Sunday, July 28, 2013

Summer 2013 Workweek Report

I really do try to plan these work sessions out well in advance. I purchase tooling and materials weeks or even months ahead, line up contractors and volunteers in advance, all this just to make sure everything goes smoothly and efficiently. Rarely do things go “as planned” despite my best efforts, and last week is proof of that. However, it can work out for the best in other, less tangible ways.

Wednesday, July 17th, together with my dad, we set out from my parent’s home in Concord, CA. Since we had the time, and he had never seen the Feather River Canyon, we drove up Hwy. 70, a nice change from going over Donner. Dad was impressed with the scenery, and I have to say, so was I having not seen the Canyon from the driver’s perspective for several decades. Arriving at the museum we moved into our accommodations, air conditioning in perfect working order I might add, and settled in. An invitation to Kirk and Debbie’s house for dinner was the perfect way to wind down. Thanks guys for the nice break!

Upon inspection of the engine on Thursday morning, I was pleased at the amount of work that the “Wednesday Warriors” (Kirk, Dave, Eddie and Larry) have accomplished by way of needle scaling and primer painting. The 165 is finally looking more like a restoration project than a park locomotive. The care and attention to detail these fellows are taking has really paid off, so keep up the momentum and thanks! Charlie Spikes and David Elems have been working on the tender frame, removing deck rivets so that the wasted sheets under the decking can be renewed. Thanks to Charlie, Mike, David and some coaching from Norman our boilermaker as well as earplugs, they were all out by the end of the weekend. The new plate is on hand and can now be marked out and drilled. 
 
Norman with his back to the camera hooks up the knuckle patch to the air hoist while Mike assists.

Severn Edmonds was in by Thursday afternoon much to our delight. He has made it his mission to get the Lodge & Shipley 16” lathe running for the last year, and I can report that we were finally able to make real actual parts on it this time! Thanks to Severn for sticking with it! 

My hope was to start drilling the remainder of the 2” holes in the front tube sheet this time. I purchased a special hole cutter bit and adaptor so it could be used in a conventional drill chuck, and arranged to have Severn borrow the magnetic base drill press from our generous friends at GGRM. Sadly the adaptor did not fit the drill chuck, so Severn is making up a new bit of tooling so this can be done in the fall. A person can only plan for so much, we continue to fight on.

Dave Anderson continues the needle scaling marathon.

Kirk Baer makes cleaning locomotives look good!

On a happier note, Bob Sims has been quietly converting our ancient D&RGW box car into the steam department tool car. I was pleased that some of our tooling was moved out of my overloaded tool “dumpster” and into the car. Hank and Dave got a long steel table from out in the bone yard, straightened the legs and fork lifted it into the car using Bob’s angular calculations. The resulting space is a real boon to the steam guys, and will help productivity greatly given that everything will be at hand, rather than in a messy pile. Thanks to Bob for sticking with the project and to everyone who helped get us moved in.

Our boilermaker, Norman Comer was in from Tuolumne, CA. His efforts were concentrated on fitting the rear tube sheet knuckle patch that Roger cut out in the spring. This project requires a great amount of fussy cutting and measuring, and he will hopefully be back after Railroad Days to finish it up before Cody the Welder is back out in the fall from Cheyenne, Wyoming to finish all the sheet renewal work. 

Severn Edmonds at the helm of the 16" lathe.
Hank and Severn drilling out rivet holes in the new wrapper patch using the magnetic base drill.

Throughout the course of the weekend my dad was content to hang out in the climate controlled zone of the Pullman sleeper and catch up on his reading, and take the occasional nap. This was a nice change from the day to day of his regular home life. He did wander over to the shop periodically to check on our progress, but given that a heat wave was on, and the interior of the building was hotter than the hinges of hell, we only saw him briefly. To be honest I wouldn’t have minded joining him in the car from time to time myself.

Traditionally, the summer sessions are our least patronized as far as volunteers go, but I am happy to say that things are looking up. Kirk, Dave, Larry, Charlie, Burr, Mike, David, Hank, Duane, Bob, Norman and Severn did accomplish a great deal, and they have my gratitude, and the gratitude of the Board. 

Saturday night everyone was invited once more to Kirk and Debbie’s for the evening meal. It was a nice gesture, and a great way to get everyone in one place at the same time for conversation and storytelling. This social aspect is what I enjoy most about coming up to Portola, so kudos to you guys for facilitating this "team building" event, we hope we can do it again soon!

A big thank you goes to Gail McClure for designing and printing the new 165 “Heavy Metal” t-shirt for sale in the gift shop. Please pick one up next time you are at the museum! And thanks also to the switch crew lead by Steve Habeck who had the engine and tender spotted right where we wanted it. I know it’s not always easy to move stuff around in that yard, kinda like one of those sliding tile puzzles given the amount of equipment we own.

Sunday morning finally arrived, so dad and I moved out of the Pullman, and we headed out the gate. We returned by way of Pine Grove so I could drop a chunk of railroad iron off at my property. Taking Carson Pass over into California, I managed to avoid Highway 80 entirely, which was great. Dad was likely happy to get back home. I took a pause for the cause and headed back out on the road to LA. I arrived late that evening and decompressed a bit before collapsing. Unenounced to me, a week of sanding and painting ceilings lay ahead; something I really didn’t plan for. - JCA