Saturday, February 28, 2009

Starting to look like a locomotive

Arnold Z, the El Dorado Western Railway's only diesel-powered locomotive, has sat in a state of disassembly for about three years. The crew started preparing her for renovation in early spring 2006.

It was an exciting time. Except for Sam Thompson's valve-facing project, there was little need for a crew to work on the Diamond and Caldor No. 4 Shay. Most of the immediate work had been completed. The two of the four remaining projects -- build a new middle eccentric and repair the boiler -- were beyond the expertise of most of the crew. (Sam has since finished the eccentric.)

We needed a project for the three enthusiastic volunteers who had just joined the El Dorado Western project. The tear-down proceeded quickly. The crew cut up the steel cab and set it on a pallet next to the machine shop. They then removed the wheel sets, journal boxes and leaf springs. You can view the project’s early progress by typing the keyword "Plymouth" in the search box above.

We thought the locomotive could be operational within a year or so. By the spring of 2007 the Arnold crew had disbanded due to things beyond their control. Two of the three crewmen (a father and son) both had to start working Saturdays. Without the two strong backs, the third crewman turned to other projects.

The project soon faltered. The disassembled Plymouth locomotive sat in the museum yard along the fence for two years. Except for a occasional paint job, we focused our energies on other pressing projects.

Last week the crew has turned its attention toward Arnold. The crew built a new cab and remounted the radiator and engine hood in response to a recent effort to clean up the museum yard. The team consisted of John Rodgers, project lead for the cab, Bill Rodgers, Keith Berry, Steve Karoly and Jacob Karoly.

Keith holds the plywood sheet while John cuts a wall panel for the new wood cab to Arnold. As a local contractor, John has volunteered his time on several key woodworking projects since last fall.

John screws one of the top plates onto the studs for the cab.

Steve helps John mount the end piece on the rafters to the cab last week. The cab was 90 percent done when the crew left at 5:30 p.m. last Saturday. John installed the windows Wednesday and worked on some of the trim.

Wayne waits for the radiator as Keith brings it forward with the forklift. Bill placed a temporary set of running boards over the gravel ground covering.

Bill guides Keith as he operates the forklift. It was a delicate operation that required Keith to raise and lower the radiator in very small increments.

Bill and Wayne guide the radiator in place as Keith drives the forklift.

Friday, February 20, 2009

One happy welder

"That piece there makes me the happiest in the whole project. It fit in so nice," said welder Wayne Thorley today on the installation of the rear crown panel on the Diamond and Caldor Railbus No. 10.

Wayne estimates one more day and "we're done with the welding." The railbus project team (Wayne, Steve Karoly and Keith Berry) still need to trim out the side windows, trim out the crown panel and mount the handrail mounting brackets.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


"Alright!" exclaimed Wayne Thorley today.

The wall panel finally fit after 30 minutes of wrangling and grinding. Wayne, lead welder on the railbus project, and Keith Berry first tried to trim a 3/16-inch strip off the 29- by 15-inch panel with the band saw.

Missing and dull teeth made the job precarious at best. The thought of a shattering blade forced them to plan B.

Wayne reverted to the best way he knew how -- to grind the metal strip off with a heavy 7-inch grinder.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Ottawa drag saw

Since last August, small engine expert Mark Bruto has steadily restored most of the hit-n-miss engines in collection of the El Dorado County Historical Museum. Here he works on the 4-horsepower Ottawa engine for the drag saw.

Mark originally came to the museum last August to peruse the yard sale. He now heads the small engine department for the museum as a volunteer. Since that time, he has rebuilt seven engines in the museum collection.

Local contractor John Rodgers rips a beam from a larger timber. The Ottawa engine is mounted between two such beams. They also support the drag saw mechanism and form a set of handles on the forward end.

John's next task was to notch out a pocket for the engine (not visible), fashion handles and mount the hardware for the saw. Here John measures the location for the mounting bolts with guidance from Mark. Jacob Karoly then helped John paint linseed oil on the beams.

Almost ready ...

Here's the promised photograph of the middle eccentric to the Diamond and Caldor No. 4 Shay. Although it's a week late (I forgot my camera last Saturday), the timing couldn't be better.

When asked how far along his machine work was on the eccentric, lead machinist Sam Thompson said that he was making the last cut this morning. As I write, Sam is cutting a few hundredths off the rear facing.

The eccentric will be ready to mound in the crankshaft, "providing it mounts okay." It may need a little file work to make it fit, said Sam.

His next project is to fit and mount the eccentric on the crankshaft. After that's done, Sam said that he'd probably work on the line shafts before moving onto valves.

Friday, February 06, 2009

An apple a day ...

As they say, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." Barsotti Juice Company, one of dozens of Apple Hill growers in Camino, California, has spread its medicine around over the past three to four years.

The company, a family-owned operation that grows apples, pears and grapes and produces a line of fresh-squeezed fruit juices, has graciously donated several hundred pounds of scrap steel to the El Dorado Western Railway last month. In the past, the company has donated pallets and numerous fixtures for the engine house.

The railroad will use the steel in its renovation of several key pieces of rolling stock for the El Dorado Narrow Gauge Railroad Park in the Township of El Dorado. The donation will allow the railroad to shift its valuable financial resources toward the purchase of materials for the renovation of the Diamond and Caldor Shay No. 4 and Railbus No. 10.

Board member Bill Rodgers coordinated the donation for the railroad. Bill is a part-time maintenance employee at the Barsotti bottling plant.