The Headlight

Southern California Scenic Railway Association, Inc.

Serving the Travel Town Museum and the Crystal Springs and Cahuenga Valley Railroad

Volume 14, Number 1............................................................................Spring 1999


By Steve DeVorkin, Public Relations Manager

Three months ago, or it could have been yesterday, Danny Price asked me a question: "How can we get new volunteers to help with all of our projects?"

I did not have an easy answer. Our group, as do other volunteer groups, live and die by how strong our membership is - both in numbers and financial support.

Danny is one of those guys who is always at the park. I have attained quite a close personal relationship with the fuzzy headed lil' feller. He is the type who will take over when us old farts are too weak to wield a spike mall (some of us have hit that plateau already). I have high expectations for him. He has already surpassed most of them and he is the backbone of a strong organization such as ours. I didn't want to B.S. the guy. So I did the only thing I could. I asked him a question.

"How can we hold on to the volunteers we already have to work on all the projects?" At the time I thought that was just a philosophical question.

We are a bunch of guys mostly. Even the girls are guys, and I mean that in the most endearing way. Our group is dedicated to the preservation of railroad artifacts and building the CV & CS RR for the enjoyment of the public of Los Angeles. This single minded goal keeps us all happy and satisfied and coming back to Travel Town year after year.

Well, that may be in our charter and it does sound good. But if you really ask any one of us, from Gordon and Linda, to anyone else, I think you'll get the real answer. The same reason that some of us came here as kids and bring our kids to Travel Town: We wanna play with the trains! We have fun here.

That's the whole story. If we don't have fun, we don't come back. That works for my four year old at preschool. Except when she get really angry, she is sensible and forgets about it and gets on with her day.

Not having fun anymore at the SCSRA is called burnout. What causes it?

The symptoms effect all of us. We work so hard, we have a vision of how things should be. But things get in the way of the goal. We feel under appreciated. Things that should be so clear and simple don't happen the way that we think they should. We get frustrated. We get angry. It get harder to get out to the park. Projects get stalled. We blame other people for having the same passion that we have. We start running our mouths more and doing less. Old insults are revisited and grow bigger. We take sides. There is a schism. It's us against them. One of us has to be right the other is wrong.

Things are said, feelings are injured, people stop coming back.

This isn't new. But it seems endemic. We need to nurture what we have. We need to add to what we already have. Nothing can replace experience. We need old blood to mix with the new. We shouldn't have to reinvent the wheel every couple of years.

We are a volunteer group. The thing that should hold us together is the love of railroading and Travel Town. But is that enough to keep us? I say no. It is the friendship. Camaraderie and sense of purpose helps. But if that were enough, then we would have 150 people at the park every weekend. Why else would we join the SCSRA?

Let's try to stop burnout. If some one seems to be carrying too much of the load, let's help. If you like track work, fine, but look and see where else your two hands could be needed. Just ask Bryan Reese about what needs to be done so we can finish the M.177. He has done a fantastic job with the Winton. Other people have helped, but it is his single minded focus that keeps the project alive. If I were to ask him why, he might answer, "Well, I just like to play with the trains." But everyone has a limit.

One of the other ways to stop the trend is to to stop the rumor mill. This is a hard one to crack. I don't know how many times I have heard a rumor about how somebody could get something great for the park, but they were stopped for some stupid reason. There are reasons for everything. We have a unique situation here with our partnership with the Los Angeles City Recreation and Parks Department. They are a huge bureaucracy. Let me say it again, huge!

Nothing happens quickly. Nothing. But the city does realize how important we are to Travel Town. We are partners. But if one partner doesn't trust the other, well, I've been there. If you hear a rumor, e-mail me). I mean it and I will get the answer. My job is Public Relations and I think one of the most important public relations jobs I have is not outside Travel Town, but inside. I don't like rumors. They serve no purpose except to tear down others. They can be very destructive and are a sign of burnout.


By Bryan Reese, M.177 Project Manager

The work this quarter on M.177's Winton engine has been full of unexpected twists and turns. The first for me came when I began running the ignition wires for the spark plugs. Prior to this point I spent a fair amount of time cleaning off old paint and polishing the brass conduits. One interesting thing that I learned was that the small screw-in bushings around the wires are made of some sort of hardwood, presumably oak.

