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NickD
NickD MegaDork
4/1/24 12:52 p.m.

Heading back north out of Holland Patent, passing Wood Road.

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
4/1/24 12:55 p.m.

Heading south, crossing Route 365 at Prospect. Note the stone whistle post for a grade crossing, despite there being no grade crossing here. I tried doing some digging in Taibi's book to figure out what that was about, but didn't find anything in a quick look. My guess is that either Prospect Depot Road, which I'm on, and Taylor Road, which continues kitty-corner across the tracks were once connected at track level, or Route 365 was once a grade crossing and then was dug down under.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
4/1/24 12:56 p.m.

Heading south towards Wood Road.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
4/1/24 1:25 p.m.

The #3573 climbing Remsen Hill just north of Route 365, which is a long ~1.5% grade that ends just north of here. Basically, the entire Adirondack Division from Utica to Tupper Lake is an uphill grade, and even when it went to Montreal, the graded didn't break until Owlshead. Remsen Hill and Big Moose Hill are two of the most grueling parts of the line though. In the background to the left is Prospect Depot Road, so named because half of the old Prospect Depot is on it. Huh? The depot itself was actually on the other side of 365 (towards me) originally and after it stopped seeing use, it was cut in half and part of it moved to the other side of the road to be a garage at a residence, while the other half was demolished. It's always amused me how back in the day, structures were just moved all over the place like it was nothing.

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
4/1/24 1:30 p.m.

The #2456 laying over at Remsen Depot.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
4/1/24 1:36 p.m.

I then skipped south to catch the deadhead move from Holland Patent to Utica making it's way south over the Erie Canal.

And the #3573 in tow.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
4/1/24 4:27 p.m.

The big eclipse is next week and I'm riding the Adirondack's trip to Old Forge for that. I'm betting, they'll probably use the #3573 and two of MA&N's C425s (seems like #2453 and #2456 go over there a lot) unless they de-winterize the #2400 and at least one of the RS-18u twins. The trip is completely sold out, and I'm betting Adirondack wished they had charged more than $39 because they probably still would have sold out at $79, and they'll likely be using every piece of passenger equipment and need the horsepower, as well as not wanting to risk some sort of power failure or a stall on a hill and causing people to miss out.

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
4/1/24 4:39 p.m.

As it's April Fool's Day, there were some jokes in the rail preservation industry. Some of them were pretty meh, but Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington had a fairly amusing one. Currently they are planning to import some 2-foot gauge hopper cars from South Africa for use in MoW service. That part is not a joke, it's actually happening. In the US, 2-foot gauge equipment is pretty rare, but overseas it's more common, and so they found it easier and cheaper to buy existing hoppers from South Africa, ship them to the US and set them up for use with their equipment. So then, today they tacked this on:

The WW&F Railway Museum, fresh off its announcement that it is importing two ballast hoppers from South Africa, disclosed today that a locomotive also will be making the journey to Alna, Maine. South African Class NG G13 2-6-2+2-6-2 “Garratt” locomotive NG79 has been purchased, and will be transported to the museum shops at Sheepscot for a full operational rebuild.

Railway Superintendent and CMO Jason Lamontagne exclaimed: “This is an opportunity to boldly showcase the worldwide pinnacle of two foot railway design here in the United States. A Garratt will easily climb our 4% mountain grade, allowing further expansion of our passenger and freight services.” Lamontagne added, “Plus, we really don’t have any stuff to do, so what’s yet another locomotive restoration project.”

 

The "We don't really have anything to do" part is where the joke really started to fall apart, since they have a lot of irons in the fire, and seem to be makiong solid progress on all of them. Still, a funny concept, and I think there is a privately-owned 24"-gauge Garratt somewhere in the US already.

rslifkin
rslifkin PowerDork
4/2/24 9:37 a.m.

I haven't seen any info on how bad the damage is, but it sounds like LA&L had a fire on 428 (a C425) last night. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
4/2/24 10:13 a.m.

In reply to rslifkin :

Ooof, that's a bummer. If the damage is more than minor, I can't see them fixing it, considering they're saying they're dumping all the Alcos in the next year or two for green power. They've been on a scrapping spree lately, and they've been selling off their parts stash as well. With them just taking 70 miles of track out of service on the WNY&P as well, my guess is they'll just park the #428 and move something over from WNY&P or the Bath & Hammondsport. Guess I should be glad I caught it last November, even if it was unfortunately running long hood forward.

rslifkin
rslifkin PowerDork
4/2/24 10:59 a.m.

