Western Rail Road Museum Maintenance and Restoration Shop News
Shop News Archive

July 2010

In the past six months, considerable progress has been made on SN #1005. Many systems have been assembled for the final time, and the car can now operate under its’ own power. Highlights include:

- The folding walls of the rear motorman’s cab have been installed. Originally these walls folded diagonally across the motorman’s area when the rear controls were not in use, in order to give more space on the rear platform. At some time before BAERA purchased the car, the folding doors had been permanently fixed in the open position. Don McKinsey fabricated a new cane bolt and other hardware that allowed the doors to be re-installed in their original folding configuration.

- The reverser’s cast-iron frame had been damaged (apparently in a derailment) many years ago. One of the side frames had been broken and pushed in so that it was close to the live 600-volt contacts inside. The reverser was removed from the car and dismantled. The cracked side frame was sent to Lock-n-Stitch in Turlock, CA, one of the world’s leading welders of cast iron, for repairs. While the reverser was dismantled, all the other components were cleaned, serviced and painted as needed. The rebuilt reverser was then installed on the car.

- In mid-February, the restoration of the front power truck was completed and the truck was moved under the car. With both trucks ready to install, it was time to test the motors and control system to be sure that all wiring was correct and working properly. To do this, the knife switch connecting the switch group and traction motors to the trolley power was opened. This allows 600-volt trolley power to be supplied to the control system without sending power to the motors. Each controller was run through all its positions in both forward and reverse directions, and at each step the switch group was checked to be sure that all contactors were working properly.

- After the control system was checked, a DC arc welder was connected to the traction power lead, and each traction motor was temporarily connected to the car with insulated wire. Each controller was then tested in both directions with each motor to insure that the motors were properly connected. The low power of the DC welder was used to prevent any damage to the motors if wires were not properly identified. No mistakes were discovered.

A short video of the testing, made by Robert MacDowell, can be seen by clicking below.

- Following the testing, the car was lowered onto its trucks, and the motors and brakes were connected.

- On 4/15/10, Visalia Electric #502 pulled 1005 out of the shop and onto the south shop lead. The trolley pole was raised, and for the first time in ten years the car was moved under its own power. The car was taken around the Museum’s loop track to turn it around, so that the rear coupler could be installed. During the movement, the rear truck was carefully observed to be sure that it did not contact the rear steps while going around turns. After the car was turned around, it was returned to the shop.

A video of this event, made by Dick McClenaghan, can be seen by clicking below.

- With the car finally set on its trucks and turned around, it was time to install the rear coupler and adjust its height above the track. A switching accident many years ago had bent the car’s frame downward, and to raise the coupler height after the accident, material had been removed from the center sills. As part of the restoration, the frame has been straightened, and, because of the metal removed previously, the coupler would have been too high. Because of the risk of fire from welding sparks, new metal could not be welded to the center sills. Instead, longer angle brackets were cut from hot-rolled steel angle, and hot-riveted to the coupler carrier bracket. Holes were drilled through the new angle brackets and through the center sills, and the coupler carrier bracket was bolted to the car at the proper height. Finally, the rear coupler was installed. Joe Magruder installed the air-lines and the third-rail power jumper plug on the coupler carrier. Finally, the pilot was installed and adjusted to the proper height above the rail.

- After the rear coupler was installed, the threshold for the rear door, the rear buffer, and the rear buffer step plate were installed. The left side of the car was painted below the windows, and the rear bumper was also painted. The car was then moved over to the pit, where one dynamotor compressor was repaired (sticky valves and a new head gasket), the oil in both compressors was changed, and other small repairs made.

- The #1005 is now back on shop track two to have its front coupler height adjusted and its right side and front bumper painted.