I purchased a 100-foot roll of solid-core spark plug wire, confidently thinking that it was better to have too much than too little. It became evident very quickly that even this was not going to be enough. Remember that this engine has two distributors and 32 spark plugs. I rapidly went through the entire roll of wire and didn't even finish the first of the two harnesses.

Next weekend saw me with another roll of wire, and after more work it became clear that even that wasn't enough. The third weekend and the third roll of wire finally saw an end to the task. Nearly three-hundred feet of wire were required to do the job!

The dual distributors were another matter. You may recall from our last installment that we were trying to locate suitable distributor caps.

Unfortunately, the search was to no avail. The solution that was arrived at was to use similar, but somewhat more common distributors. Our distributor vendor, Burton L. Norton Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan, advised us that they could supply two rebuilt dual-eight Autolite distributors, of the kind found on Nash automobiles from the late twenties and early thirties. We placed the order, and also sent the original gearbox from the engine for them to mount the units. As of this writing, those units have been received and are ready to apply to the engine, making them the last piece in the parts-puzzle.

The ignition transformer also received attention at this time. Greg Ramsey, Cliff Bornschien, Andy Evans, and Tim Dulin were all involved in the repair which consisted of replacing one of the primary terminals, repotting the tar, and testing the windings for continuity.

Greg Ramsey has also been involved in the fuel tanks and the rooftop exhaust silencer. In the case of the former, he removed the No. 1 tank (there are three) and inspected it inside and out, and began the process of cleaning. The other two tanks were in good enough condition to be inspected in place. Greg also began cleaning the old roofing mastic from the exhaust silencer with needle-gun.

On January 14, two drums of SAE 50 motor oil were delivered, courtesy of the City, and the engine was pre-lubed using an electric pump. Oil flowed throughout the entire engine, as intended. This ensured that no part of the engine would be operated without proper lubrication. The following weekend, the oil tank was topped up for the first time, and the car's main reservoir air tanks charged.

Unfortunately, the engine wouldn't turn over on air as expected. A lot of investigation on my part led me to the conclusion that the timing gear that drives the air distributor had been installed improperly.

The original maintenance manuals we have outline a procedure for laying out the port in the rotating disc that feeds air to the cylinders. Apparently it was the practice of Winton to supply replacement discs as blanks that had to have the port cut out by the customer. I took the cover off of the air distributor, and sure enough, there were the layout lines from decades earlier. Following the procedure in the manual, I determined that the disc was out of time 59 degrees. This left three basic fixes that were possible: 1. tear the engine back down, take the cover off the front of the timing gear case and realign the drive gear, 2. have a new air distributor disc made, or 3. have the existing disc modified.

Going into it, I felt that the best course was making a new disc. I took the disc and the manual to our friend and machinist, Alan Witherby of Pasadena. Regular readers will recall that Al made a new adjusting screw swivel for one of the valve rocker arms to replace one lost to the sands of time. What's more, he did it free of charge. So naturally, I beat a path back to his doorway to consult on this problem.

After showing him the disc and the manual and discussing it with the auto machine shop owner next door, we decided the best solution was to cut a new keyway in the disc. Al's main business is very fine machine work for aerospace. He showed me a machine that uses a carbon-arc that makes very precise holes of any shape. On this day, he was making small parts for Boeing that went in the control surface actuators for 737s. He proposed to cut the new keyway the same way.

At the end of the week I picked up the disc and that Saturday I reinstalled it in the engine. This time, the engine turned over, but after about one and a half revolutions, it would stop. Over the next few weeks, we tried all kinds of things to correct the situation, but to no avail. One thing that was discovered, however, was that one of the air check valves had no valve stem. This prompted yet another trip to Alan Witherby, and he promptly made one from a salvaged valve obtained from the auto shop next door. Again, he donated his valuable, highly skilled labor.

Finally, with all the other possibilities exhausted, it came down to only one thing - that the camshaft timing was incorrect. I had never really allowed myself to consider this, because I had assumed that the engine wouldn't turn over at all if such were the case. Careful examination of the engine with several pairs of eyes while it turned over, along with rereading the timing section of the manual, finally confirmed this fact.

