Sunday, May 28, 2006

Tally-Ho Railbus Trailer Photos

Eric Stohl looks away while Dale Mace joins a bolt to one of the truss rods.

Dale used a set of heavy duty pipe clamps to bend the truss rods in place.

Dale and Eric installed four truss rods on the Tally-Ho Railbus trailer on Saturday, May 20, 2006.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Progress on Arnold

The valley crew made its long trek into the El Dorado Gold Country from Sacramento last Saturday to continue work on Arnold Z, El Dorado Western Railway's Plymouth switcher.

Garrett Augustus (left in photo), a locomotive engineer for the Sierra Northern Railroad, leads the group. Filling the Arnold team is Ken Romine (second from left) and his three sons. Sons Dave and Scott are pictured to the left. Son James didn't come up last weekend.

In addition to Garrett's obvious skills as a locomotive engineer, the Romine family brings a wealth of mechanical and wood working skills to the project. Ken and Dave are long haul truck drivers and skilled mechanics while Dave is the maintenance supervisor for a large bowling alley. James is the carpenter of the family.

We welcome the Arnold team to the El Dorado Western.

D&C Railbus Trailer 10T (Flatcar)

This is an up-date on the current work going on to return this "trailer" flatcar to operational status.

Although of light weight construction , this shop built flatcar can play an important role in our operations including track work, track fixtures, and carrying a small water tank. We have repaired the frame at the corners where a prior owner had started to install vestibule stairs for ridership. This work included side pieces, and diagonal bracing to prevent "racking" when in operation.

Our fabricating welder Dale Mace took care of this work in short order, he has really taken hold on the team. Dale and Eric Stohl also have replaced the truss rods to provide strength when loaded. This work done, we can now proceed to replace several bent hand brake rods, and fabricate a replacement brake wheel staff. We will also add some additional support bracing to attach the crane assembly to one end of the car. As mentioned, we are thinking of converting a non-railroad boiler to water tank service for emergency water and spot fire prevention.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Picture of Railbus Trailer

I though you might like to see a picture of the trailer.

I took this shot on Saturday, October 1, 2005 -- the day the El Dorado Western moved the trailer from its storage location to the El Dorado County Historical Museum in Placerville, California.

Railbus Trailer Work

I had another very long day at work. So, I'll post these photographs this evening and return with more on Thursday. Dale Mace, our welder and metal fabricator, and EDWRF President Eric Stohl started work Saturday on the companion trailer to the Diamond & Caldor Railbus No. 10.

Dale's first task Saturday was to replace the two missing truss rod guides. Both missing guides were from the undercarriage.

Next, Eric ground the unthreaded end of the both rods. Dale created a mobile grinding wheel by holding the heavy duty grinder while Eric tapered the rod ends.

The tapered end of the turnbuckle bolt.

Dales uses a piece of angle iron to line the two pieces. He tacks the toe pieces to hold them in place, then completes the weld elsewhere.

Quick Update

I've been busy with work and other activities. I should be able to post my weekly update on last Saturday's renovation activities tonight. The Arnold crew (Garrett, Ken, Dave and Scott) was in Saturday on one of their semimonthly renovation trecks up into the from Sacramento. Sam was in the machine shop. And Eric and Dale started work on the Railbus trailer.

I took photos as usual. I'll post several tonight. Go to the Narrow Guage Discussion Group for a discussion on the Railbus trainer.


Monday, May 15, 2006

Getting it in Gear

I see my close friend Keith Berry three to four times each week. As you may guess, many of our conversations center on EDWRF's effort to restore the D&C No. 4 and preserve the history of this unique period in El Dorado County logging industry.

