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.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

2013 Calendars Are Here & Superheater Fund Update

The Steam Department calendar for 2013 is now available for order! The views in this edition have been generously shared by none other than Martin Hansen, our friend and an ardent supporter of steam who resides in the Pacific Northwest. Our thanks to him for privileging us with this glimpse into the past. This year we feature photos from several renowned photographers including Ralph Demoro, Wil Whittaker, and Guy Dunscomb. Include are shots of WP steam (of course) as well as Tidewater Southern, Central California Traction, Indian Valley, and Fruit Growers Supply. A portion of each sale goes toward the WP 165 restoration at the WPRM. Please click here for more info and ordering. Thanks again to Martin for sharing a portion of his collection with us!

More good news on our Superheater Fundraiser! We have had an additional three flues donated by:

Richard Hunn of Arlington, NE 

Leigh Bradbury of Oak Harbor, WA

Fred Jansz of the Netherlands

In addition , a very generous donation to the Steam Fund has been made by life member and Museum volunteer, James Mason. - James' continued and unbridled generosity is an inspiration! Thank you James! Also thanks to John Gerken and Ian Cowley for their generous donations of $200.00 and $50.00, respectively. Every donation gets us a bit closer to our goal!

Please consider an end-of-year donation in any amount toward this restoration. Our final goal is to bring WP steam back to Portola, and we are well on our way. We can still use your help:

Superheater donation (6 to go!) 

Donation in another amount

Thanks to everyone for their support, we should see some big progress next year with your help. Have a wonderful Holiday and a Happy, Safe 2013! - JCA

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Superheater fund over halfway to our goal!

Thanks to the estate of Richard Stromme. Eight more Superheater flues have been donated, giving us 15 to date, well over halfway to our goal! Let's keep the momentum rolling, please consider a donation in any amount to the WP 165 Fund, PO Box 608, Portola, CA 96122. Please note "165 Steam Fund" in the memo line of your check. You may also donate online here. Thanks, and have a great week! - JCA

Update 10/22/12- A big thank you to Richard Hunn who donated another superheater flue, giving us 2 complete rows! Only 8 more left to get us to our goal! 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fall 2012 Workweek Report

Another season of steam restoration has come and gone, and we are getting ever closer to seeing steam return to Portola and the Western Pacific Railroad Museum. Although this year saw no big "visual" progress, a great deal was done on the inspection of the running gear, as well as turning the corner toward starting the re-assembly of the locomotive.

Dave Varley of GGRM and Steve Lee, of Cheyenne, Wyoming have dug into the FRA Form 4 calculations, and have made some headway utilizing the thickness readings obtained by Nathan Osborn and James Cowdery. Generating these numbers is a tedious undertaking to say the least, and we are very grateful to these gentlemen for taking this formidable task in hand. This document will eventually render our Maximum Authorized Working Pressure, or MAWP as it applies to our boiler. 

Dick Coudin and Jeff Boone continued their work from last summer and chipped away at paint, rust, etc. on the driver center castings. These are now looking very nice in primer paint. They will look even better when they are back under the boiler and frame. This is a good example of sticking to a job until it is done, thanks guys!

Steve was also busy checking the wristpins and crankpins for cracking using our dye-penetrate kit. A red dye is sprayed on the part to be checked, wiped off, after which a "developer" is sprayed on, turning the surface white. Any cracks will be visible as red lines. Steve reported that all the components checked passed this inspection. Good news is always welcome. 

Steve wipes off the red dye while checking a wristpin for cracking.
The wristpins after being sprayed with the developer. The red lines are the accumulation of dye at a step in the diameters.
Severn Edmonds, another helpful fellow from GGRM, has been rebuilding handles and other parts of our "new" lathe acquired last year from the UPRR. Duane and Charlie were able to wire it up, and Severn spent many hours cleaning and lubricating parts to make this machine shiny again. When we start threading staybolts, boiler studs and the like, it will be invaluable. Severn deserves accolades for his efforts to get this lathe back in trim, and we look forward to locomotive parts flying off as fast as he can make them!

