Sunday, February 25, 2007

Where Do You Heat a Burrito in a Locomotive?

I sat down to lunch with Garrtett Augustus at Denny's after working at the engine house yesterday. I wanted to know where on the backhead is the best place to heat lunch.

Garrett ordered the mega meat lover's breakfast, a meal that comes loaded with hash browned potatoes, scrambled eggs and three breakfast meats.

It's easy to imagine sausage, bacon and sausages sizzling on a clean shovel. But I forgot one key element to cooking on West Coast Shays.

"Oil-fire locomotives have no coal scoop," said Garrett. He's right.

An experienced locomotive cook and one who has fired historic Shay locomotives, like the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Nos. 10 and 15, Garrtett should know.

Garrett heats burritos, sandwiches and "anything that's packaged" in the engine cab with heat from the backhead. But he doesn't really cook.

There's "no surface with a controllable heat source that you can really cook on," said Gattett.

But the immense heat radiating off the boiler backhead will heat any prepared meal through. It's a matter of locating a good spot to capture the wasted heat.

The theory is simple enough. "Look for a good place to basically jam your food so it doesn't fall out."

Garrett likes several spots, but has no favorite. "It just depends what you're making," said Garrett.

Do you need slow heat? Try the oil can pan that sits above the firebox door. But be sure to wrap the burrito well as things get messy.

Intense heat can be found on the hydrostatic lubricator on the engineer's side of the cab. The four lubricating lines on the Shay are full of steam. Set close together, the lines act "almost like a grill."

It sounds like a good spot to grill a Rubin or grilled cheese sandwich. Just keep it simple and focus on firing the engine.

Any spot will do. All you need is is an exposed steam line, added Garret.

Garrett will sometimes jam a burrito behind the lifting injectors on the fireman's side. He also tucks it up behind the steam turret on top of the backhead. The turret's a great spot because it's the steam source for all accessories in the engine cab.

It's too bad an oil-burning locomotive like the Diamond & Caldor No. 4 Shay doesn't need a coal shovel. Just think of the culinary creations a fireman could cook on its flat griddle-like surface.

The photograph shows the backhead of Roaring Camp & Big Trees Narrow-Guage Railroad No. 1 Shay. Cross posted at 'Round the Chuckbox.

Railbus Engine Revisited

I have more clarification on the engine to the Diamond & Caldor Tally-Ho No. 10 Railbus . In the past month, I have mistakenly reported it was a Waukesha, Studebaker and Stewart. According to most published sources, the original engine in the Railbus was a Waukesha.

Many of these same sources, like Malory Hope Ferrell's El Dorado Narrow Gauge: The Diamond & Caldor Railway (Pacific Fast Mail: Edmonds, Wash., 1990), report that the second engine was a Studebaker.

I said on February 3 that Ed Cuhna said that the engine was a Stewart (or Stuart) Marine engine. Once again, I was mistaken. Keith Berry and I have for the past several months saying the engine is a Stewart.

While there appears to have been such a brand, Ed Cuhna's visit to the engine house yesterday helped to clear the issue. Ed told Keith yesterday that the engine was made by Scripps Marine Motor.

As I reported on February 3, Ed discovered the engine's identity after web-based research effort.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Winter Newsletter to Printers Yesterday

The winter issue of The Dispatcher, the official newsletter of El Dorado Western Railway Foundation, was sent to the printers yesterday, said El Dorado County Historical Museum director Mary Cory. The first issue for 2007 will be in the mail mid-week.

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

100th birthday for El Dorado County's locomotive icon
April marks the 100th birthday of the Diamond & Caldor No. 4 Shay locomotive. Watch this blog and the newsletter for news of events that will honor the No. 4's century of service to El Doado County.

An exhibit at the El Dorado County Library will kick off the celebration. The library has graciously reserved the month of March for the railway.

The planned exhibit will feature scenes centered around the locomotive's three lives -- as an active steam engine on the Diamond & Caldor Railway, a historic artifact on display at the El Dorado County Fair and under renovation for the past 14 years.

You can view the exhibit from March 1 to 31 at the library (325 Fair Lane, Placerville, California). Please call the library at (530) 621-5723 for hours and information.

Join the effort to restore the Diamond & Caldor No. 4 today
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?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Railroading Can Be Deadly

Anyone who hangs around trains knows that it can be a deadly sport. Although safety practices have greatly improved the life expectancy of today's railroad men and women, it remains a hazardous business.

