Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Coming Back to Life.

Please enjoy this excellent program put together by Eugene Vicknair for the 2014 WP convention held recently in Fairfield-

Coming Back to Life

Have a great remainder of the summer season, we will be back with more updates in the Fall. - JCA

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Summer 2014 Update

 A few pics from the Summer work session:

Roger works on tube holes. - Bob Sims photo

Hank and Michael put up new grease packs in the driving boxes.- Bob Sims photo

Turning staybolts. Bob Sims photo.

A beehive of activity. - Bob Sims photo
Ethan trims the fire hose padding on the recently installed air receiver.

Severn begins the task of replacing flexible staybolt caps.

Time for a BS session after work.

Erin Swain restored the power reverse, which is now back in place.

Please note that the dates for the Fall 2014 work session have been changed to October 2, 3 & 4.
After this session work days will be on an as-needed basis only. There will be no more scheduled work sessions. - JCA

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Spring 2014 Workweek Report

Due to several poorly timed illnesses, I hadn’t been back to museum property since the summer of last year. Suffice to say I was ready to get out of the confines of the greater Los Angeles area and head north. On Tuesday I made it to Concord and spent a wonderful day with my parents, old home week for me. The next day Dad and I made our way back to Plumas County by way of the scenic Feather River Canyon, always a treat for the eyes and the spirit. After arriving at the museum we were pleased to find the accommodations in such a clean state, thanks to Rick Grunninger and David Elems for putting in so much time and effort into cleaning and organizing.  We were hosted that evening by the ever gracious Debbie and Kirk Baer, a nice period of decompression after the drive, and an equally nice welcome back to Portola.

The next morning, Wednesday, those in attendance, including Steve Lee all the way from Cheyenne, Wyoming, had a hearty safety breakfast at Sharon’s Café on Commercial Street. Dad ordered the famous full plate of biscuits and gravy, his one indulgence for the year, and finished it with only a bit of trepidation.  Getting back to the museum, I was heartened at the shear amount of work that had been accomplished on the needle-scaling and primering operation. Kirk, Charlie, Matt and Dave Anderson had gotten the tender frame side sills and two trucks completed, they really look great! Charlie spent some time getting the new steel deck plates in place on the tender frame, in preparation for drilling the rivet holes. Later in the afternoon the contingent from the Bay Area: Dave, Severn, Jeff, Ken and Nancy arrived and got settled in. Hank and Michael worked on relocation of one of the right side air reservoir brackets, necessary so that we can use the new drilled tanks which don’t fit quite as well as the original lap riveted vessels.  That evening Dad and I along with new volunteer Mike had a sensible meal at Lena’s Café and we called it a night. It was a bit chillier than we anticipated.

The Crew assembles for Breakfast at Sharon's
Friday morning after literally taking over the majority of the space at Sharon’s, leaving well fed yet again, we hit the shop with whatever we could muster. We were very lucky to be joined by two gents who work on the former Western Pacific tugboat “Hercules”, Erik and Channing. This ocean going steam tug is now preserved by the National Park Service in San Francisco along with several other vessels and artifacts, and is well worth a visit. I set these boys on the task of finishing up the fitting of the rear tube sheet knuckle patch, started by our boilermaker Norman. Some drilling and reaming was still required to prepare for the riveting operation to take place the following Sunday and Monday. 

Kirk vacuums out more sandblasting media from the shell interior.
Roger Stabler started early on making up a test rack for the locomotive’s air compressor from heavy angle iron. He and Mike chopped and welded until the compressor could stand on it’s own. At that they began inspection of the various check valves, shuttles, and appurtenances that make it run. A gallon of Marvel Mystery Oil was poured into anywhere and everywhere on the steam and air sides. The diesel boys were tuning an air horn outside, which encouraged everyone to don a pair of earplugs.  The sweet sound of a Nathan M5 (at least after they got it tuned) spurred us on.

Ken, Nancy, and Jeff began the task of drilling for the rivets on the tender frame plates. Thanks again to our friends at the Golden Gate Railroad Museum for the use of their magnetic base drill press, a real necessity for an operation such as this. They went at it tirelessly, and by the end of the weekend, only a few holes remained to be drilled.  Around 4:30pm we started the shop cleanup, and soon after we were enjoying a bit of fellowship and libation.  Later we once again traveled en masse to Kirk and Debbie’s for a nice cocktail hour and cookout at their compound. Kirk was able to talk tugboats with Erik and Channing as the rest of us caught up on what’s been happening in the world of steam preservation since we last met. Thanks from all of us to Kirk and Debbie for letting us into their beautiful home and allowing us a nice change of scenery from the rail yard.
Ken and Nancy drilling out the tender deck plates.