In reply to NickD :

Agreed, I don't expect it'll get fixed.  They're not exactly power short, although I don't know if all the Alcos are going away or they just won't be primary road power anymore, as the stuff I've seen mentioned says 6 new locomotives and they've got a lot more than that in the 4 axle Alco fleet.  At a minimum I'm hoping 420 finds a good home, being one of the last ex-LIRR C420s out there. They've definitely scrapped a bunch, but it seems like a lot of that has been units that were either parts sources, or that were in the "maybe we'll fix this up and run it if we needed it someday" camp, not units that were in usable condition. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
4/2/24 12:19 p.m.

In reply to rslifkin :

Six locomotives honestly seems borderline overkill for what I saw at the LA&L when I visited. My guess is, it'll replace everything at the LA&L, especially with the way the president worded the announcement. It sounds like it's to make Rochester happy. Whatever's left will probably get shuffled over to WNY&P or B&H, probably placed in storage and then eventually sold off or scrapped, kinda like what WNY&P did with the big 6-axle MLWs. They got parked for the AC6000CWs, sat for four or five years and then were disposed of.

I'm also not sure if this program is like what's going on with some of the other green upgrade grants. Out at Napa Valley, part of the program was that they units were basically traded in on the new power, at a 3-for-1 rate, and then they had to be rendered inoperable. They cannot be put back in service unless they are upgraded to Tier-4 specs. I know that was part of California's stipulations, I'm not sure if New York is subscribing to that as well, but it seems like New York does everything California does just a year or two later (I'll leave that at that), so it wouldn't surprise me. The details have been oddly scant.

It would be nice to see the #420 survive. I think there's one other LIRR C420 out there, and I think that one is actually closer to LIRR spec (still has the passenger gearing and the steam generator) but it's in worse shape. I'd really like to see the #425 escape, and be left intact, since that's the last surviving New Haven C425, and those were about the very last new diesels on the New Haven (I think the U25Bs were ordered concurrently but showed up a little later.) I also worry for the C430s, since C430s were very rare and among the last Alcos built. In fact, some of the C430s were sold after Alco shut down.

The problem is, so many museums have limited space and funds, and are often running out of both, and it's unreasonable to expect Genesee Valley Transportation to save every last Alco facing their end. I wouldn't mind Adirondack getting one of the C430s (after all, the C430s were tested against the U30B and the GP40 by the NYC on Big Moose Hill on the Adirondack Division) but I'm pretty sure they aren't looking at buying any motive power any time soon.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
4/2/24 12:45 p.m.

I got similarly worried over a recent announcement from the Catskill Mountain Railroad. They announced that they got $4.4 million in grants which would allow construction of an engine house, a new passenger terminal, a track extension and "$2.3 million for a clean diesel upgrade to the railroad’s present locomotive." Their present locomotive is an ex-Illinois Terminal/GM&O/Green Mountain Alco RS-1, #401, still running the original 539T. My first thought was that they were going to take an operational Alco RS-1, not exactly a common machine any more, and bastardize it into some sort of green locomotive.

The funding was to help achieve a number of requirements that were part of the request for proposals that the county wanted to see the railroad accomplish as part of the 5-year operating permit they received from Ulster Countly. The Catskill Mountain Railroad has had a contentious relationship with Ulster County, to put it mildly, with the county, at various times, withholding FEMA funds to rebuild flood-damaged trackage and bridges, evicting them from their "illegally-constructed yard" that dated back to the 1890s, tearing up 11 of the most scenic miles of trackage to construct a bike trail instead, fear-mongering with the Kingston population that the railroad was going to move a passenger car into the middle of Kingston and sand-blast off all the lead paint, and illegally parking a city dump truck on the tracks to keep the railroad from operating. So I understood if CMRR had to do it to make the County happy, but it made me sad to see an original RS-1 altered.

Well, the good news is that the #401 is safe. They've been cutting the diesel fuel with some biodiesel and have said that over the next year they are going to try adding more biodiesel to the mixture, and they've also installed a pre-heater on the #401 to eliminate the excess smoke on startup. The clean rebuild will instead be performed on their other RS-1, #401, which has not run since the mid-1980s on account of a cracked block, and has since had a number of engine parts pirated off of it to keep the #401 running. So they'll have a "green" RS-1, and a greener-than-stock RS-1.

