WP 165 Restoration Blog

Updates on the restoration of Western Pacific 0-6-0 number 165 at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum at Portola, California.

Monday, April 17, 2017

"Springtime" in Portola.

The 2017 work season has begun in earnest. Thanks to big efforts by Roger Stabler, Bob Sims, Kirk Baer, and Charlie Spikes, the locomotive has taken on the look of a project nearing completion.

The aforementioned individuals spent the better part of a week sanding, priming and painting the water cistern, tender frame and trucks, and the locomotive cab back into shiny black. Thanks to Roger who generously donated the paint and supplies to make this happen. Luckily, the crew had a few warm days to do this prior to the main work days, which proved to be less than hospitable. Saturday was a bust due to a foot of snow and no power in town.

A spring day in Portola!


Roger welds up the angle iron edging on the tender frame prior to paint.
Roger applies the primer to the cistern.
Our regular guys, Erik, Channing, Steve, Bob, Kirk, Michael and Ed were joined this time by new volunteer John, who I met through the ASMA group here in Amador County. John is a great addition to the fray, and enjoys getting his hands dirty. John was able to clean and re-install the oil shelf in the cab and help out with many other things during his stay.

John poses with his cleaned and painted oil shelf.
A great deal was accomplished thanks to the generousity of John Rimmasch and Steve Lee of Wasatch Railroad Contractors. Welder Alexander was brought in at no cost to us to fit up the remaining 24 flexible staybolts, which were machined at a more than reasonable price by John at Datum Precision in Grass Valley. Alexander got enough done before he had to fly back that Channing was able to get all 24 installed before the end of the weekend. This was a great milestone for the restoration now that all the stays are back in the boiler.

On Friday and Saturday we took the opportunity to mount the replica WP medalions on the tender, which were donated by James Mason and Eugene Vicknair. The replica cab numbers on the cab were also bolted up. These little things go a long way toward the visual appearance of the locomotive for our visitors, and bolster the moral of the volunteers who have been elbow-deep in grease and rust up to now.

We are hoping for a hydrostatic test this year if we can get a few more tasks accomplished. The museum has begun one last funding push to get the locomotive steaming in the next year or two. Click here:...Please give if you can!


Shiny black cab and tender.



Channing and Erik setting the new dome studs.
Again my thanks to everyone who has volunteered and donated to this project over the last ten years! On behalf of the FRRS membership we are very grateful!

This will be my last blog post for a while. My wife and I moved here to Amador County a little less than a year ago, and now that the record rainy season is coming to a close (we hope) our focus now will be on building our house. Accordingly I must take a hiatus from the project and throw it over to Roger Stabler and Steve Lee to keep things moving. I am happy with the progress to date, and it is my sincere wish that these two can get water boiling soon!

Thanks to Bob Sims who provided me with the photos for this post!

All the best- J. Chris Allan


Monday, April 10, 2017

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Tender Sandblasting & Fall Update

Our industrious contingent was ultimately successful in getting the majority of the tender's water cistern sandblasted and partially painted prior to lifting it back onto the frame. This from sandblasting coordinator Bob Sims:

I would like to give super thanks to all the depraved souls who "chipped in" (or off) on the tender prep work, including Ken, Burr, Dave A., Erik, City of Portola, and especially Kirk and Charlie


Kirk and Dave work at needle chipping in the coal space prior to sandblasting.

Thanks to the City of  Portola for the loan of the air compressor!

Dick tends to the hose while Roger sprays the bottom of the cistern black.

Roger spent several days getting the WP derrick running so we could use it for the lift, but due to circumstances "beyond our control" we were not allowed to use it. Consequently, we brought in a hydraulic crane from Reno at additional cost to the Museum.

Steve brought back a machined steam dome lid ready to go up when needed. Thanks to John Rimmasch  and the guys at Wasatch for taking care of this and myriad other items for us, it is greatly appreciated!

Roger and Erin continued working on the cab sheet metal, we now have an enclosed well ready for boards. This project is coming along nicely. Roger also "rescued" an air motor suitable for driving a tube roller from an old oil tank next to the Edenwold. After cleaning it up it ran as good as new and is ready for action. Good going Roger!


Channing spent some time cleaning up holes in the front tube sheet.

Steve bolts up the air brake distributing valve while Chris admires his work.

Eric and Channing spent most of the weekend annealing tube ends in preparation for rolling them in, hopefully soon. This is a necessary albeit monotonous task and we thank them for taking it on. They should be up sometime before winter to finish the up the rest of the 2" diameter tubes.

Severn, Scott and Dave R. spent their time threading the remaining rigid stays, 13 of them, and fitting them into the side sheet of the firebox where we had previously welded in a patch. They stuck with it, got it done, and they are now ready to be driven.


Master machinist Severn hard at work turning stays.

Severn works while Scott looks on.

Fresh stays ready for trimming & driving.