We missed Charlie Spikes, our favorite volunteer at these workdays. His wife had recently gone through spinal surgery so he stayed home to take care of her, which we more than understand. Our thoughts are with her as well as our wish for her speedy recovery.

The "Dave's" of GGRM, Dave Roth and Dave Varley joined us for some time in the firebox. The tube ends in the rear tube sheet have been an ongoing thorn in our side, given the generous amount of seal welding around each of the 200 or so 2 inch diameter tubes, and the twenty four 4 1/2" diameter superheater flues. Dana Greeley started this project several years ago, and just about everyone in our diminutive group has had time on the angle grinder vs. the tube sheet. Dave Varley offered to tackle this as his contribution for the weekend, and we are glad he did. Between the three of them, Dave, Dave, and Severn tag-teaming with grinder, torch and hammer, over 100 of the tube ends were removed, which leaves only about 80 or so to go. Dave Varley deserves a great deal of credit for grinding for hours like a man possessed, putting the rest of us to shame! This coupled with the unseasonable warmth in Portola earned all involved a great deal of sweaty satisfaction for a job well done. Matt Parker was finally able to get in on the fun, and got many of the threads chased on the flexible staybolt sleeves before his company called him back. Great to see Matt back, it's been too long!

Dave Roth demonstrates that there is no graceful way to exit a firebox.
The Daves, Roth and Varley getting things done!

Saturday night the Museum management, led by Eugene Vicknair and Tom Carter put on a BBQ shindig for the workers, a great period to decompress and lick our wounds. A great end to another productive season. Thanks also to Rod and Gail McClure for running interference on many fronts, as well as their unwavering support of our project.

I would also like to thank Bob Sims for continuing the efforts on our shop boxcar. He has, at his own expense, been working on the interior, sheeting and insulating to create a nice comfortable space for working on steam components and tool storage. Bob has been working tirelessly all summer on this project, and he has our gratitude.

To date our superheater donors: Bob Sims, James Mason, Steve Lee and Matt Shuman, through their generosity, have seven of the 24 flues donated. Please consider a donation, each is $350.00, is tax-deductible, and will get your name on the donors plaque in the cab. Thanks again to all of our beloved donors for your continued support!

Looking toward next year, Roger Stabler has arranged to have the locomotive's leaf springs rebuilt, These will be ready for pickup in December. The cost will be covered by Roger, which is a very generous gesture. We look forward to getting them back in the frame in the Spring.

Speaking of Spring 2013, our next work session will be Saturday, April 20th through Saturday April 27th. This will be a full week of prep for lifting the boiler and frame back onto the drivers. With a great deal of effort, and some luck, the locomotive will be back inside by Sunday, April 28th. Severn Edmonds and Dave Varley are considering spending the week and we welcome any additional help during setup and tramming.

Sitting here writing this in the comfort of my kitchen at home, I am glad that the work session was scheduled for last week, given the gas price spike. Hopefully things will calm down soon. A small reminder that just showing up in Portola can be a great expense to our volunteers, and I certainly appreciate your diligence. I hope to get the 165 restoration "over the hump" next season, and picking up speed until we finally get a fire back in her.

Until next year, stay safe, and have an happy, healthy Holiday Season! - JCA

Thursday, October 4, 2012

WPRM Steam Work Dates for 2013

Dates for steam work sessions at Portola in 2013:
Saturday, April 20th - Saturday, April 27th (Re-wheeling / Big Lift Week)
Thursday July 18th - Saturday July 20th
Thursday Sept. 26th - Saturday Sept. 28th

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 2013!

-Chris Allan

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Two More Superheater Flue Donors

Thanks to Matt Shuman and Steve Lee who each donated to the Superheater Flue fund last week. To date we have almost filled in one whole row! The continued generosity of our donors will get this locomotive back up and running before too long. We appreciate it guys!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Summer Workweek Report 2012

Although lightly patronized, a good amount of work was accomplished during our summer work session last month in Portola, July 19th – 21st, 2012.