By Saturday we were up to full speed.  A great deal was being accomplished by everyone, including Bob Sims who had recycled and rescued a set of cabinets from one of our parts cars. Bob stripped them down and resized them to fit into the steam tool car, and they look as good as new. I am hoping that now our boiler tools will have a nice orgainized home from now on. Thanks Bob for everything you do!

Michael and Hank repacked the grease pads for the main drivers. This involved a great deal of slicing and squishing of the waxy stuff. These will be installed in the summer when the engine is again over the pit.

Eric and Channing took on the challenge of removing the remaining flush staybolt caps from the wrapper sheet.  Most of these had been removed previously, but the most stubborn had been left. The guys along with Severn figured out a smart method of removing them: this involved welding an anti-creeper, which is a track part, directly onto the cap, and using it as a handle that could be wrenched on. This process worked very well, and is a good example of the ingenuity required to work on old machinery in less than ideal situations. 

Channing prepares to weld the anti-creeper to another stubborn staybolt cap.
Not pretty but it works!
Roger and Mike hooked up the house air and finally got the air pump to start doing its thing; the result was quite dramatic, with Marvel Mystery Oil shooting everywhere and the familiar “thump-thump".Video follows:


Roger with his completed pump stand.
Black clouds finally closed in, the temperature dropped significantly, and the snow came. It was too warm to stick, so it just made a sloppy mess. I had misgivings in regards to the evening BBQ, but as quick as it blew in, it was gone and blue sky dominated. The evening meal of grilled chicken, donated by Dave Anderson, and my chili (an old family recipe, if your family name is Chasen) was enjoyed by all. After, Dave Roth was appointed entertainment chairman, treating everyone to the evening’s feature film. Another fun and productive weekend for the WPRM steam crew.

Dad and I made our retreat Sunday morning back to Concord where I actually got to see my mother on Mother’s Day, probably the first time in over 20 years! The visit was too short before I had to get back on the road and head back to Southern California, where we celebrated my wife Rita’s Mother’s Day with my daughters. The next day the temperatures at our house in Lakewood were in the high 90’s. For me it was hard to believe that I was being snowed on just two days before…


After Dad and I left, Norman Comer and his burly helper arrived to complete the riveting on the knuckle patch. This was accomplished through mainly brute force on Norman’s part. Riveting overhead is not a task for the weak of heart, or weak of upper body strength. Norman, being a tug-o-war champion is one of the few in our circle that can take this on. Steve was able to borrow the propane forge from Wasatch Railroad Contractors, thanks to him and John Rimmasch for making it happen. Kirk was appointed the red-hot rivet passer, probably not the job he thought he would undertake when he woke up that morning.

Norman riveting into the knuckle patch.
Kirk getting ready to pass a heated rivet.
 In the meantime, Erin Swain is manufacturing the windows and doors for the cab at his home in Flagstaff, Arizona. He hopes to have these completed by the Fall work session. So far from photos he has sent, they look great!

The Superheater flues purchased through the fundraising drive are now fabricated and waiting to come down from Washington State. Thanks to Stathi Pappas of the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad for getting this done. We now have just about everything needed to put the boiler back together. All we need now is sweat, tears and lots of labor. 
Brand new flues ready to travel!
 Please consider a monetary tax deductible donation to help us along. Checks may be made payable to: FRRS, PO Box 608, Portola, CA 96122. Please note “165 Steam Fund” in the memo line of your check.

Thanks again to everyone who has donated cash, materials, time and even moral support. We are getting ever closer to Western Pacific steam returning to Portola! - JCA

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spring 2014 Steam Department Update

Hello to all of our friends and followers! Winter has passed us by, and as is the case here in California, we never really had one. Spring is upon us and it is time to start considering what we want to, and can accomplish in the 2014 season. 
Our primary goal for this year should be completing a successful hydrostatic test on the boiler. For this to happen will take a great deal of effort on the part of all of us, but when we pull together, a lot can get done. This is evidenced by last years effort to get the chassis back on its drivers, as well as putting up the rebuilt springs. When we work as a team it can happen. Thanks again to Roger Stabler for funding the spring rehabilitation!

As I write this, the superheater flue material has arrived in Mineral, Washington and they await the swaging on the ends. This will be done by Stathi Pappas and his crew at the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad. The completed flues will be brought south in June when Stathi’s Porter locomotive number 2 comes back to California for operating dates on several railroads. Thanks to those guys for helping us along with this project. Also thanks again to all of our superheater donors that made this possible! A list of donors is forthcoming.

