Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fall 2009 Workweek Report

Wednesday, October 21- I again successfully escape my fetters and hastily drive back north, over the Grapevine. Happily, another uneventful trip would clear my head. Since the truck bed was to be relatively empty, I took a load of lockers for the shower car, provided by our good friend and member John Hachey of Ontario, California. A stop for lunch in Sacramento was in order with Paul Zaborsky, old pal and currently a director at Bay Area Electric Railway Association. Paul looks and feels much better now after his recent transplant surgery. For the first time in his life he is no longer diabetic, and we wish him the best with the replacement parts. Another leg of the drive over Donner Pass, with the fall colors in their full glory, and a mid afternoon arrival back in Portola, again. Peace and quiet at last. I enjoyed at least ten hours of sleep in the Pullman, after vacuuming up the cat hair. Cat hair and I don’t get along. A generous application of Febreze® didn’t hurt either.

Nathan “Maverick” Osborn and James “insert nickname here” Cowdery arrived Thursday and immediately started taking readings on the wrapper side sheets. As of this writing they have completed the first one thousand or so readings, with quite a few left to go. Suffice to say they have the process down. Mike Mucklin checked in and began photographing the goings on. Some of his and Nathan’s excellent photos are included in this post. More of Mikes photos from the week can be viewed here. Thanks again guys! He also made a nifty plywood template to match the curve of the roof sheet, the top of the wrapper sheet, at the location of a needed patch under the rear sand dome, to be utilized when the new piece of steel is rolled.


I'm holding the rolling template made by Mike Mucklin for the wrapper patch.


Nathan "Maverick" Osborn noting shell thickness readings.


The shiny dots are where readings were taken on the side sheets.


James Cowdrey carefully removes the rust prior to taking ultrasound readings.

Mike got dirty later in the week, and took a bit of a “love kiss” while needlescaling on the frame; just a bit of a scrape really. Matt Parker joined the party later in the day. He was able to tape up Maverick’s full scale tube sheet replacement drawing in place to verify that the new boilerplate misses all the parts we want it to, and that the tube locations are correct. A few minor modifications were noted, but all in all, nice work by Mav. Matt was given a quick lesson by me on cutting torch operation (sorry Rod) after which he began removing the cotter pins on the pedestal binder nuts. He then took the opportunity to burn off the grease from the nuts, etc and apply some Kroil® to ease removal of them sometime next year. An excellent first day was had by all. I enjoyed dinner at the Mexican place with Nathan and James, some quiet reading time in the Edenwold, and back into my rack.



The bottom portion of the front tube sheet is removed.


Matt Parker having a good time in the pit.


Friday October 23- Matt Parker was back for more abuse, so I put him on freeing the cab from its floor, a process Charlie Spikes already had a pretty good start on by this point. The ever-dependable Charlie torched out the portion of the front tube sheet that will be replaced, we now have a spacious entranceway to the interior of the boiler shell, no more snaking ourselves through the dome and past the throttle drypipe for a while. The cab floor was freed from the cab itself, and the whole assembly was levered up a couple inches so we could see any potential trouble spots. There were a few, but the cutting torch took care of them in short order. Rod McClure and Mr. Noodle brought the mighty “Little Giant” truck crane into the shop. We rigged for the “pick” and the cab came up with little resistance. This event drew quite a number of onlookers, a veritable “peanut gallery”. The spectator- members viewing from the floor donned their shiny hardhats. The multicolored spectacle looked from above, where I was directing the crane, like a deranged Easter egg hunt.


Mike Mucklin and I consult on rigging the cab prior to the "pick".


After a few turns jockeying the crane, boom, Rod and Mr. Noodle around, the cab was finally off and down on the ground. Eugene Vicknair and I helped guide it to its final resting place outside of the shop. The woodwork can now be removed and cataloged, and the cab sandblasted and primered prior to starting the body work. Roger Stabler arrived just as we were wrapping up. He spent the day down in Woodland fixing our invaluable porta-power ram, which no longer squirts hydraulic oil at you when under load. Another case of what you may perceive as a small job taking the whole day. My old friend Jim Blake returned for another visit. Jim is active with the Reading Company Technical and Historical Society in Pennsylvania, and now thanks to cheap airfares, with us. The Wallace family also turned up Friday night to work on their Santa Fe caboose. Everyone ended up going their separate ways, and I had dinner at the former Log Cabin, (which is now a “Roadhouse”) with Roger and Jim. I enjoyed a pretty decent piece of prime rib roast and good conversation. Later a bit of time coalescing with David Wallace in his waycar rounded out the evening.


Rod "EP" McClure handily manipulates the "Little Giant".



Eugene Vicknair guides the cab out to it's temporary resting place.

Saturday October 24- With the cab removed access to areas of the boiler shell was made easier in spots. Charlie and Duane became men possessed; parts of the cab floor and cab support came flying off at a frightening speed. They made some great progress and got to areas of the engine that are in desperate need of cleaning, scraping and chipping. Jim Blake tried to keep up by sweeping the floors of any detritus and tripping hazards, and did a good job of it. There was a lot of rust, grease and etc. that came down. The cab floor plates will need to be replaced. Roger managed to get the blowdown valve off, which has been a thorn in our side for some time. He also was able to run down the driving box wedges in preparation for freeing up the driving boxes at some point.

The two James- Blake and Cowdery amid the clutter on Saturday.


Duane and Charlie lay into the cab floor.


Roger Stabler argues with a stubborn blowdown valve.


The 165- now resembling a submarine, missing it's cab.


After wrapping things up we made our regular trek into town for pizza, and as luck would have it the local kiddy football team showed up just as we did, so it was a slow, noisy dinner, but we persevered. That evening I parted ways with most of the crew. Sunday morning I said goodbye to Roger and Jim and was back on the road headed home. The fall colors going through Sierraville were brilliant. -JCA
P.S.: Everyone please consider the purchase of a 2010 WPRM Steam Dept. Fundraising Calendar; your generosity will go a long way toward bringing steam back to Portola! It’s also the only Western Pacific calendar available for 2010. CLICK HERE.