Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Presidents Day Weekend, February 2009

Presidents Day Weekend at Joshua Tree

The weather man was right it was going to rain this weekend, at 9:00 am on Monday it started raining. The rest of the weekend was the standard; cold nights and T-shirt days as long as the sun was out.

Paul Westover came down from Tehachapi Thursday afternoon and offloaded another one hundred feet of track panels for the 7½”. I meet him at Barr Lumber around 11:00 on Friday, as I came into town, to pick up a few items that we would need to finish off on the hoist project. It sure is neat to get out a little early for a long weekend and even better when you get to stay a day longer too.

Terry Watson was up and waiting when we hit the gate, eager to see what was in store for the coming day. Al and Lynn Ratliff came in the gate not twenty minutes after we did; it is nice to have Mom and Dad make it out after not being able to the past couple of times. We got the trailers set up and even unloaded the GE before the sun dropped over the edge and the cool started to take over. Tom Arnold was up for the weekend too, and we put him to work the whole weekend.

Saturday dawned with nary a cloud in sight and soon as the sun reached the valley floor the temperature rose as quickly as the sun. By 10:00 it was not necessary to have more then a t-shirt on if you were in the sun. Saturday night I had a pretty good sun burn going on the nape of my neck, I completed it on Sunday. Greg made it up pretty early Saturday morn’ with the non-used section of the hoist, it will be used about the hoist area, just not on the lift. The end track sections of the hoist were fitted and refitted before welding them in place.

The header plate on the block wall was secured to the block work with the remaining fasteners. After that was done the track crew could build the remaining track panel to length and grade it. They also started on the two outer lead tracks from the lift, as there will be three tracks to choose to off load to from the lift. Terry Watson brought out his hammer-drill motor to put the holes in the wall for the header plate. Gary Conley assisted with the drilling and tapping of holes to secure the rail to the hoist trolley.

And visitors in the gate during both days, Ray and Sunny Martin, their son Matthew assisted in the work of the weekend. He is a member of So Cal Live Steamers and was camping down the road. I do believe we will be seeing more of them in the future. By Saturday evening all that remained to see the hoist operate was electrical and air. The air could wait and could be bypassed but the electrical was Sunday’s project. On the track side of things the track crew had laid sixty feet of panels and had rough graded them as well. The grading for the third lead was pretty far along too. And it too would get attacked come Sunday as well.

Sunday morning the Heisler got a steam up and ran for an hour or so, she is developing a lope and needs a little more attention then she has been getting, so back to the bays she went. After the sun hit the hoist area it was back on the project, with the fish tape in hand we ran the electrical to the pump motor and ran the air line inside the conduit as well. After filling up the reservoir for the hydraulic fluid we soon found out that the lines were crossed; it had been a year since we disassembled them, at least everything is now well lubricated.

After we figured that out, we ran the hoist up and down a few times to get the air out of the line and it was time to give it a test. Everyone was to pick a spot a go for a ride. Pictures were taken at the lowest setting; on the ground. And then I raised it to the top and took another shot for posterity. Top of rail is 11 3/16” at lowest and 6 foot 5 ½” at highest.
Gary and Allan worked on the sheet metal for covering the wheels as to keep from running over fingers during movement. All the new track panels got rail joiners attached before sundown on Sunday. And most of the track got at least a token ballasting before dark. Quite an accomplishment for all that lent a helping hand, a big pat on the back for all.

Sunday evening saw all leave except Mom, Dad and I, quiet came back to the campground and the evening was warmer then the two previously. The cloud cover was coming in and by mid morning Monday the much talked about rain was finally coming down. Being antsy to do things while having a morning about the place, I figured with the string line and a few stakes, the radii of the existing curve and duplicated it on the other lead track. That made the yard look better. Soon I was digging out along the upper side of the lead tracks for a tie retaining wall to keep the sloughing sands at bay and to give one a decent walking path while traversing the area. The GE and a few flats did the yeoman work of transporting the heavy ties to the worksite.

The rain was getting serious by now and the first break in the clouds Dad and I loaded things in the respective trucks and secured them for the trip home. We picked the right time as it really never let off again till after I left at least and it rained all the way home for me. It even was trying to snow at the top of Morongo grade on the way out of Yucca Valley.

A great weekend, with a lot accomplished by those that made it out for the weekend, one more session on the yard switch and grading the lead tracks and we will have a functional, larger and safer way to load and unload equipment. I’m looking forward to seeing it in use as I’m sure you are too. See you at the Narrow Gauge meet March 12-15, 2009.

