her.
BOILER WORK   Progress working on the boiler
2001 Update   Review of activities and accomplishments of the Society including more work on the 4 spot.
2011 Update Progress on reassembling the Medco 4
2012 Update ***NEW*** Boiler goes to Washington for Rebuild and Returns
 

All pictures and text copyright 2012 Southern Oregon Railway Historical Society

 

This consist built by Larry Tuttle