D&SNGRR Announces Locomotive No. 493's Return Following Extensive Multi-Year Rebuild, Conversion
Historic 139-Year-Old Railroad to Unveil Fully-Restored Legendary Steam Engine During 2020 Winter Photo Weekend's Night Shoot on Feb. 15; Converted Locomotive Provides Greater Depth, Longer Maintenance Windows, And Additional Flexibility to Fleet
By: Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
"The rebuild, restoration, conversion and return of service of No. 493 represents another important milestone in the ongoing evolution of the D&SNGRR, and further demonstrates this company's unwavering commitment to preserving Colorado's incredible railroading history," said Allen C. Harper, co-founder, chairman and chief executive officer of American Heritage Railways, and head of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. "Considering the state of No. 493's condition at the beginning of this project, the D&SNGRR roundhouse crew had to devote thousands of man hours to the completion of this work, and spend considerable time studying and learning from the mechanical operation and maintenance of Southern Pacific No. 18 during its time on loan here in Durango. The end result, a true marvel of heritage railroad engineering, will be on display during this month's winter photography weekend, with revenue service slated to begin soon thereafter. Finally, the addition of No. 493 to the D&SNGRR fleet gives us seven locomotives in the rotation, and provides the company with much-needed operational depth for greater engine scheduling and maintenance flexibility."
Originally constructed in 1902 as standard-gauge engine No. 1105 by Baldwin Locomotive Works (Baldwin) of Philadelphia, Pa., No. 493 serviced specific narrow-gauge sections, including the Crested Butte, Monarch, and Farmington Branches, of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW) during its heyday. In August of 1928, the locomotive was converted to a narrow-gauge engine by the railroad's Burnham Shops in Denver, Colo.; renumbered as No. 493; and fitted with many new parts, such as new frames and smaller drivers. Measuring 41.1 feet long, 10.4 feet wide, and 13.3 feet high, No. 493 tips the scales at nearly 185,000 pounds, and boasts 37,000 pounds of tractive effort. The first of the larger D&RGW K-class locomotive to be converted into an oil-burning steam engine, No. 493 runs exclusively on recycled oil, and carries a 2,250-gallon tank that enables the locomotive to easily make the 90.8-mile round trip between Durango and Silverton.
"In addition to the extensive restoration time expected for completely rebuilding a deteriorated locomotive and tender which had not operated in over 50 years, No. 493's restoration was unique because of all the additional design, engineering, and fabrication time needed to complete the engine's transformation,"
"Even more time consuming was the months of work devoted to the locomotive's firebox, which necessitated the creation and installation of nearly 600 flexible staybolts. The addition of the flexible staybolts will alleviate one of the historically-
"From both operational and mechanical perspectives, it is important to note there is no tangible difference in the approaches required to service the D&SNGRR's coal-burning steam locomotives and an oil-burning engine such as No. 493," added Babcock. "Naturally, an oil-burning engine will stay cleaner and not require a night watchman, as is the case with our coal-fired engines."
To further diversify its fleet, the D&SNGRR's strategic long-term operational plan calls for the company to convert additional steam locomotives from coal-fired to oil-burning engines in the coming years. The railroad's roundhouse crew has already commenced conversion work on Locomotive No. 473.
D&SNGRR Locomotive No. 493 will make its first official public appearance as an operating engine during the night shoot on Saturday, Feb. 15 during the company's 15th annual winter photography weekend. Tickets to this year's winter photography weekend., Feb. 15-16. are available only by calling the D&SNGRR's reservations hotline at (877) 872-4607. For more information on the event's excursion and shoot schedule, and accompanying ticket costs, please visit http://bit.ly/
Keith R. Pillow, APR. MBA