The Spring work session will be Thursday May 8th through Saturday the 10th.  Someone should be on hand most of that week prior cleaning and priming. Kirk, Dave and Charlie continue this chore, the locomotive is looking far better for it.

Steve Lee, along with our friends from Wasatch Railroad Contractors will be out soon to finish up the welding on the patches after boilermaker Norm Comer completes the fitting of the new metal. We will then be ready for the new rigid and flexible stays. After that there are studs to replace, plugs to make, water glasses to install, and a few other sundry details before we start rolling tubes and flues in. Plans are being made for a full-out two week long session in Portola to get all of this done, more details as they become available.

Again thanks to all of you have been supporting this project, not only with your donations of time, material, and funds, but also with your moral support and kind words of encouragement. That means more to us on the steam crew than you can imagine. See you soon, and have a great Spring season! - JCA

WP 165 in the Portola Roundhouse, October 2nd, 1945 - Bob Sims Collection - FRRS Archives

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Fall 2013 Workweek Report

There is nothing like planning a trip a year in advance only to get ill one day before you are supposed to leave for a week. Due to a nasty flu courtesy of our local school district, I was not able to attend the Fall work session. Lucky for me, Steve Lee offered to coordinate things in my stead, not a bad deal to say the least!

Steve reported in after the session, and outlined what was accomplished:

Left main reservoir is on and tightened down.

Right main reservoir:  Will need to move one bracket, which will result in reusing one
stud in its present location and installing two new studs.  The other bracket will be
left in place.

4 of the 6 binders are tight.  Need to chase some of the threads on the #1 binder

Wedge adjusters are in place on the #2 and #3, but are not tightened up.  Felt it
unnecessary to do so until we have the engine trammed and everything properly

Once the engine is trammed and all adjustments made, can start hanging the
brake rigging, safety straps, and lower sand pipes.  

Left brake cylinder in place and secured.

More scaling, grinding and priming done. More crap dug out of the mudring.  Still
a lot in there, though.

Rear tube sheet knuckle fitted up and rivet holes drilled.  Ready to weld.

Both sides of tender frame scaled, wire-brushed and primered.  Need to look over
the center sill around the rear truck to see if it is broken/patched like it is at the
front truck.  This thing obviously had a heck of an impact to the rear at one time in
it's past,  as both side sills have been replaced from the rear to about 6 feet forward. 

Norman finished drilling the rear tube sheet patch for riveting.

Left side air tank is up, shown prior to leveling.

Big thanks to Steve for opening the store in my absence. Others helping out this time include Ken and Nancy Harding, Jeff Boone, Dave Roth, Dave Anderson, Kirk Baer, Ed Chase, Hank Stiles, Charlie Spikes, Mike Garritta and Eddie Powell. 

Ken was in the boiler when the locomotive was shoved back into its spot a few feet, so he gave Steve a dime for the fare. That marks the first revenue the 165 has generated since it’s arrival! Steve gave the coin to Gail McClure who will either hold onto it or place it into the General Fund. 

Nancy Harding cleaning scale and assorted detritus. Dave Roth photo.

Jeff Boone helping out. Dave Roth photo.

David Elems attends to something on the pilot beam. Dave Roth photo.

Norm Comer finished fitting up the rear tube sheet knuckle patch, as well as a few other tasks. He will be back to do some riveting soon prior to Wasatch Railroad Contractors welding all of the patches into place.

Thanks again to Steve Habeck, and the Elems for getting everything in place prior to the work session. Having the engine over the pit made working on the binders much easier.

Our next work session will be Spring 2014, May 3rd through May 10th. I hope to have the Superheater flues on site by then, as well as many of the staybolts made up so we can start rolling in tubes. The ultimate goal for next year is a successful hydrostatic test of the boiler. Dave Varley has the FRA Form 4 just about done, a huge undertaking to be sure, thanks to him for sticking with it.

Until next year, have a nice Fall and Holiday season, and be safe! - JCA

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

WPRM Steam Work Dates for 2014

Dates for steam work sessions at Portola in 2014:

Saturday, May 3rd - Saturday, May 10th
Thursday July 17th - Saturday July 19th
Thursday, October 2nd - Saturday, October 4th, 2014

Additional dates will be added as necessary. Please contact me ahead of time if you wish to arrange accommodations in the Pullman.

Have a happy and safe 2014! - JCA