Volunteers working on #1005 included Don McKinsey, Dave Johnston, Joe Magruder, Mike Dreiling, Al Stangenberger, Greg Byers, Terry Barnes, Robert MacDowell, Brandon Styczinski, Bill Styczinski, Gary Baker, Hank Dresser, Thomas Mataga, Don Stofan, Don Meehan, Fred Krock, Mike Flaherty, and Don Pomplun.

Again this year, the week before Memorial Day was the annual Maintenance Week. Every car that could move was brought into the shop for inspection and preventive maintenance. All systems were checked out and serviced, including brakes, motors, air compressors, controllers, current collectors, seats and interior fittings. This maintenance effort pays big dividends in keeping our collection in top shape. Mike Dreiling and Rosie Turner kept the large shop crew well fed with lunch and dinner throughout the week.

Fred Krock maintains the controller of Petaluma & Santa Rosa interurban #63.
Mike Flaherty and Mac Palmer pair up to inspect and maintain Melbourne #648 during Maintenance Week 2010.

An important part of the inspections performed during Maintenance Week is identifying problems that cannot be fixed during the brief time each car is in the shop. These problems are put on the Deferred Maintenance List to be addressed later.

This year, several problems were found on Peninsular Railway #52. The routine inspection showed that one of the swing link pins on the front truck was working loose and appeared ready to fall out. This could have easily caused a derailment. Closer inspection showed that the truck had apparently been damaged in an accident long ago, and that one brake head and other parts were also quite worn. Mike Dreiling built a special spacer sleeve to retain the swing link pin, but eventually the truck will require a major rebuilding with replacement of these worn parts.

On a wooden car, the two end platforms are unsupported beyond the body bolsters (where the trucks are connected to the car), and tend to sag downward over time. To counteract this problem, large steel truss rods are installed inside both walls of the car; the ends of the truss rods pull up the unsupported ends of the car. In the case of #52, a century of wear and vibration has caused the truss rods to come loose from the timbers they are supposed to hold up. Large steel blocks were mounted on the timbers to give the truss rods something to pull against.

The biggest problem, unfortunately, was found in one of the two traction motors: a low spot on the commutator, which will cause arcing of the brushes and further damage to the commutator if not corrected. Often such problems can be corrected in place by running the motor slowly and holding an abrasive stone against the commutator, which will grind the commutator bars down to a uniform height. In this case, however, the low spot is too deep to be removed by hand, and the armature will have to be set up in a lathe so that the commutator bars can be turned. The shop crew removed the motor from the truck, and noticed that the pinion gear was loose on the armature shaft. Further inspection found that the keyway in the armature shaft is badly damaged, the armature shaft shows evidence of cracking due to welding in previous repair attempts, and the bore of the pinion gear is no longer round. The armature bearings also allow excessive lateral movement. The motor will have to be sent to a repair shop to have a new armature shaft, commutator, and bearings installed, and a new pinion gear fitted to the shaft.

Sacramento Northern wooden caboose #1632 is well along in its restoration. Don Meehan finished installing the window sash. Bill Styczinski installed the window hardware and adjusted the windows for smooth operation. Dick McClenaghan finished the sheet metal work in the icebox and around the stove, which was also installed. Patrick Mooney led the crew in painting the interior of the car. Don McKinsey and Mike Dreiling worked on tracks for the sliding cupola windows, and Mike, Brandon, and Bill Styczinski installed the windows. Bill, Dick McClenaghan, Hank Dresser and Greg Byers restored the air brake piping and the conductors’ valves and whistles on each end platform. Dave and Al painted the sides with the final coat of satin-finish paint.

Gary Baker continues work on Sacramento Northern electric locomotive #652’s air compressors and electrical systems. He and Brandon Styczinski also worked on restoring the pipes leading to the whistle, horns, and air gong. One of the brass trumpets on its Westinghouse Pneuphonic air horn had been damaged. Mike Dreiling took it to a shop which repairs brass musical instruments for repair.

Don Meehan and Mike Flaherty continue their restoration of the siding on Sacramento Northern wooden box motor #602.

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