Last Run of the Cascade Canyon Train and First Run of the Silverton, CO Train for 2018

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    March, 2015
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Last Run of the Cascade Canyon Train and First Run of the Silverton, CO Train for 2018
Posted by Yard Limit on Saturday, May 12, 2018 8:03 AM

May 4, 2018, and the weather couldn't be more perfect for the final run to Cascade Canyon, Colorado.  This train has been led by 476 for most of the season, but today 480 takes the lead.  We catch the train before it departs Durango and then several more times before it leaves Rockwood.  When it made an unscheduled stop at Hermosa to repair a minor pinhole leak in one of the pipes in the cab, we got some good scanner audio.
The next day, 480 leads the first train of 2018 up to Silverton.  Another glorious day and this time we catch it with our drone as it arrives at it's destination.
The 480 series or K-36 class locomotives were ten engines designed for the D&RGW. They were built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1925. The 480s were the last ten narrow-gauge locomotives constructed for the D&RGW. The 480s were used for freight-hauling throughout the D&RGW 3 ft (914 mm) narrow-gauge network. The "36" stands for 36,200 lbf (161.026 kN). of tractive effort. These engines are outside frame Mikados, and all drive wheels have counterbalancing outside of the frame, resulting in the utilitarian look the engines are known for. The engines currently use 6-ET automatic air and the secondary straight air used on regular service equipment. The railroad runs 12-car passenger trains behind these engines; however more cars require the train to be doubleheaded. Despite popular belief that the railroad does not doublehead trains out of Durango because of smoke, the real reason is the weight restriction on the bridge at 15th Street, not allowing more than one K-36 at a time (K-28 class engines however are still doubleheaded from Durango). The engines were delivered with Master Mechanics design smokeboxes for draft, however at some point the D&RGW converted them to Andersson (cyclone) front ends. Water is fed to the boiler by two non-lifting injectors. The 40-square-foot (3.7 m2) grate surface in the firebox is among the largest built for a narrow-gauge locomotive, and is fed by hand firing. Firing is simpler on these engines compared to the K-28s, however the larger surface area requires more fuel. A typical trip uses around 3–5 short tons (2.68–4.46 long tons; 2.72–4.54 t) on the way up to Silverton, and another 1–2 short tons (0.89–1.79 long tons; 0.91–1.81 t) on the return to Durango. Ergonomically, the engines are less comfortable than the others as well, with the crew seats being further back from the backhead, and the engineer having to lean forward constantly to adjust the throttle and use the sanders. The running gear on the locomotives also tend to wear out faster than the ALCO designed K-28s, and the resulting pounding rough ride can take a toll on the engine crew.
D&SNG owns four K-36s: 480, 481, 482, and 486, all of which are operational. The Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad owns engines 483, 484, 487, 488, and 489. Engine 485, unfortunately, fell into the turntable pit in Salida, Colorado in 1955. It was scrapped for parts thereafter, however, some accessories, running and valve gear was salvaged and used on other locomotives.
Equipment used:
Two Panasonic HC-WX970 4K camcorders
DJI Phantom 3 Pro

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