WILLIAMS, Ariz. — Grand Canyon Railway and Hotel commemorated two anniversaries on September 16: The first passenger train to arrive from Williams to the Grand Canyon’s south rim on Sept. 17, 1901; and the former Santa Fe branch line’s reopening as the Grand Canyon Railway, 88 years to the day in 1989. Steam locomotive No. 4960 was the star for the special occasion as it led the 15-car excursion train and helper F40 diesel No. 4128 to Grand Canyon National Park.
In preparation for Saturday’s round trip, an issue with the feedwater heater system was addressed in advance. “Something we call ‘peg steam,’” GCRY chief mechanical officer Eric Hadder explained in a previous report [See “Grand Canyon No. 4960 labors through Saturday excursion,” News Wire, Sept. 5, 2023]. “We send a small amount of steam to the feedwater heater tank to preheat the feedwater when there is not any exhaust steam available.
“This steam is set for 2 psi by a regulator. We expect that the regulator has gone bad and will need to be cleaned or replaced.”
Hadder confirmed the regulator’s replacement, resulting in No. 4960 operating very well. The 2-8-2’s final excursion for the railway’s 2023 steam season is scheduled for October 7. While no unusual maintenance will be needed for the last run, Hadder is already putting together a work list for the upcoming offseason. “In addition to the normal annual maintenance, we wish to address the buffer between the locomotive and tender,” he said. “This has been getting progressively loose over the years, and it’s out of adjustment.
“Also, the power reverse is leaking air excessively, and is in need of a rebuild.”
No. 4960 was built in 1923 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works for the former Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. In the late 1950s, it was selected to pull “fan trip” trains on the railroad until the end of the steam excursion program in 1966. Purchased by Grand Canyon Railway in 1989, the locomotive has been in active service since 1996 after undergoing an extensive rebuild and being converted to burn oil. No. 4960 currently burns waste vegetable oil.
For more information, visit the Grand Canyon Railway and Hotel website.