Cistern and frame reunited at last

It is our hope that sometime before the Spring work session Roger will get back up and finish painting the tender and cab. It will be nice to have the engine start looking black and shiny again. After paint, tubes can go in and we can continue the march toward a successful hydrostatic test on the boiler. Thanks again to everyone who helped us make forward progress this year! A special thanks to Bob and James for continuing to be very generous with their monetary donations! - JCA 


Master blaster Ken Chapin.


Friday, July 29, 2016

Tender Sandblasting Work Session Coming Up.

Looks like the first organized work sessions will start Fri + Sat the 12th+13th.
These will be evening into overnight shifts so the museum is closed, winds are calm, and COOL
We plan to start getting setup shortly after 5pm, if not still hot, and rotating a 2 man minimum crew every few hours depending on when people need a break. If things are going well, we'll push all the way to ~7am, then clean-up, and have breakfast at Sharon's au gratis.

Ken will train people in sand blasting, spraying primer, and painting all surfaces that will be inaccessible after the tanks are re-united with the frame. We would rather not have people getting trained and then split after a few hours unless they can support other evenings.

The planned Fri/Sat evening dates will continue each weekend as required up to the main work session starting Sep. 8th. That's 4 weekends max - Aug 12+13, 19+20, 26+27, and Sep 2+3. If work is going fast, we could drop the 26 and/or 27. In any case, the last weekend Sep 2+3 is targeted for having all the exposed surfaces sand blasted and primed. Weekday sessions are anticipated if we have a minimum crew.

Please have anyone who can support a particular date contact Ken atalcobackshop@gmx.com
or his cell at 208-625-1313 or me at 661-805-9869 or eb2727@att.net

Thanks, Bob

Monday, April 18, 2016

Spring 2016 Workweek Report

Another spring session has come to a close, and I am happy to report that a whole lot of items were crossed off the punch list this time. So many so that I will have to make up a new list!

Sunday morning, April 3rd, I left our new digs in Pine Grove and headed over Carson Pass. On the way to the WPRM I stopped into the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City and spent about an hour catching up with John Walker, the former manager at Portola. John now manages the gift shop and concessions for the NSRM. After a bit of "reminiscing" I went over to check out the recently restored Virginia & Truckee McKeen motor car. A stunning job by Chris Dewitt and his crew.

After moving into the Pullman car for the week, I was joined by Roger Stabler, we were both happy to see that the engine was now sitting over the pit, and the tender frame was adjacent to the wood working bay. Thanks to Steve and David for getting the switching done for us!

Steve Lee arrived from Cheyenne with riveting tools, the propane forge, and tons of rivet snaps that we would put to good use later in the week. He also brought an air pump governor that was graciously donated by the mayor of Paducah, Kentucky salvage from an Illinois Central locomotive on display in a park. The boys at Wasatch took what was left of our original pump governor and "dummied" it up to look complete, and put that up on the park locomotive. Thanks again to John, Steve, and their crew for the effort!

Other tasks completed during the work week included Hank and Roger fabricating a new valve rod for the power reverse, and getting it in working order with the valve gear operating for the first time in many decades; also Roger finished up all of the problem flexible staybolt caps leaving just the 24 or so up on the roof sheet to buttoned up, once the new stays are installed.

The team of Channing, Roger, Hank and Charlie set the remaining six rivets in the firebox knuckle patch and turret drypipe bracket. These have been avoided up until now due to their awkward locations, but the guys figured out how to back them up using levers and brute force.

A big visual change to the tender came with the fitting up of the deck boards we acquired in the fall from the Amador Sawmill Association. Charlie and Kirk have been tending to the pile of lumber, turning them every few weeks so they would dry evenly all winter, and thanks to them the boards stayed straight. Bob Sims led the effort to cut them to length, and countersink the locations where they had to sit on rivets, bolts, etc. Charlie, Lynn, Steve, Dave and Bil worked on getting them bolted down, as well as applications linseed oil to work as a preservative. Bil took it upon himself to make up the new rear footboards using some of the leftovers, and it looks great!

New footboard on the rear of the tender frame.
Dick Coudin cleaned up several components, including the handrails at the cab, and the power reverse reach-rod. Those and the handrails down both sides of the boiler have been re-applied, which adds a bit more safety for working up there. Many people remarked on how much the 165 is beginning to look like a locomotive again.

Roger welds one of the cleanouts from the coal days onto the smokebox.
Erik, our stalwart volunteer and captain of the Western Pacific tug "Hercules" suffered a bit of a hand injury right before coming up with Channing and Severn. To his credit he pushed through and was able to do a few things, like driving the forklift and plumbing up the power reverse. We hope his injury is well on the way to healing and we thank him for going above and beyond for us! Severn and Dave Roth brought up a pipe threading machine for the shop which will prove to be beyond useful to us. Thanks again GGRM!

