We had no official on-site work party in May but none the less it was a busy month for us. Much of the work consisted of the pony truck rebuild back in Durango. At first glance we thought that the pony truck was one of better components of the locomotive, after all the wheels had been installed in March 1953. We turned out to be mistaken. Once disassembled, it was obvious that the SP had done nothing more in 1953 than install new wheels. The rest of the components of the truck were completely worn out.
After some general cleaning, the first order of business was machining the journal surfaces. All four surfaces had some rust from sitting exposed to the elements. The front wheel set had no lateral movement between the wheels and the journal boxes, as a result the hub liner on one box had completely worn through. On this set we machined clearance on the wheel hubs and built up the hub liners and machined them accordingly. The final issue with the wheels was how far out of tram they were with the frame. There was almost 1″ difference between wheel centers from side to side. This had resulted in one flange being heavily worn. To remedy this, the journal box jaws were shimmed and machined accordingly until both sides were true to each other and at 90 degrees to the frame. To prolong the life of the worn flange, that axle was moved to the trailing position on the truck.
With the wheels complete, the swing bolster was attended to. All four hangers and pins were worn over 50% through. To save time, we had four new hangers made.The hangers were then fitted with hardened bushings and all new pins. Grease fitting were also installed on all the swing points. The front of the engine should sit at least 1″ higher now. The final repair before reassembly was to have both springs repaired. The top leafs on both were broken, an FRA defect. The springs were sent to Farmington, NM to be repaired by the same company that handles all of the D&SRR locomotive springs.
With all the hard work complete, it was a quick assembly. The completed truck should be headed back to Independence soon.
While all of that work was occuring, Rick Echardt was on-site doing some welding. (Sorry, no photos) He repaired a few worn areas of the frame as well as a few other odds and ends.
Meanwhile, Dave Mull and Rick Cromer – our trucking team – loaded up the drivers and driver boxes for the 1000 mile trip north to the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad in Washington. Other than a broken spring on the trailer, all went well. The wheels went over Montgomery pass and through Mina, NV for the first time since February 16, 1938 when the #18 led the last train south out of Mina. The axle, pin and box work should be complete in about 6-8 weeks. With everything else ready except some final tramming and painting of the frame, our current plan is to have the wheels back under the #18 in September.