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SL&RG BEGINS CONSTRUCTION ON ALAMOSA STEAM SHOP
Posted Sunday, November 30 2008 at 1702 h MST
Last winter, the San Luis & Rio Grande announced plans for a 150x175 ft., four track shop and office complex in downtown Alamosa. Like many businesses lately, the SL&RG has reportedly decided to postpone such a large capital expenditure until economic conditions improve. However, steam engines are maintenance-intensive machines, and as such, some sort of shop was still needed.
In mid-November, the SL&RG broke ground on a single track shop between the legs of the wye. The building will be a simple pole building, but should definitely provide better working conditions for the steam crew than the tent under which they worked last winter. Earl Knoob posted the news and a few pictures on NGDF in [this thread].
C&S 9 MOVED TO PALISADE, CO
Posted Saturday, November 29 2008 at 2322 h MST
As you'll recall, the CHS's deal with Breckenridge requires them to swap an operational locomotive for the 111, which was removed from the town three years ago and taken to Uhrich Locomotive Works in Strasburg, CO. It's still there, rebuilding underway, with the intention to use it on the Loop when complete. That pretty much meant that C&S 2-6-0 #9, worn out again after a season on the Loop, would be the engine sent to Breckenridge. The only problem was that the engine was still sitting in the Silver Plume yard awaiting repairs as of this summer.
The RFP for this work was posted back in late June, but has now been deleted from the State of Colorado's website. The short version is basically #9 needed another complete running gear overhaul and some boiler work, the job needed to be done in 160 days, and the rumored price tag was in the ballpark of $250k. There's no word on what terms the final signed contract contained, but Breckenridge is expecting a locomotive by May 2009, so 160 days can't be that far off.
The contract was apparently let to John Braun's Mammoth Locomotive Works in Palisade, CO. My understanding is that John Braun was responsible for building 12's current boiler (long before its Loop career) and contracted with the Railstar for some time on the current Loop operation. He'll be putting #9 back together and getting her in shape for extremely limited, reduced pressure operation in Breckenridge. (Right now, I've heard either very reduced boiler pressure or compressed air, not sure which it will be.) #9 was moved out there in mid-October by truck.
Matt Darling of Grand Junction sent me a few photos of #9 in Palisade several weeks back, and I finally managed to scrape together some details and get everything posted. Matt's images can be found [here].
If anyone has more substantiated details on the what, why, and how much on this contract, please let me know. There's a lot of pieced-together bits in the above text, largely because information about this has not been particularly forthcoming from the CHS. - NDHolmes
CRRM "GOOSEFEST" TRIP REPORT POSTED
Posted Saturday, November 29 2008 at 2223 h MST
Today was the start of the Colorado Railroad Museum's two day "Goosefest" event, marking the return of all three RGS motors (aka the Galloping Geese) to operation following several years of rebuilding. RGS 2, 6, and 7 were all hauling passengers and making laps on the Museum's short track loop, and plenty of folks turned out for the experience.
In an unusual display of speed and efficiency (something unseen yet this year around here), I actually managed to get photos from an event processed and posted within, oh say, a year of it happening. Actually within twelve hours this time. Photos from Saturday's Goose operations are posted in a new trip report [here].
Also, I'd personally like to thank the museum personnel and volunteers who made this happen. Without their efforts, the three would still be sitting as static exhibits, or tucked away somewhere. Who would have thought that, 77 years after the first one was built, six of the seven RGS motors would still be around, five would be operational, and the seventh (RGS 1, scrapped by the railroad in 1933) would have a full-size, operational replica built.
For those wanting to see RGS 2, 6, and 7 in person, head on up to Golden. Goosefest continues at the Colorado Railroad Museum tomorrow - Sunday, 30-Nov-2008. - NDHolmes
CRRM GOOSE FEST THIS WEEKEND
Posted Tuesday, November 25 2008 at 1112 h MST
This coming Saturday and Sunday, the Colorado Railroad Museum will roll out its collection of RGS "Galloping Geese" - motors 2, 6, and 7. All three are back in running condition (and I can't even remember when that was last the case), and will be carrying passengers around the Museum's loop on the 29th and 30th. So, after you've had your fill of family, food, and football for Thanksgiving, head on over to Golden for an extra helping of Goose. - NDHolmes
C&TS HOSTS NEW 3-FOOT DMU RAILCAR TEST
Posted Wednesday, November 12 2008 at 1318 h MST
This past weekend (Nov 8-9), the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic hosted a test run of Edwards Rail Car Company's latest creation - a 3-foot gauge diesel-hydraulic passenger car. The car is the first of several to be built for Andean Railways Corp. to haul tourists along the narrow gauge route leading to Aguas Calientes, the jumping off point to Peru's Machu Picchu ruins.
Currently, Ferrocarril Transandino S.A. holds a 30-year concession (granted in 1999) from the Peruvian government on the route, and until recently, their sister company PeruRail S.A. has been the exclusive operator of passenger services to Machu Picchu. However, within the last two years, the Peruvian government has forced FTSA to allow open access to competitors on the route. At least two competitors have emerged - the aforementioned Andean Railways Corp, and Inca Rail.
(As if the railcar tests weren't enough of a local connection, it turns out that Iowa Pacific Holdings - the parent company of the San Luis & Rio Grande - is also a partner in Andean Railways.)
