Monday, June 26, 2006

What's with Bending Over?

No matter how hard we try to make railroading easy, some things never change. Les Wilmunder has done a lot to modernize the 60 feet of light rail that he uses to demonstrate his Sheffield Motor Car speeder. He uses bolts instead of spikes, four-by-fours in place of ties and a power drill replaces the spike maul.

But there's one thing Les can't change is the need to bend over. It pains me just to watch.

Les Wilmunder uses a bolt and washer system to replace the spike.

Les drills the bolt into four-by-four ties with a power drill.

Scott Romine bends over as he sets bolts and washers in place.

Keith Berry's posture puzzles me. Bending at the waist seems to be his most comfortable posture.

There's always one sensible worker on the MOW gang. Bill Rogers kneels to join the rail sections together. (The other sensible guy is the photographer -- he walks around snapping pictures instead on bending at the waist.)

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Shay Locomotive Update

During the county fair last weekend, people would tour the Engine House, and ask "When will it be operable"? Given we've been at this for 14 years, that's a great question!

Our best guess is akin to the question, "When does the train arrive?" Our answer is: "When we get there."

We would like to think operable status in two years, that depends on boiler and engine work being completed, so it's a lot to considerations things first, let's finish a number of small stand alone projects.

So, here is a list of projects for the next three months:

  • Water Tank mounts- we need to locate the new mounts, drill the holes, and install bolts until we drive the rivets.
  • Oil Tank mounts - fabricate 1/2 by 3 " L mounts, locate, drill, bolt.
  • Rear Ladder- fabricate mounting tabe from 3/8 by 2 " flat stock, bolt ladder to upper mounts once oil tank is located on the water tank, drill, bolt until riveting.
  • Steps - Locate hole locations, fabricate top plates, weld studs to top plates, and drill holes thru wood deck. Bolt and double nut.
  • Steam fire pump - locate on Fireman's side running board, drill holes, fabricate backing plates, and locate the correct size square head bolts/nuts.
  • Head Lights- finish making the wick riser for the oil headlight, send out the glass reflector for silvering, and have cover glasses made.
These projects should be finished by fall, and will greatly add to the engines appearance. Once we have all the locations ready, we will rivet everything in one day. Meanwhile, our machinists continue to build a valve shaper, more on this machine shortly!

Thanks to all who have encouraged us to ocntinue this community project. Many fair visitors remarked that they check on us each year to see how were coming along. Now, thanks to this Blog, anyone can see our progress as it happens!

Although we will not finish next year, we will celebrate the No. 4's 100th Birthday in April.

Steam Up!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Saturday at the Fair

By the time I left the engine house late yesterday afternoon, around 90 fairgoers had stopped by to check progress on the Shay locomotive. Keith Berry said another 50 stopped by Saturday evening.

Little work got done yesterday, although we had planned a regular work day. Ken and Scott Romine -- along with their wives -- came by to talk to visitors at the engine house and to enjoy the fair. I suspect that Sam Thompson and Bill, two of our machinists, were the only ones working. Keith and I rounded out the crew.

Railway president Eric Stohl and board member Kathy Brown arrived around 3 p.m. to take the evening watch. Bill Rodgers was going to man the booth today.

Les Wilmunder's Sheffield Motor Car speeder was the hit of the day. Les' father Hal Wilmunder rescued the speeded, along with the Railbus No. 10 and other equipment, from the scrapper's torch in 1953. Les and the crew set up 60 feet on mobile track. He gave demonstrations all day.


According to Les, The speeder was manufactured in 1914 and was operated by the Diamond & Caldor Railway until the line closed operations in 1953.

"As far as we know," said Keith, "that's the only operating piece of Diamond and Caldor equipment."

"Wow" and "Dad, come look at this" seemed to be the most common expressions of the day. Many boys and girls enjoyed taking a peak at a 99-year old locomotive. Adults and children alike enjoyed hearing the history of the four-spot.

Some folks stopped to check the progress of restoration. Others were just curious.

But locating men and women who're willing to contribute to the El Dorado Western Railway may be our biggest accomplishment of the 2006 El Dorado County Fair.

Two women -- one with fund raising skills and the other a graphic artist -- expressed a willingness to possibly work with the railway.

Two men with critical trades stopped by the engine house on Friday and Saturday. The railway may have located a carpenter who can finish important finish work on the West Side & Cherry Valley parlor car and combine car.

A certified welder who can repair the boiler stopped by after being referred to the railway by a mutual friend. He can provide valuable assistance as we gear up to certify the Shay's 180-pound boiler for operation.

From my vantage point (this was my first fair with the railway), the 2006 El Dorado County Fair was successful. Although we have few new members, about 200 newsletters made it into the hands of county residents and visitors. We like to think that 200 more folks have a newly acquired appreciation for an important piece of El Dorado County history.

