Saturday, April 29, 2006

Eric and Dale with the Four Spot

Even railroaders can't escape house keeping chores.

Today was moving day for the El Dorado Western. Hard work, sweat and grime characterized this move as we emptied a Diamond Springs storage locker and moved our stuff to Denver & Rio Grande boxcar No. 3427 in the town of El Dorado.

I say "stuff" because we had collected a decade's worth of essential parts for the D&C No. 4 Shay as well as an odd collection of historic "junk."

EDWRF Director Ed Cunha told me this morning the we went through a phase where any donation was gladly accepted, whether it had value to the railway or not.

Included in the collection were two pieces with the hand-painted Four Spot on the 1940s steel cab. When restored, a handcrafted oak cab will replace the steel cab on the Shay.

The photo of railway President Eric Stohl (left) and volunteer Dale Mace with the Four Spot served as a fitting end to the six-hour move. Moments like this ease the drudgery of cleaning house.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Mount Slugmore

After I returned from the engine house, I glanced over at the billet pile. "Wow! They keep growing," was all I could say.

Every five minutes, the Arnold crew pulled another heavy steel slug from the shelf under Arnold's pumpkin.

Ken's description fit best: Mount Slugmore.

The Arnold crew chipped away the red clay-like layer of mud that had glued the billets to the shelf for most of the morning.

I had to learn the true purpose of these steel slugs, many about 12 inches in diameter. Keith and Garrett gave me an education.

They figured the billets were used to compensate for wheel slip. Early in Arnold's career, the Plymouth locomotive hauled salt trains from the evaporative beds to salt works in Salton, California. The extra weight increased tractive effort. If their theory holds, Arnold could haul more cars.

Any reason for the different billet sizes? No, Keith answered. The mechanics used what they had in the shop -- mostly mill ends and cut-offs.

It's amazing the things you learn on the railroad!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Removing the Bearings to Arnold

The EL Dorado Western is currently overhauling a narrow gauge Plymouth diesel switch engine, known as ARNOLD Z. Why ARNOLD Z?

Well, when the engine was purchased from the Westside and Cherry Valley operation of Glen Bell, the locomotive had been fitted with a CAT diesel radiator, which gave the locomotive a snouty look, like the pig on the old TV show Green acre's. The short exhaust stack produced a snorting sound, "Arnold Z" or just "Arnold" for short.

Ken starts to remove the cab to Arnold on Saturday, April 1, 2006. We plan to replace the cab on the re-build Arnold.

The decision was made to rebuild the locomotive running gear, brakes, and cab, to provide a utility engine for track work, switching the steam engines, and even pulling the passenger trains if required. Inspection identified a lot of needed work including turning the wheelsets. To accomplish this, the locomotive was stripped down to the chassis, including removing the old beat up cab, which will be replaced.

The Caterpillar engine to Arnold. We started cleaning the locomotive last weekend on Saturday, April 22. The was crusted with 40 plus years of built-up rust and mud.

Now we could access the interior of the chassis for cleaning, set up a new braking system, and remove the journal bearings to allow dropping out the wheelsets. Given the addition of several very capable new volunteers, one a locomotive engineer, the others involved in trucking and mechanical repair, the work has progressed to the point of bearing removal.

From the left, Garrett, Scott and Ken remove the last billet from under the pumpkin.

This is where the story really picks up, as we were challenged by the size, and press fit of the bearings on the axles. A puller was machined, and we bolted up the puller to the journal box. The rear side of the puller pressed against the axle. Using an impact wrench, we tightened the bolts in a sequence, and very slowly the journal box moved over the axle. However, the job became much more complex, more next time. Keith

Bill's bearing puller in action.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Photo of the Diamond & Caldor No. 10 Shay

John Barnhill has added a photograph of the Diamond & Caldor No. 10 Shay to his Foothill Rails website. He attributes the photo to Louis Stradiotto.

John also added three photos from the Michigan-California Lumber Co. in Camino, California. Included is a photo of the cable way. These photos are from the Martin E. Hansen. Martin is a Bend, Oregon lawyer and logging railroad enthusiast. He frequently posts photos from his extensive collection on the Narrow Gauge Discussion Forum, where he's known as "Loggerhogger."

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Inside the Machine Shop

I stopped by the machine shop around 10:30 yesterday morning. EDWRF treasurer and machinist-in-training, Bill Rogers (left), had just completed six holes into a heavy steel billet that was used to pull the bearings off of Arnold Z.
The bearing puller is a simple tool, reminiscent of those made by railroad machinists in decades past. It took four hours for the guys on the Arnold team to pull the first bearing yesterday.

Sam Thompson, our lead machinist, has been building a special tool since the fall. According to the spring issue of The Dispatcher, Sam is building a "very complex portable metal shaper -- a one-of-a-kind -- to shape the valve faces in-place on the No. 4 steam engine assembly."

So I asked Sam (right) how long until he completes the assembly? "A month or two get it up on the engines," responded Sam. "But then I need to build a feedback mechanism and a counter weight."

Sam doesn't see the tool being anywhere near operation until this fall. That sounds like a long time to build even the most complex tool. But remember that we work one day each week. There's only 15 working days until Labor Day!

My next question was more practical, at least in my mind. What are you going to call the thing? "A valve shaper," offered Sam with a chuckle. "I'll have to make something up here -- a Rube Goldberg."

Dave Spohr rounds out the team in the machine shop. Although Dave didn't work this weekend, you'll usually find him shaping the drive shafts to the Diamond & Caldor No. 4 Shay. We'll have more to say on this process later.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Installing Re-Built Corner Braces

Eric Stohl, president of the El Dorado Western, and Dale Mace, a retired welder and millwright, have been re-building and installing the six corner braces to the Shay since mid-February. Only one or two braces had survived since the locomotive was decommissioned in 1953. A few others were cut in half by the renovation crew over the past decade. At least we still had the pieces.

Eric holds the bolt steady today while Dale tightens the inside left rear brace.

These photographs are from the Saturday, March 25, 2006 workday:

To weld the two rods, Dale slowly adds metal to the gap. He says that it makes a much stronger connection. If you weld flat pieces end-to-end, the end result is a very weak connection.

The right-front brace, primed and ready to paint. This is one of the original braces.

Dale shapes the hole that will accept the iron rod.

Spring 2006 Issue of The Dispatcher is on the Street

Here's a tease of the spring issue of The Dispatcher, the official newsletter for the El Dorado Western Railway Foundation.

The newsletter is available at the cost of membership in EDWRF. To join our effort to renovate the Diamond & Caldor No. 4 Shay locomotive and to operate an El Dorado County Logging and Railroad Museum, send $35 (check or money order) for individual membership to:

PO Box 3517
Diamond Springs, CA 95619

Family membership costs $60, corporate $100 and life membership is $500 for individual or family and $1,000 for a business.

The summer issue of The Dispatcher will publish early July.