19 Back in Service After Heavy-Duty Repairs

Tri-State's M&E 19 was fired up and run for the first time this year on Saturday June, 9. This was following several weeks of repairs to the engine's oil cooler. 

At the beginning of the season, volunteers found that oil had leaked into the water/coolant system--evidence of a failed oil cooler. Upon further inspection, it was found that at least one tube in the locomotive's oil cooler had failed, and dumped several gallons of oil into the lower-most pipes in the cooling system. To fix this, volunteers would have to inspect each of the dozens of tubes in the oil cooler, remove and degrease all of the affected plumbing, replace gaskets and bolts, and then bypass the broken oil cooler tube(s).

ALCo Century locomotives have a unique oil cooling system. The oil is water-cooled in the same way that the block is. Four hundred small tubes carry coolant through the oil in an intercooler which sits a the lowest point in coolant system. Because the oil cooler is so low, water can settle there, making it prone to freezing in the winter. Evidence of prior fixes from its career on the M&E and TP&W could be seen when the access panels on either end were removed. 

The most logical solution for this problem is not to "fix" it, per se, but to bypass broken tubes by plugging either end. This is a common practice in industries that use heat exchangers or intercoolers for variety of purposes. It eliminates the need to remove and rebuild the device and its affect on performance is negligible.

Tri-State's volunteers spent several weekends taking apart plumbing, disposing of oil, degreasing parts, and even cleaning the oil cooler tubes with a rifle brush. After all the tubes were cleaned, it was found that only one had ruptured. That one tube was plugged, and the oil cooler was reassembled. The first test run of 19 was successful, and the engine performed up to expectations.

In the following months, improvements will be made to 19's electrical system, and it will get its first 92-day inspection under Tri-State.