But I didn't give it much thought when Keith mentioned a few weeks ago that a higher percentage of Shays had survived the scapper's torch than rod engines. I quickly agreed. My cerebral filing system quickly came up with seven Shays in Northern California:
  • Placerville -- D&C No. 4
  • Turtle Bay -- Michigan-California Lumber Co. No. 2 -- builder's number 122 makes it the oldest Shay in existence
  • Fish Camp -- West Side Lumber Co. Nos. 10 and 15
  • Felton -- Coal Processing No. 3, W. M. Ritter Lumber Co. No. 7 and West Side No. 7

(Another nine or 10 other Shays reside within driving distance of the El Dorado Western engine house, according to's list of surviving Shays. A total of 116 Shay geared locomotives are known to have survived, along with 20 Climaxes ( and 34 Heislers (

For a month now, I've been contemplating a summer vacation at Odell Lake in the Oregon's Cascade mountain range. A quick scan of the Internet led me to the May 1996 issue of TRAINS Magazine, which carried an article that maps the best spots to photograph former SP and Amtrak trains crossing the range. (The vacation didn't begin as a railroad trip -- it evolved once I discovered that the UP line passed along the south shore of the lake.)

Like any railroader, I dove into the rest of the issue and discovered a 10-year old piece on the geared workhorses of the mid-1990s ("Getting it in gear: Shays, Climaxes, and Heislers do more than their share of work in today's steam world," pages 34-39).

Author Jim Wrinn reasons that "good genetics" helped geared engines run so well a decade ago. That's the legacy of the Shay, Climax and Heisler. They were built to steam in rough mountains on poorly ballasted rails where "agility, brute strength, and simplicity of design were primary virtues."

Wrinn said that geared "engines worked on steep grades, flimsy temporary track with little or no maintenance, out in the wilderness far from the shops." That's why they survived. Any locomotive that was built for the arduous conditions of the forest was bound to outlive their mainline brothers.

Approximately 174 of the nearly 4,500 geared engines built from the late-1880s through to World War II are still with us today. That means about one of every 26 geared locomotives ever built is still with us (the ratio is 1:21 for the Shay). Twenty-one of the 116 surviving Shay operate today.

What's the survival record for rod engines? I'm not sure. But, I can say that only 1 in 300 Baldwin locomotives are still with us. According to Wrinn, over 60,000 locomotives were manufactured by Baldwin Locomotive Works (including five geared engines!).

Keith is right. Geared locomotives did survive in greater numbers that their mainline cousins. It's certainly a testament to their rugged design and ability to endure rough, often brutal conditions of the forest.

Come watch the El Dorado Western restore Lima Shay number 1986, the Diamond & Caldor No. 4. We're slowly restoring the largest of the two surviving El Dorado County logging locomotives and need the support of local citizens and railfans. We appreciate the help the we receive from the local El Dorado County community.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Milling the Drive Shafts

I stopped by the engine house this morning for a few hours. There wasn't much going on as this is the "off" weekend. In the photo Dave Spohr (left) and Eric Stohl discuss the driveshaft renovation project.

Our Plymouth crew -- Garrett with Ken and sons -- travels up from Sacramento to work on another small piece of Arnold every other weekend. They'll remove one or two of the journal bearings next Saturday.

This morning, Eric Stohl and Dale Mace were installing the final corner brace for the Shay. When I left at 11 a.m., Dale was welding the joint between the base plate and the rod. The brace project will be done once Eric and Dale install the brace.

Of the six braces, three were completely fabricated by Dale. Only three original braces were found when found when the crew started this project some 12 or 13 years ago. Dale and Eric were able to install two of the original braces without any modification. The third was modified some.

Sam Thompson continued building his valve shaper in the machine shop. Dave Spohr was milling one of the short male drive stafts at the other end of the shop (see photo to left).

The Shay geared locomotive used a line shaft to drive the right wheel on each axel set. describes this unique arrangement:

These line shafts were attached to square shafts through couplings. The square shafts slid into sleeve shafts, which were attached to the crankshaft through another set of couplings. The square shaft sliding freely in the sleeve shaft allowed the locomotive to take sharp curves. As the truck turned to follow the track curve, the distance between the crankshaft and the truck increased or decreased and the square shaft slid in or out while still rotating, delivering power to the truck from the pistons.

Keith Berry described the restoration process in the spring issue of the newsletter:

Dave [has been working with Sam and Dale since February to restore the male] driveshaft faces to specification. Over normal locomotive operation, surface-to-surface friction from turning and the constant presence of dirt kicked up from the ballast ground the driveshaft faces down.

