Nickel Plate 587
#587 in the restoration shops at the ITM
Nickel Plate Road 587 is a USRA Light 2–8–2 steam locomotive built in September 1918 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works for the Lake Erie and Western Railroad as its number 5541. In 1923, the LE&W was merged into the New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad, ("Nickel Plate Road"), and allocated 587 as its new number in 1924. As of 2005[update] the locomotive is being restored by the Indiana Transportation Museum.
NKP No. 587 is generally referred to as a Baldwin locomotive. However, its supporting truck and cylinders are actually from another Lima Locomotive Works (LLW) engine when the original cylinders failed.
NKP 587 was originally built for the Lake Erie & Western Railroad and originally numbered 5541. When LE&W was bought by Nickel Plate Road in 1922 the NKP spent the next 2 years consolidating and standardizing the locomotive number system. In 1924, LE&W 5541 was renumbered as NKP 587.
NKP 587 served on the NKP railroad for 37 years on the route from Indianapolis to Michigan City. The locomotive remained relatively unchanged from its original design and operated until March 1955 when it was retired.
In September 1955, NKP 587 was donated to the city of Indianapolis and put on display in Broad Ripple Park, Indianapolis, Indiana. Prior to being put on display, the locomotive's original tender was switched with another NKP steam engine #639, because the tender on 639 was in need of repair and 587's original tender was in good mechanical condition. 587 was originally equipped with the 16-ton, 10,000 gallon tender used behind USRA 2-8-2s, but in the 1930s, it received a larger 16RA tender used on many NKP engines. This tender carried 19 tons of coal and 16,500 gallons of water. It is identifiable by having a six-wheel truck under the coal bunker and a four-wheel truck under the water cistern.
In 1934, Lima Locomotive Works delivered 25 22RA tenders to the NKP for Mikados. These tenders were nearly identical to those behind the Berkshires (2-8-4) built by Lima.
In 1955, 2-8-2 #639 was shopped with a 22RA tender on which the stoker was inoperable, and the railroad switched tenders to keep the #639 running. Number 587 was displayed in Indianapolis's Broad Ripple Park with the larger 22RA tender in 1955. Number 639 was retired in 1957 and displayed in Bloomington, IL, with 587's 16RA tender.
NKP 587 remained in Broad Ripple Park until 1983. At that time the city of Indianapolis was interested in building a new public library in the park, but the only available location was where the 587 was displayed.
A group of people called "Friends of 587" did a feasibility study and determined that the locomotive was a good project for restoration. The locomotive was then loaned by the Indianapolis Parks Department to the Indiana Transportation Museum.
From 1983 to September 1988 the Indiana Transportation Museum leased a work area at Amtrak's Beech Grove Shops. During restoration the museum was surprised to find that when the welds holding the fire box doors closed (for safety purposes) were removed there were still ashes in the ashpan. This indicated that the locomotive was simply pulled from active service and stored until being donated to the city of Indianapolis.
Restoration consumed many thousands of volunteer hours and nearly $250,000 in donated money and materials. NKP 587 returned to active service in September 1988 by pulling an excursion train from Indianapolis to Logansport, Indiana.
NKP 587 was operated by the Indiana Transportation Museum and is considered its crown jewel. It was used primarily to pull the museum's fair train from Fishers, IN to the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis, IN and other special events.
In 1989, the 587 led a rare tripleheader with Norfolk and Western 611 and Norfolk & Western 1218 for a deadhead run to the Asheville NRHS Convention. The 587 led two excursions for the Convention, one of them with 1218. The 587 later teamed up with 611 for the annual Independence Limited in 1990.
In 2003, the 587's Federal Railway Administration's (FRA) operating permit expired. This is due to FRA requirements that all boiler tubes and flues on steam locomotives be replaced every 15 years, or 1472 days of operation (whichever comes first).
Currently, NKP 587 is undergoing its second restoration dependent on funding and available volunteer efforts.
Tubes, flues, the dry pipe, branch lines, the super-heater, and many other pieces have been removed.
The dry pipe was worn too thin to support the steam pressures necessary to operate the locomotive. A new dry pipe has been formed and is awaiting installation into the boiler.
The double action air pump has been removed and rebuilt and is in storage awaiting re-installation.
Several sections of the fire box have been cut away and replaced as well as a section of the rear tube sheet that was worn too thin to support the operating steam pressure. A new tube sheet section has been cut and using the heat and beat method has been molded into place. It is now in the contractor's shop to have the new holes drilled in it.
New tubes have been swaged, which is a process of reducing the diameter on one end while not cutting away any material. They have been transported to the museum in Noblesville and are currently stored until they are needed.
Riveting of the fire box is nearly complete with only the front section and several rivets in the corners needing to be replaced. This will require the rear driver of 587 to be dropped into a shallow pit to allow for the riveting to take place.
Currently, 587 is inside ITM's shop undergoing additional work. The locomotive is currently lifted several inches off its supporting trucks and running gear to allow access to the leaf springs and bushings without the need to drop all the drivers. The bushings will be removed and replaced as most have worn thin from years of use.
As of 2008, the ownership of NKP 587 was officially transferred from the Indianapolis Parks Department to the Indiana Transportation Museum. The locomotive is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
587 is currently under an overhaul of boiler tubes and flues. During this time it was discovered that areas of the firebox were too thin, which has added more time to the overhaul. It is expected that 587 will return to service around 2018 or 2019.
- National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- "Nickel Plate Road 587". Indiana Transportation Museum. Retrieved March 7, 2015.
- "Lake Erie and Western steam locomotives". Nickel Plate Road Historical and Technical Society website. Retrieved January 29, 2009.
- Williams, Jay (May 1989). "Indy's Nickel Plate Mikado". Railfan & Railroad. Carstens Publications: 36.