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What is Project U-Boat?
Project U-Boat is the URHS’s effort to restore Erie Lackawanna 3372 to operation. The U34CH is a landmark in locomotive design, and it is a design that is entirely unique to the state of New Jersey. 3372 is the last servicable U34CH left in existence, and it is owned by the URHS of NJ. A recent review of the organization’s motive power revealed that 3372 is the locomotive closest to potential operation, and to make restoration a reality, the URHS needs your help!
HELP US RAISE 3372 DOLLARS!
Phase 2 of Project U-Boat will begin the locomotive’s cosmetic restoration to protect it from the elements. This includes minor body work, light metal repairs, and a new coat of primer. $3372 will cover the costs of all supplies needed as well as several gallons of one of the best industrial primers available. We will be giving the U-Boat a paint job that will last for years!
Do you like get getting your hands dirty? Come volunteer with the URHS and help us restore 3372! If you are interested, click the link below and let us know. There is no commitment and no skills are required to help the URHS restore a piece of history!
May 2015: The URHS launched Phase 2 of Project U-Boat. This second step the restoration of 3372 will include repair to the car body in addition to a coat of primer to protect the engine from the elements.
October 2014: 3372 was moved by the Morristown & Erie Railway on October 29. CLICK HERE to view the video of it moving for the first time in over a decade!
August 2014: The official homecoming move for 3372 is under contract with the Morristown & Erie. Upon successful brake inspection, the railroad will establish a date on which one of their two Alco C-424 will make the trek from Morristown to Passaic. The engine will be taken down the Dundee Spur to the Bergen County Line to make the trip to Boonton Yard. We will bring you more details on the move when they become available!
March 2014: We have reached our $2,500 goal for phase 1 of Project U-Boat! We received many generous donations ranging from a few dollars to a few hundred… and even one that was $1,000! The URHS’s U34CH will be moved to Boonton NJ as soon as we conduct the proper tests and explore our pricing options. Phase 2 means it is time to raise funds to make the locomotive operational! That also means incentives and rewards for those who have donated, and those who plan to. Stay tuned, and as always, we sincerely thank you for your support!
Everyone wins by supporting the URHS. Here is what you can receive for supporting Project U-Boat!
All of the above plus
your choice of one of the URHS’s several NJ Railroad prints
See the URHS store for choices
All of the above plus
a personal tour of Boonton yard
This includes an experience which will not be open to the general public: a tour of the inside and outside of 3372.
T-shirt, print, yard tour, and…
a free ticket aboard the NYC 43 on the next URHS excursion
T-shirt, print, yard tour, and…
a free ticket aboard the Hickory Creek on the next URHS excursion
About the U34CH:
The U34CH represented a landmark in passenger train operation. It is truly the “last of the first of its kind.” During the late 60’s and early 70’s, passenger trains were nearing the end of an era. Aging equipment, heated by steam, could not stand up to the demands of changing technology. Across the country, these older cars were being replaced with newer, electrically lit and heated cars, powered by car-mounted generators or individual power cars. At that same time, the Erie Lackwanna was dealing with an ever aging fleet of coaches and MU’s that dated back to the late teens and twenties. When the NJ Department of Transportation took over passenger service, they used an ingenious new idea to modernize the fleet.
The result was an order of new “Comet I” coaches from Pullman-Standard, and 32 U34CH locomotives from General Electric Co. This was the first time in the evolution of modern passenger equipment that locomotives and cars were ordered together to work in tandem. The new coaches would be powered by electricity delivered from a new type of generator in the U34CH. The drive shaft from the locomotive’s 16 cylinder motor would go entirely through its main generator, which powered its 6 traction motors, and go into a generator used exclusively for powering the train. This meant that, to power the cars, the engine always ran at a full 960 rpm, the equivalent of full power. This made for a locomotive that was not only powerful and efficient, but exceptionally distinctive, characterized by its consistent roar both stopped at stations and at speed.
The U34CH, and its corresponding passenger car fleet, pioneered “push-pull” operation of trains in New Jersey. Today, all commuter trains in NJ run in this manner. The U-boats represented the turning point in New Jersey railroad history, as they bridged the gap between the first generation diesels from the pre-Conrail era and the modern head end powered passenger equipment of today. The story of New Jersey railroading would not be complete without including the U34CH, which is why the URHS finds it imperative to save the last one in existence.
