The San Diego Railroad Museum has been involved with a multi-year restoration of U.S. Army #1820, an EMD MRS-1 diesel locomotive. Selected progress reports are presented here.

Click on drawing for enlargement.

U.S. Army #1820 moves under own power

November 7, 1995

This past Sunday, Nov. 5, 1995, MRS-1 #1820 moved under its own power! Project leader Dave Slater was at the throttle, and ran #1820 successfully approximately 400 ft. on yard track #3.

After some more adjustments are made to auxiliary systems, #1820 will be taken out on the mainline for shakedown runs. She'll run light at first, then with a train before leading any passenger runs to Miller Creek.

Much of the prime mover and many auxiliary systems are new or have been rebuilt from scratch. #1820 will allow #1809 to take a well deserved rest from being the Museum's main locomotive since 1986.

I look forward to being in her cab when she pulls her first Miller Creek train! Four years of hard work are soon paying off in having a reliable new workhorse.

Randy Houk
Project #1820 member


U.S. Army #1820 makes first trip to Miller Creek

November 12, 1995

#1820 lead a consist of Locomotive #1809, SD&A coach 255, DODX 10 (guard car), and SD&A coaches 254 and 251 to Miller Creek and return today. #1809 was hooked up dead-in-train so that its brakes acted as a regular passenger car's and didn't contribute any tractive effort.

The trip was for test purposes and didn't carry any passengers. #1820's load meter and current shunt are in the shop for calibration so #1809's was borrowed for the test run.

#1820 ran well with only one small problem being noted: the battery reverse current relay was dropping out at too high a voltage and had to be manually reset. Considering all the things that could have gone wrong, the trip was perfect!

Mechanical Superintendant of Diesel Locomotives Gary Sweetwood was along to monitor the mechanical goings on. He made exhaust temperature readings with a hand held infra-red sensor and determined that the cylinders on one bank were hitting a bit harder than the other. He made plans to check the rack settings again later.

Project Leader Dave Slater was on the throttle for the trip with Director of Campo Operations Denby Jones riding as fireman. Brakeman Mike Reading and Conductor Lew Wolfgang rode in the consist. Engineer Jack O'Lexey rode the dead-heading #1809.

Congratulations are in order for Dave Slater. Without his vision and determination #1820 would still be a "Hanger Queen". Thanks Dave!

Photos of the day's trip will be included here when available.

by Lew Wolfgang


The following was written by Dave Slater, Project Leader for the #1820 restoration project. The #1820 project was Dave's own baby and he ran it from conceptualization to realization totally on his own. He solicited donations of money, parts and services, at the same time bringing in new and old volunteers to help with the work. It was a true labor of love for Dave, and we all congratulate him in his success. Well done, Dave Slater!

The Return to Service of U.S. Army Locomotive #1820

Restored At The San Diego Railroad Museum, Campo, CA.

November 12, 1995

by Dave Slater

This locomotive had not run at all since 1965. After a thorough restoration in the shops at Campo from 1988 through October 1995 by the volunteers, her powerplant, an EMD 567B V16 Diesel, was test run on October 20, 1995. For the first time, on Sunday, 12 November 1995 (Veteran's Day weekend) she was finally ready for her first mainline test!

I arrived at the shop at 0600 and began the inspection of all systems, starting with the traction motor gear cases and motor housings. Many needed a fillup with "Journal Tex" oil, which is a viscous, heat-resistant oil used especially for this purpose. I inspected all systems, from bottom to top, and then back down again. With the exception of the 1,000 amp shunt and the load meter, which were out for calibration, she was "ALL SYSTEMS GO."

The next step was to put her under a heavy load, going up the mountain, on the Mountain Division of the San Diego and Arizona Railway! I was at the throttle, and slowly eased her out, after all the appropriate tests, brakes, terminal air, etc. We then coupled to her sister, #1809, and proceeded to the junction with the mainline. We backed down to the station at Campo and hooked on to the passenger train. After the appropriate tests and the issuance of a track warrant, we proceeded eastbound! The smoke rolled out of her stacks as she bellowed her pleasure at being back in active service after a hiatus of nearly 30 years to the day! Between the station platform and the junction I was really "notching her up" (increasing the throttle application). With the great weight that we were pulling it took a while to get up to full mainline speed of 15 MPH! Fountains of carbon, built up inside the manifolds over the years, cascaded forth into the air and showered down onto the running boards. Oil pressure about 75 PSI, cooling water temperature about 140 degrees. All systems GO! Main reservoir: 140 PSI, brake pipe: 110; right on the money!

Gary Sweetwood and Matt Adams were on-board maintenance support technicians, since they had put in a lot of work on the overhaul. Fireman: Denby Jones, brakeman: Mike Reading, conductor for our extra 1820 East was Lew Wolfgang. We were out for the first in a series of "shakedown runs" before the first train of the day, which is Train 1 East, due off the skate at 12:01 PM, PST. Gary noticed that we were not charging the battery consistently, and the reverse current relay (RCR) was diagnosed as needing replacement. Pyrometer (temperature) readings were taken of both banks of the power plant. The higher reading was on the left bank, indicating that the rack was out of adjustment on the right bank. This was duly noted and recorded. Pyrometer readings were also taken of the journal boxes (she has friction bearings), motor axles, and traction motor blower bearings. Out of 6 motors, all were great except one. We didn't like the power cable on that one and had decided to replace it with a new one anyway. All were within safe tolerances, however.

The trip westbound, down the mountain towards Campo, was uneventful. Upon arriving at the station the crowds were waiting for SD&A Train 1 East. The Station Master announced our arrival, as we glided past with bell tolling. #1820 looked great, in sleek black with yellow trim, the proud herald of the UNITED STATES ARMY emblazoned across either side of the hood doors, and "TRANSPORTATION CORPS" lettered under the cab windows! This is the delivery color scheme of 1952! Ah yes, it was indeed a sight that quickened the heart of rail preservationists everywhere! The cheers and congratulatory shouts of the crowd were heartening.

After rolling the consist, with #1809 at the rear, (east end, all set to head out), we broke away, rolled two car lengths and shut her down. We then pulled the borrowed shunt and returned it to #1809 so she could make her run up the mountain. About an hour later, the yellow switcher, #7285, came down from the yard to return us to the shops for further tuning and repairs.

Dave Slater
SFC Transportation Corps
U.S. Army (Ret.)

Last update: 16 Nov 1995

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