Saturday, October 28, 2006

Busting Off J-Box Wear Plates

Ken Romine drilled out the hexagon-head bolts to day on all four journal boxes to Arnold Z today. Ths was a last resort attempt to remove the left- and right-hand wear plates on the boxes.

Ken is going to use the wear plates in the best condition as a pattern for new plates. He will use one plate from each side.

What made this tricky was that there was only one good left-hand wear plate. By late morning, Ken has successfully removed all wear plates from the j-boxes.

Most Beautiful Shay?

Loggerhogger on the Narrow Gauge Discussion Board asked this question last Wednesday. He posted a historic picture of the West Side Lumber Co. No. 9 Shay with this comment:
This is my vote for the most beautiful Shay built. Yes, she is narrow gauge and not the one I run on a regular basis. But I must say, I have always admired the clean lines and powerful look to West Side Lumber #9.
Most beautiful? I'm couldn't say with any accuracy. But I doubt any Diamond & Caldor Shays fall into that category.

The photo of the D&C No. 7 is from my collection. It's the No. 7 Shay spotted in the wye in front of the Diamond Springs engine house. The date is August 21, 1938.

And let me add that the No. 4 is in better condition today as we're restoring it in Placerville than it was in its last years of service.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Just a quick note -- picked up the Shay Station Coffee Co. blog from last Saturday. Visit for the latest news and information on the Placerville area.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Shay Station Coffee Co. in Michigan

I just saw a post from last September over at Robert Harrington's Controlled Chaos blog. There's a coffee shop in Cadillac, Michigan named after the venerable Shay locomotive.

The Shay Station Coffee Co. menu includes "special beverages from cream fruit drinks to double chocolate mochas." A fajita chicken wrap and spicy bacon turkey salads are waiting to be discovered by 1920s-style soda fountain and eatery. The ciabatta bread paninis sounds good!

Cadillac is a former logging town up on the Michigan peninsula. Logging in the region began with the opening of the Pioneer Mill in 1871, with the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad reaching Cadillac in 1872.

The Michigan Iron Works Company of Cadillac manufactured the Shay locomotive for a short time before designer Ephraim Shay licensed the Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, Ohio to manufacture the geared locomotive from 1880. Production continued until 1945.

A Placerville Shay Station?
We could franchise the Shay Station Coffee Shop out Placerville way. After all, we have plenty of coffee lovers in El Dorado County. And we have the most important accoutrement -- a 99-1/2-year old Shay locomotive.

It would be much more romantic than walking into a Starbucks each day!

What more can you ask for? A Shay geared loco and good coffee. And it might be a good way to raise cash for the old No. 4!

Cross-posted at 'Round the Chuckbox.

Fall Newsletter at the Printers this Week

The fall issue of The Dispatcher, the official newsletter of El Dorado Western Railway Foundation, is now on museum director Mary Cory's desk. Mary will had it off to the printer Monday or Tuesday.

The third issue for 2006 should be in the mail by the end of the week.

The Dispatcher is a benefit of membership in the railway foundation. A copy of the quarterly is mailed to each member's house each January, April, July and October.

To join our effort to renovate the Diamond & Caldor No. 4 Shay locomotive and to build and 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. Annual membership runs from January to December.

Won't you please join our effort for the 2007 renovation season and help us celebrate the 100th anniversary of the D&C No. 4 Shay?

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Truck Assembly to Railbus Trailer

Another blog is real time ...

The first truck assembly to the Railbus trailer is now completely disassembled. Welder Dale Mace and president Eric Stohl removed both wheel sets this morning.

Over the past month, Dale and Eric have taken the truck apart piece by piece. Like so much of our work at the engine house, each Saturday sees another component or two removed.

A piece here, a piece there. Two - three - four Saturdays pass and the project is done.

It's like the Bill Murray and Richard Dryfuss movie, What About Bob.

"Baby steps, get on the elevator ... baby steps get on the elevator ... Ah, I'm on the elevator," said Bob Wiley, Bill Murray's character in the movie.

That's how things operate at the engine house -- with baby steps.

Designing the Valve Shaper "On the Fly"

This blog comes in real time ...

Bill Rodgers (left) and Sam Thompson discuss the drive mechanism for the shaper head to Sam's "Rube Goldburg" valve shaping tool. This morning they cut the handle off of a ratchet gear wrench. They'll use the wrench to turn the screw that'll advance one of the shaping mechanisms. The discussion around the piece that will advance the wrench head.

About 10:30 this morning I asked Sam how the piece would work. He said he could best show me in the machine shop. As we walked, Sam asked, "You know how a shaper works?" I struggled for words. I have a basic idea, but am always afraid that I'll get it wrong.

"It's the same idea in the machine shop," Sam responded. He explained how how a ram travels back and forth, shaving a thin layer of metal off with each pass. I understood. You can see the wrench head that Sam placed on the nut in the lower right corner of the photo (red arrow). Sam and Bill are now designing the mechanism that will advance the nut and screw to the right.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Update on D&C No. 4 Shay Model

The Shay model is currently selling for $366 with two days remaining on the auction. Eight bidders have left 15 total bids so far. I'm not certain that the locomotive will top the $700 opening bid from last June.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Wood Burning Late Model D&C No. 4 on eBay

Another Diamond & Caldor No. 4 Shay locomotive has appeared on The wood-burning Shay sports Sunbeam headlight just forward of a diamond stack.