Sam's challenge was to locate an arbitrary starting surface point to weld/build the contact surfaces and end up with a four-sided square drive shaft. Once established, Dale welds, and Dave mills the surfaces. Then Dale welds, and Dave again mills, and around it goes. Or in this case, square it becomes! Eventually, the shaft will reach finished specification and they'll start on the next shaft.

In the photo to the right, Dave used a fly cutter to shave 0.045-inch off the face of the shaft. Dale can only add metal to two surfaces at a time. One of the milled surfaces is used to lay the shaft level on the milling machine. The other is used as a gauge.

Dave feeds the surface being cut at a rate of 3/8-inch per minute. It takes 50 minutes to mill each surface.

Dave said Dale would ultimately add metal to edges so that he could form a true edge on the shaft. The edges take most of the punishment as the shaft slides in and out of the companion driveshaft.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

New Mexico Lumber Co. Shay No. 7 to Steam Labor Day

Steven Haworth posted a message over at the Narrow Gauge Railroad Discussion Forum this morning. According to Steven, the New Mexico Lumber Co. Shay No. 7 will steam again this summer during Labor Day weekend during the Annual Hesston Steam & Power Show. For information and photographs, go to the Hesston Steam Museum website.

A photograph of the No. 7 that's reminiscent of the D&C No. 4 in its engine house is posted on the NGRDF.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

New Director

At the monthly meeting of the EDWRF Board of Directors last Thursday, Ron Callahan resigned his position as a director. I'm not sure how long Ron has been on the board, but he's been our media relations specialist for several years and is a frequent contributor to The Dispatcher, the official newsletter of the El Dorado Western.

Ron (with gold lettering on T-shirt) helps Eric Stohl position an old tie during the D&RG boxcar move last October. The ties formed the crib that will support the boxcar on the flatbed trailer during the move. Vice President Keith Berry stands to the right of Ron.

A job transfer will be moving Ron two or three counties to the west of Placerville. We expect that he'll contribute articles to the newsletter and conduct living history interviews as we locate living Diamond & Caldor employees. At the meeting Ron said that he'd still write articles for the Mountain Democrat when he could.

We'd like to thank Ron for his service to the railway. Members come to the railway with many talents. Ron holds a special ability to contact El Dorado County trainmen from years past and record their story. We may not see him around the engine house that often. But every railway like the El Dorado Western needs those with his skills and his ability to quietly work behind the scenes. Thank you Ron.

Steve Karoly at work in the museum research room. Since I take few photos of myself, I had to coach my 14-year old son to frame this shot.

Ron's departure has provided an opportunity for me to serve on the board. At the meeting, President Eric Stohl suggested that I be appointed to fill Ron's term. I'll continue to serve as newsletter editor, grant writer and all-around gofer. My personal thanks to Eric for his trust in my abilities.

As I write this, the guys are hard at work at the engine house. I'm sure Eric and Dale are installing the last corner brace on the Shay. Garrett, Ken and Scott should be removing another bearing from the Plymouth. And I expect that Sam, Dave and Bill are in the machine shop while Keith is helping where needed.

I'm heading out of town but will leave an update after I talk to Eric and Keith. More to come ...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

2006 El Dorado County Fair

"A Fair to Remember" is the theme for the 2006 El Dorado County Fair, to be held at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds, June 16-18, 2006. The fairgrounds is located at 100 Placerville Drive, Placerville, California.

So come by the engine house and take a look at the only Diamond & Caldor Shay locomotive to survive the rail line's 50-year history as one of two major logging roads in El Dorado County. The trainmen of the El Dorado Western Railway will man the engine house each day from 10 a.m. into the evening.

Saturday, June 17 is a regular work day for the crew. I can't say for certain what we'll be working on in mid-June. I suspect all six corner braces will be back on the Shay. We may have the steam-powered dynamo on display if all goes as planned for the Tuesday night dynamo and lantern team (Doug Youngberg, Keith Berry and Steve Karoly).

The machinists will be in the machine shop working on the drive shafts and valve shaping tool, among other projects. And the Plymouth crew (Garrett, Ken and Scott) should have the bearings to Arnold (why the name Arnold? See Keith's April 27 blog for the answer) completely removed and have started the rebuilding process.

I'll post additional information here as I hear from the president. If I hear anything at the board meeting is Thursday evening, I'll post it by Friday.