Friday, May 29, 2009

Removing the engine

On Memorial Day, the crew pulled the engine out of the Diamond and Caldor Railbus No. 10. We are getting ready to send the circa 1937 Waukesha engine up to Doug Youngberg's house in Oregon. Doug will rebuild the engine and return it to Placerville in the fall.

The crew had already removed the radiator and hood from the engine compartment. When welder Wayne Thorley builds the engine stand, he will include supports for the radiator. Doug will need the radiator when he tests the engine on the stand.

The first task was to move the flatcar out of the way. Keith Berry pulled it out into the parking lot while Mark Bruto kept trucks from crabbing.

Ed Cuhna, Mark and Keith first tried to lift the engine out of the railbus by attaching a lifting plate to the rear head. When Keith lifted the engine, they found that the center of gravity was too far back. The engine leaned forward into the forward engine mounds.

Ed and Mark removed the lifting plate and moved it to the center head on the engine. First, Mark had to take the plate to the machine shop and re-bore the holes to match the studs on the center head.

Keith re-positioned the forklift. Ed and Mark then rigged the chains to the lifting plate.

The crew then removed the engine out of the railbus. The engine behaved as expected. It tilted approximately 20 percent to the transmission. Here Mark guides the engine as Keith backs the forklift.

Mark and Ed steadied the engine as Keith drove it to the front of the engine house.

The crew blocked the engine in front of the engine house. The engine stand will be build with material that was donated by Barsotti Juice Company. Bill Rodgers was instrumental in acquiring the material. During the engine removal, Wayne welded plates for the steel casters to the bottom of the engine stand. Wayne and Mark are building the engine supports for the engine stand this morning.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Cuttin' torch

Mark Bruto uses a cutting torch to free the exhaust manifold so that we can remove the engine from the Diamond and Caldor Railbus No. 10. Keith Berry assisted Mark perform a few last minute tasks on Friday, May 15, 2009. Volunteers plan to remove the engine today.

Friday, May 08, 2009

2009 membership letter

Dear Railroad Enthusiast:

There she sits, alone in the weeds, without purpose, and unattended. Her paint is faded, her cab is rusting, and her headlight is but an empty shell. No reason to worry; she has no place to run. She sits on a lonely stub of track, near an auto racetrack, not the saw mill she served from 1907 to 1953. No engineer to open her throttle, no fireman to raise her steam, not even a kid happens by to play engineer and head east to Caldor.

The Diamond and Caldor No. 4 sat for many years on the El Dorado County Fair-grounds. Eventually, concerned management decided to bulldoze a pit and bury the locomotive. Thankfully, a last minute offer was accepted and the locomotive spent time at Camino as a display for a tourist railroad. Once again, the locomotive found its way to Placerville, this time being located at the El Dorado County Historical Museum.

During the past 15 years of volunteer Saturday work, the D&C No. 4 has been our center of attention and commitment toward a return to steam operation. New parts were patterned and cast, other parts were sandblasted and painted, and one key part purchased still in its box from 1940.

Today, this once almost buried locomotive is nearing restoration. Her water and oil tanks are finished, her wheels are round, her brake rigging repaired, and her cab is fashioned from beautiful Red Oak. Today, this locomotive draws attention from visitors. She will be the oldest operating Shay of her class. The most frequently asked question is "When will she run"?

Is something special happening here? Progress is evident from the vantage point of a before photograph. Dare we look ahead to operation?

This is where you come in. Would you like to see the D&C No. 4 chug along the old Southern Pacific Placerville Branch line in the Town of El Dorado? Please take this opportunity to join the El Dorado Western Railway Foundation. Your valuable support will assist in the continued restoration of this historic locomotive and other El Dorado County railroad artifacts like the D&C No. 10 Railbus.

Through our membership program and generous donations by railroad enthusiasts like you, we will raise the necessary funds to complete the D&C No.4 and return her to a safe operating condition. For a weekly view of restoration activities, please visit our comprehensive website at The blog chronicles the efforts of the El Dorado Western Railway Foundation as it restores a number of key
El Dorado County railroad artifacts.

The Membership Program has many benefits:
  1. You have the satisfaction of knowing you are contributing in a meaningful way toward the preservation of our historic railroad artifacts
  2. Membership card
  3. Quarterly newsletter
  4. Discounts of 15 percent on Foundation merchandise
  5. Recognition as an Associate Member in the newsletter
Enclosed is an Associate Membership sign-up card. Please don’t put this off. We want to continue to make progress on these most important restoration projects and we need your help.

I would just like to say thank you for your interest in El Dorado County railroading. I also want to thank you for joining the El Dorado Western Railway Foundation as an Associate Member and contributing to the preservation of railroading history for future generations. All aboard!


Keith Berry

PS: Please stop by the museum any Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 104 Placerville Dr., Placerville to say hi to the crew and see our progress.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Camp Layman Road crossing

Camp Layman Road crossing, originally uploaded by SeabeeCook.

My son and I drove spent the day following Union Pacific No. 844 up the Feather River Canyon yesterday. We started at Oroville at 8 a.m. and ended later in the afternoon when the train pulled into Portola.

This photograph is my best of the day. I like the classic pose of the 1940s-era 4-8-4 Northern pulling past a jubilant group of railfans at the Camp Layman Road grade crossing on the Middle Fork of the Feather River.

The UP 844 was the last steam locomotive built and delivered to the Union Pacific Railroad. With a 4-8-4 wheel arrangement, the locomotive was used in fast passenger train service until the 1957. It spent its last days in active service pulling freight trains.

The Union Pacific saved the engine from the scrapper's torch in 1960. It now tours the country as a living legacy to the days of steam. The locomotive was built by the American Locomotive Company and carries a construction number of 72791.

Friday, May 01, 2009

A slow week or two

"It's been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon ..."

This is how Garrison Keillor has begun his monologue about the fictional Minnesota town each week on the A Prairie Home Companion radio show.

You can say the same thing about the engine house at the El Dorado Western Railway. With our normal cadre of six to eight volunteers cut to one or two, slowed progress a bit.

Unseasonably cold weather and rain, along with out-of-town volunteers (myself included), has hindered work over the past two weeks.

As the weather warms, work will pick up on the Diamond and Caldor No. 4 and Railbus No. 10.