Roger Stabler and I arrived on Wednesday, and again to our delight, the Pullman car was in fine “move-in” shape and required very little cleanup. Thanks to the Museum staff for keeping everything much cleaner than it has been in the past.  Roger had brought up a new ice machine for the gift shop that he donated, (thanks to Roger for that!) he spent the majority of the evening replacing the old water filter with a larger more “industrial” version. We now have copious amounts of ice at our disposal.

After the long journey up from Lakewood I was ready for some steaks, also provided by Roger, as well as plenty of sides; a great start to the week!

Thursday morning Charlie and I set up some shade out by the engine, and Roger, with helper Hank Stiles began tacking in the patch on the wrapper sheet. This area was wasted away and needed replaced, being in the corner of the cab where moisture was trapped for a very long period of time. Charlie had to run into Sparks for some welding gasses, which delayed things a bit, but he came through as he always does. Dick Coudin, who came in very early that morning, was given the task of cleaning up the drivers and applying a coat of primer.  Assisting him were locals Dave Anderson and Steve Parry. To my delight, Kirk Baer has been cleaning up the locomotive frame since our last visit, getting some primer on, and making the engine look like someone cares! Thanks Kirk!

Patch is tacked in place, ready for the root pass.
Roger and Hank continued the welding project on Friday, lots of welding and even more grinding between passes. Hank chased the threads on more of the flexible stays, still plenty of those left to do, but every one counts. 

Norm Holmes stopped by to pick up a train order signal casting that Paul Boschan had brazed together for him. Evidently when the SN cut the mast down back in the day, it fell like a mighty redwood, and broke the head casting in three pieces. The casting is back together again, and Norm hopes to erect it at his new place in Carson City. Norm brought with him a truck load of steam paperwork, parts and a few surprises, like the numberboard glasses from quite a few WP locomotive headlights, including the 165’s! Those will make a great display someday. Norm also donated a folio with drawings of valve measurements and settings for every WP engine. That will come in quite handy, Thanks Norm!

Roger grinds the passes down smooth before adding more metal.
Thursday night, around 11PM, I panicked when I heard a locomotive fire up right next to us in the Pullman car. It didn’t last long idling. Come to find out it was an eager Seth Adams firing up our latest acquisition, the WP 1503. Good to hear her finally alive again, although a little warning next time would be nice! (Just kidding Seth).

Later Friday evening, Roger and I cut out early at 4PM to drive up to bucolic Greenville, to meet a fellow by the name of Ross who claimed to have a turbo generator we could use on the 165. The generator that came with the engine was missing the half that contained the windings, presumably purloined by copper thieves. Ross is a great fellow, who lives on a few acres in a WP wood caboose, surrounded by the spoils of his time working for Dobbas Trucking. His company made a living picking up derailments; to say quite a few treasures made it to his property would be an understatement. I thought I was in an episode of “American Pickers”. Ross also donated a three chime whistle off now scrapped WP derrick 27, which now resides in our collection. Thanks to him for his hospitality and generosity. Also thanks to our bookkeeper Susan for hanging around her office long enough for us to pick up the check.

Upon inspection of the generator by Roger, it was determined to be in good enough shape to go ahead and purchase. Saturday Roger cleaned out the wasps nests and other detritus in the turbo blades, oiled it, put some air to it, and it spun right up, it even made 32 volts! Thanks again to Norm for arranging to meet Ross, one of the more interesting people I have run across during this project.

Another video here.

Saturday it was back to work, welding and grinding for Roger, who was getting quite gritty at this point, and more cleaning for the shop crew, joined this day by Eddie Chase, as well as more primer. In the end Dick’s crew got paint on half of the drivers, an excellent start. We will continue in the Fall and hopefully complete the process before the wheels go back under the frame.

Dick Coudin applies primer to one of the locomotive driver castings.
All this time, Bob Sims has been tirelessly working on the interior framing of our steam shop car, D&RGW 62962. He has to date gotten the man doors in the side installed, as well as an air conditioner. Bob designed it so when you close the big old sliding door on the side of the car, these newly installed doors are not apparent. After I left on Sunday morning he continued apace and got a couple of the stud walls tacked into place. Before long this will serve as a workshop area and a clean place for the steam crew to “retreat” during our work sessions and eventually operation days. We can’t thank Bob enough for his extraordinary efforts!