On March 27, with the new distributors on hand, I instead found myself draining the oil back out of the engine, and removing the front cover of the gear case. It didn't take as long as I thought, and by midafternoon, the gears were on view for all to see. With the help of Brad Slosar and Greg Gneier, we slowly rotated the engine to the starting point described in the manual. Sure enough, the timing marks were exactly 180 degrees out. The gear on the end of the camshaft had been applied incorrectly.

In defense of the people who did the work, let me say that this was really an understandable mistake. There are two dowel pins that fit into the gear, so that presents one with two choices when bolting it on.

Secondly, it's not easy to tell that there is a problem without the cylinder heads and rocker arms in place, which they never were until the engine came back. To cap it off, on every other cylinder, the location of the intake and exhaust valve lifters are reversed; something I didn't even realize myself until late in the game.

Late that afternoon, the gears were reset to the correct positions. The following Saturday was spent putting everything back together. As the next day was Easter Sunday, I had to cut short my labors and hurry off to honor family commitments. On yet the following Saturday, April 10, I began refilling the oil tank which had to be drained two weeks' prior. It was an especially cold morning for April, and the fifty-weight oil behaved just like maple syrup. Finally, all was ready.

I started up our portable air compressor (the Baldwin locomotive). Some weeks earlier, I had set up that locomotive with a feed directly off the main reservoir via the m.u. connection on the front end. This gave me 130 pounds of air at a very high volume. Trying to charge the motorcar's main reservoir from the little air tool hoses took hours, whereas this method using a 1 1/4" hose took just minutes. I crossed my fingers and pulled the starter handle.

Success. The Winton engine started rotating at about 100 rpm, and continued to do so as long as the air supply held out. Greg Ramsey heard the sound and came running in from the parking lot. The only problem now was no oil pressure. Greg and I fussed with the system and opened fittings here and there to let air out, and also poured oil down into the pump. At long last the pressure started to register on the gauge. Soon we were up to fifty pounds, the maximum that the relief valve would permit. Shortly after that, we started getting oil returning to the main tank. All that was left was to finish topping up the tank, and the job was complete.

So what does this leave? The openings have to be cut in the replacement roof panel, the exhaust pipes set on the elbows, and the silencer set on the roof and bolted down. The radiators need to be filled and the water system checked for leaks. The fuel line needs to be hooked up to a temporary tank. Lastly, the fuel pump needs to be wired, as does the primary ignition circuit. Then we'll know if the old engine will run on her own.

Donation and Encouragment from Age of Steam Railroad Museum

Dear Mr. Bachlund:

Enclosed please find a check to the SCSRA in the amount of $100. Please apply this to the AT&SF M-177 restoration fund. The Age of Steam Railroad Museum is pleased to make this contribution to your organization to help preserve a part of our railway heritage. Please credit "The M-160 Operating Crew, Age of Steam Railroad Museum, Dallas" when mentioning the donation.

Some explanation is in order. When I spoke with your group this time last year, we were in hopes of making a larger contribution. This was predicated on the M-160 making its annual revenue run from Dallas to Garland (an outlying suburb) over the July 4th weekend. We were going to designate part of the proceeds from this trip to the M-177 effort. Unfortunately, our involvement was canceled due to funding cuts in the Garland Star Spangled 4th event. It would have been our fifth year in a row to participate. The $100 we are sending you is strictly from our museum volunteers.

Apparently we were missed at last year's event in Garland, so they've invited us back for this year's celebration. We are looking forward to the event and readying the M-160 along with three other pieces of equipment for the 20-mile trip. Depending on expenses, we might have another opportunity to contribute to your organization later this year.

Good luck with the M-177 restoration; we are following it closely in your newsletters. Perhaps the two motorcars will have a reunion someday!

Bob LaPrelle
Executive Director
Age of Steam Railroad Museum


By Greg Ramsey, SCSRA President

Well, 1999 is off to a great start. The progress on the Winton, thanks to Bryan, has been dramatic. At the time I am writing this (which is well after the quarter), the engine is fully assembled and work continues on connecting the external systems. Read more about it in Bryan's report. I'm not going to make any predictions on when it will run, but I wouldn't want to miss the annual dinner.

Speaking of the dinner, if you haven't sent Yvonne your reservation, e-mail her right now. It should be another grand affair.

