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

Saturday/Sunday, October 3 & 4, 1998

"Food for thought", a report from Gordon Bachlund

Saturday dawned upon the conspicuous absence of the front-end loader, indisposed, I was told, because of continuing fuel problems. It seems that Fleet Services is going to remove and clean the fuel tank in an attempt to permanently solve the clogging problem in the fuel system. It goes without saying that no M/W work was accomplished.

Accordingly, other tasks were attended to. Bryan Reese continued on the M.177. A team comprising Gordon, Dan Price, Jeff Barrow and Steve DeVorkin covered the previously-constructed "stage" in front of the movie screen with black "duvateen", a velour-like material donated by Greg Gneier. This will enhance the appearance of our Exhibit Hall theater at our next movie night.

After lunch, training became the order of the day. With Gordon hogging, Instructor Chris Rippy had Nancy Gneier, Andy Evans, Doug Ward, Dan Price and Jeff Barrow (yes, these last two passed their rules test a few weeks ago!) practice coupling, then "kicking" a car (SP 4049) and boarding while moving to make a controlled stop with the handbrake. Of course, we "bottled" the air so the Instructor could intercede if necessary. When all had their fill of this, they practiced "big holing" the train and Gordon shut off the sanders on Charley so as to not waste sand. (This illustrates why our initial terminal brake test requires the crew to check operation of the sanders during the emergency application, and then place the automatic brake valve in lap to conserve sand.) By 5:30PM we were tired and so we made up the train for the next day's operations and retired to our respective "happy hours."

Sunday dawned with an adequate crew (Gordon, Jim Hoffmann, Alan Weeks, Chris Rippy, Doug Ward, Andy Evans, Dan Price and the irrepressible Charles ("I've been workin' on the railroad....") Forsher. The weather was accommodating and suggested a good turnout of visitors. At noon, despite feeling poorly, Yvonne Ramsey arrived and provided a hearty lunch.

After lunch, however, Alan (who signed up for the first two shifts and had other commitments for the afternoon) had to leave, as did Chris (who needed his FRA-mandated rest before going on duty Sunday night as a UP conductor). Yvonne kindly agreed to stay for a while and serve as station agent so Dan could ride shotgun (helper) in Charley. The sad news is that we had only two qualified trainmen for most of the afternoon, so Jim and Gordon alternated as hogger and conductor-brakeman, controlling the back up movements by radio. Thus, had it not been for trainees Andy, Doug and Dan, and attendant Charles, we would have had to shut down after lunch. Its good we were able to muddle through since donations were over $500.

What did we learn Sunday? Well, we learned that we have 16 trainmen qualified as brakeman or higher, but for some reason, as luck would have it, only 25% worked in the morning and only 12% worked in the afternoon. Now, I realize that those who were absent had good reasons (family problems, illness and commitments impossible to wiggle out of), but......

After lunch, the train returned to the station to find the usual hoards of people waiting. Mindful of this, Jim has been working on a new timetable schedule that will afford a shift change at noon such that the relieving crew can eat first, then the crew being relieved can eat, allowing us to operate continuously through the day. Moreover, we'd all like to expand operations to two Sundays/month, since that would double the donations which support M.177's restoration.

These are ambitious plans and are entirely achievable if our qualified crews provide the required support. I apologize for ending this narrative with a sermon, but maybe we all need to get behind the Operating Department and sign up for and keep our commitments so that we can continue to grow. Food for thought?

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Copyright 1998. The Southern California Scenic Railway Association.