There are people out there who do stupid things -- like jumping the coupler between two Sacramento Regional Transit light rail cars. Tuesday, while waiting for my bus at 8th and K streets, I watched two teenage girls who were running to catch the Blue Line to Meadowview.

In their haste to catch the train that was ready to depart, one girl jumped the coupler. The second hesitated and turned back. I think she had more sense than the first girl. In the end, the second girl missed the train and walked off.

Fortunately, these the lives of these girls were spared this time. And Regional Transit was saved from an embarrassing incident brought on by stupidity of its passengers.

Diamond & Caldor Accidents
One thing stood out last year when I was researching the archives of The Mountain Democrat newspaper of El Dorado County. A dozen or more railroad men died during the 49-year life of the Diamond & Caldor Railway.

Several major crashes took the lives of D&C trainmen. From brakeman Al W. Gill's death in 1912 to the 1929 wreck of Shay No. 3 near Caldor, accidents were a part of railroad life for the logging line.

Three died on Wednesday, July 3, 1929. Among the dead were section hands Ponteo Dundi, L. Barato and D. Carssini. Eight others, including the engineer George Nash and fireman George Grant, were injured.

The No. 3 consist was made of three cars loaded with rail and ties. The section gang were riding on the cars, a common practice of the day, as train and crew were returning to Caldor for lunch.

Nash told The Mountain Democrat that he realized the train was gaining too much speed as it descended a six percent grade. To avoid a turn at the bottom of the hill, Nash placed the locomotive in reverse and opened the throttle as the Grant sanded the rails.

Flying rails and ties and steam from the boiler caused most of the injuries and deaths as the engine, cars and crew plundged down a 50-foot embankment.

This serves as a reminder to trainmen, railfans and passengers -- railroad can be deadly.

So, in the words of the old grade crossing signs, "Stop, look and listen."

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Extra Board

The Extra Board is a regular feature in The Dispatcher. We featured hospital administrator and volunteer Keith Berry in the fall 2006 issue ...

From the first day I set foot in the engine house until now, Keith Berry always seems to have his hands inside the bead blaster. If I didn't know better, I’d say it’s his favorite piece of equipment.

What does that say about Keith? Not much, except that he's always willing to do the dirties jobs around the engine house. Maybe that's what makes our past-president such a good leader. It doesn't matter what job he tackles -- whether sandblasting the dynamo housing or contemplating restoration strategies for the Railbus -- he approaches all tasks with silent humility and dedication to the railway.

You might say that all of Keith's jobs are the dirtiest, from sandblasting 100-year old Shay parts and chipping paint on Arnold Z to leading the railway. Somebody has to do the dirty work.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Painting Arnold Z

Keith Berry stopped by the engine house to paint a primer coat on Arnold Z. Garrett, Ken and Scott have been restoring the the Plymouth diesel switcher for about nine or 10 months. The old cab was removed last spring. Since then, the crew has removed the ballast, wheel sets, journal boxes and leaf springs. And they have been actively scraping and chipping old dirt, rust and paint from the chassis. They are at the stage where they can begin rebuilding and reconditioning the individual parts.

"This is perfect painting weather. The sun's hot," said Keith. He wanted to get it done before long-overdue rains arrive next week. The high today will be in the mid-70s today in Placerville. The current plan is to keep the body gloss black silver lettering.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

More of Railbus Engine

Historians have reported for years that the current engine in the Diamond & Caldor No. 10 Tally Ho Railbus is a Studebaker. Long-time volunteer and current foundation vice-president Keith Berry said many went along with the historical record until recent examination of the engine proved otherwise.

Sometime last year, board member Ed Cuhna had a chance to examine the engine. After some web-based research, Ed reported that it appears to be a Stuart (or Stewart) Marine engine.

While we still need to determine the model number and other important details on the engine, Ed's discovery has helped imensily. I'll report back when I can talk to Ed and get more details.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Railbus engine

I should note that the engine in the Diamond & Caldor No. 10 Tally Ho Railbus is not a Waukesha. I mistakenly reported it as such in my last blog post.

I'll have to ask Keith tomorrow what type of gasoline engine is in the Railbus. I do know that it's not a Studebaker as reported in several published sources.