I mentioned in my last article, that the impediments to the tail track should be gone soon, and I can report now that the Oak tree and the drill rig are gone. The whole area looks like one big ROW just waiting for track.

We have even received some significant acquisitions this year. Thanks to some great detective work by Jeff Pippenger, Boeing Aircraft has donated to the SCSRA a 40-ton capacity railroad crane and a 40' flatcar. At this writing, the flatcar and the boom of the crane are in storage at the Park and the crane body and platform are in storage off-site awaiting Park construction and transportation. Special thanks in addition to Jeff are owed to Bob Bennett, Joe Barilari, Mike Einhorn, Boeing Aircraft and McCarty & Sons of Oxnard. I will write much more about this for the next issue. And thanks to all the SCSRA associates and their friends who came out and accomplished the Herculean task of building several hundred yards of temporary track to allow the crane to move off Boeing property down to the Sante Fe crossing.

If you have not been out in some time, you will be pleased to know that the entrance project is done. Be sure to check it out at the annual dinner.

We also received a nice cash donation for the Age of Steam Museum folks who run their own Sante Fe Motorcar. Thanks, guys. Hope we can do the same someday.

One final note. This summer marks the end of my term as President, as well as the end of the terms of Secretary and Treasurer. It has been a lot of work over the last two years, but it has also been very rewarding. The SCSRA bylaws require the other officers and me to step down, so I call on you all to consider if you would like to volunteer for one of these jobs. You do not need to be a director to be an officer. Feel free to call me or Gordon or any of the other officers or Directors if you are interested, want more information, or just want to suggest someone.

As always, I can be reached at home (805-984-0332), work (805-982-9720), or via the Internet.

See you at the dinner!


By Gordon Bachlund, Mechanical Superintendent

Motor Pool - The previously owned Mitsubishi forklift began its career at the Museum with a hiccup of sorts - the starting solenoid and starter failed. However, Greg Gneier had them repaired quickly, and he and Greg Ramsey installed them, so the forklift is up and running and proving its worth. Thanks again, Council President Ferraro!

The Dodge dump truck, long on a back burner, received priority attention as Brad Slosar spearheaded completion of the cam shaft installation and reassembly of the engine, with help from Joe Barilari and Greg Gneier. On Sunday, January 17, the truck roared to life and sounded and performed very well. However, some problems with the brakes required additional work which was finally completed on February 27, and the dump truck is now up and running. Thanks, Brad!

The Ford pickup truck is next on the agenda. Would you care to help?

Buildings, Equipment, and Grounds - After much consideration SCSRA and ASRA put together a team to stud-y ways of configuring the Restoration Yard to best serve the needs of the volunteers and equipment. A plan was developed by Greg Gneier with inputs from the various users of the space, and on March 6 and 13 the major elements of the plan were accomplished, with assigned parking for our trucks, trailers and equipment.

As a part of this effort, new parking regulations went into effect on March 13. Henceforth, all volunteers are asked to park in the east end of the public parking lot in spaces marked for their use. Only those volunteers bringing tools or equipment may drive into the Yard, and then only to load or unload their vehicles. Provisions have been made for project leaders who work out of their trucks, as well as for the DH&C Department. Please get a copy of the new parking policy if you are an active volunteer.

Steam - Chris Rippy has volunteered to take over lubrication of the Museum's steam locomotives. In time, Chris may coordinate our first steam restoration project, which would start after the M.177 project is completed. If you have an interest in assisting Chris, let him know.

Miscellanea - On Saturday, February 13, the writer and Brian Moore assisted Steve Brye of the L. A. County MTA in servicing the journals of one of the two Los Angeles Railway open-bench trolleys and releasing the brakes, all in preparation for the trolley's move to a Los Angeles area high school for restoration the following week. We were pleased that the trolley, as serviced, rolled freely and was ready for its move.

Subsequently, Steve, applying his newly-acquired expertise, similarly serviced the second trolley.

As of the following Saturday, both trolleys had been moved. See the latest Green Eye for photos and details.

Jim Vicars photographs M.177 circa 1952, in Pampa, Texas . . .

A Doodlebug in Pasadena!

