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..
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.
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
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.
Be sure to visit the following parts of this series on Delta:
Part II – https://vintagedieseldesign.wordpress.com/2020/10/14/delta-municipal-light-power-part-ii-fairbanks-morse-33-engines/
Part III – https://vintagedieseldesign.wordpress.com/2020/11/26/delta-municipal-light-power-part-iii-fairbanks-morse-32e14-engines/
Part IV – https://vintagedieseldesign.wordpress.com/2020/12/01/delta-municipal-light-power-part-iv-fairbanks-morse-31a18/
Thanks again to the folks at the plant for taking the time out to show us around!
Harry Matthews page on the plant: https://www.old-engine.com/delta.htm