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A Little Throttle History

A Little Throttle History

On October 23, work continued on readying a number of pieces for reinstallation in 3751's cab. One of these pieces, the throttle, needed to be thoroughly cleaned, sanded and repainted before it could return to the engine. As the steam crew sanded the iconic piece, one spot near the top of the bar revealed a little bit of steam locomotive history - the actual number "3751" stamped into the metal. This common practice, which you can sometimes find on external pieces on a steam locomotive during displays, was done to help maintenance crews know exactly what piece(s) went to what engine. When you only have a handful of mainline steam engines operating in the United States like today, this doesn't really sound practical, right? Imagine stepping back in time to the 1930's or 1940's when steam was reaching it's climax of operations. Shops and roundhouses were filled with dozens steam locomotives of all shapes and sizes, and a maintenance force's ability to know exactly what part goes where, and to what locomotive, after removing and working on them was extremely important. So when a locomotive was built like 3751, which was a product of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, hundreds of parts were stamped with that engine's specific number - allowing the part to be tracked should it ever be removed from the engine.

While this specific part will be repainted in primer and a final coat of gloss, black paint that will in turn cover these numbers until the next paint job - next time you see 3751 out at a display, see if you can find some of these numbers. You might just find some interesting, other numbers beside 3751 on our engine!

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