The photo below of M.181 was taken in 1948 by Russ Cole, on Walnut Street in Pasadena!
Thanks to Bill Weibel and Rod Desborough for tracking the source of this photo down for us via the Internet.


by Gordon Bachlund

I received a heart-warming letter from Bob LaPrelle, Executive Director of the Age of Steam Railroad Museum in Dallas, home to AT&SF M.160. That letter and news of the accompanying donation to Project M.177 may be found under Doodlebug Notes. The part I'd like to address is Bob's closing note: "Perhaps the two motorcars will have a reunion someday!" What a wonderful positive idea. While we are beset with isolation from the general railroad system, and while the M.177 has friction bearings which are generally unwelcome on the general railroad system, it is possible to move exhibits of her size by motor carriers and on flatcars to events such as Railfair '99 in Sacramento. Perhaps someday indeed!

After a long period of writing, editing, checking, proofing and production, the new Rail Heritage Southwest (RHS) Docent Guide has been printed and is available free of charge to our docents. (If you'd like to become a docent, please call Nancy Gneier at 818-243-5019.) The guide, written by me (with many valuable inputs from Linda Barth, Tom Breckner, Greg Gneier, Bryan Reese, Al DiPaolo, Alan Weeks, Paul Hammond, and others) presents pithy facts about the Travel Town Museum and its collection in a handy size pocket publication to help docents prepare their spiels and answer visitors' questions. I am especially grateful to Ted McConville for preparing the final copy for reproduction, and to Linda for arranging for its printing. RHS is on a roll!

The last in our series of 1999 Movie Nites featured The Great Train Robbery, screened in 35mm. This was made possible through the extraordinary efforts of several dedicated Associates. In the Exhibit Hall, Bruce Henrie installed a new 100-ampere subpanel and multiple outlets including a 50-ampere 240-volt receptacle for a 7-kVA single-phase to three-phase rotary converter provided by the writer. (Three-phase power is required for the larger 35mm projectors, and three-phase power is not available at the Travel Town Museum.) Tim Dulin arranged for the loan of a 35mm theatre projector and platter, and associated sound and automation equipment, and he and the writer transported it all to Travel Town, where Tim led the set-up effort with assistance from Bruce, Dan Price, Andy Evans, Jeff Barrow, and Jerry Price. Tim then fine-tuned the projector and sound equipment, and by Saturday evening, April 17, we were ready for a real treat - our first 35mm screening at Travel Town. We are grateful to Tim Dulin for his significant donation of money, time and talent. Watch The Headlight calendar for upcoming special screenings!

In other news, at its April meeting the Board adopted a Code Of Conduct for Associates. It is printed below for your information and guidance. Several museums have adopted similar codes, and the SCSRA looks forward to becoming a better place to volunteer through the code's establishment of rules of volunteer conduct and interaction.


. . . CHRIS and ISABEL RIPPY had a baby boy, Nicholas, just a few weeks ago. Welcome aboooooard!

. . . RANDY MATUS is now a licensed Amtrak engineer. He called Gordon Bachlund recently to report he is presently qualifying on the San Joachin (Gordon believes that's the line) running from Sacramento to Bakersfield.

During the weeks he spent in the left-side seat he had the pleasure of working on the Coast Starlight from Oakland to Santa Barbara and on several trips over Donner Pass to Truckee in blinding snow! As soon as he is signed off on the San Joachin, he'll regularly occupy the right-side seat.

Apparently his assignments will be plentiful owing to the "grounding" of a crew that split a switch (signal wiring error or not watching points in addition to signals/targets?) and a crew that was involved in a grade crossing accident.

Randy is in the best of spirits and wanted to share his exuberance and joy with us at Travel Town.

Good job and continued good luck, Randy!

. . . the SCSRA's old P. O. Box at the Verdugo Viejo Station in Glendale (P. O. Box 11216, Glendale, CA 91226) will be CLOSED in September of this year. If you currently receive Association-related mail at the Verdugo Viejo address, please be sure to advise your correspondents of the new Griffith Station address (P.O. Box 39727, Griffith Station, Los Angeles, CA 90039-0727) prior to the end of September.

Due to scheduling difficulties, "The Diesel Shop," "Operations Report," and "Our Gang" (Maintenance of Way Report) were not available this quarter. These regular articles will return next time in The Headlight . Ed.



