Delta Municipal Light & Power – Part I

Continuing on our roadtrip last month, leaving Salt Lake City and heading towards Denver, we were sort of forced to take the scenic route, due to Route 70 being closed for fires – a common theme on this trip.. But hey, scenic roads are always better then highways! And, it lets us do some more exploring on the DRGW Narrow Gauge lines through Cimarron, Gunnison and Monarch. So, dropping down Route 50 out of Grand Junction, we come into the small town of Delta, Colorado. A small construction detour had us routed through downtown, and I had a lightbulb moment..Delta…They have an old Municipal plant full of Fairbanks engines! I remembered an old website from years ago (link on the bottom) with some photos, and doing some digging last year I read the plant was closed and they want to repurpose it… Well hell, lets find it!

Well, that was easy, being that its right on the edge of town, on 50. I had to stop and atleast take a look in the windows. So, I find a place to park next door and walk up to the windows.. and bam, there I am greeted by the plants largest engine, an FM 31A18. So I take a photo through the window.

I walk back to the car past the office, and say what the hell, let me knock on the door. I go to the car and grab my friend with me and tell him “If you want to tour the plant, lets go give it a shot”. Go to the office door, knock knock…I am greeted by a gentleman and ask him if by chance we can take a look around…

“Sure! Come on in! We love showing this place off!” Yep, defiantly not in NYC anymore..

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We got the grand tour! Unfortunately, In a streak of laziness, I opted not to grab my real camera out of the car. A decision I regret. I am going to break this post up into several parts by engine, and give a run down of each engines history and specs.

Left is a 14″ FM piston, and the center is an 18″. We will come back to this later.

The plant has 7 Fairbanks-Morse engines:
#1 – 8 Cylinder 33F16, Dual Fuel engine. 16″ bore and 20″ stroke, 1400HP
#2 – 4 Cylinder 33D16 Dual Fuel engine. 16″ bore and 20″ stroke, 700HP
#3 – 4 Cylinder 32E14, 14″ bore and 17″ stroke, 300HP
#4 – 3 Cylinder 32E14, 14″ bore and 17″ stroke, 225HP
#5 – 3 Cylinder 32E14, 14″ bore and 17″ stroke, 225HP
#6 – 10 Cylinder 33F16 Dual Fuel engine, 16″ bore and 20″ stroke, 2000HP
#7 – 10 Cylinder 31A18 Dual Fuel engine, 18″ bore and 27″ stroke, 3500HP

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The Delta plant was built in 1937 with the 32E engines originally, and expanded in the mid 1950’s. Here is the sad part, the plant was shut down for the last time in 2014, and has been idle since. I stumbled on plans from the city last year that they want to repurpose the building unfortunately. This place is a living museum of diesel engines and rural power generation and really deserves to be preserved as it is. Any old engine groups looking for FM’s might want to get in touch with them…

At the time, FM was not only the engine builder, but would act as the contractor for the site, planning the optimal layouts and plan for future expansions.

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In part II I will start going down the line of engines with more photos and history.

Thanks again to the folks at the plant for taking the time out to show us around!

Harry Matthews page on the plant:

Post Archives Volume II

Lots of new subscribers and views in the last few months – Thank You!

As I mentioned in the previous edition of this, the way WordPress archives previous posts, kind of sucks, so unless you are looking for something, you will not see it shown.  Thus, I opted to make these archives every so often as an index of all previous postings.   Be sure to check them out if you missed them.  

Lots of great articles in the works yet, and I always welcome any input, stories, photos or any of the like from my readers.   Same goes if anyone has any old engine stuff they are looking to sell. 

Please be sure to come back often for our new posts or sign up for an email notification on the right (be warned, it will typically go to your spam box). And please share our link with others!

Fairbanks Morse 31A18

Old Advertising I – Marquette Governors

D-Day plus 75 – A pair of D-Day survivors on the Great Lakes

Another WWII Survivor – The story of the Edmund J. Moran/Barbara Andrie

Old Advertising II – Jakobson Shipyard

Re-purposed – The story of the Great Lakes Towing tug Ohio, and her transformation into a museum piece.

Old Advertising III – Carl Hussman Company and the EMD 567

Spencer Heads – Spencer cylinder head inserts

EMD 567 spotters guide – How to tell apart the various 567 types.

