The Magnificent Restoration of Alaska's Engine 557

Volunteers in shop gather for picture beside the restoration project of Alaska's Engine 557

The Alaska Railroad's last operating steam engine was the locomotive you see here - Locomotive Number 557!  Over the past ten years, countless enthusiastic individuals and donors have been dedicated to the restoration of this breathtaking locomotive. Patrick Durand, President of The Engine 557 Restoration Company was kind enough to share some images and provide his comment on the use of Watt-a-Light LED bulbs within the lighting elements of the project. 

"Coming, going or standing still Locomotive 557 depends on Watt-A-Light to brighten the way.  Alaska Railroad's last Steam Engine is 10 years into a total rebuild.  New technology is used where appropriate.  Electrical power is provided by what Thomas Edison called a steam dynamo.  Pyle National K-240 steam turbines provide 1600 watts of DC at 32 volts.  The headlight and backup light are each 500 Watt incandescent lamps with filaments that are focused in a parabolic mirror reflector to pick out a man 800 ft down the track.  We have not found an LED that can do that yet.


All the other illumination is provided by 3 watt LED lamps from Watt-A-Light. Number Boards, head light numbers, marker lamps, work lights, cab lights, gauge lights; a total of 18 lamps are used.  Total draw 54 watts, is less than two of the old style 30 watt lamps used in these positions.


In addition to low power requirement, the globes are plastic and do not shatter, NO heat, small globe size, standard screw base material does not corrode, no filament subject to vibration fatigue.  They are internally regulated from 10 to 80 volts so a runaway generator is not likely to cause failures.  One bulb size meets all Engine 557 requirements: 32V DC LED light bulb / 3Watt / standard E26 Base G45S  Warm White (3000-3500K)


You can view 557 progress at these links: go to Status Reports,  Engine 557 Facebook,  Engine 557 Youtube. The restoration is funded entirely by private donations and corporate grants." 

The Engine 557 Restoration Company is a designated 501(c)(3) charitable organization and all donations are tax-deductible. You can donate to:

Engine 557 Restoration Company
PO Box 875360
Wasilla, Alaska 99687-5360
Comments by Patrick Durand.  Photo credit to Bill Hess.
Volunteers chatting during a break from restoring Engine 557
Engine 557

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