Photobucket Album

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hoist Workday Photos, February 7, 2009

Photobucket Album

These are the pictures for the below story, some day I'll figure out how to get them where I want them. Sorry about the Baloney from Photobucket wanting you to post a comment, that's what we get for free, Brian

Hoist Workday, February 7,2009

Greetings all, young and young at heart,

Saturday was wet and the weather man said; more wet to come. Greg and I got an early start from Corona and the weather cleared up more as we traveled easterly. Snow dusted the upper reaches of the mountains as we passed through the Banning pass. The fans were turning in the desert keeping the place cooled off as if it wasn't cool enough. It never really rained on the trip out but you spent most of the time adjusting the intermittent wipers to keep from hearing the screech of dry blades on the windshield, then turning them up for better visibility.

Brendon Hilton and his son Ace spent Friday night out there and he said it rained all night. The place was wet, but water had not run in the roads or either of the washes, so the precipitation was soaking in well, anticipate a good crop of wildflowers this spring.

An Easy-up was one of the things loaded in the truck, as well as everything else we thought we would need for the day. It was the second thing to be set up at the hoist location when we arrived, the first was the fire barrel for some heat. First project was to wire up a receptacle for the welder. The second was to go to Barr Lumber and buy a new pigtail for the welder so it would fit the receptacle. The welder still had a plug from when it was used by the Romans to re weld chariots. Then would you believe that one of the tabs in the breaker box was dead and of course that was the one that we plugged into when we ran wire to the hoist in January. With all the start up fits out of the way, we started welding the trolleys on the transfer table.

Not being the most proficient welder in town the easiest way for me to get a decent weld was to flip the table over and weld the bottom first then turn it on its side to weld them.

After we flipped it back over, installed the rollers and placed the roller track on the cross supports it became evident that our planning and engineering had paid off. She rolled with the greatest of ease. We bolted the sheet metal guards over the lifting ram and put the cover over the hydraulic controls. A few hydraulic fittings to go to get them to work and wiring for the pump as well as the plumbing for the air system is pretty much all that is left in that area.

The day was cool, but the turnout for the 15" boys for their workday was good. People drove by in and out most of the day. We even had a Cadillac with Illinois plates on it show up, Nick Kallas from the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, IL was in town and spent the morning trying to find us, he was also looking for an open observation Pullman car the was supposed to be around here he said. I sent him up to Pioneertown to go see it after he left. Terry Watson gave him the cooks tour of all the cars and the Museum too. It sprinkled a few times during the day as the clouds scudded past on their way east. The fire barrel keeping us warm and the cover keeping us dry.

The bridge plates to the yard and the rail on the transfer table will get welded up this week and put in place next weekend. We will be able to finish the center track to the hoist and start on the two outer tracks as well over the Presidents Day weekend run. There should be no reason that the hoist will not be ready to be put in use for the Narrow Gauge Meet. The Yard will not be complete, only one track will be in service up to the main line. We have a few switches to complete before that happens and we are looking into finding some switch parts to ease this along.

The rest of the day went quickly and soon the sun was dropping over the edge. Greg and I made a trip up to see the progress on the 'hernia' gauge, they had welded up some pieces on the turntable and had started grading the roadbed towards the big cut. The temperature was sure to be lower as the evening progressed as the sky was clearing. A group formed around the patio area and it was getting time to leave even though to fun was just starting to pick up. The ride back home was uneventful and we didn't see rain again till we were almost home. A lot accomplished for a day that was supposed to be rained out. Keep an eye out for the invitation to the cocktail and dedication party at the 'Hoist' at the Narrow Gauge Meet.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My new home

February 3, 2009

Welcome to my new home for info on the happenings on the 7 1/2" at JT. Tom Arnold set this up so it would be easier for me to get out the stories, pictures and what else that tells what is going on at Joshua Tree. I'm working on the text part right now and I'll get to the photos part later. Technology gets the best of me sometimes. OK, most of the time, I'm still looking for a font that looks like my old 'Corona', not Smith-Corona, typewriter; 'o's and 'p's that are filled with fuzz, off kilter 'l's and the 'a' that is lighter because of a broken pinkie finger, etc...

We, Greg and I, got a little work done on the hoist 'trolley' frame last night and are getting that ready for welding up to the rest of the hoist soon. Next run weekend, with a little work too, is going to be President's weekend, see you there, Brian

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Paul Westover took a few pictures of the progress Bill Shepherd had made in his last trip down to the digs. Paul picks up ties and rail on the way home. He and his dad are making track panels in Tehachapi and Paul is dropping them off on his way back to the current job on Tucson. At least he knows where his safety vest is. And now we have panels all ready for the new lead tracks at the hoist.

The steps for the hoist with the compresser room underneath the steps.

Yes, the Gazsi bay is going to be smooth face instead of split to lessen the 'cheesegrater' effect on your legs.