Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fall 2010 Work Week Report

Once again I was happy to leave the greater Los Angeles area and head to chillier climes in the north, where Fall actually takes place. I made yet another journey to Portola for the final steam work session of 2010.

After zigzagging across the state, first to Pine Grove to see about a new gate for our property, then down to Fair Oaks to visit friend and BAERA director Paul Zaborsky, I arrived early evening Wednesday Oct. 20th back at the Portola campus of WPRM.

The ever-dependable Charlie Spikes had the heater going in the Pullman, thanks for that Charlie! I had but to vacuum up the usual detritus on the floor of the sections, and wipe down a few months of dust, grab a sandwich at Subway and collapse in a heap on my bunk.

After breakfast Friday morning with Charlie at the Station CafĂ©, we got set up and started in on trying to accomplish something. Hank Stiles showed up and continued with his rebuild of the brake cylinders. He cut new gaskets for the pressure side heads and was able to make the right side function again with grease and new rubber cups provided by a friend of ours. The left side gave us fits, in fact the piston didn’t fit back in, and so the cylinder casting was removed whole and is currently being bored out by Paul Boschan here in the LA area. Seemingly small, the rebuild of the right side cylinder represents the first restored part on the 165, first of many I should hope. We patted ourselves on the back and moved on. Welcome to our newest volunteer, Bruce Hilliard from Sacramento. Bruce was very enthusiastic and made himself useful all three days. Thanks also to Ed Chase for dutifully needlescaling the smokebox exterior for many hours on Thursday.

Thursday night a friendly “contingent” from the Golden Gate Railroad Museum arrived to help out for the rest of the week. These guys have Southern Pacific locomotive 2472 stabled operable at the Niles Canyon Railway in Sunol, California, and are a real bunch of professionals. Dave Roth, GGRMs Ops Manager was joined by Severn Edmonds, Jim Prettyleaf, and Dave Varley, GGRM's CMO.





Jim, Dave, Dave and Bruce. Taken just after the front tube sheet was fit.



Severn heating up binder nuts in preparation for loosening them.



Hank working on the right side brake cylinder.

By Friday we were at full speed. Bruce and Jim began the process of fitting the new front tubesheet, a laborious process requiring attention be paid. Jim took the lead and had it in by Saturday afternoon. Weld prep and the actual welding still needs to be accomplished but we are well on our way. Dave Roth and Dave Varley took turns continuing the thickness mapping on the firebox wrapper sheet. Having gone through the FRA form 4 process with the 2472, the GGRM crew’s assistance will prove invaluable on the 165 calculations.

Roger Stabler pulled in with a present for the project: a pair of Sharon locomotive couplers donated by him and Dave Magaw, president of the Sierra Northern. The couplers were originally from a locomotive they owned together which they subsequently sold. We can now replace the cracked coupler on the tender, and have a spare in stock should we need it. Thanks again to Roger and Dave!

Roger and Severn began loosening up pedestal binder nuts in preparation for jacking up the locomotive in the Spring and removing the drivers. We decided this was the best course of action for cleaning and inspecting the frame and driver centers for cracks, and it will also be easier to sandblast components when disassembled and on shop trucks.


Dave Roth tackles some thickness mapping using the ultrasonic tester.


Severn and Roger fighting with binder nuts.



Jim Prettyleaf preps the front tube sheet for the new section.



Front tube sheet fitted up. Grinding bevels and welding remains to be done. It's great to finally see it in place!

Saturday was blustery and rainy, we felt lucky to be able to work indoors. Dave Roth took it upon himself to continue the chipping on the frame spreader at the rear of the engine. Charlie and Duane started this last season, and Dave got nearly all the remaining bits and pieces out using Roger’s air hammer. Hank and I both took turns grinding on the rear tube sheet and removing more tube ends, a task which left our forearms sore for days given the weight of Dana’s 9” grinder.

I enjoyed meeting the GGRM guys, and sharing some stories and exaggerations in the evening during cocktail hour. I hope they can come back for more in the Spring. Again my thanks to them and everyone who braved the weather to help out this time!

Luckily I had loaded some boiler plate and the left side brake cylinder in my truck for the trip south. The extra weight in my bed was likely the reason I wasn’t blown off Donner Pass on the way home.

Another season has come to an end, and I would like to thank all of you who have supported the project either through showing up and lending some elbow grease, or have donated monetarily and/or in-kind. Thanks also to those who could only lend their moral support, which is appreciated too. We are progressing at a good clip now, so I would like to keep the momentum up. Please consider a year-end donation in any amount. You may send your check to:

WP 165 Steam Fund, Western Pacific Railroad Museum, PO BOX 608, Portola, CA 96122.

I will try and have our fundraising calendar available online in the next couple weeks. Look for my announcement. Until then have a great Fall season! - JCA