Old Advertising IV – Farrel-Birmingham

Fixing a bearing – Rebuilding the babbit motor support bearing on the Tug Cornells WWII surplus propulsion motor

Old Advertising V – GM Diesel and the George Drake Gulfport Tugboats

Tugboats & Submarines – Story of the Fleet sub Cabezon, and how her engine wound up in the Tug Cornell

Old Advertising VI – Kahlenberg Brothers

Fairbanks Morse Engine List – Listing of every FM Diesel Engine

An unexpected find – Finding an Enterprise Valve at a surplus store

Old Advertising VII – Buchi Turbos

The 40 Series Line – A primer on EMD’s golden years of locomotive production

Historic Tugs I – Luna and Venus, a pair of the earliest Diesel-Electric tugs built

Cleveland Diesel Engine Division – GM’s war hero turned ugly stepsister – The Story of Cleveland Diesel

Missing Parts… – A surprise find in the Cornell

Aluminum in the Jungle – American Tugs in South America

Milwaukee Firsts

Old Advertising VIII – Westinghouse

Diesel-Electric Drive in 2020

Winton & Cleveland Diesel: The List – Every engine built

Art Deco Diesel – The Fairbanks-Morse 31A En bloc Series

Little Engines I – 1/87th Scale Engines

Old Advertising IX – FM OP’s

Scrapyard Finds – A surprise find

Scrapyard Finds – The Answer

Cleveland 16-338 Teaser

The Gray Marine Opposed Piston Diesel

Don’t mess with our engine – A Winton Anecdote

F-M Diesel-Electric Proposal

Vintage Diesels In The Field

A Home-built Locomotive – Southern San Luis Valley D-500

A Home-built Locomotive – Southern San Luis Valley D-500

In Blanca, Colorado, East of Alamosa and at the start of the D&RGW’s La Veta Pass line, was the interchange with the San Luis Valley railroad, a 30 some mile shortline, operating a mix of hand me down steam power. In 1950, the railroad purchased former D&RGW idler car #010798, which started life as D&RGW 2-8-0 964. These idler cars allowed standard gauge engines to bring narrow gauge cars between Alamosa and Antonito Colorado, and vice versa.

The SLV had a crazy idea, and opted to create their own locomotive. They had the notion to use rubber tires for traction, placed between the sets of freight car trucks. A Ford Flathead V8 engine powered the contraption. Be sure to check out this link for an Otto Perry photo of this engine –

Well, it did not work. The tires apparently were not up to this task and would blow out often on the 30 mile railroad, and the engine was sidelined as a switcher before being taken apart.

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In 1953 the railroad was reorganized as the Southern San Luis Valley, with new traffic shipping out chilled lettuce as the main industry served. The old idler flat car was retrieved, and a new locomotive idea was brought to the table. The old rubber traction system was removed, and a chain drive directly to the axles was used (more on this shortly). By 1957 the railroad was reduced to just a few miles in the Blanca area.

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The new locomotive, dubbed the D-500, was powered by an International Harvester UD-24 diesel engine…

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…which in turn drove a Cat hydraulic turn feeding into a Euclid truck axle. This truck axle was connected to a sprocket turning a double roller chain, which was reduced down to another sprocket, that went down onto one of the trucks.

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The main drive chain (visible just over the brake lever) drove the wheel, with said wheel also chain driving the wheel on the adjacent truck. Holy moving parts, Batman! This system must have been an absolute nightmare to keep in check and working correctly, but apparently it did just that..

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Inside, the D-500 is pretty spartan..a handbrake wheel, and the assortment of shifters and throttle levers. Pretty good view though!

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Looking down from the engineers seat, is a small little sliding window to look down at the engine.

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A pile of old sprockets sits in side..

Both sides of the locomotive have ballast boxes, with one side full of freight car axles and old chains.. and the other various chunks of metal and cutup wheels.

Here is a 1978 photo by Jim Gavin of the D-500. Note the large double roller chain visible.

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The Southern San Luis Valley would continue to operate until 1996 when they shut down, and essentially left the equipment abandoned. The “assets” and ROW were purchased by the San Luis and Rio Grande Railway in 2007 simply for car storage, with the two SSLV locomotives left to rust away..

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The second SSLV engine on the property, sitting next to the D-500 is former US Army/Utah Power & Light Plymouth ML3 #1. They purchased this in 1977 in non running condition. An engine was found, but the project was never finished, and the engine sits sans hood.

The pair of SSLV engines sit abandoned in a lot today. I sincerely hope that the D-500 can be preserved. As ugly as it is, it is a true testament to shortline railroading and the ingenuity put forth to keep operating on a shoestring budget.

Bob Griswold called the D-500 the “Slow moving conglomerate of Caterpillar, International Harvester, Euclid and other assorted moving parts and mechanisms” in his book Colorado’s Loneliest Railroad – the San Luis Southern. I found a copy of this on my way home and immediately picked it up. While I have yet to fully read it, its a fantastic look at this little railroad.

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One last look at the D-500. Unfortunately the sun was not in my favor for my visit to these relics. I wonder if you rev it up and dump the clutch if it will do a burnout..

Vintage Diesels In The Field


This will be the first of a handful of posts about things I stumbled on during the last few weeks and a 7,703 mile road trip.

One of the stops was Tillamook, Oregon. Tillamook was formerly home to the Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad, a former Southern Pacific line that suffered some severe washouts about 10 years ago, and was landlocked.

The railroad once served an industrial park that was formerly a Naval Air Station – now home to the Tillamook Air Museum, housed in a former blimp hanger. So, we made a quick trip over to see if anything was outside, as unfortunately we did not have time to go through the museum.