As for the additional parts of the grant, Catskill Mountain Railroad currently operates a five-mile route based out of Kingston, NY and that run will be extended with the construction of the new Basin Road Rail Terminal, which will bring the railroad to the trailhead of the Ashokan Rail Trail (the start of where the rails were yanked up by Ulster County). The terminal will include a station and parking lot and will be built thanks to a $667,000 grant. The railroad will also build a new engine house and connecting track as a result of a $1.5 million grant, giving them a place to store and work on equipment, since they lost the Cornell Street Yard.

The irony is, after all the awful treatment that Ulster County has given the CMRR, it was voted as the best attraction of the county by residents last year. I'm sure some county executives felt pretty low having to present that award last year.

rslifkin
rslifkin PowerDork
4/2/24 1:12 p.m.

In reply to NickD :

I haven't seen any mention of whether there are stipulations attached to the grant for what to do with the old power, just that it's a grant that will cover 70% of the cost for 6 new engines.  But while 6 new locomotives might cover the needs of LA&L, that doesn't account for whatever they need on the B&H, OMID, and WNYP (I don't think the 6 axle GEs cover all of their needs, they still have some 4 axle Alcos running last I knew).  So unless they're going to fund more purchases, I don't see how they can dump all of the Alcos with this one. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
4/2/24 1:21 p.m.

In reply to rslifkin :

Yeah, I believe this is strictly for the LA&L itself, not any of the subsidiaries. Like I said, I imagine what's left will go over to their subsidiaries for the time being. I don't think the B&H is really that active (spent years completely idled and currently only has one or two customers and seems to be a "Runs-when-needed" operation), and the OMID seems pretty set for power. The WNY&P has the big AC6000CWs to handle the big road trains, and the 4-axle Alcos there are only used on the local stuff. I imagine the closing of the line between Jamestown, NY, and Saegertown, PA will reduce that workload too. And from what I hear, pretty much all industry in Oil City is drying up these days, which could further see the shuttering of the Saegertown/Meadville-Oil City segment. As it is, they already have shrunk that segment late last year, when the sole remaining industry on the other side of the Allegheny River closed and they abandoned the cool ex-Pennsy "WYE" bridge

Duke
Duke MegaDork
4/2/24 3:15 p.m.

Nick, you're probably familiar with this already, but I just found out that the husband of a friend of ours maintains a world database of steam locomotives.

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
4/2/24 3:17 p.m.

In reply to Duke :

Oh, I use that site quite a bit. Very cool!

NickD
NickD MegaDork
4/2/24 3:38 p.m.

Last week, the Durango & Silverton ran their final coal-powered train, ending 143 years of tradition. The #481 was the last coal-fired locomotive remaining on the D&SNG and while there had been plans to leave it coal-fired and just run it for special events, management realized that maintaining a separate source of fuel and ashpits and keeping fireman trained for a single locomotive to be used occasionally just didn't make much sense. So they announced last year that #481 would also be converted to an oil-burner, to much wailing and wringing of hands by railfans. The last run of a coal-fired engine was a bit of a moving target but eventually it happened on the 23rd of March for one simple reason: they used up the last of the coal that they had remaining.

It's sad to see that tradition end, but I get the reasons: it's cheaper, easier to handle, requires less dedicated facilities, and after that big wildfire, it's safer. I'd rather have oil-fired steam engines than no steam engines at all. But, man, you read the comments from some railfans (some photographers were having to turn off Facebook comments because of the sheer vitriol) and Durango & Silverton is dead to them and they'll never go there, etc. etc. etc.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
4/3/24 12:57 p.m.

Denver & Rio Grande Western K-37 #491 arrives at La Jara, Colorado on the Antonito Branch in October of 1960. Look at the rails in the foreground, and you'll notice that this was dual-gauge territory, and indeed, that narrow-gauge Mikado is towing standard-gauge refrigerated boxcars. It's not quite as obvious as when the East Broad Top would haul standard-gauge cars on their tracks with swapped trucks, because the K-37s were fairly large for a 3-foot gauge engine. That's largely because the K-37s were originally built as standard-gauge Consolidations that were then rebuilt into narrow-gauge Mikados by the D&RGW . The only real giveaway that the locomotive and cars are of two different gauges is that the cab of the locomotive is lower than the roof of the cars. 

Handling the two different gauge cars was done with the use of an idler car. Since the narrow-gauge stuff had smaller couplers and the locomotive rode offset on the dual-gauge tracks, they had standard-gauge flatcars with a centered standard-gauge coupler and draft gear on one end and an offset narrow-gauge coupler and draft gear on the other end. This allowed standard-gauge cars to be hauled around behind narrow-gauge locomotives and vice versa.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
4/3/24 1:42 p.m.

