Restoration Notes: A Day in the Life of a Railway Museum.

Saturday, June 13, 1998

10 miles of track in one day, a report from Greg Ramsey

Ok, ok, I exaggerate just a tiny bit. But I did observe some of the most amazing feats of gandy dancing I've ever seen.

Over the last several weeks, the last 120 feet of rail that used to support the Santa Maria Valley 1000 had been set aside, the ties (sic) [Ok, creosoted tooth picks] had been removed, and with the help of Jeff Pippenger, the entire area had been excavated. All of this had been accomplished by our normal contingent of SCSRA volunteers.

Then, during the annual dinner weekend, the new hole in the ground was filled with a fresh layer of ballast and ties were strategically placed. Jeff, Danny and their families performed this effort, amazing in itself, almost solely.

This was all in preparation for this weekend. Jeff Barrow is a Boy Scout, and Boy Scouting's highest honor is becoming an Eagle Scout. One of the final steps to achieving the Eagle is for the scout to plan, organize, and execute a community service project. We have had a couple at Travel Town over the last year or two, but this one appeared to be the biggest.

Yvonne had been asked to plan on serving 50 lunches in addition to the usual volunteer crew. She was also specifically asked for her famous potato salad, so Friday night, we headed on down to my mother's house to start manipulating 20 pounds of potatoes and 3 dozen eggs into one of my favorite creations.

Since we were already in town, we made an early run over to the Park, and I was there before 10 a.m. I made a quick run out to the track project area, and found that all the new ties were laid out and spaced along the new ballast. There was already a large contingent of scouts and their families on hand, but I don't know how much of this was done today and how much was done prior to this. I am aware that Jeff B. and company had been out during the week and were there late Friday.

My focus for the day was the annoying rattling coming from Charley at around 700 rpm. I started him up and then started going over the #2 engine with a mechanics stethoscope. I couldn't find any unusual noises from any of the bearings or other possible causes, so I turned my attention to small flywheel-like item on the front called a vibration damper. The damper consists of two steel plates sandwiched together with a layer of rubber in the middle. One plate is rigidly bolted to the crankshaft and the other is free to float on the rubber. Its purpose, as its name suggests, is to absorb minor vibrations. Our inspection indicated that the rubber has deteriorated badly. If the deterioration is bad enough, I suspect that the damper is no longer absorbing vibrations and in fact may be amplifying them. As soon as we can do without the locomotive and my schedule permits, we will replace it and see if that solves the problem.

Once we gave up on that for the day, Chris and I turned our attention to the Baldwin's radiator fan shaft. You might remember from previous Headlight articles that the shaft had been severely worn down inside the bearing at the pulley end. This requires us to remove the shaft for machining. Chris and I spent the remainder of the afternoon trying to remove the shroud that supports the front bearing but only succeeded in breaking off the bolts heads. Frustrated with that we turned our attention to removing the v-belt pulley on the other end. We were successful in loosening it, but its actual removal will either require removing a jacket water pipe or sliding the entire shaft forward several inches.

On other fronts, Ben Combs spent most of the day up on scaffolding prepping the motorcar's roof for a new coat of black paint, and Joe Barilari spend most of the day under the dump truck trying to finish the engine installation.

By 5:30 p.m. when I wrapped up, I took a last look at Jeff's project. The entire rail was back in place and bolted together and about 75% of the ties were spiked down. And they still had Sunday to go!

Sunday addendum:

I had spent the morning driving around inspecting and photographing potential acquisitions (separate report with photos to be filed later) but wanted to drop by the Park and see what more had been accomplished. When I arrived about 2 p.m., all the ties had been spiked and the track had been aligned beautifully. They were about 50 feet down the track, the rails jacked up while the tractor dumped ballast and the scouts worked the rakes and tampers. The quality of the work I saw was as good as I've ever seen. When I realized that they probably weren't going to finish, because they couldn't move ballast fast enough, Danny and I explored the possibility of renting a dump truck for the rest of the day or trying to borrow another skip loader. Unfortunately, by then it was too late in the day for either effort to bear fruit. In any event it was one heck of an effort.

Bravo Zulu to all the scouts and their families who performed this Herculean effort. You're welcome back anytime.

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Copyright 1998. The Southern California Scenic Railway Association.