See you next year.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Friday at the Fair

Just a quick note before I head over to the engine house ...

"He just loves trains."

That's how Brandon's mother summed her son's fascination with trains. When he's not watching train videos with his sisters, she takes the him to the Union Pacific tracks outside their Auburn, California home to watch the trains go by.

Brandon was not alone during my watch last night. Three other four-year old boys got excited when their mothers and fathers brought them by the engine house.

Stay in touch, Brandon. We're going to need an engineer in about 15 years!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Thursday at the Fair

I stopped by the fair this evening a little after 6 o'clock. Our president, Eric Stohl, was holding down the engine house. Bill Rodgers had the morning and early afternoon shift.

Around 120 forth and fifth grade students toured the museum and engine house this morning, according to Mary Cory, the director of the El Dorado County Historical Museum. Other than the school children, today has been a slow day for the museum and the engine house. We enjoy passing the history of El Dorado county onto our youth.

Stop by tomorrow and take a look at the Diamond & Caldor No. 4 Shay. The engine house is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through Sunday. Bill will be there Friday morning. Keith Berry and I will be on duty tomorrow afternoon. We have T-shirts on sale for $20 and coffee mugs for $10. And don't forget that memberships are available for $25, $60 and $100 each (individual, family and corporate).

The fair schedule, parking and shuttle service information for the El Dorado County Fair is posted on its website. El Dorado Transit is offering free shuttle service each day from three separate parking lots to the fair entrance on Placerville Drive. Service is operated from 10 a.m. until 12:30 a.m.

A pre-1923 photograph of mill-bound Diamond & Caldor No. 4 shows the locomotive paused at Coles Station for the camera. Four lumber service cars carry rough cut to the Diamond Springs exchange with the Southern Pacific. A slab wood car (behind engine) and combine No. 1002 round out the train's consist.

Unless noted, historic photographs on the El Dorado Western Blog are from the collection of the El Dorado County Historical Museum. These photographs are available for $10 each from the museum. Call (530) 621-5865 for additional information. Please consult museum staff for limitations to the use of photographs.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

El Dorado County Fair

Just a reminder ...

The El Dorado County Fair starts tomorrow morning. 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.

Friday, June 09, 2006

D&C No. 4 Scale Model

There's a scale model of the Diamond & Caldor No. 4 Shay on auction over at eBay. It's brass, looks nice and has a steep price tag attached to it (opening bid is $700).

We're always happy to see model railroaders represent the D&C on their layouts as the line holds a special place in our hearts.

But I have two issues with the model: It's a wood burner with an Sunbeam headlight!

There's some debate as to whether the No. 4 ever burned wood or not. We do know that all D&C geared locomotives were burning oil by the teens. That's a debate for another day. (There is language in a 1913 California Railroad Commission report that supports my supposition.)

But my biggest issue is with the authenticity of the model. The D&C gave up burning wood long before it installed Sunbeam generators and headlights on its Shays. Pictures of D&C Shays with electric headlights don't surface until the late 1930.

Anyway -- if you enjoy modeling logging roads of the past and believe the price if fair (that's an area that I cannot pass judgment on ...), go for it.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Oil Tank Painted

Board member Ed Cuhna stopped by the engine house Sunday morning and painted the Shay's oil tanks a nice coach black. Keith has plans to set the oil tanks on its rightful spot -- on top of the water tank -- this Saturday.

Keith sands rusted spots on the Shay's oil tank while Ken watches in the background.

Scott sprays primer on the oil tank. The paint dried quickly in the hot afternoon sun.

Ed (left) and Keith discuss the viability of using El Dorado vs. Shingle Springs depot sites as the Western terminus of the El Dorado Western Railway.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Clean Up Day & The El Dorado County Fair

Today was spend cleaning up for the El Dorado County Fair, which will be held June 15-18, 2006, at the fairgrounds on Placerville Drive in Placerville. Eric, Keith, Bill and I the engine house tidied up while Sam and Dave worked in the machine shop. Ken and Scott sanded and primed rusted spots on the Shay's oil tank.

Like any operation, junk accumulates everywhere. The Shay's running boards have become a convenient stowage location for nails, safety goggles engine parts.

The engine house will be opened from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day of the county fair in two weeks. And Saturday, June 17, is a regular work day. The Plymouth locomotive crew plans to pull remaining two the journal bearings off of the read wheel set. The machine shop crew will be working as will our welder and metal frabricator.

The fireman's side of the engine was so cluttered that we couldn't pass through. We now have a safety corridor around the engine's "backside."

The El Dorado Western Railway Foundation will be conducting a membership drive during the county fair. Annual membership cost is $35. The railway needs support from the community to continue restoration of the Diamond & Caldor Shay No. 4 and build the El Dorado County Logging and Railroad Museum.

Steve occasionally sets his camera down and helps.