The #491 rolling out of Alamosa yard with that same train, showing the idler car between the #491's tender and the first card. Also, pretty neat to see the head-end brakeman up in the doghouse on the tender. And look at those dual-gauge switches!

NickD
NickD MegaDork
4/3/24 2:32 p.m.

D&RGW Alco S-2 #110 at Alamosa Yard. The #110 was equipped with twin couplers, so it could move cars around without needing an idler car on either end. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
4/3/24 2:43 p.m.

The #491 and GP7 #5102 at Alamosa Yard. It's funny how on the standard-gauge side, D&RGW dieselized early and had retired everything, and scrapped all but one Consolidation, by '56, but then continued operating standard-gauge steam until 1981 on the Durango-Silverton line (the Chama-Antonito line was sold in '68, but D&RGW operated the Silverton line until 1981)

NickD
NickD MegaDork
4/3/24 3:14 p.m.

D&RGW #491 rolls along in three-rail territory with it's train of standard-gauge cars. The 44"-drivered K-28s, K-36s and K-37s were fine in dual-gauge trackage but the D&RGW tried to avoid assigning the 40"-drivered K-27s to these areas. The counterweights and crankpins on all of the Mikados were mounted outside the frame, with the drive wheels inboard of the frames, and this placed the counterweights on one side directly over the outer rail for the standard-gauge lines. On the K-28s, K-36s and K-37s, there were inches of clearance, but on a K-27 with brand-new tires, the counterweights just barely cleared the outer rail. Once the wheels had worn in and maybe been turned once or twice, that counterweight would then clip the top of the rails.

The 490-series K-37s always had a bit of a mixed reputation, in their original lives and the few that have run in the modern day operations, but the #491 was considered one of the best of the bunch, largely because it was the only D&RGW narrow gauge engine fitted with thermic syphons, which made it a very easy-steaming engines. The common problems associated with K-37s were, they were rough on the track largely because of a poorly-designed trailing trucks, they had lots of mechanical problem with springs and frames, some tenders would easily derail, especially when water was low and when backing up and re-railing the tenders was difficult due to the regauged standard-gauge trucks preventing the placement of re-railing frogs, the Chambers throttles had seats that were prone to wearing and made them basically an on-off switch, and they had a continuous problem with broken staybolts. The bottom line was D&RGW's Burnham shops was no Baldwin.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
4/4/24 11:12 a.m.

D&RGW K-37 #492 heads north across the intersection of 14th and Main in Durango on the morning of March 19, 1963 with a work train for the Silverton Branch. This was a historic first; the first time in the memory of any of the crew that anything heavier than a K-28 had run on that branch. The Silverton Branch mainly saw it's revenues from passenger service and had a couple of fairly light bridges, so the K-36s and K-37s mostly were assigned elsewhere, like the Antonito or Farmington Branches or the San Juan Extension, and saved the remaining K-27s and K-28s for the Silverton Branch. According to the photographer, the #492 moved a load of ties up to a worksite at Hermosa and then attempted to reach Rockwood, where they could have wyed a shortened version of the train but icy conditions on the tracks prevented that and they eventually ran the locomotive backward to pull the train into Durango at the end of the day.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
4/4/24 11:41 a.m.

The #492 on the Farmington Branch in '63. K-37s and the Farmington Branch were of a kindred spirit, since both had been built standard gauge and then converted to narrow gauge. Yes, the Farmington Branch is a rare example of a standard gauge line being rebuilt to narrow gauge. At the time the line from Farmington to Durango was built, in 1905, D&RGW was threatening to convert the entire San Juan Extension to standard gauge, mostly to dissuade the SP and ATSF from encroaching in their territory.  The presence, or at least the threat of the presence of a standard gauge railway made such expansions less lucrative and SP and ATSF backed off. In 1923, when the threat of incursion was gone and it was clear that the San Juan Extension would never join the core standard gauge network, odd disconnected segment of narrow gauge line was instead rebuilt to join the rest of the narrow gauge network. Never terribly profitable through it's early life, it ended up revitalizing the whole narrow gauge network in the '50s when oil was discovered near Farmington. Equipment and pipe needed to be moved to Farmington and the roads in the area weren't built to the standard needed to move heavy equipment, so the Farmington Branch became very busy.  By the mid-1960s, this too had ended, and the last freight moved over the line in August of 1968. By 1971, the entire line from Chama to Durango to Farmington had been removed by the scrappers.

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