Western Rail Road Museum Maintenance and Restoration Shop News

Shop News Archive

May, June, July 2011


The week before Memorial Day was our annual Maintenance Week. During this week, each operating car was brought into the shop for inspection, lubrication, adjustment, and maintenance of the passenger compartments. Everything from the trolley pole down to the brake shoes was inspected and serviced as needed. This year, about 30 people, including some from out of state, contributed to the effort. Maintenance Week continues to pay big dividends in keeping the equipment reliable during the heavy use in summer months.

Shop work continues on the new power resistors for Sacramento Northern 1005. A computer spreadsheet was used to sort the individual resistor grids by exact resistance, and to make lists of which grids to use in assembling the resistor boxes. All of the hardware needed to make the boxes was sent out to be re-galvanized, and the boxes were assembled. The old power resistors were removed from the car, as was the badly-deteriorated wiring above them. Now the shop crew can clean and paint the area above the resistors, install new wiring, and mount the new resistor boxes.

Work has also begun on restoring the control resistors on SN 1005. These resistors reduce the 600 volt power to lower voltages needed to operate the contactors in the switch group. Several of the resistor elements were open and they have been very hot. The steel cases these resistor elements are housed in were found rusted through on about five of the elements. The elements mount into a cast iron housing. This housing was found to be cracked with one piece knocked out of it. The cast iron housing will have to go to Turlock to have the iron welded back together. Above the resistors are two paraffin treated maple terminal boards. One had been charred as a result of the resistors running so hot. Don McKinsey made a new terminal board which is waiting to get the paraffin treatment. There are brass spacers in the terminal boards that allow the terminals to be tightened against an all metal path. Many of there spacers were too short to be effective. Since this appears to be original Westinghouse workmanship, it is difficult to figure out what they had in mind, other than maybe saving a little on the brass. Don Stofan is making new spacers so the terminals will clamp properly. This type of resistor has not been made since 1948, but we have enough spare parts to restore the resistors on 1005.

Work has begun on collecting and restoring the electrical junction boxes and control jumper plugs needed to complete the restoration of Oakland Antioch & Eastern coach 1020 as a control trailer. This long-range project will enable the museum to operate an authentic Sacramento Northern train of a combine (SN 1005) and trailer (OA&E 1020) which can be operated from either car as was standard SN practice.

The rebuilding of one engine on Visalia Electric diesel locomotive 502 is complete. In addition to completely dismantling and rebuilding the diesel engine, the generator was rebuilt, many felt gaskets in the engine compartment were replaced, and the engine and interior of the engine compartment were painted. The engine both starts and runs much better that before this work. The locomotive has been out spreading ballast and the rebuilt engine handles the load very well.

The restoration of Sacramento Northern wooden caboose 1632 is nearly finished. Non-skid paint was applied to all steps and platforms, molding was installed around the cupola floor, and other minor painting and repairs were done. The caboose is now displayed in Car House 3 as part of a typical Sacramento Northern electric freight train.

Work continues to improve the appearance of Key System 563, the second of our two Shipyard Railway cars. The roof was painted, and repairs to the wooden siding are being done in preparation for exterior painting. The color-coded route-designation lights mounted on each corner of the roof are being restored, and a second set is being prepared for installation on Key System 561 in the future.

The second headlight on Sacramento Northern electric locomotive 654 has been repaired following installation of a new headlight resistor. This has been a long project running several years now. The resistor is a very difficult location to get to. Many of the ceramic elements were cracked and sagging. All the resistor elements were rewound with a very high temperature wire to try and reduce this failure in the future.

New seats are being painted and assembled for Peninsular Railway interurban 61. These seats are reproductions being made from parts which we have had cast for us. Considerable machining is required to make the “walk-over” seats work properly.

In addition to work on our cars and locomotives, considerable shop time has also been spent repairing track maintenance equipment.

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