Work Continues at the WPRM (Week of April 6)

Work continues to happen at the museum in preparation for the coming season.  This week, work continued on 917-D, getting closer to being ready for re-entry into the RAL program.  Greg Elems is shown below working on rust removal on the nose of 917, in preparation for temporary repairs to prevent further rust damage.  Removal of peeling paint is revealing an interesting history of patches and repairs on 917.

This weekend was also the first crew training session for the 2014 operating season.  We welcomed several new volunteers, and had a good turnout.

The next opportunities for crew training will be April 26 and 27, at 9am.

The Museum wood shop has also been cleaned out, and organized thanks to the efforts of Eugene and Tom Carter.

Greg Elems works on 917 in preparation for rust prevention work.

Greg Elems works on 917 in preparation for rust prevention work.

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Pre-Work Job Briefing

One of the most important things a group of railroaders do before starting their work day is hold a “job briefing”.  What is a job briefing you ask?  A job briefing is defined as a short meeting between all members of a crew or employees involved in a particular assignment so that everybody has a compete understanding of the task to be performed.  It gets everyone on the same page and lays out the work while assigning each member to a specific task.  So, that’s today’s railroad lesson for you, free of charge.

Now that you know and understand what a job briefing is all about, here’s your first one.  Now that Winter is over and the weather in Portola has been conducive to grunt work, the volunteers at your museum have come out of wherever they’ve been hiding out all Winter and are getting back to work.

Two of our resident “Go to” guys, Fritz and Poindexter, have been hard at work getting WP 917-D, our most popular Rental locomotive, back in service.  They have been meticulously cleaning and refurbishing electrical parts, as well as other tasks around the museum related to getting the gates open and the engines back up and running.

Gail McClure has, in addition to her new position of Treasurer for the FRRS, been busy getting new gift shop inventory counted, tagged, folded, and entered in the register computer.  Her and Rod spent a weekend down in Stockton at Winterrail, representing the museum and selling books, shirts, and other goodies to the rail buffs.  Gail was helped by brothers Tom & Tim Carter & Alicia La Brecque at the WPRM table.

A few personnel changes have taken place at the museum, the biggest being the departure of our Treasurer, James Mason.  James had asked us to find a new Treasurer at the August Board of Directors meeting, as he no longer wanted to continue in that role.  He did act as our “interim” Treasurer until Gail McClure was nominated and seated to the Treasurers position at the November meeting.  Gail has extensive experience and qualifications and is doing a fine job managing the FRRS funds and we have our complete confidence in her abilities, despite the rough economy the museum, and the country, is still recovering from.

Speaking of funding, Eugene Vicknair (FRRS Secretary) has been appointed “Fund Raising Department Head” as well as Historical Department Convention Manager.  Matt Elems (aka “Poindexter”) has been appointed editor of the “Trainsheet” newsletter, and I (Tom Carter) have been appointed Safety Manager.  You’ll notice this year a bigger shift towards increased safety both in the shop and in train operations both.  More on that as it is implemented.  Finally, my fiance, Alicia La Brecque, has taken on the role of volunteer coordinator and will be contacting both current, former and potentially new volunteers in an effort to rally the troops and get some work done.

Speaking of work, the list of approved projects for this year is:


  • WP 165 Restoration
  • Zephyr Project (Silver Plate work, WP 805-A work, Zephyr cab relocation)
  • Archives cataloging and related work
  • Archives utilization projects (coffee table book, etc.)

 Specific Projects:

  • WP 501 restoration
  • WP 563 restoration
  • WP 731 mechanical
  • WP 1503 painting
  • CCT 24 caboose
  • Perimeter Fence
  • Calendar Project
  • Silver Debris security improvements
  • Virgil Staff film scanning
  • FR&W Plymouth relocation and display

Yeah, this list is a long, ambitious one, but, with YOUR help, we can get it DONE.  Some of us are already at work on it, but this year, volunteer labor, monetary support, and, well, just MORAL support if that is all you can give right now, will help go a LONG way towards the FRRS accomplishing its goals this season at the museum.  

Now, if you’ll allow me to don my Director’s hat for just a second, I have said this and said this, and I’ll say it here again:  As Director’s of YOUR organization, we are VERY open to feedback.  Give us a call, or send us an email (you can get in touch with us through the museum phone number; leave a message and we’ll call you back, or send us a Facebook message or email and we’ll send you our phone numbers).  Let us know what YOU want.  If we’re on the right track, great, but if you feel we’re not, let us know.  Above all, ASK QUESTIONS.  We’re here to serve you, the member.  Get involved.  Give us input.  There’s no better way to serve the membership than to get feedback from them, so let’s hear it.

