The Historic Durango Train's Blog Series Conserving a National Treasure

On August 20, 2020, Locomotive #107, a 1,200 horsepower diesel locomotive, built by Alco- Montreal Locomotive Works in 1969, arrived at its new home in Durango after its lengthy journey from Skagway, Alaska. Part of a class of ten built for the WP&YR between 1969 and 1972, the “101’s” as they are commonly known, have operated most of their existence on the WP&YR; #101 and #107 both operated in Colombia between 1992 and 1999 before returning to the Klondike.
#107 is the first of four of the DL535 class Alco locomotives that were purchased by the D&SNGRR in February 2020. The second locomotive, #101, will be in Durango later in September.

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Below is locomotive No. 1202, one of two diesel engines in the final stages of being repowered by Motive Power and Equipment Solutions.  The other diesel will be No. 1201. Currently, we are awaiting completion of the traction motors after which they can be fitted to the truck assemblies and installed.  Currently, these two diesel locomotives are scheduled to arrive in Durango later this fall.

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The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad touches the senses in different ways. Some ride because of the spectacular scenery deep within the rugged San Juan Mountains, and for the breathtaking views along the Animas River. Others ride because of the steam locomotives that lead passengers on their journey through time, bringing with it its own rhythm and song that resonates off the mountains. Maintaining these steam giants is an exhaustive task handled by the D&SNG roundhouse staff. The challenge of keeping a fleet of steam engines in top shape mounts with each passing year as unique materials, special lubricants, and obsolete parts all present challenges to keeping them going strong.

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The process of converting Locomotive 493 from coal-fired to oil-burning continues. Excellent progress is being made with a great deal of work beginning to come together.   Highlights include finishing up portions of the valve motion, rebuilding the rear tender end beam,  laying out of the shoe and wedge, finishing UT numbers on the boiler, doing flush patch work on the firebox, machining driver boxes, and finishing up the spring rigging and reinstallation of various other parts.  Cab steel work is now complete as is the front tender end beam.

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As discussed in previous posts, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad’s Locomotive #493 is in the process of being converted from coal-fired to oil-burning at the Durango depot in Durango, Colorado. But the actual mechanical work to restore and convert this locomotive to oil fire is only one aspect of being able to successfully operate the #493 on the D&SNG line.  Crew training, fueling logistics and estimating fuel consumption are also key elements in the transition from coal to oil. For this reason, the D&S railroad has leased a historic oil-burning locomotive, the Southern Pacific 18, a T44 16/20 68 locomotive, from Eastern California Museum in Inyo County, California.

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