The new railcar is sixty feet long was built by Edwards in Montgomery, AL. The unit, weighing in at 32 tons, is powered by a pair of Cummins 160hp diesel engines. Power is transmitted to three hydraulic motors - one main motor on each truck connected via chain to the inboard axle, and an emergency backup on the front-most axle. The 60 passenger car can make 30 mph on level track, and sustain 25 mph on a 3.2% grade. In addition, it's a true DMU, capable of multiple unit operation with four of its peers.
Steve Torrico, President of Edwards (and whom many of you will remember as Railstar's superintendent at the Georgetown Loop), was along for the trial runs, and has posted photos of the new car and its test trips on [this RyPN thread].
2009 NATIONAL NARROW GAUGE CONVENTION IN COLO SPRGS
Posted Friday, November 7 2008 at 0852 h MST
The site of the 29th National Narrow Gauge Convention has been announced - Colorado Springs! (Perhaps this is just exciting since, well, I live here...) The event will take place September 16-19, 2009, at the COS Doubletree, and will cater to both modelers and those interested only in the real thing. Details on the event can be found on the [official website]. - NDHolmes
NEW TRIP REPORT - D&S FALL PHOTO SPECIAL
Posted Tuesday, November 4 2008 at 0810 h MST
In an effort to clear some of the backlog of content that's been building up, waiting to be posted, I've managed to finish another trip report. This one covers the Durango & Silverton's annual Fall Photographers Special, held September 27-28, 2008. While this year was cursed with a significant amount of cloud cover and drizzling rain, there were still some neat shots to be had (some made possible by the diffuse light). For those interested in seeing the results, the new trip report is [here]. - NDHolmes
SLRG ANNOUNCES WINTER LA VETA PASS RUNS
Posted Monday, November 3 2008 at 1629 h MST
The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad (the passenger operation of the San Luis & Rio Grande) has announced that they'll be running a diesel-powered winter train from Alamosa to La Veta on weekends, known as the "Winter Wonderland Express". The train will depart Alamosa at 0900h on Saturdays and Sundays, lay over in La Veta for an hour for lunch, and then return to Alamosa by 1645h. Cost for a dome ticket (and trust me, that's the way to go) is $58. Details can be found on their website [here].
But wait, there's more... The SLRG/RGSR is offering significant savings on multi-ticket purchases for dome car seats on their new winter service for trains between 1-Nov-2008 and 15-Jan-2008. Once you purchase one full fare dome ticket, you get the second at 50% off, the third at 75% off, and the fourth one free. (If you need more than that, you'll have to buy another full fare ticket, and the same deal repeats.) Details on the offer are [here]. - NDHolmes
C&TS RIDERSHIP UP IN 2008
Posted Monday, November 3 2008 at 1557 h MST
In absolute terms, the Cumbres & Toltec had a 3.6% ridership growth in 2008's tough summer tourist season. With massive price increases in gas and lodging this summer, even breaking even with last season would be remarkable. Having an increase suggests that the railroad's upgraded service offerings and marketing efforts are paying off. In total, the railroad carried 44744 passengers in 2008, as compared to 43209 in 2007 and 39,772 in 2006.
There's a catch, though. This year the railroad ran one week longer than in the previous season (149 days in 2008 vs. 142 in 2007). That works out to 304.3 passengers/day in 2007 versus only 300.3 in 2008. Still, considering that ridership numbers were actually down in early October (-3.2% as of 12 Oct 2008), the extra week looks like it helped significantly.
Tim Tennant's press release can be found on the Friends site [here]. - NDHolmes
D&RGW 463 TO CHAMA FOR REBUILD
Posted Sunday, November 2 2008 at 1541 h MST
As has been rumored for months, D&RGW K-27 #463 will be the next engine that the the Cumbres & Toltec shop forces rebuild. 463 last ran back at the end of the 2002 season, and after that she was sidelined on account of her flue time running out. On Wednesday, 22-Oct-2008, 463 (sans tender) was pulled from storage in Antonito and moved to Chama behind 484 and four passenger cars (carried for braking power). Jay Wimer took a few pictures of the move, and has them posted over at the Goat on these threads: #1, #2, and #3.
In order to be placed back in service, the engine needs a major rebuilding. Like all of the K-36s restored to service before it, it will need to have full FRA Part 230 compliance work done, which means tearing the whole boiler apart, ultrasound thickness evaluation, Form 4 boiler calculations, etc. Also, rumor has it that significant firebox and smokebox work need to be done, and it will need a right side connecting rod, as the old one broke back in September of 2002. It is not expected to be completed before at least the 2010 season.
Update (11/3 - 2142h): Roger Hogan also has posted a number of photos of 463's move to Chama. You can find them here: [Sublette to Cumbres] and [Cumbres to Chama] - NDHolmes
NEW TRIP REPORT - QJs FOR FLOOD RELIEF
Posted Sunday, November 2 2008 at 1522 h MST
Sorry things have been so quiet around here lately - I've been on the road a good chunk of the time, and working my proverbial butt off most of the rest. While I know many of you won't believe it, I give you actual new content - a new trip report about a week on my other favorite railroad, Iowa Interstate. Included is everything from the day-to-day operations to the Chinese QJ steam specials they ran two weeks ago to raise money in support of the Salvation Army. You can find the new trip report [here]. - NDHolmes
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