In the 1950s, the Yukon Placer Mining Company used a hydraulic monitor powered by a Detroit Diesel 2-Cycle Series 71 engine. Nearby on Big Gold Creek, three Series 71 engines powered the generator on the gold dredge. When the operation ended forty years later, the hydraulic monitor’s engine was still in good shape. Over its lifetime, the six-cylinder engine was reconditioned with a factory short block, but the ancillaries were all original. Jim Lynch, Yukon Placer Mining Company pump operator, says, “The only problem I ever had with the unit was the monitor nozzle was so powerful it would swing around and take off the exhaust stack.”
Even after retirement, the legend of the Series 71 lives on. Today, the Yukon Placer Mining Company’s hydraulic monitor unit and engine are on display at the Klondike Gold Dredge Museum in Skagway, Alaska. And several Series 71-powered machines from the Yukon Placer Mining Company are still in use under different owners – the K-1 Mining Company.
Tough work goes with the territory
Like other successful gold mining operations in the Yukon Territory, K-1 Mining Company knows how to work in harsh conditions. Winter temperatures can drop to 60 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, while summer temperatures can reach the high 80s. During mining season, the days are long. “The engines will both run up to 12 hours, day in and day out, to support both development work and production at our mine,” says Mike McDougall, K-1 Mining Company president. “They are steadfastly reliable and easy for our staff to use, which is important due to our remote location. I can’t think of one instance when we have had a shutdown. The engines have kept operating at our mine long after they would have been expected to be replaced.”
Coupled to water pumps that push up to 3,000 gallons of water per minute, K-1 Mining Company’s four- and six-cylinder Series 71 engines have been in use for more than 25 years. K1’s four-cylinder unit currently has more than 20,000 hours since any significant maintenance work was done to it. Being an early high block, it has been producing power since the early 1950s. The six-cylinder engine is a newer (1980s) model. Both machines start, idle and run like new and are competitive with modern engines that run water pumps at 1800 RPM.