Medco 8

 

The Medco 8 is an S-8 switcher (cn.75481) built for the Medford Corporation (Medco) by Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton in 1952.  Designed to move loaded log trains downhill, the No. 8 is the only Baldwin switcher equipped with dynamic braking.   The No. 8 remained in regular service with Medco for less than 10 years.  Medco ended its railroad operations in 1961. 

Few photos have surfaced of the Medco 8 in service on the logging lines out of Butte Falls. Below are two examples of our Baldwin at work for Medco.

Following the end of Medco railroad logging in 1961, the No. 8 was sold to the Magma Arizona Railroad in 1968. As Magma Arizona Railroad No. 8, it operated out of Superior,  Arizona,  hauling copper ore concentrate for Magma Copper and perlite as a common carrier for 24 years. Magma Arizona Railroad made several changes to the 8 including the addition of drop steps, MU connections, additional handrails and three (out of four) sets of roller bearing axles. The 8 also received two paint jobs while in Arizona.

In September, 1992  the No. 8 suffered a catastrophic failure of the main generator and was taken out of service.

The Southern Oregon Railway Historical Society purchased the No. 8 from the Magma Arizona Railroad in July, 1995.  The purchase included a used "running take out" replacement generator and a new axle and wheels. Society members made several trips to Magma to prepare the locomotive for shipment and load oversee loading it on a flat car. Southern Pacific donated the use of a flat car and gondola for the trucks and generator as well as transporataion back to Oregon. Magma Arizona Railroad donated transportation to the SP Interchange at Superior and the Willamette & Pacific donated transportation from SP Interchange in Albany to their shops.

Willamette & Pacific used their railroad crane, in concert with a rubber tired crane, to lower the Baldwin back onto its trucks in Albany, OR.

Working in Albany, with the generous assistance of the Willamette & Pacific Railroad, society volunteers installed the replacement generator, replaced the last friction bearing axle with one that was roller bearing equipped, serviced the air brake  system, and repaired several minor defects to bring the No. 8 into compliance with Federal Railroad Administration safety standards.

 

The initial recovery and restoration of the Medco No. 8 locomotive was funded in part by with a grant from the Oregon State Lottery through the Regional Strategies Fund administered by the Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development, Inc. (SOREDI).

The planned mechanical work for the restoration of the No. 8 was completed in February, 1997.  After some testing in the Willamette & Pacific Albany yard a combination road test and fan trip was planned with cars provided by the the Willamette & Pacific and the No. 8 as power.

That was the plan, anyway. The 8, a couple baggage cars and, since it was winter, the Caspar Mountain former Santa Fe business car bringing up the markers. Head out the Toledo Branch from Albany, hang a right on the Corvallis wye and head up the West Side Branch as far as we liked. A beautiful winter day, a full tank of fuel, plenty of sand, lots of eager Society members and friends. What could go wrong!

Continue the Medco 8 saga in Part 2 -- Willamette & Pacific to the rescue and the day is saved. Under construction and coming very soon to a computer near you.

The Great Repaint -- Our Baldwin gets stripped and repainted to her original livery.

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All photos copyright 2013 by the original photographer. Other material copyright 2013 by SO Rail

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