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.

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