Utter exhaustion set in Saturday night by the time we needed to start picking things up. Luckily the weather cooperated until Saturday, by which point we were quite warm, especially Roger in his welding coat. After getting everything put away and a brief respite in the Pullman, Roger, Dick and I went off to the Beckwith Tavern for dinner. Prime rib is a great way to wind up a weekend of good progress.

Another reminder that our Superheater Fundraiser is ongoing. Thanks again to Bob Sims and James Mason for kicking it off. Click the graphic in the right pane to donate online. Every $350.00 donation nets another flue, as well as your name on a donors plaque in the cab of the 165, for perpetuity. Now is the time to keep the momentum up, and bring steam back to Portola!

Have a great rest of your summer season, and we will see you September 27th through the 29th  2012 for our Fall work session. - JCA

Roger loves grinding!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Superheater Flue Fundraising Drive

Hello everyone!

I hope you are having a wonderful Spring and are ready for another Summer season. The Steam Team in Portola is happy to announce that we are finally ready for superheater flues to be replaced in the 165's boiler. We are asking our ardent and generous supporters to please consider donating the funds to purchase one or more of the 24 flues that will be needed to make our locomotive steam again.

The purchase and fabrication cost for each flue is estimated at $350.00, which is of course a tax-deductible contribution. You can watch the progress above on this nifty graphic (Thanks Eugene!) as each flue hole is filled in as the contributions arrive. As an added incentive, each donor who gives $350.00 or more will have his or her name inscribed on the donors plaque, to be mounted in the cab area in perpetuity.

We are lucky that Norm Holmes was able to work an excellent deal for the 2" diameter tubes which we now have in storage on site. The 5 1/2" diameter superheater flues represent the last major components necessary to make the boiler steamable again.

Thanks again for all of your past and future support for the WP 165 restoration and all of the volunteer efforts at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum!

Checks in the amount of $350.00, multiples thereof, or any amount, may be made payable to:  FRRS
Please note "165 Flues" on the memo line of your check.

Mail to:

Western Pacific Railroad Museum - 165 Fund
PO Box 608
Portola, CA 96122-0608

Click here to make a donation online.

Thanks again! Have a safe and productive summer season. - JCA

Update 7/17/12: Four more flues donated by James Mason! A big thanks to you James!

Update: Our first flue has been donated by Bob Sims! Thanks for your support Bob! 

Cutaway showing superheater elements and flues.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Spring 2012 Workweek Report

Dick Coudin and I arrived Wednesday evening in anticipation of performing our usual two or three hours of cleanup in the Pullman car. To our delight, Rick Gruninger had the place looking much better than I have ever seen it. All that was required was some light touch up, setting up the berths, and running some heat into the car. Thanks to Rick for his efforts to make us feel welcome!

Another winter was behind us, except that no one told Mother Nature. Our first workday, Thursday, April 26th in Portola was confined to mostly indoor activities.

Driving box cleanup day.
Steve, Charlie, Kirk and others formed a “scraping circle” and began the task of cleaning out the oil cellars in the tops of the driving boxes, as well as drilling out the oil ports that had been plugged up for likely most of the 20th century. Handling these heavy and cumbersome iron castings was made easier thanks to Hank Stiles and Dick Coudin, who came up with a handy lifting rig so the boxes may now be moved around using the forklift. Hank and Dick also started the cleanup on the grease cellars for each box, which were equally caked with multiple layers of journal lubricant.
Hank and Dick show off their driving box lifting rig.

Bob Sims has been busy converting our D&RGW wood-bodied boxcar into a tool car for us. He and Charlie spent some time in Reno procuring plywood and security doors for the interior stud walls. When complete the car will look like just another boxcar from the exterior, but inside will be a usable and clean space for the steam crew’s use. Thanks again to Bob for taking on this sizable task!

