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

Saturday, June 20, 1998

M.177ís Winton Engine returns home Ė Moviní Day, a report from Greg Ramsey

There were a lot of things moving today. Thanks to Dale Brown and Sue Kientz who loaned SCSRA the rest of the money to pay off the debt to Globe Bearing, we were bringing the Winton engine home to the M.177 today. In order to clear the way for the trainshed construction, the two large eucalyptus trees that have stood just west of our compound were to be cut down the following week. To protect our valuable collection, Gordon Bachlund, Jim Vicars and a lot of the crew had to move the diesels, the cabeese (plural of Caboose), and the UP passengers cars to prevent errant branches and trunks from damaging anything. (Can you say "Last ride of the Nugget," again)

The morning started off with one of our regular project coordination meetings at 9:30 a.m. The 45-minute meeting ended a hour and a half later, and Chris Rippy and I quickly loaded my pick-up truck with an assortment of track jacks, chains, prybars and other rigging and then he, his wife Isabel, my son Gregory and I departed for downtown LA.

Globe Bearing normally works on automotive-size gasoline engine overhauls and they donít have a crane or forklift large enough to lift the reassembled Winton onto a truck. To solve that problem, associate Chris Rippy, who is a tow truck driver for the Automobile Club, persuaded his employers to loan us a 10,000 lb. capacity tilt-bed tow truck. The idea was that once the bed was down to the ground, we could winch the engine up on the truck, and then back at the Park, we could back up to the front of the M.177 and roll it right into the front door.

Chris followed me down to Globe. Bryan Reese, the M.177ís project manager, had other commitments in the morning, but was going to meet us there at noon. In addition, Steve DeVorkin, our PR Manager, was also going to meet us there, to document the move on film. Chris and I crossed the Blue Line tracks and into Globeís tiny parking lot right on the advertised 12:00 noon. As I entered the shop, I found the engine, back in the corner covered by a tarp, but completely blocked by tables and loads of small engine parts. Bryan showed up about then, and with the help of a number of Globeís employees, we set about clearing out a path from the door to the engine.

Rather than try and use pipes as rollers, I decided to rent a set of machinery rollers, which are small assemblies with a series of smaller rollers in them in a housing that can be swiveled under the load. The set comes with 4 roller assemblies and two handles. We initially tried to use all 4 assemblies, but we quickly realized that without a perfectly smooth floor, we would be constantly loosing contact with one corner or the other. We decided to try and move it with only three. If you look at the photo at right, youíll see me tugging on the handle connected to the one under the front center. On the rear under the generator mount we have two rollers.

After about an hour of grunting, straining, and sweating we finally got it out of the corner and lined up with the door. Somewhere during this process, Steve showed up and started burning film. In addition, Isabel shot quite a few photos, both with her camera and my digital Kodak. My 8 year old, Gregory, also shot quite a few with his disposable camera and my Kodak (see all the pictures at We Got the Engine Back!).

As we rolled the engine near the door, we were faced with two obstacles. The first was a piece of 1" angle iron laid in the concrete as part of the door jam. The second was that Chrisís truck, with its bed edge down on the ground, still had at least a one-inch lift above the pavement. Both gaps were too large for our machinery rollers to roll over. We finally overcame both problems, by again jacking up one end of the engine and bed, and placing the rear rollers so that the generator mount was cantilevered a couple of feet out. We then continued rolling the engine until its rear contacted the sloped truck bed. We again jacked up the rear of the engine, this time placing the rollers on the truck bed at the end of the engine mount and with the aid of the truckís winch, started to actually load it.

We continued on, with a few similar jacking and repositioning of rollers until the entire engine was on the truck, with only one end of the engine on rollers, and the other end sliding on a well oiled 4 x 4.

Once the bed was retracted and back level, we finished chaining down the engine. As Bryan and Chris finished that up, I backed up my truck under a shop crane and the Globe employees loaded the 4 rebuilt heads in the back.

Once all was loaded, I half jokingly suggested to Steve, that since we were going to go home via surface streets, and the route I had chosen was going to go North on Alameda, that he should stop across from Union Station, and get a picture of the engine and truck with the station in the background. Unfortunately, he didnít start off following the caravan and instead went straight there. It was now after 2 p.m., none of us had had lunch, and several of us didnít have breakfast. We decided to stop for lunch at a McDonalds. By the time we were on the road again though, Steve who was dutifully waiting across from LAUPT, figured he had missed us, or that we had gone another route and headed on to the Park.

I continued to lead the procession North eventually reaching San Fernando Road, and then entered the Park at the Los Feliz entrance. I kept the caravan down to about 25-30 mph until I reached the Gene Autry Museum, and then I took off so I could get into the Park and then set up to photograph the entrance.

While we were gone, Gordon and the rest of the crew had completed moving all the equipment around for the tree removal. The cabeese, the Baldwin, and the Shay were parked along the tail track lead. The Charley and the Nugget had gone the other way and we were now occupying the loading platform. That left the track in front of the motorcar wide open. The plan was to lay enough of the boxcar floor planking down around and between the tracks so that we could back the truck up to the front engine door. Unfortunately, when we tried to pick up enough planks to do the job, we discovered that El Nino had done its damage here too and they were all rotten. OK, shift to plan 2.

The other idea had been to park Chrisís truck on the public grade crossing and then pull the motorcar up to it. That now entailed moving Charley and the Nugget again but unfortunately everything had been secured. However the truck had to be unloaded, so off I went to start Charley and charge the brakes on the Lilí Nugget while Chris turned the truck around and Bryan prepared the M.177 to move and receive the engine.

Once all was in place and the truck was backed up to the motorcar, we placed some car jacks under the rear of the bed, since it would now be cantilevered some distance behind the rear axle. We didnít want the truck pulling any "wheelies" while we were unloading it.

Unloading was actually quite easy. We set up a deadman by placing a switch tie through the two RPO doors, and then rigging a snatch block to it. Next, we pulled out the winch cable, threaded it through the snatch block and then rigged it to some chains that were in turn rigged to the front of the Winton. "Ramping" it into the engine room was just the reverse of loading it. We cantilevered the front of the engine, rolled it through the front door, jacked it up, repositioned the rollers, and continued it in. It went in just as if it belonged there.

We still have to drill several holes in the floor for mounting holes so we parked the engine above its correct position and then set it down on some 4x4s. All that was left then was to switch everything back where it belonged, unload the engine heads into the baggage compartment and clean up.


Since I wasnít around the Park much of the day, I canít tell you much about who did what beyond what I reported. I can say though that Jeff Barrow and his family were out again, doing the final bit of leveling and tamping up at the West End. I understand that it is all done. The track still needs some ballast at the shoulders, but the pile in the service yard is gone and the shoulders will have to wait for another day.

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Copyright 1998. The Southern California Scenic Railway Association.