Southern Pacific #18 under steam – October 2016



Just some of the crew who made it possible. Dave Lustig photo

On October 15th, the #18 was under steam and operating back and forth for the first time in 62 years. It was an exciting and exhausting week to get ready for Saturday (and the clean up after). The locomotive operated extremely well with only some minor issues to speak of. A short video of the first move can be seen here and another of one of our later trips. In addition to the excitement of the locomotive operation we had our annual BBQ fundraiser which was a complete success raising nearly $10,000!!! THANK YOU ALL!! As we all head back to our day jobs we will gather up the photos, videos, and stories and will put together a more in depth post in the coming weeks.

Southern Pacific #18 restoration – September 2016


Our resident “rocket scientist” Scott finishes up bracketing the copper air lines.


Gary and Travis install the eccentric crank


An easy way to get a little more forward valve travel (and a little less reverse) is to move the lifting arm.


Forest works on the whistle rod.


Action all around the #18.


The new front coupler.


New cab floor and seat.


Marking dead centers for valve timing.


Out in the sun one more time.


Cab curtains for those cold days.


All it lacks is a cab number!

The finishing touches! That’s where we are at in the restoration of the #18. We spent three productive days in September basically crossing things off our to-do list one by one. Small things like bracketing plumbing, finishing the electrical, installing the front coupler, finishing the crosshead oilers, installing the seats, cab curtains, awnings and floors, installing the rebuilt safety valves and whistle rod and generally finishing up minor things. Both the installation of the coupler and the seats were firsts for the #18 in the park. The SP had not placed the engine on display with either seats or couplers.

There were some bigger projects as well, most notably installing the eccentrics and rods and setting the valves.

The process of setting the valves is something we assumed would never be done in the park, but since it was, the challenge was to determine how best to move the engine accurately in both directions. After considering a few options we went back to our normal method that involves our winch mounted on the forklift and our panel track. This process has become routine at this point and we can have the #18 completely out into the parking lot in less than 30 minutes. To solve the problem of accurately moving the engine to a given point we double rigged the winch and would stop just short of the point desired and then use a couple of bars and pinch it to its final spot. After a few misses we got really good and by the end of the weekend could roll it over and check and re-check the valves rather quickly. With the timing checked it was found that the left side in both forward and reverse was extremely close to where we wanted and would require no further adjustments. The right side however was as we say “out in left field”. To remedy this we had to gain more valve travel in forward direction and less travel in reverse. This was accomplished by moving the link block lower on the link, this also corresponded with the left side. Once that adjustment was made it was determined the eccentric rod needed lengthening about 1/4″. Without sufficient heat in the park to perform the legthening the rod was brought back to Durango for final adjustments.

Looking ahead to October we have some final painting touch up to do on the engine (the tender will not receive final paint just yet) and a few additional minor adjustments that should take us to the finish line.

As a reminder be sure to buy your BBQ tickets for October 15th.

And finally, the grading permits have been issued for the museum project. The building permit should follow soon and we only lack signing a contract with a contractor. Once that occurs we should have a definite timeline for the building completion and subsequent locomotive move.