New power reverse valve rod fabricated by Roger and Hank.
Severn, David and yours truly spent a good amount of time standing at the lathes making studs and staybolts. This process will go well into the summer. Thanks go to Duane for wiring the 13" lathe up so it could be used. Thanks also go to David for getting the machine shop in order in time for our work session.

A veritable milestone was achieved on Thursday when Channing, Erik, Ken and Nancy began cutting the 2" tubes to length and setting them in the boiler. All in all they got almost 100 in! These will not be rolled in until later this year as we don't want the start the 15 year clock running until we are further along with the tender and a few other things.

On another front, Dave Varley delivered the completed FRA Form 4 to us, and it was signed off. Now to mail it off to Washington D.C. for review by the FRA. Dave worked like a dog on this document, which is quite thick, and the culmination of many, many hours of measuring and calculation on the part of many, including Dave. Now he can get back to moving his museum's collection over to Santa Cruz.

The valve covers were removed and inspected by Hank.

The tender deck being fitted up.

Ken placing the first 2' tube back into the boiler!
All in all another great effort from the "Steam Team".  Our next big session will be in the fall, but there are lots of projects to be done before then, such as sandblasting the tender cisterns, turning stays, machining a new dome lid, and myriad other things.  Brake valves have been rebuilt and tested.  If we are allowed to continue at this pace we should be in steam by 2018. Fingers crossed...

More updates will come as some of these tasks get underway. Have a great spring season! - JCA

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Fresh Deck for the Tender.

Saturday, October 31st, Halloween 2015 saw the Amador Sawmill & Mining Association mill in action cutting full dimension 2"x8" Douglas Fir boards to be used as new decking on the tender frame of the 165. This will be cut and fitted prior to replacing the water cistern and oil tank.

Charlie removing the original decking in Spring of 2013
Joining me at the Amador County Fairgrounds, the site of the vintage sawmill, were The Spikes, Roger Stabler, and Paul Zaborsky of BAERA. The plan was to have Charlie carry the cut lumber back over the Sierra in his pickup, however; the fresh cut lumber proved too weighty. Lucky for us, Bill Braun, president of the sawmill group, offered to trailer the wood to Portola gratis, and we are very appreciative for his generosity.


The headrig at the Amador Sawmill. Normally run on steam, it was on diesel this time due to circumstances.
Bill Braun, president of the organization, monitors volunteers working the "Green Chain".

A trailer load of deck lumber bound for Portola.

The lumber arrived the next Thursday. It is now stacked, drying in the shop until we are ready to get it bolted down to the tender frame. Again thanks to everyone who helped out unloading, including Charlie, Duane and Kirk. Thanks also to the Amador Sawmill group. Their work to preserve the history of logging and mining in the Sierra is of great benefit to the preservation community. Not to mention their lumber is of very high quality, nearly clear boards, almost too nice to cover up with a tender tank! - JCA

Monday, October 5, 2015

Fall Boiler Work Continues.

At the end of September a crew from Wasatch Railroad Contractors spent a long weekend tying up loose ends on the 165 boiler. Numerous stay bolts were finished off, some pad welding was completed, and two washout plugs were renewed, along with several other tasks.

Steve Lee, who led the expedition, sends this:

Most of the work done by Erik, Channing, Ryan, Brad, Charlie Spikes, Duane, Lynn Gordon, One-L Bil, Eddie, Mike, and Bart.



Accomplished:



Boiler belly pad welding complete.

Severn's Stub removed and replaced with new. (Branch pipe mounting stud)

Washout couplers installed.

All staybolt caps on hand were chased, gasketed, applied and tightened.

Firepan welding done.

Tender frame plates bolted and primered, except for one, due to exhausting the entire Portola supply of primer.

Cab and running boards bolted on, as well as some of the steps. 

A few other little things I don't remember.

As Steve mentioned, Erik and Channing from the Golden Gate Railroad Museum / NPS worked tirelessly to finish up several partially done projects, allowing us to move on to bigger and better things. Charlie and Duane tried unsuccessfully to get our "Huck" bolting machine running to facilitate bolting down the spreader plates on top of the tender frame. As per usual, if it actually worked I suppose it would not be in a museum. Steve made other accommodations.

Renewed washout plug using half coupler.

Channing prepares to weld in the portion of the firepan removed to get access to the patched area.
Thanks again to Steve Lee for taking the reins this time, as I could not attend, and to John Rimmasch, owner of Wasatch Railroad Contractors for his generous support of the 165 project!

In a couple of weeks our favorite boilermaker, Norman Comer will be in to continue work on the tube sheets, various staybolts, and with any luck start sizing and annealing the tubes and flues. We will start rolling tubes in once the tender is usable again. I had hoped be to that point by now, but as I mentioned in a previous post,we had some difficulties, financially speaking. We are all hoping the Board finds funding for us to start up again in Spring 2016. If you all out there want to see WP steam back, now would be a great time to make a tax-deductible donation to the WP 165 Steam Fund! -Chris Allan