All photos by Debra Baer unless noted. (Thanks Debra!)
Spring has sprung, an unusually long, wet winter is over, and we are ready to get back to work on the WP 165. Leaving Los Angeles for a few days seldom requires an excuse, but in this case the cabin fever made it imperative. I arrived in Portola on Wednesday, April 27th ready to get something accomplished. Upon arrival we met up with Steve Lee, recently retired from the Union Pacific Steam Department. Steve came out from Cheyenne to help out for the week, and we were very happy to see him on the property. In anticipation for the “big pick” the following Saturday, Rod McClure, Steve Habeck, and Cody Wilson were adjusting the drum brakes in derrick 37, a beastly machine. Built for the WP as a steam derrick, it was converted to internal combustion sometime in the 1970’s. We ordered pizza in, and called it a night.
The big task facing us on Thursday was getting the pedestal binders ready to come off. This proved to be another colossal task given the amount of crud clogging the holes, damaged studs, etc. Luckily by this time our friends from the Golden Gate Railroad Museum in San Francisco were starting to arrive. Dave Roth, Dave Varley, Jim Prettyleaf, and Severen Edmonds were ready to get dirty, so they were put to work. By Friday Roger Stabler and Dave Wallace also took turns in the pit “persuading” the heavy binders to move, which eventually did. Everything does, in time, bend to our will, some things just not that easily. Bruce Hilliard serenaded us with the needlescaler. Charlie had to run back to Reno to refill the O2 bottles. David Hensarling, president of GGRM, arrived on Friday to check things out, and was put to work reassembling the left side brake cylinder with Jim P. and Nathan Osborn. James Cowdery, "Burr" Wilson and Nathan applied red primer to the first two boiler courses and the dome, which was nice to see, much better than rust colored metal. Doyle McCormack came down from Portland, Oregon to check out his sleeper car, the ”Magnolia Grove”, and visit with Steve Lee. Doyle is a steam veteran and has a lot of good advice for us. Thus started the “Fog of War” period when things were happening so fast that it’s hard to recount everything, so forgive me if I omit any details.
Steve Lee helps to secure a lathe donated by the UPRR for movement into the shop.
The lathe is loaded into the dump truck.
Steve Lee and Doyle McCormack join forces to rig a spreader bar.
The Derrick's master, Rod McClure.
Phil checks the rigging on the Tidewater car prior to a lift.
Friday also saw the Brehm’s up from Phoenix to re-roof the Steam Department’s tool car, the former Denver & Rio Grande boxcar donated to us by the Western Railway Museum in Rio Vista, CA. The three of them set to removing the mostly rotted T&G and recovering with plywood and rubberized roofing. This is a temporary measure until we can mill up the proper wood roofing, but at least the interior can stay dry for the time being. Thanks to you guys for making the trip and getting the job done!
Friday night dinner at the Roadhouse was enjoyable, at least until the Karaoke started. At that point we were ready to get back to our bunks to rest up for Saturday, which proved to be eventful.
Nathan Osborn and James Cowdery prep and paint the boiler shell.
Jim Prettyleaf, GGRM welder removes a wasted section of the 165 wrapper sheet.
Mike Brehm, of Phoenix, AZ after nailing down the new roof on the tool car-JCA photo.
The 165 being lowered onto the cribbing. - Dave Roth photo.
Our next work session is coming up July 21st-23rd, 2011. By then we hope to have the sandblasting done, including the cab. Erin is going to lead the project to repair the cancer around the base, and renew the wood headliner. Cleaning of parts continues, thanks to Charlie and his son Eric. Thanks go to Rod McClure especially for all the prep work getting the derrick back into fighting shape. Big thanks also to James Mason, our Treasurer, behind the scenes directing all of the steam funds in the right direction. The amount of work left is staggering, but if we have a few more sessions like this last one, some real progress will be apparent real soon. - JCA