Matt, in taking over the Editor position for the Trainsheet, needs material for publication.  Articles, news and photos of recent work is very much appreciated.  This accounts for the lack of Trainsheet’s being published in the last year; we can’t publish blank newsletters.  Please consider taking a few moments to send Matt an article or news so he can get these out in a timely manner.

The museum re-opens to the public on April 26th.  We will be focusing a lot of effort to advertise and reach out to the Reno-Tahoe areas and are open for ideas to get the word out about the museum.

Come on out and join the “Willing People” as we preserve and present the spirit of the Western Pacific Railroad to the world.

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Work continues at the WPRM

Work continues at the WPRM even when we aren’t open to the general public.  Maintaining our fleet of vintage locomotives and rolling stock is a full-time job, and we have been taking full advantage of our mild winter weather over the past few weeks.

Late last season, WP 917 developed an issue related to the reverser.  We suspect the reverser drum behind the cab is the issue.  It was nearly glued in place with the accumulated oil, grease, and dirt of years.

These are the cleaned contact fingers.

These are the cleaned contact fingers.

Fritz works on a contact finger for WP 917's reverser.

Fritz works on a contact finger for WP 917′s reverser.

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FRRS 2014 Election News

At the present time, the following candidates have been verified as valid candidates for the 2014 FRRS Election. Please vote and return your ballot when received

2014 Verified Nominees:

Kerry Cochran – Incumbent

Charlie Spikes – Incumbent

Greg Elems – Incumbent

James Mason – Nominee

Upcoming calendar of Election events.

April 21, 2014 – The Ballots shall be sent out by the Committee on or before the 3rd Monday in April.

May 10, 2014 – The Board shall select members and/or nonmembers to serve as tellers to count ballots.

May 28, 2014 – Ballots must be returned to the ballot return address by no later than 5 PM. No post marks will be accepted.

June 7, 2014 – The tellers shall report and certify the accuracy and proper procedure of the vote at the annual meeting of members of the corporation as provided for in the policies manual.”


Matthew Shuman – FRRS 2014 Election Chair

1040 Redbud Dr.

Redding, CA96001-0162

(530) 604-8006

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All About Portola Railroad Days 2013

Railroad Days was a success this year, due in no small part to the very hard work done by a group of dedicated volunteers.  While crowds were down, revenues were up and our guests, with a few exceptions, seemed very pleased with their visits.  Train rides were the popular event of the day and we were so busy that instead of running on a schedule as is the norm, we would load up the train and go from 12 noon to 4 pm.  Guests were entertained with live music by Reno (and member Rick Gruninger’s) band, Rock Shop, who brought down the house during the day and kicked it for our volunteers at night while they enjoyed a dinner catered by local Mexican restaurant, Ricos (outstanding food, by the way – check them out next time you are in town).  They also enjoyed two model railroad layouts provided by our friends Mel Jones and Bob Sandin (N-scale), and Paul and Chris Martinovich (HO-scale).  Many took home souvenirs purchased in the gift shop and bought tickets to a raffle where the grand prize was a one hour Run-A-Locomotive session.

All in all, the revenue and PR provided by the event was a huge benefit to the Feather River Rail Society!

I can’t thank enough the hard working volunteers who made this event possible.  Eugene Vicknair created a spectacular poster and advertisement published in all the local papers to draw visitors to the property.  Steve Habeck was in charge of getting the property looking good and making the equipment accessible to our visitors.  David Elems, Matt Elems, Greg Elems, Charlie Spikes, Sam Herschbein (all the way from Seattle!), Tim Carter, Ethan Doty, Deanna Fecko, Cody Wilson, Matt Parker, Fred Elenbaas and I provided the labor to make Steve’s plan come to reality.  Our always professional train crew included Matt E., Greg, Charlie, Tim, Ethan, Rick and Fred, as well as newcomer Steve Cope and Superintendent of Operations, Bill Parker.  Steve and David provided troubleshooting expertise.  Deanna and I worked the Gift Shop, and Sam did not let anyone by him without suggesting purchase of our raffle tickets or a donation to the organization. If I have forgotten anyone, please accept my sincere apologies…

If you have an opportunity to meet any of these hard working people, please be sure to thank them for their dedication to the organization and for giving of their time and sweat to make your Feather River Rail Society, and Western Pacific Railroad Museum, prosper.

Gail A. McClure, Volunteer


Director / Gift Shop Coordinator

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