About the restoration:
The URHS knows the U34CH has a dedicated following of railroad enthusiasts who remember seeing these locomotives first-hand. This is why we have called upon you to help us. Many have asked the URHS why this locomotive has not been restored and this is your chance to help make that happen! Please donate whatever you can to help 3372. It has been said that “many hands make light work” and if many contribute what they can, the U-Boat fan-base can make quick work of seeing 3372 in action!
The URHS sincerely thanks you for your support.
Click the Pay Pal link above to donate!
If you prefer donations by mail, they can be sent to our Boonton Yard office at:
United Railroad Historical Society of NJ Inc.
104 Morris Avenue, Boonton, NJ 07005-1314
C/O Project U-Boat
You can also reach our office phone at (862) 345-6642
The URHS is a 501(c)(3) not for profit educational organization
With an equipment move funded entirely by donations from rail enthusiasts, the world’s last surviving U34CH, owned by the United Railroad Historical Society, has been delivered to Boonton, NJ for restoration.
On October 29, the Morristown & Erie Railway, under contract by the URHS, moved Erie Lackawanna 3372 from the New York & Greenwood Lake’s yard in Passaic, NJ to West Boonton Yard, the URHS’s restoration facility.
“We owe a big thank you to everyone who has donated to make this move possible. Now that 3372 is home in Boonton, we can give it a full mechanical evaluation, continue fundraising, and schedule a plan for operational and cosmetic restoration,” said Steve Gerritsen, Vice President of Operations for the URHS.
3372 had been stored in Passaic since 2000, when the Morristown & Erie delivered it to NY&GL. While the locomotive has remained in good shape structurally, vandals have cut out and stolen several of its traction motor cables. This expensive damage prompted the URHS to remove the locomotive from NY&GL property, and a fundraising campaign was implemented in October of 2013.
By March of 2014, the URHS had reached its $2500 goal to rescue engine and bring it to the URHS facility at Boonton Yard. In August, the Morristown & Erie Railway was contracted to carry out the equipment move.
The rescue required operating over the former Erie Dundee spur, which is the NY&GL’s mile-long branch through Garfield and Passaic. This branch is most notable for its right-of-way which runs down the center of Monroe Street in Garfield. The line has not seen any traffic in more than five years and has been minimally maintained. URHS volunteers spent several days clearing the overgrown portions of the line in addition to making the necessary mechanical repairs to move 3372.
On the day of the move, Morristown & Erie dispatched both of their Alco C-424s, 18 and 19, to bookend the U34CH for the return trip to Boonton. The M&E has trackage rights on NJ Transit’s Morris & Essex Line, Main & Bergen County Lines and Montclair-Boonton Line. With pilots from NJT and NY&GL, the locomotives were able to successfully perform the operation which utilized over 60 miles of track.
The route was made up almost entirely of territory which was originally served by the U34CH on Erie Lackawanna with the exception of the “Montclair Connection.” This was a seldom seen freight move for this portion of the line, and a first for the U34CH.
The locomotive was pushed into the yard by the M&E and was positioned behind the shop where volunteers can evaluate it mechanically. The goal of the URHS is to restore 3372 to operation and return it to its original NJDOT/EL blue, red, and silver paint scheme so that it can be used for excursion service in New Jersey.
URHS President Larry Gross said, “This move would not have been possible without the cooperation of all four participating railroads: Morristown & Erie, NJ Transit, New York & Greenwood Lake, and Norfolk Southern. We also have to thank the many supporters who have donated to fund what we have done so far. This restoration project would not be possible without the continuing financial support of the countless U-Boat fans from New Jersey and beyond.”
The URHS intends for this project to be funded primarily by the support of local rail enthusiasts with an interest in the U34CH. Donations can be made to this restoration effort at URHS.org. The URHS intends to host an open house fundraiser during which Boonton Yard and 3372 will be open to the public for tours.
The United Railroad Historical Society of NJ is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization governed by 15 New Jersey-based railroad preservation groups. The mission of the URHS is to build a railroad museum in the state of New Jersey to house its over 60-piece collection and to raise funds to restore and protect the collection until a permanent site can be acquired.
After 15 years of sitting in Passaic she’s home! The last surviving U34CH #3372 has been successfully brought home by the URHS and the Morristown & Erie Railway. Today could not have gone any smoother.
Thank you to the M&E for taking on this task and to all the U-Boat fans who donated. This move was funded 100% by donations from its fans and we’re proud to say it! Next step… make it run!