Spring at the Pacific Coast Railroad
Well spring is here and the grass is green and wildflowers are in full bloom everywhere on the Central Coast of California. Jeff Badger came down this week after a busy month of booming around various railroads that first began at the Hillcrest & Wahtoke in Reedley. He spent some time firing and running the Glenwood #13 on Sunday, March 9.
Then he was off to Southern California to “freak out” some UP crews in San Timeteo Canyon on the Beaumont Pass/Sunset Route. Remember that Railfanning is not a crime. On the weekend of March 15, Jeff picked up his new live steamer at the Maricopa Live Steamers in North Phoenix, Arizona, where Phil and Karell had been just two weeks before.
After the long drive home to Santa Cruz, Jeff got a call from Mr. Jefferys that Roaring Camp needed help for the upcoming Easter Egg specials. On Friday he went over to see where he was needed and was promptly thrown into the cab of the Dixiana Shay to re-familiarize himself with the machine per John Bush‘s request. Phil Reader happened to be in town for a bit and wandered over to say hi to the gang. Easter Sunday morning Jeff arrived at the engine house and drew the second section firing job with veteran engineer Tom Shreve. Having only ridden on the #2 Heisler a few times, this was going to be an interesting day for sure. Back in 1968, Jeff’s first visit to Roaring Camp included a ride behind this locomotive.
Four trips were made that day sharing the firing duties with another former Roaring Camp alumnus Norm Comer who is working at Railtown 1897 doing the restoration on Sierra #3. The day went better than expected. We got up and down the hill with water and steam, but I was tired from the noise and vibration in that locomotive.
But now to the duties at the Ranch…
Our first order of business was a field trip to MTM in Fremont, CA to deliver six sets of 2’gauge drivers for machining. Karl drove while Phil and I watched the scenery go by and shot the breeze. Gary Smith the owner of MTM is an avid live steamer and is currently restoring an 1890 Porter 0-4-0T that we hope to see running soon at the ranch.
Gary has been doing contract work for the Disneyland Railroad and here we see one of the wheelsets being trued up on a lathe.
MTM manufactures a variety of components for automobile, motorcycle, and military manufacturers among many others, and the stuff we saw was first class. Thanks Gary for the tour and lunch! On the way back we stopped in Salinas at California Railtours to pick up a donated genset for the La Condesa, a private obs car which belongs to the San Luis Obispo RR Museum and runs on occasion at the Santa Maria Valley Railroad. Here we see the yard with just a sampling of the ongoing work they do on private cars.
We got a tour of a dome-lounge-observation car.
A good time was had by all. The next day it was time to get down to business…
Our Harpur #1 “Caroline” threw a lateral shim from the left rear driver last May during the roundup. An initial repair was attempted by Phil and Jeff in December and it was test run but the repair was not successful. Jeff was determined to find a way to make the solid brass shim adhere to the aluminum bronze driver box. After a few phone calls and some advise from a welder friend, he found a product that works with a mig type wire feed welder. After prepping the surfaces and working between the spokes the welding began. Phil preheated the box so the welder would have a head start on the process.
Jeff shows how difficult the welding process is with no facilities or equipment for removing the drivers, the repair is made in place by moving the locomotive, so the spokes line up for access.
Well after a repair like that is made, its mandatory to do proper testing. So we positioned the #1 at the Granary and prepared her for fire-up. As steam was building, Phil noticed that the lubricator was sluggish on one feed line, so having a brand new one on the shelf, Jeff and Dennis replaced it.
After building steam for a couple hours, we took the #1 around the railroad. With some settling in, the shim held up with four runs being made. You know when the whistle blows in Santa Margarita, everyone shows up! We coupled up to the Retlaw 1 cars and made up a train. Here is the crew from Thursday March 27.
Since we are down one engine, having the #1 back in service is a relief and it will really put on a show for the railroad roundup in May. Several of Phil’s video shots from this run are on Youtube. Here is a video Jeff shot while running yesterday…