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!

Southern Pacific #18 update – April 2019

April started well for #18 when it received its first 31 service day FRA inspection. A couple days later on the 4th it successfully operated a work train. On April 9th #18 departed Durango with over 100 paying passengers, including 15 students from Independence High School who had traveled to Colorado to ride behind #18. As #18 walked up the steep 2.5%, grade 15 miles out from Durango, with 4 full coaches in tow, a series of bangs was heard. Engineer Bill Colley quickly stopped #18 and upon inspection it was found that #18 had shattered its right piston and cylinder head. #18 was subsequently pushed back to Pinkerton siding by diesel #11 and set out for the night. #11 hauled the train full of passenger back to Durango. The following day, #18’s piston rod and the last bit of shattered piston were removed and D&SNG locomotive #482 hauled our lame #18 back to Durango.

The cause of the failure, although difficult to determine with absolute certainty, appears to have been caused by either ring or piston failure in which a piece broke loose and lodged in one of the port openings in the cylinder bore. The piston had previously been repaired by the SP. Repairs will likely consist of new rings, pistons, and piston rods on both sides of the locomotive to assure there is no future chance of failure for the same reasons on the left side.

Moving ahead, the D&SNG and CCR are both committed to making all of the necessary repairs in a proper manner so that #18 will again operate on the D&SNG prior to its return to California later in the year. The timing of this is less than ideal in that the D&SNG is currently busy preparing its own fleet of locomotives for the upcoming season. To keep from putting any undue burden on the D&SNG mechanical staff charged with performing the repairs on #18, the May 18th and 19th excursion have been postponed until a later date.

Updates on the repair process will be made as they begin to transpire. The D&SNG and CCR apologize for any inconvenience caused due to changes in the #18’s operating schedule. Again, both organizations will be working together to make all the repairs to #18 and have it steaming again in the very near future. In the meantime please keep those donations to the CCR in mind as we move forward and keep #18 going strong!