Around the Museum, 8/2/2012

It’s been a while. . .too long. . .since there’s been an update of goings-on at the museum. So finally, here’s one to try and catch up on museum happenin’s.

As last reported, there was a good turnout of volunteers for the summer work session on steam locomotive WP165. Many tasks were completed moving toward the locomotive’s reassembly and eventual return to operation. And all those participating had a great time, to boot!

The most noteworthy thing to report is that WP 1503 LIVES! This locomotive, the last diesel switch engine purchased by the Western Pacific, was donated to us by Union Pacific last year and arrived in Portola last December. Much mechanical work was done to locomotive by UP prior to its being placed in long-term storage a few years ago, so it was essentially fully operational when we received it. . .except that, when shop forces removed the auto-start system that had been installed in it, they cut all the wires and removed the cabinet, leaving the electrical system virtually in pieces. Well, on the Thursday during the steam work session, one of WPRM’s most favorite and renowned wrench enthusiasts, Seth Adams, showed up and went to work on the unit. Within a relatively short period of time, Seth had much of the electrical system back together and the unit ready to test-fire. After pre-lubing the engine as well as removing, cleaning, lubricating, and re-installing all the test valves, the engine was started. However, the governor would not run the engine on its own, the engine would only run if the fuel control was manually operated. Two days later, Seth returned, corrected that problem, and reported that unit was running and loading in both forward and reverse. WOOHOO!

Since that weekend, we have continued to entertain a steady stream of visitors and guests wishing to experience the thrill of operating a locomotive through the RAL program. Our volunteers tending to the Company Store have continued to stock the shelves with the outstanding line of railroad goodies that are proving vastly popular with our visitors. Matt and David Elems are working away at their adopted project, the internal restoration of WP caboose 428. Of late they have raided the gondola loaded with scrap steel, removing many pieces that they are fashioning into parts for the caboose. To see this kind of work ongoing here makes one feel that they are at the Jefferey Shops in Sacramento – WP’s large car shop that was torn down many years ago, where once the kind of work the Elems’ are doing here was an everyday norm. Way to go, guys!

It is now Thursday evening in Portola. The trash has been emptied in the crew lounge and the Company Store, the guest restrooms have been cleaned and stocked, the soda fountain has been iced and serviced. . .and our museum is ready for another outstanding weekend of entertaining our visitors and volunteers. BRING IT!!!!

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