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Naturally, pulling into the lot, I spot an EMD in the field. I took a stroll over and find another..

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Sitting there were two EMD 16-567C engines. The railroads fleet was once made up of several GP and SD9 locomotives, the majority of which were scrapped a few years ago. I assume these were either leftovers from the scrapping, or just parts engines they once kept around. Lots of rusty old machine shop equipment sat along with them.

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These things are pretty well junk having been sitting in the Oregon elements for a number of years..but hey, old engines are old engines!

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In the adjacent lot next to the engines was some of Oregon Coast Scenic’s stored equipment, as well as POTB SD9 4406. Not sure who owns this one these days, as it does not appear on their roster.

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The Tillamook Air Museum blimp hanging is downright massive – I hope to get back one day to check it out. Outside is a mini-guppy plane.

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Just up the road is the Oregon Coast Scenic, a small tourist railroad operating on the former POTB tracks that are still intact, which the day we were there was running with McCloud River 25. If you are in the area, be sure to check them out. A neat little ride on literally, the Oregon Coast.

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Port Of Tillamook 101 is owned by the scenic railroad, and was painted by her former owners in a cow inspired paint job, homage to the areas Dairy industry.

Former Great Northern F7 274 is one of the railroads diesel’s. Also up the road is the Tillamook Country Smokers Jerky factory outlet that I highly recommend, my wallet, does not.

Be sure to check out the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad –

F-M Diesel-Electric Proposal

I am about to head out on a 3 week trip, so before heading off I will leave the blog with something cool – A 1955 F-M proposal package for a Diesel-Electric drive tug. Unfortunately, it seems F-M was never really able to get a foot hold in the commercial DE drive market, one dominated by Cleveland Diesel. However, F-M was able to sway both the US and Canadian Coast Guards, and several classes of vessels were built, including the 140′ Bay Class Ice Breakers. The tug in the design, while just a sketch, looks strikingly similar to the Reading Railroad’s Harold J. Taggert. Click on all of the images below for larger versions.

Anyone ever seen an F-M powered, Diesel-Electric harbor tug? Drop me a line!

The Gray Marine Opposed Piston Diesel

I mentioned last week that I picked up a bunch of drawings recently, and in the group was a microfilm reel with a rather interesting engine…

Yup, it is indeed an opposed piston engine, and an experimental US Navy engine at that.. And I can not find one single thing about this engine online, anywhere. Gray Marine is pretty well known for the work they did during WWII, specifically with the Detroit Diesel 6-71. Gray Marine would take engines built by Detroit, and convert them to marine use, one of which being the 64HN9 – a 6-71 with a high output governor, used on the Higgins Boat: The LCVP, or Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel.

I cant say I know alot about Gray, but I do know that they would commonly take off the shelf engines (like the 6-71 above), convert them to marine use, and slap their name on it with a new model number.

So, just what is the deal with this engine? Well, I have no idea, and I really hope some of the viewers can help with this one. I have never seen an opposed piston engine like this one. Its a 2 cylinder opposed piston, but note that each crankshaft (4 of them!) drives a bevel gear set, which in turn drives the main center shaft. Holy moving parts, Batman, this thing could almost give a Napier Deltic a run for its money. On the back end, is a reverse gear.

Unfortunately, I have not spotted a spec sheet yet in the drawings. It is not a very big engine though, only 26 1/2″ tall and only about 64″ long. So it could not have been that much of a powerhouse..

These are pretty big drawings, so click on them to see the full size. The one top view had to be spliced together from 4 separate ones.

So, anyone with ideas on this thing…comment or email!

Cleveland 16-338 Teaser

Recently I was able to acquire a full set of blueprints (more then 2,000 sheets!) for the Cleveland 16-338 thanks to the eagle eyes of my co-author Jay. The 338 was a vertical quasi-radial 16-cylinder engine that developed 1000HP at 1600RPM. The engine has it roots in the EMD designed 16-184A engine developed by EMD during WWII. The 338 only had one purpose, as a generator engine on a very small handful of submarines during the 1950’s. We are working on a much more in-depth post about this engine, so for now enjoy a sample blueprint of the top of the engine looking down, showing its tiny profile.

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Scrapyard Finds – The Answer

As I suspected, it took about 25 seconds before it was figured out what it was. Yup, Its an EMD 567C or some flavor of 645. Unfortunately, I know nothing of the story as to why this engine was in a Brooklyn junk yard in July of 2019..but, makes for an interesting conversation none the less. Its not often you see a Teal painted engine, so I am kind of assuming it was some sort of stationary application that got scrapped out. Here is some more photos, click them all for larger views.

On the top Left is part of the crankcase/airbox, top Right is a blower with a chunk of crankcase next to it, below that is a liner and the crankshaft, and on the bottom Left is some more crankcase chunks.

Closer view.. The pile was shuffled around the following day.

Better view of the crank and a liner.

A pair of power assembly’s still in the block, torched into bite sized pieces.