Western Rail Road Museum Maintenance and Restoration Shop News

Shop News Archive

March 2011

The shop crew has been working on many projects over the past three months.

The body of Sacramento Northern wooden caboose 1632 was lifted off its trucks. The trucks were then cleaned, repaired and painted and their journal bearings were repacked. A new center plate shim was made and installed to adjust the side bearing clearances on one truck. The grab irons were installed on the roof at each corner of the cupola and painted yellow. Kerosene lamps have been purchased and will be installed over the conductor’s desk and at the wash basin. The water cooler was installed. New cushions are being made for the bunks and cupola seats, and the plumbing connections for the toilet are being researched.

The wiring diagram for SN 1005‘s resistors was completed. The next step was to accurately measure their resistance. Since the resistances involved are quite low, they cannot be measured with a standard electronic meter. Instead, the measurements are made by passing a substantial direct current of known amperage (supplied by an arc welder) through the resistor banks, measuring the voltage drop across each section, and calculating resistance using Ohm’s Law. The results of this test showed that the resistances are substantially higher than specified in the car’s design. This means that the resistor grids are worn out and must be replaced.

About forty possible replacement resistor grids were found in a set of resistor boxes stored outside in our old parking lot. These boxes were brought into the shop and dismantled. The grids appear to be in good condition. Since the exact resistance of each grid must be known, a test stand was built to accommodate seven grids connected in series. A known DC current is passed through them, and the voltage drop is measured across each grid. After measurement, the grids are painted with high-temperature aluminum paint and stored until we have enough of them. The search of the Museum for more replacement grids continues.

The maple board needed to mount the overload relay obtained from Illinois Railway Museum was cut from a piece of maple, and all the required holes were drilled in it. The board was then impregnated with paraffin by placing it in an electric frying pan filled with molten paraffin. After several hours of soaking, all the gases and water in the block had boiled off and been replaced with paraffin; this caused the board to sink in the pan of paraffin. The paraffin was allowed to cool and solidify, and it was re-heated just hot enough to remove the board. This technique prevents paraffin from running out of the wood.

The electromagnet coil used to reset the relay had the wrong resistance for our application. A new “bobbin” was turned out of a rod of phenolic plastic, and wound with the proper size and amount of magnet wire. The relay was then assembled, mounted on the maple board, and installed on 1005’s switch group. The next task in this project will be to test and repair the electric reset circuit for the overload relays.

Two headlight resistors for Sacramento Northern electric locomotive 654 have been finished, and one has been installed and successfully tested.

Painting of air piping and other interior fittings in SN 652’s cab, and of newly-cast seat parts for Peninsular Railway 61 continues.

One of the two diesel engines on Visalia Electric diesel locomotive 502 has severe cooling and fuel problems, and is being rebuilt. This is a major task, which required the construction of a stand to hold the engine, the removal of the engine’s hood from the locomotive, and removal of the engine from the locomotive. The removed engine has been dismantled, all parts have been cleaned, the heads have been rebuilt by a diesel machine shop, the water pumps have been rebuilt, and the camshafts and crankshaft have been checked and polished. The re-assembly process has now begun. The project has required scouring the country for repair parts, since this Caterpillar D-17000 engine went out of production in 1955.

All extra supplies of paint and lubricants that were stored in the shop have been moved to our new flammable liquids storage building.

Filling, sanding, and repair of exterior wood on Shipyard Railway car 563 continues in anticipation of its repainting. One side of the car was jacked up and the truss rods gradually tightened to remove a sag from the side sill.

A failed traction motor was removed from Peninsular Railway interurban 52. Specifications for its repair are being developed, and design is in progress for a new pinion needed to replace the worn one currently installed.

Petaluma and Santa Rosa electric interurban 63 was given its semi-annual inspection and servicing. Two new trolley wheels were also installed.

The old band saw from the Market Street Railway’s Elkton Shops, which sat unused in our wood shop because the bearings on its electric motor had failed, has been donated to the Sturgeon’s Mill Restoration Project in Sonoma County, where it will be run by steam power. A Do-All band saw is being rebuilt to take its place.

