D&RGW 278 Restoration

Mammoth Locomotive Restoration of the #278

Mammoth Locomotive restored Locomotive #278 for the National Park Service as part of the Cimarron Train Restoration Project.  The coal tender, boxcar and caboose were removed from the Cimarron Canyon Rail Exhibit in July 2010 for restoration purposes.  The #278 is on the Pratt Truss Bridge and makes an impressive display there.

The #278 was a cosmetic restoration, actually a study in archaeology.  The engine last ran in 1951 and was stored in the weather for 64 years.  All the wood had rotted, everything was rusty, the bolts were all frozen, the tender tank had holes rusted in it, the tender underframe was completely disintegrated, very little held the cab together, and there was asbestos to remediate.

Upon receipt of the engine (Mammoth loaded and hauled it to and from its Cimarron location), it was completely disassembled and assessed.  Everything was sandblasted to remove all of the old lead paint and the remanufacture began.  Mammoth built an entirely new wood tender underframe and reused the existing metal pieces after remediating those pieces.  The tender trucks were made serviceable because the engine needed to roll.  The holes in the tender were patched and everything was painted with two-part epoxy Imron paint.  The lettering was then airbrushed and done by hand to the original specifications in our shop.

The engine needed the running gear repaired, again so it would roll.  It was completely disassembled to fix the frozen valve gear, frozen side rods, frozen crossheads, and everything else that wouldn't move.  Mammoth turned the main journals and recut the crown brasses, fixed a couple of broken shoes and wedges, cleaned up and replaced some rod bearings, cleaned up the crankpins to serviceable surfaces, fixed some broken spring rigging pins, and addressed broken brake rigging issues.  A brand new cab was built from ash using the old cab as the blueprint and a new boiler jacket was made. The asbestos on the boiler and cylinders were remediated, a new cylinder jacket was made, and every piece was cleaned up by sandblasting for new primer and paint.   The engine was then reassembled and the lettering done as it was originally.

The tender was loaded and delivered to its destination.  The engine was also off-loaded. Mammoth has the ability to load and unload pretty much any size engine.  This was a major restoration project considering the engines condition.

Mammoth put in considerable effort to obtain appropriate replacement beams, thus keeping the restoration true to the D&RGW methods and techniques.

The locomotive is now in its place on the Pratt Truss Bridge.

National Register of Historic Places

The locomotive, tender, caboose, and cars have been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

NRIS Reference Number: 09000223
Property Name: Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad Locomotive No. 278 and Tender
County: Montrose  State: Colorado

D&RGW #278, restoration, Mammoth Locomotive Works, NPS, National Park Service Cimarron Canyon trestle, Palisade, National Register of Historic Places, NRIS Reference Number 09000223, NRIS #76000172, Curecanti National Recreation Area, NRA, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, railroad, Denver & Rio Grande, Denver & Rio Grande Western, Rio Grande, derrick car, caboose, boxcar, stock car, box outfit car, tender
National Register of Historic Places Listing Excerpt

The Denver and Rio Grande (D&RG) narrow gauge Locomotive No. 278 and its Tender are currently on static display on the historic D&RG Pratt Truss Bridge. The D&RG Pratt truss bridge is listed on the National Register as D&RG Narrow Gauge Trestle, NRIS #76000172. 1 The D&RG ran through what is now the Curecanti National Recreation Area (NRA) and was a vital influence on the locality. The outdoor rail exhibit at the visitor center and the last remaining Pratt truss bridge of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison both provide an appropriate setting and location for the car, and allow the locomotive to convey its association with the railroad. The locomotive and its tender are one of a number of historic transportation-related resources within Curecanti NRA. (For ease of reading, Denver & Rio Grande, Denver & Rio Grande Western, and Rio Grande are used interchangeably throughout the nomination.)

Download the full, detailed listing here.