By Jeff Livingston, Historian
Originally published in the Akahele I Ke Ka'aahi MAY/JUNE 2011 Vol. 41, No. 3
The locomotive to pull the last Navy train between West Loch and Lualualei has been quietly resting and rusting in the yard since 1974. Cannibalized for brake parts, contactors, injectors and whatever else was thought useful, she sat forlornly awaiting an unknown fate.
U.S. Navy No. 65-00174, Whitcomb construction No. 60642 built in May of 1944, saw service with two of her sisters in Hawaii until operations ceased in 1974. The only one of the three to remain in Hawaii, this 65DE12e locomotive was fully operational at the time she was donated. For reasons now long lost, the Society didn't use her and she fell into disrepair through the years.
Now, thanks to the efforts of HRS member Mike Lloyd visiting from Canada assisted by Lou Hopf, one of 174's two 200 HP diesel engines has rumbled to life after 37 years of idleness.
Following removal of the blower which was frozen and would not allow the engine to turn over, repairs to the engine fuel system and significant general maintenance, 174's Ewa end engine was fed a steady diet of fuel, air and cajoling and after a few half-hearted tries fired on all six cylinders.
A bit unsteady at first, the old Cummins finally began to smooth out and run like she did so long ago.
No. 174 is a true rust bucket. Before actually trying to start the engine, visitor Josh Bearden spent a couple of days scraping rust from the engine compartment and vacuuming up the crud to prevent it from entering the engine.
Work still needs to be done to the engine which will be left in Mike's and Lou's capable hands. The electrical system needs to be checked and a contactor replaced before the generator can attempt to power up the traction motor. 174's brake stand will require repair also, for if the locomotive moves under its own power now there is no way to stop her.
So what can you do to help? You say you're not an electrician, diesel mechanic or air brake expert? Well that's no reason not to participate. 174 is in dire need of a good rust cleaning. Don't have the time you say? Don't want to commit to a long term project? No problem! Just show up at the yard any Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday, spend a couple hours, scrape a little rust, even one square foot will help. (Continued on page 4) Someday, as No. 174 rolls along the right-of-way, you can proudly say, "I had a part in that."