The purpose of this Code of Conduct is to ensure that the Association carries out its mission safely and productively in an atmosphere of consensus and cooperation and that Associates' experiences as volunteers are enjoyable. It is intended to define generally accepted behavior, which is further defined in the operating rules.


Associates shall treat other Associates, the visiting public, Travel Town Museum staff and contract employees, concessionaires, other volunteer groups, public officials and Museum neighbors with courtesy and good will at all times. Associates shall place group harmony and good will ahead of their personal ambitions at all times. Hard work and/or technical skills do not give an Associate license to mistreat others.

All Associates shall be welcome to participate in all Association activities. All contributions of time and talent shall be encouraged. Highly active Associates shall neither criticize nor denigrate the contributions of less active Associates.

Verbal or physical abuse or intimidation will not be tolerated and shall be grounds for disciplinary action up to and including revocation of Associate status.

Harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, national origin, religion or sexual orientation will not be tolerated and shall be grounds for disciplinary action up to and including revocation of Associate status.

Personal disputes between Associates have no place on Museum property or at Association or Museum functions. Disputes between Associates with respect to Museum operations or activities will not be resolved through argument, but shall be referred to a responsible Association officer for mediation. The Board of Directors shall be the final arbiter of all such disputes.

Associates shall not accept tips, gratuities or rewards from passengers or the public.

The use of alcoholic beverages on Museum property is prohibited except as may otherwise be permitted after normal public hours.

The use of controlled substances on Museum property is prohibited at all times.


In every organization there must be lines of authority. Association work activities will be determined by the Board of Directors and by appointed officials in consultation with the City's Travel Town Museum Director of Planning and Development. While all Associates are invited and encouraged to suggest work activities, their volunteer efforts will be confined to approved projects. Associates will not circumvent these procedures. Consensus on work to be performed is essential to the Association's success.

Associates who hold supervisory or officer status have a special responsibility to avoid words or deeds that are arrogant, insensitive or capricious. They will set an example of good conduct for others to follow.

Only persons designated by the Board of Directors may represent the Association. Financial commitments may only be made by duly authorized Association officers. Any Associate who attempts an unauthorized expenditure will be personally responsible for the debt.

Only persons with officer or supervisory status may critique the work of other Associates, and will do so only to promote the personal development of Associates and ensure consistent quality of work.


Associates are trustees of Association and City property. Such property must be treated with care.

Association property is under control of the Board of Directors. City property is under the control of the City's Travel Town Museum Director of Planning and Development. No Associate may unilaterally dictate how it may be used. This applies to Associates who have invested time and money toward the procurement, transportation, restoration or operation of a piece of equipment or property. Involvement does not convey ownership.

Association and/or City property may not be appropriated for personal use. When in the custody of Associates, its whereabouts must be documented.

Intentional damage or threats of damage to Association and/or City property shall be grounds for disciplinary action up to and including revocation of Associate status.

Acts clearly and demonstrably counter to the stated goals and objectives of the Association or City shall be grounds for disciplinary action up to and including revocation of Associate status.


Associates who are issued keys to Association and City property have a special responsibility to ensure that such property is secure, and to control the use of such keys in accordance with the Association's key control policy. Such keys shall not be deplicated or loaned. Violation of key control policy, including the duplication or loaning of keys, shall be grounds for disciplinary action up to and including revocation of Associate status.


Members who violate the Code of Conduct will be subject to disciplinary action.

The President may immediately suspend any Associate for cause, pending review by the Board of Directors at its next Meeting.

The Board will be solely responsible for implementing and assessing disciplinary action and will determine what form it will take.

1999 SCSRA/ASRA Calendar of Events

is published quarterly at Los Angeles, California, and is the official publication of
P.O. Box 39727, Griffith Station, Los Angeles, CA 90039-0727
(323) 667-1423 and via the World Wide Web at

A California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation, Incorporated January 4, 1984
IRS Tax Exemption No. 95-3947766

Editor: Sue Kientz

Any article or feature published in The Headlight may be reprinted in whole or in part provided that proper credit is given the source.





Associates with inquiries regarding project work schedules
may contact any of the above by leaving a message at (323) 667-1423.

Questions and comments to Sue Kientz, SCSRA Publications Manager