The last time this model surfaced on eBay, it didn't sell. The starting bid in June was $700.

It's currently running at $280. Eight bidders have already tried. The auction runs through October 22. It closes at 6:47 p.m. Pacific Time.

Read my comments from last spring here. As I noted in my June 9 blog, this model locomotive isn't the piece for you if you're looking for authenticity.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Rube Goldberg Update

Real time from inside the machine shop ...

Lead machinist Sam Thompson continued working on his "Rube Goldberg" valve shaping machine all morning after the boiler meeting.

A few minutes ago I asked him how the project was going. "Oh, I'm scratching my head," responded Sam. I didn't ask the nature of his dilemma. I'm confident he'll work it out.

Treasure and board member Bill Rodgers was helping Sam earlier this today. Bill has since left for a retirement job with one of the Apple Hill growers.

Railbus Trailer J-Box Guides

Another blog as the crew works ...

EDWRF welder Dale Mace welds angle iron guides adjacent to one of the Railbus trailer journal boxes. Railway president Eric Stohl said the guides prevent the journal boxes from twisting the wrong way.

The guides only allow up and down motion, according to Eric. Eric and Dale are the primary crew members on the trailer project. EDWRF vice president Keith Berry has been priming and preparing metal surfaces for paining. He is going to use an oil-based pain from Ace Hardware. The color closest to the original is named Royal Red by Ace.

The journal box before Dale installed guides. You can see the damage to the slots as the original journal boxes were allowed to twist from side to side and side up and down. The damage is visible at the base of the rusted spacers.

Back to Work

The work must continue ...

Garrett Augustus returns to the dirty work of running a railroad. After the boiler committee meeting this morning, Agustus returned to his main project, which is cleaning our Plymouth locomotive, Arnold Z.

EDWRF Website Note

While the El Dorado Western Railway Foundation website is being reworked you can still view the old file through the "backdoor." Webmaster George Potter said the old files would remain in place for the time being.

George cautioned, however, that the different pages would be removed as he updates each section of the original EDWRF website.

During reconstruction, the best place to start is the About Us page at Navigation links to the right continue to work. A click on the Home button will take you to the new front page, which currently has no navigation links. Use your back button to return to the version 1 website.

Water Tank Brace Pictures

This blog comes to you in real time ...

Here's the promised photograph of the rear water tank brace to the Diamond & Caldor No. 4 Shay locomotive. You can find Tuesday's blog on the water tank braces here.

Boiler project manager Doug Youngberg said Tuesday that the spacer will be removed once the rivets are installed. He said the appropriate sized spacer may be installed once the water tank settles into the wood deck planks.

The bottom photo shows the bolt as it comes through the frame to the locomotive.

Boiler Committee

This blog comes to you in real time ...

Shortly after 9 a.m. this morning, Garrett Augustus, Doug Youngberg, Sam Thompson and George Potter (left to right in top photo) met as the boiler committee to discuss future repairs to the boiler of the Diamond & Caldor No. 4 Shay locomotive. The oiler tank to the Shay serves as the conference room.

Doug and George also serve as members of the board of directors for the El Dorado Western Railway Foundation. Sam is our lead machinist while Garret brings years experience as a locomotive engineer. Garret periodically fires for the one of the steam locomotives on the Skunk Train. The Skunk runs between Willits, California and Fort Brag on the Pacific Coast.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

El Dorado Western Railway Website

George Potter, EDWRF webmaster and board member, has started working on an updated website for the railway. The website hasn't moved -- it can still be found at

The extensive database of photos and articles will temporarily be unavailable while George develops new links and layout. Check back frequently, please. For now, we will continue to place up-to-date news items on the blog.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Water Tank Braces

I stopped by the engine house this afternoon after I spotted Doug's truck in the parking lot. Doug and Keith are meeting tonight for a few hours to discuss the placement and riveting of the braces. They plan to do it in the next few months.

Doug showed me the location of each of the four braces. Two are installed on back end of the water tank. The other two braces, which secure the water tank to the locomotive frame, are located inside the cab.

In the photo, the lefthand brace is visible above the grinder. Unfortunately, this is the only photo that I've taken of the water tank. I'll take a few shots of the brace detail this weekend.

The bottom of the "L" on the brace sits about two inches above the deck, just above the rivet line on the tank. Doug said the water tank will settle once the locomotive starts operation. Approximately 20,000 pounds of water and oil (the oil tank sets on top of water tank) and the motion of the Shay will encourage the underside rivets to dig into the wood deck.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Adjourn to Pie

The El Dorado Western Railway Foundation has a tradition.

Regardless of the scope of discussion or extent of disagreement, the board meeting always adjourns to pie. A slice of pie and cup of juice has a way of placing us at ease. It allows us to relax and turn our attention away from the business of running a railroad.

Last Thursday's meeting was my first turn to bring pie. Each board member is scheduled to bring pie once each year. My next scheduled turn is September 7, 2007.

It gave me a rare opportunity to bake a chocolate cream pie for the meeting. Baking the pie brought bake fond memories of baking in the Navy. I first worked as a night-shift baker at Naval Air Station Lemore, California while assigned to Attack Squadron 127. Each night the crew baked about 200 single-and double-crust pies.

The recipe is posted at 'Round the Chuckbox, my personal blog.