8/10/17 - The bell of the Frisco 1351 locomotive not only shines again from the outside, but rings out from within, as it was originally intended. The Frisco 1351 Project has been a community-wide effort to bring every part of the locomotive back to its original charm.
The bell restoration process began when the 2017 Leadership Collierville class chose to repair the bell as their class project. Every year, Leadership Collierville participants engage in a community project to help enhance the Town of Collierville.
“This year, we were given the opportunity to have a hand in the Town’s restoration project of the Frisco 1351. The Town has a vision that the makeover of the locomotive will be a treasure to the Square and a source of tourism in the future,” said Emily Pilkinton, Executive Director of Leadership Collierville.
In November of 2016, the bell was removed from the Frisco, and brought to David McPhail, owner of 901 Customs - a specialty automotive shop in Town; McPhail agreed to help restore the bell at no cost as his contribution to the Frisco restoration effort. The Leadership Collierville class worked on polishing the bell while McPhail and his team of mechanics carefully took apart the bell’s handle and yoke by hand.
“We did not break anything taking it apart, and used the same rivets and pins to put it back together,” said McPhail. The parts are almost all original, besides the clapper (the piece inside the bell that swings to make the bell ring.) 901 Customs built a clapper using a hitch trailer ball at the base, and made sure the weight and length would match the original part.
“The bell had not been rung in about 50 years,” said McPhail. “We discovered the formula for the bell’s sound, and made it as close to historically accurate as possible.” The bell was restored just in time to be part of the display for the Morton Museum of Collierville History’s latest exhibit Making a Town: Collierville’s Railroad History. Just two days before the exhibit opening, the bell was delivered to the Morton Museum by McPhail himself along with Tim Netherton, Leadership Collierville Board member, and Joe Lee Rape, Collierville Fire Department Lieutenant and graduate of the 2017 Leadership Collierville class.
Moving the bell was no easy task, as it weighs 265 pounds. With three men, a dolly, and a truck, the bell made its way from the automotive shop to a display stand inside the Morton Museum. 901 Customs is currently adding some finishing touches to the bell’s headlamp, including re-wiring. After the headlamp is working again, the piece will join the bell for display. When the Frisco 1351’s restoration is complete, the bell and headlamp will be affixed once again to the locomotive. The Frisco 1351 Project began in early 2016. Since the project began, the asbestos on the train was removed, the caboose was re-painted red, the 1351 number plate was restored, and now the bell has been brought back into working condition.
The Making a Town: Collierville’s Railroad History exhibit will be on display at the Museum until October 20, 2017. To find out more about the Frisco 1351 Project, contact the Museum at firstname.lastname@example.org or 901-457-2650. The Morton Museum is located at 195 Main Street is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10am-4pm.