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It was named after Fred Gurley, then the current chairman of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway, which was the sponsor of the Disneyland Railroad from 1955 to 1974. It is the oldest piece of operating railroad equipment in any Disney park.
Previous to its use at Disneyland, the engine was used to transport sugar cane in Louisiana. Disney purchased the train in working condition for $1300, but then spent more than $35,000 on restoring it.
After many years of service to the Disneyland Railroad, the Fred Gurley was scheduled for a complete restoration down to the last bolt. Disney had made a contract with Mission Tool & Manufacturing Company, Inc, which specializes in supplying precision stamped and machined parts to aeronautical, automotive, computer, consumer, medical, microwave, and military industries, to complete phase one. On December 11, 2006,the beginning of phase one begun: dismantling the 113 year old Fred Gurley. Mission Tool & Manufacturing Company, Inc completed their job in January 2007. Disney then put the locomotive up for bidding of who will complete phase two. Phase two consists of one goal: rebuild the engine.
On the 10th of April 2007, phase two was awarded to Boschan Boiler & Restorations Inc. The first major rebuild they determined was that the Fred Gurley needed a new boiler so Boschan, being a professional boiler builder, made a brand new boiler that would stand up and meet the new state requirements for steam boilers. New components made for the Fred Gurley included a new cab exactly like the old one, a new set of rear trucks, brand new driving wheels (which are now the same pattern of the Ward Kimball's), new tires for the driving wheels, a new rear frame for the trucks (since the previous one has suffered too much damage over the years which was classified as unrepairable), new plumbing and pressure gauges were added in the cab, new builder's plates, and a new water tender was built.
After all the parts were made, the engine was given new coat of paint resembling the original paint scheme of the Santa Fe & Disneyland RR. The boiler was painted the same midnight blue as the C.K. Holiday and the water tender was given the painted ribbons it had when it was first put into service. The boiler domes were to be painted black with its original appearance from 1958, including the number design, but the painters mistakenly painted the number as it was previously.
Disney wished that the engine was to be reassembled at the roundhouse, but Boschan insisted that all the systems were to be tested before it was sent back.
Once the tests were complete, the Fred Gurley was loaded on the truck. Though, before going down the 91 freeway Disney demanded that all logos and indications of Disneyland were to be covered up in fear of any unsafe drivers, or any mega-fans noticing the term "Disneyland". After delivery at the roundhouse, weeks of work starting in November continued into January 2008. Small problems including a sticky throttle were fixed.
On Friday, January 4, 2008, the now almost 115 year old engine was fired for the first time in over a year, only a slight leak in the throttle was found and the boiler passed inspection. The next day, packing was put on the throttle to prevent any further leakage, and was once again fired up. Once enough steam was made the engine for the first time in over a year, the engine successfully moved and ran without any further problems. Early morning of January 8, the engine began the ATP testing, or the "Acceptance and Test Plan" At first they ran the engine light (no cars attached), and on the first lap one of the cylinders began to hit the back of the piston. To prevent any damage the engine was rolled back to the roundhouse. The next night they attached the passenger cars the Gurley would pull, and went 10 laps successfully around Disneyland. On the third night, they attached a second group of passenger cars to simulate a full load and went 5 laps before another small problem needed fixing. Once all the problems were fixed the State of California had their share of tests, and all were passed. After all the bugs were fixed, at 10am on March 5, the Fred Gurley once again rolled out of the roundhouse to pull passengers. Probably not by coincidence, the Fred Gurley rolled out in the same month 50 years ago to start pulling passengers.
According to the engineer's who have run the Gurley, because of the hard work and hours put in by both Mission Tool, and Boschan, it is now the best running locomotive at the Disneyland RR, and is ready for many more years of service at Disneyland.
- These types of engines were used most common on American railroads during the 1800s and 1830s until 1928.