Our electrician, Duane, with some help from Charlie managed to get the 16” Lodge & Shipley lathe back up and running. Thanks guys for having it working in time for the steam session. Thanks again to the Union Pacific shops in Roseville for donating it to the cause. Severn Edmonds is repairing some of the previously broken handles, as well as making up tooling for mounting an Aloris tool block, which will make things much quicker and easier. Severn should be back in July, hopefully to start turning staybolts.

Thursday night saw the arrival of our friends from the Golden Gate Railroad Museum. During the course of the weekend we were joined by Jeff Boone, Ken Asmus, Nancy Harden,  Deanna Knowles, Bob Bradley, Jim Prettyleaf, Dave Varley, Dave Hensarling, and of course the ever affable Dave Roth.
Dave Roth happily chasing threads.

Friday the 27th, after our morning safety meeting and carbo-load at Sharon’s Diner in historic downtown Portola, we emerged into a gloriously sunny albeit frigid morning. The task of the day was to attempt removal of the throttle dry pipe in the interior of the boiler shell. Prior to doing anything major with a cutting torch, Dave Varley ran the thickness readings which were taken by Dave Roth and Dick Coudin last Fall. Dave determined that given the thicknesses remaining, we were well within our factor of safety for the pressures we would be running at. The drypipe project was abandoned and we moved on.

More clean-up continued on the driving boxes while the patch on the wrapper sheet side was removed for drilling. First the holes for the cab bracket studs were located, which involved holding a heavy chunk of metal up on the side of the boiler while someone else marks hole locations; nothing light when it comes to working on a steam locomotive. The GGRM crew made quick work of clean-up on the pedestal binders as well.

Hank Stiles made up a handy round die holder so he could chase the threads on the flexible staybolts sleeves, followed by an application of thread lubricant to prevent deterioration. He and Dave Roth took turns over the weekend chasing threads and managed to get a large number of them chased.
Dave Varley carefully taking down measurements for the FRA Form 4.
Friday I met with Steve Lee (Union Pacific’s now retired steam program manager) and Dave Varley (GGRM Chief Mechanical Officer) to go over progress made toward generating our FRA Form 4. This document is in essence a huge number of stress calculations which ultimately allow us to determine the maximum allowed working pressure of the boiler. James Cowdery and Nathan “Maverick” Osborn have all but finished taking the thickness readings on every surface of the boiler shell and firebox; thanks to you two for sticking with it. Steve and Dave will perform the calculations based on this data, and quite a bit more information that Dave and his crew took Friday and Saturday.

Longitudinal braces and their pins were measured, inspected, and all of the rivets were hammer tested. None failed. Hammer testing of the stays will come later. Tapping on each rivet should give a resounding “ring” sound. If one is hammered with a “thud” it is most likely broken and would need to be re-set. The stayed surfaces on the backhead were measured as well. Roger Stabler began tapping out staybolt holes in the wrapper sheet in preparation for welding in the patches later this season.

Nancy Harden hammer tests rivets while
Dave Roth and Jeff Boone continue thread clean-up.
Roger Stabler has a job briefing regarding the wrapper patch work. Jim and Jeff listen closely.

Work continued on Saturday until the afternoon began to wind down. A few stories were told, some exaggerated for dramatic effect, some not. Hank and our newest steam team member, Kirk Baer of Portola, assisted me in putting a few more parts away in the second storage car, and after a clean sweep of the shop, we called it a day. Thanks to everyone for coming out, especially our friends from GGRM, who have been incredibly helpful and supportive through their loan of time and tooling. No small thanks also to our major financial donors, including Bob Sims, James Mason, and Roger Stabler, who will be footing the bill for the leaf spring repair! Thanks go to Norman Holmes for providing us with spare parts donated from his personal collection, such as the whistle off the WP 166. And of course another big thanks to Charlie and Steve Habeck for getting things ready for our arrival in the shop.
I look forward to our next session, Thursday, July 19th - Saturday July 21st. With some luck and persistence, we should have the boiler and frame back on its drivers in the Fall. Until we meet again, have a wonderful Spring and Summer season, and be safe. -JCA