The IRM Steam Department Needs You!

Volunteers can come out as much as they would like or are able to. Whether you can come out once a month, or every Saturday, the Steam Team is happy to have you. No experience required!

There are presently around 40 volunteers, with about 15 of them out on any given Saturday.

The key day for working on the steam locomotives, or on parts for the locomotives, is Saturday from about 9am to 8pm. Some volunteers come at 9, some come in the early afternoon, and some come later and stay late. There are no set hours – come for 3 hours, or 7 hours, or even 10 hours. 

On your first day of volunteering, come to the Steam Department and see Rick or Bill. They will give you the required paperwork (forms for your name, address, whom to contact in an emergency, and an insurance waiver). Come prepared to work with the following:

  • You must have steel-toed shoes (Wal-Mart has a good selection for low prices).
  • Bring old clothes! Work in the Steam Department usually means getting dirty, oily, and greasy.
  • Safety glasses are recommended. If you forget yours, we may have some extras.
  • A good pair of work gloves. Nothing fancy. Most of us use the Menards cloth $1.50 gloves. If you forget, we may have some extra ones.
  • You will be asked to sign an insurance waiver form.
  • You must be an IRM yearly member ($40 for one person, or $65 for a family, which entitles you to come to the museum and ride the trains any time they are operating, with no other admission fees. Membership also gives you a small discount at the museum store.)
  • You can bring your lunch or buy it at the Diner (May- September).

Many of the Steam Department’s volunteers have no mechanical or railroad experience. Some volunteers started out with no idea of how a steam locomotive works. New volunteers will have the opportunity to expand their knowledge of how a steam locomotive operates by working with veteran volunteers. You will have a chance to meet new people with similar interests. All are interested in maintaining and preserving the steam locomotive for future generations.

After a period of time working in the shop, volunteers have the opportunity to become part of the engine crew. A volunteer can become a Student Fireman (after passing the Operating Department’s Rules Test), eventually qualifying to a Fireman. After a few years as a Fireman, a person can become a Student Engineer, and (after passing a test) qualify to become an Engineer.

Any volunteers aged 12-18 must be supervised continuously by their parent or guardian.

Lastly, the Steam Department is in need of experienced machinists. Do you know of any that might want to volunteer? We could use their help.

Become a volunteer. Join the Steam Team and come ready to learn and to get dirty! And above all, have a lot of fun.