Southern Pacific #18 update – June and July 2019

The beginning of June saw the last of the components arrive in Durango to facilitate repairs to the #18. With all the parts on hand – pistons, rods, ring material, and cylinder head – the D&SNG machine shop got to work and started “making chips”. The process started with machining the raw cast pistons, next step was fitting the piston rods to the pistons; this process consists of machining the tapers to have a slight interference so when heated they seat together tight. Once the pistons and rods were together rings were machined of iron. The rings are machined in a relaxed position and gaped so they can both be opened up to fit into the ring grooves, and so when compressed they fit tight to the cylinder bore and have proper ring groove clearance. With all that completed the most important part of the job is fitting the taper to the crosshead itself so when driven tight together the pistons have the proper clearance to both the front and back cylinder heads. All this accomplished, along with some final assembly, and #18 is back in business.

After an initial yard steam test, #18 pulled 3 cars to Rockwood on June 28th and rearranged equipment in the Rockwood yard. #18 performed great on its test run and was caught by Bob Whitney in this short video. Later on the 4th of July #18 spent the day switching the Durango yard, very appropriate for an engine that normally lives in Independence!

Thanks D&SNG for the cool helicopter shots of our #18 at Rockwood!

Now that #18 is back together the D&SNG has announced that #18 will pull and invitation only Carson Colorado Charter on August 23rd, a round trip Silverton excursion on August 24th, and will head a photo train with Pete Lerro Productions on August 25-26th. Additionally #18 will be out and about occasionally for various other tasks and some short trips prior to her eventual return to California in September. Thanks for all the support and be sure to buys those tickets for upcoming trips and send in those donations, they are greatly appreciated!

Southern Pacific #18 update – May 2019

Its been a busy month so apologies for the late update on the #18’s repairs. But without further delay….

Piston pattern and new castings

The process to create the new pistons started with a drawing on Autocad. Once drawn and dimensions checked against the original, the drawing was forwarded to Horizon metals in Utah, they handle most all of the D&SNG patterns and castings, where they created a pattern and the subsequent castings. The new pieces were received back about 4 weeks later and are currently in the machining process with piston rings being made.

As for the piston rods, they were sent, along with both cross heads, to Stathi Papas in Antonito, CO. Since it was found there was a slight bend in the right piston rod due to the piston damage it needed remade, the left was made new due to the difficulties associated with removing the old piston off of the rod, basically it was easier to just make two rather than spend the time saving the one old one. As this is written one rod is completed with the second in progress. Finally the cylinder head was manufactured by Aztec Machine, they regularly work with the D&SNG on various projects.

So to sum it up, machine work is underway and within the next couple weeks we hope to reassemble everything. Once completed, the engine will once again perform duties on work trains to break it in. Dates for the cancelled trips will be announce in the near future once all repairs are completed, so stay tuned, and as always THANK YOU for you support!