Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Link and Pin

The link and pin coupler joins the combine car to the parlor car behind the engine house of the El Dorado Western Railway. The Diamond and Caldor Railway used these basic couplers throughout its 47-year history. The dangerous devise spelled the death of at least one trainman on the common carrier line.

Ultimately, the existence of the coupler, which was outlawed in the U.S. in 1893 for common carriers, caused the demise of the railroad. They were common on many logging railroads in the west.

These two rail cars came to the El Dorado Western from the defunct Westside and Cherry Valley Railway, a tourist line owned by fast food mogul Glen Bell in the late 1970s.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Machine Work Done On No. 2 Engine

I stopped by the engine house this morning to talk to Keith Berry. Other than Sam Thomson, Bill Rodgers and Harold Tilton, it seems Keith and several other key volunteers were AWOL. My intent was to talk to Keith and then return home and complete a few projects.

I found Sam hunched over the No. 2 cylinder -- his usual posture these days. As I soon discovered, he had started the laborious task of disassembling the valve shaper from the No. 2 cylinder.

I walked into the machine shop to check on Bill and Harold. Bill was machining a spacer for the middle eccentric on the drive shaft while Harold was milling one of the slip joints (and here). It was at that point that Bill told me Sam had reached a milestone. He had finished resurfacing the valve facing to No. 2 cylinder last Saturday.

So I walked over to the engine house and asked Sam about the project. Yes it was true. He completed the last course last weekend.

Sam asked me to jump in the cab. That can only mean one thing -- he need a helper to raise and lower the slide on the shaper as he disassembled it.

As we worked, I asked a few questions. Our exchange went something like this:

"What do you have to say about the No. 2?"

"Finito! No. 3 is next." Sam pointing to the "3" painted on the cylinder head. "See, I can tell. It's that one."

The machine work is done on No. 2, Sam explained. He pointed out that some handwork remains.

"How long will it take to resurface No. 3 cyliner?"

It took eight months to completely resurface No. 2 cylinder.

"I'm not finished with No. 2 yet," Sam responded. "I've got to get this thing (Sam's Rube Goldberg or valve shaper) off. I know for a fact that's not going to be easy."

For the next hour, Sam struggled to fit his hand and the Allen wrench into the confined space between the No. 2 and No. 3 cylinders. Tight work space and low light conditions have plagued him since he put the shaper to work last March.

I didn't get a prediction out of Sam. But I'm certain he can shave two months off the time it took to resurface the No. 2 cyliners.

A note: I'll post photos as soon as I can. My laptop -- that's were the images are archived -- is heading for the shop.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Home and Garden Show

The crew pulled the Diamond and Caldor No. 4 out of the engine house for the second annual Fall Home and Harvest Show at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds. This was our first attempt at displaying the Shay geared locomotive during an event other than the county fair in June.

From my vantage point in the kitchen, located at the north end of the engine house, we received 50 to 75 visitors between 10 a.m. and early afternoon. As with the fair, vice president Keith Berry showed our rolling stock to two potential volunteers.

In the upper photograph, Sam Thompson doesn't let a little sunshine get in the way of his most important task. Since early spring, Sam has operated the valve shaping machine on the number two cylinder. He's almost ready to move to the number three.

Board member Garrett Augustus (standing to left) discusses the locomotive with a visitor and his wife. I took the right hand photograph last week just after the foll moon.

I took advantage of the nine volunteers present this morning and cooked lunch for the crew. In honor of our locomotive's 100th year, I selected dining car recipes from two railroad cookbooks.

The old fashion navy bean soup is composite recipe from the Denver and Rio Grand Western Railroad and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. The cole slaw came from the Missouri Pacific Lines. The toasted hot Mexican sandwich was a favorite in the Santa Fe.

The recipes are posted to my personal blog at 'Round the Chuckbox.