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Railfan Trip Reports > Strasburg, Colorado


Date: 07/20/05 10:30
Strasburg, Colorado
Author: RebStout

Until last year I had never even heard of Strasburg, Colorado. When the locomotives were moved from the Georgetown Loop/Silver Plume I read here on T.O. that locomotive #9 was being moved to the Uhrich Locomotive Works in Strasburg because of asbestos in the boiler problems.

So, cousin Nathan Z. and I decided that a visit to Strasburg was on our railfanning agenda. We really didn’t know what to expect. Maybe “No Trespassing” signs, junk yard
dogs, or an old man standing there with a double-barrel shotgun.

Strasburg is located about 30 miles east of Denver. The entire town is maybe 4 blocks long. Grain elevators, gas station, café, the typical small town. Took us about 2 minutes to spot the locomotive works.

I drove past, getting a look at the place. It was fenced, but the gate was open, with three men working on the #9 locomotive. So I pull in and stopped about 20’ from the workers. We’re driving my metallic silver Corvette with California plates. They ignore us. I’m thinking, “Friendly bunch. Not good.”

I call out, “Hello? Can we take a few photos of the locomotives?” They finally turn, look at us, and one says, “You have to sign in at ‘The Shop’.”
“Thanks!” I reply, and I back out, drive about 30 yards and park in front of “The Shop”.

So cousin Nathan Z. and I walk inside “The Shop”. Jam-packed with lathes and every kind of machine imaginable. We enter the office and there is the boss, “Mr. Uhrich”. About my age, late 50’s or early 60’s.

He said, “Is that your vette?”
“Yes Sir” I replied. "I’m ‘Reb’ from Los Angeles, and this is cousin Nathan Z. from Colorado Springs."

I figured that he might give us a few minutes of his time, and then tell us to ‘hit the road’. He probably had plenty of work to do. But apparently he took a liking to us. We spent a few minutes chatting, and I think he could tell we had a good bit of railroad knowledge.

What happened next was amazing. Mr. Uhrich spent an hour showing us around. Talk about a “Private Tour!” We walked through the shops, the old back shops, the furnace/foundry area, behind the shops. Then over to the yard, through the largest Quonset hut I’d ever seen with many projects inside. Then all around the yard, where we spent a good 20 minutes checking out locomotives #9 and #30.

He explained, in some detail, all the problems that had been encountered. The cracks, flaws, how many of the parts had been fabricated from scratch, on and on. His knowledge was incredible. He knows every detail about every part of a locomotive. Not surprising I suppose, since he’s been restoring locomotives his entire life.

We asked questions all along the way, but I probably don’t remember 10% of what he said. Talk about information saturation.

After the tour I asked if we could take some photographs for Train Orders. He said it was “Ok”, and for us to “Be careful”. So we spent the next hour and a half leisurely taking shots, and all the workers were extremely friendly after seeing Mr. Uhrich giving us the private tour.

Reb





Date: 07/20/05 10:31
Re: Strasburg, Colorado
Author: RebStout

Photo #2 - A look inside the main shop.




Date: 07/20/05 10:32
Re: Strasburg, Colorado
Author: RebStout

Photo #3 – One of many lathes in the main shop.




Date: 07/20/05 10:33
Re: Strasburg, Colorado
Author: RebStout

Photo #4 – Another look inside the main shop. There is so much stuff in there, it’s a wonder they could find anything. The one thing I noticed is that the machinery is kept in tip-top condition.




Date: 07/20/05 10:33
Re: Strasburg, Colorado
Author: RebStout

Photo #5 – Sitting in the middle of the main shop is the #463 – a 15” gauge K27.




Date: 07/20/05 10:34
Re: Strasburg, Colorado
Author: RebStout

Photo #6 – Another shot of the #463. I asked the worker in the back what he was working on. He said “His kids swing set.” Apparently his wife had been on his case for a year to get it fixed. He was super friendly, and showed us some of the “real” projects he was working on.




Date: 07/20/05 10:35
Re: Strasburg, Colorado
Author: RebStout

Photo #7 – Builders plate on the #463.




Date: 07/20/05 10:36
Re: Strasburg, Colorado
Author: RebStout

Photo #8 - #463 front view.




Date: 07/20/05 10:37
Re: Strasburg, Colorado
Author: RebStout

Photo #9 - #463 side view.




Date: 07/20/05 10:38
Re: Strasburg, Colorado
Author: RebStout

Photo #10 – Looking towards the front of the “Main Shop”.




Date: 07/20/05 10:39
Re: Strasburg, Colorado
Author: RebStout

Photo #11 – Out back sits the tender for the #463.




Date: 07/20/05 10:39
Re: Strasburg, Colorado
Author: RebStout

Photo #12 – Another shot of #463’s tender.




Date: 07/20/05 10:40
Re: Strasburg, Colorado
Author: RebStout

Photo #13 – Tender logo.




Date: 07/20/05 10:41
Re: Strasburg, Colorado
Author: RebStout

Photo #14 – Gon sitting behind the main shop.




Date: 07/20/05 10:42
Re: Strasburg, Colorado
Author: RebStout

Photo #15 – This is the furnace/foundry area.

End Strasburg, Colorado – Set 1 of 3
Reb





Date: 07/20/05 11:44
Re: Strasburg, Colorado
Author: africansteam

Nice serries of "sets" Reb. Thanks for sharing!

Africansteam



Date: 07/20/05 19:09
Re: Strasburg, Colorado
Author: tolland

Reb, the Uhrich operation is much more impressive than I originally had envisioned. I've driven by there and driven around, trying to see what was going on but I never went inside. Did Mr. Uhrich happen to mention about boiler inspections and rules?

I will say this; it seems he has accomplished a lot on C&S #9 in a relatively short order. However, from what those in the know about steam say, he still has a job of many months ahead. And, I hope he has someone available for consultation who knows about boilers. Granted, his replica of 463 is impressive. Those who I know who have steam expertise would tell you that this is different than overhauling/rebuilding a real steam locomotive which has to meet stringent requirements and follow guidelines.

Of course, the Colorado State Historical society can dip into the money that comes from the taxpayers if needed to lure steam experts to work with Uhrich, I guess.

Jim Burrill
Loveland, CO



Date: 07/20/05 20:37
Re: Strasburg, Colorado
Author: RebStout

Hi Jim…
The Uhrich operation is pretty comprehensive…I can’t think of much that they couldn’t do there. Since you’ve been to the Locomotive Works you know the size of that Quonset hut. Mr. Uhrich said they plan on running tracks the length of the hut. He didn’t mention why, but I figured it was possibly for night-time work, or more likely, a warmer inside working environment in the winter months.

I believe you are right on about the time frame involved in finishing up the work on the C&S #9. Tho I grew up watching steamers as a kid I don’t claim to be a steam expert, but even my untrained eye told me there was plenty of work left to do.

I did ask him about how the asbestos was removed from the boiler. He said that the worker must wear a suit with oxygen, similar to that worn during a chemical leak situation. He also mentioned that it is a $25,000.00 job!

I also got the impression that he needed more experienced workers to move restoration along faster. He said they were running three years behind on various projects.

He really didn’t get into details of boiler inspections and rules. I believe it is a lap-seam boiler, which brings into play more stringent requirements. I asked if there was a time delay by the FRA when the boiler was ready for inspection, and he stated the inspection was started immediately. Sorry I don’t have more details. I’m surprised that I remembered as much as I did.
Reb



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