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, November 8, 2015

A Fresh Deck for the Tender.

Saturday, October 31st, Halloween 2015 saw the Amador Sawmill & Mining Association mill in action cutting full dimension 2"x8" Douglas Fir boards to be used as new decking on the tender frame of the 165. This will be cut and fitted prior to replacing the water cistern and oil tank.

Charlie removing the original decking in Spring of 2013
Joining me at the Amador County Fairgrounds, the site of the vintage sawmill, were The Spikes, Roger Stabler, and Paul Zaborsky of BAERA. The plan was to have Charlie carry the cut lumber back over the Sierra in his pickup, however; the fresh cut lumber proved too weighty. Lucky for us, Bill Braun, president of the sawmill group, offered to trailer the wood to Portola gratis, and we are very appreciative for his generosity.

The headrig at the Amador Sawmill. Normally run on steam, it was on diesel this time due to circumstances.
Bill Braun, president of the organization, monitors volunteers working the "Green Chain".

A trailer load of deck lumber bound for Portola.

The lumber arrived the next Thursday. It is now stacked, drying in the shop until we are ready to get it bolted down to the tender frame. Again thanks to everyone who helped out unloading, including Charlie, Duane and Kirk. Thanks also to the Amador Sawmill group. Their work to preserve the history of logging and mining in the Sierra is of great benefit to the preservation community. Not to mention their lumber is of very high quality, nearly clear boards, almost too nice to cover up with a tender tank! - JCA

Monday, October 5, 2015

Fall Boiler Work Continues.

At the end of September a crew from Wasatch Railroad Contractors spent a long weekend tying up loose ends on the 165 boiler. Numerous stay bolts were finished off, some pad welding was completed, and two washout plugs were renewed, along with several other tasks.

Steve Lee, who led the expedition, sends this:

Most of the work done by Erik, Channing, Ryan, Brad, Charlie Spikes, Duane, Lynn Gordon, One-L Bil, Eddie, Mike, and Bart.


Boiler belly pad welding complete.

Severn's Stub removed and replaced with new. (Branch pipe mounting stud)

Washout couplers installed.

All staybolt caps on hand were chased, gasketed, applied and tightened.

Firepan welding done.

Tender frame plates bolted and primered, except for one, due to exhausting the entire Portola supply of primer.

Cab and running boards bolted on, as well as some of the steps. 

A few other little things I don't remember.

As Steve mentioned, Erik and Channing from the Golden Gate Railroad Museum / NPS worked tirelessly to finish up several partially done projects, allowing us to move on to bigger and better things. Charlie and Duane tried unsuccessfully to get our "Huck" bolting machine running to facilitate bolting down the spreader plates on top of the tender frame. As per usual, if it actually worked I suppose it would not be in a museum. Steve made other accommodations.

Renewed washout plug using half coupler.

Channing prepares to weld in the portion of the firepan removed to get access to the patched area.
Thanks again to Steve Lee for taking the reins this time, as I could not attend, and to John Rimmasch, owner of Wasatch Railroad Contractors for his generous support of the 165 project!

In a couple of weeks our favorite boilermaker, Norman Comer will be in to continue work on the tube sheets, various staybolts, and with any luck start sizing and annealing the tubes and flues. We will start rolling tubes in once the tender is usable again. I had hoped be to that point by now, but as I mentioned in a previous post,we had some difficulties, financially speaking. We are all hoping the Board finds funding for us to start up again in Spring 2016. If you all out there want to see WP steam back, now would be a great time to make a tax-deductible donation to the WP 165 Steam Fund! -Chris Allan

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Year-End Boost From the Board.

Good news comes late in this season, but in time to get something done. The FRRS Board has funneled $10,000.00 into the steam account which will help us save what is left of 2015. This will allow us to get our boilermaker Norm Comer on site for a couple of weeks to finish up what work is left on the tube sheets, thus allowing us to get to sizing and annealing the tubes and flues.

Norman emerges from the firebox.

We will also be able to finally purchase the rough-cut lumber for the tender deck from the Amador Sawmill and Mining Association.   Bolting down the decking will allow us to move on to the tender cistern. It will be sandblasted inside and out and painted prior to being returned to the tender frame. Currently there is no funding for this as yet.

Amador steam sawmill video:

Later this month Steve Lee will bring with him the "Huck" bolts necessary to finish attaching the new deck plates to the top of the tender frame. Charlie Spikes and Duane Vanderveen have been working to fix up our well-used bolting machine so they can accomplish this task. The welder from Wasatch Rail Contractors will be in soon to finish up the code welding on the boiler. Thanks to Steve and John for providing this highly specialized work to us free of charge!

Bob Sims has been working hard on the tool car in the meantime. He has all of the interior sheeting up, and soon Duane will be able to start on wiring. Thanks guys!

Thanks must of course go to the members of the Board who fought for this funding; including Charlie Spikes, Kirk Baer, and Wayne Monger. These guys are heroes! Hopefully this will keep some momentum going until next year. At that point we will be out of money again, so please consider a donation of any amount. Eugene Vicknair is preparing a Kickstarter campaign which should start shortly. I will post that here when he gets it going.

Thanks again for your continued support! - JCA

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Some progress...

In recent weeks a code welder from Wasatch Railroad Contractors spent a couple of days continuing to weld in the patches on the roof sheet and side firebox sheet. This was at no cost to us, and I want to thank John and Steve from WRC for providing this generous service to us. There is still much more boiler work to be accomplished before we can think about rolling in the tubes, but this puts us that much closer. Thanks to Bob Sims for the photos! - JCA

Roof sheet patches, under the rear sand dome area.

Long narrow patch in the firebox side, staybolt holes yet to be drilled.

Replica builders plate mounted on the smokebox.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Silver Lining...

Some good news to report. FRRS member and friend of the project Bob Sims has offered to cover the 165 restorations outstanding debts, a very generous gesture on his part. In the mean time the Board of Directors continues to look for additional funding to get the project back on it's feet.

Some projects that are not cash-dependent will continue, such as fitting out the tool car, and general cleanup, etc. will continue. Future work days will be announced once funding is arranged and we are ready to get back to work. - Chris Allan

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Work on hold.


It is with a heavy heart that I must suspend activity on the restoration of WP locomotive 165. This is for a number of reasons, chief among them the lack of funds at this time. As you know, these twice-yearly gatherings have been quite productive, but also incur a substantial cost to the organization. We could meet to socialize, and do a few minor things on the engine, but I do not wish to waste anyone's valuable time and money or the organizations for all to come up to Portola just for that. Also I really do not want to take another 10 years to finish this project up.

Past fundraising efforts have been good, but the "big money" never has come in for us. The current political situation with the Board election is taking up a great deal of time and cash at the moment. Hopefully when everything settles down, one way or the other, we can secure the funding necessary to take the locomotive to completion. 

My personal life is also in flux with family obligations, as well as getting ready to move back to Northern California next year. 

My apologies for any inconvenience this may cause. I appreciate the enormous effort put in by everyone, and I hope that soon we can get things moving again!

All the best,
Chris Allan