After several months of work in the shops in Durango, Colo., Southern Pacific No. 18, otherwise known as the Slim Princess, returned to service at the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad on July 18, pulling a loaded passenger train from Rockwood, Colo., to Cascade Canyon, Colo. On April 9, 2019, the steam engine, leased from the Eastern California Museum, shattered a piston on the way to Rockwood, as it was pulling an excursion train on the D&SNG.
The cause of the failure appears to have been either ring or piston failure in which a piece broke loose and lodged in one of the port openings in the right cylinder bore. Workers fabricated and installed new pistons, rods, rings, and cylinder heads for both sides. After an initial test, SP No. 18 pulled three cars to Rockwood on June 28 and rearranged equipment in the Rockwood yard.
D&SNG’s lease on SP No. 18 expires in September. When asked if the D&SNG plans to use SP No. 18 for the Cascade Canyon run again, Marketing Director Christian Robbins says, “We are committed to Aug. 24, 25, and 26 to run SP No. 18 for passenger trips.” On Aug. 25 and 26, the D&SNG is partnering with Lerro Productions for a photo charter. No. 18 will pull a mixed freight and passenger train for 40 photographers and feature photo locations from the Highline to Silverton, Colo. Robbins didn’t reveal what the Aug. 24 date will be for.
Because of the fire danger caused by coal-burning steam locomotives, D&SNG leased the oil burner from the Eastern California Museum, operators of the Colorado & Carson Railway of Independence, Calif., to learn the mechanics and operation of oil-burning locomotives. D&SNG is converting former Denver & Rio Grande Western 2-8-2 K-37 No. 493 from coal to oil to use in times of high fire danger along its 45.4-mile route from Durango to Silverton.