A heavy-duty variable-voltage DC power supply is being built for use in the shop. This will provide much better power for testing equipment than our present use of a DC arc welder. It will have a 50 ampere capacity and will provide DC from 0 to 750 volts.

The shop crew works on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and welcomes member volunteers of all skill levels who are interested in working to restore and preserve our valuable artifacts.

November 2010

At least fifteen volunteers have worked in the shop since our last report. Here are some highlights of what they have accomplished.

The restoration of Sacramento Northern wooden caboose 1632 is nearing completion. Research in the Archives showed that grab irons were installed on the roof at each corner of the cupola. Since these were missing, new ones were hand-forged out of steel rod and will soon be installed and painted yellow. All of the other safety appliances on the car have now been painted in their historic yellow color. Reflective strips were applied to the walls on both ends of the car. The door of the ice box has been refurbished and installed, and door hardware is now installed. A new kerosene lamp has been purchased and will be installed over the conductor’s desk. The last major tasks remaining are to repack the journals, have new cushions made for the bunks and cupola seats, and to paint the trucks.

Some of the resistor grids on Sacramento Northern 1005 are quite worn and damaged, and must be replaced, along with the wiring connecting them to the car. The shop team is comparing the Archives’ copies of the original wiring diagrams to the resistors currently installed on the car, and is developing a plan for repairing the resistors and wiring.

The overload relay protecting two of 1005’s motors has been missing for many years. The Illinois Railway Museum supplied us with the proper relay, but it is mounted differently on 1005. A new mounting board is being designed; it will be made of maple, which is a good insulator when it is kept dry. To keep the maple dry, it will be impregnated with paraffin, which was standard practice in the industry. An article on how to do the impregnation was found in the University of California Library.

In order to have 1005 available for Members’ Day, temporary plastic was installed in the upper window sash. Installation of the original pressed glass will begin soon. This process will be complicated, since some of the glass has been cut in ways which make it difficult to mount in the frames.

Work continues on building new headlight resistors for Sacramento Northern electric locomotives 652 and 654. The air piping in 652’s cab is being painted, and a new pantograph valve was recently installed.

A new letter board was installed on Sacramento Northern electric box motor 602,

New castings for pantograph levers and equalizers were recently received and have been machined and are ready for painting.

As part of the trade for our surplus wheel lathe, the Oregon Coast Scenic Railway’s shop re-machined the journals on four damaged wheelsets that were removed from Saltair car 306. The newly-machined journals were painted and covered for storage in our wheel storage area until needed.

Newly-cast seat frame parts for Peninsular Railway 61 are being painted.

As part of the Museum’s fire safety plan, a flammable liquids storage building obtained from government surplus has been mounted on a concrete pad that is not near any other buildings. The new building will enhance fire safety in the shop by removing lots of combustible paints and lubricants. The Museum’s new 30-ton Komatsu forklift (also obtained surplus) was used to move the building to its final location.

In addition to car maintenance, shop work also included repainting the Museum’s flagpole and the sign for the Diablo Vista Substation.

September 2010

During the summer, the shop crew focused its attention on preparing Sacramento Northern combine 1005 for its September debut. Painting and lettering were completed. Upper sash was installed. The newly upholstered maroon plush high-back walk-over seats were installed. Dozens of small details were attended to. The car was thoroughly cleaned. The synchronization with the Salt Lake and Utah parlor observation car 751’s multiple unit train control was checked and successfully tested.
There is more work to do before the 1005 can have more than cameo appearances. Most importantly, the resistor grids are suffering from age and we will have to replace many of the fragile resistors. We would like to run a three-car train (SN 1005, SN 1020, and SL&U 751) but can’t until the MU (multiple unit) cables are reinstalled in the SN 1020.
We have also been working on many other projects, including several painting projects. We are almost done repainting Sacramento Northern caboose 1632. We have installed its letter boards and it is now clearly a SN caboose. We continue to work on painting Sacramento Northern freight motor 602, which was built in San Francisco by Holman, as was SN 1005. Painting requires that we first replace much of the wood siding and restore the doors and windows to their original configuration. We have also begun work on painting and straightening our second shipyard car.
We welcome members who can join us in these and other tasks on our Wednesday and Saturday workdays in the shop. We can use your existing skills and teach skills you didn’t know you had.

Shop News Archive