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Moving a museum isn’t easy

By July 12, 2018Features

The Golden Gate Railroad Museum has been working hard to prepare its vintage rolling stock for the move from the Niles Canyon Railway to the new museum site in Schellville. How difficult is it? Here are three excerpts, reproduced with permission from the museum’s Dispatcher’s Sheet newsletter.

Achieving Compliance
By Jim Prettyleaf

The work required to make certain that the GGRM’s locomotives and rolling stock complies with Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) requirements was started a little more than two years ago. This monu­mental task was required to make certain that the GGRM’s heritage equip­ment complies with all of the legal requirements for movement by the Union Pacific Railroad and will meet the requirements for future opera­tion on the North Western Pacific Railroad.

The first, and largest task, was to replace the old UC style brake valves that were used on the GGRM’s heavyweight passenger cars. This major change was required because the old UC airbrake valves were obso­lete for use on all class 1 railroads years ago. The UC valves were a con­tinuing expense because they needed to be sent out for maintenance and testing every 16 months. This retrofit involved fabricating the mounting brackets and the air piping needed to replace the old UC brake valves with the ABDX valves that are commonly used on today’s railroad cars. Also required were adjustments to the brake cylinders and rigging to make the brakes work properly.

A multitude of other tasks needed to be completed. For starters all leaks in the existing angle-cocks and air brake plumbing needed to be tracked down and eliminated, and any air hoses that were out of date needed to be ordered and replaced. Wheel defects on the GGRM’s light­weight and heavyweight railway post office cars and F7A locomotives also needed to be corrected; in some instances, equipment needed to be jacked up and the trucks rolled out so that wheel sets could be replaced. The entire air and fuel tank system underneath the GGRM’s 65-ton GE indus­trial locomotive needed to be removed, cleaned out and rebuilt to bring this locomotive into compliance with FRA requirements. In addition to the previously described mechanical work all of the federally mandated inspections and stenciling needed to be updated, and new UMLER radio frequency identification tags had to be acquired and applied to the GGRM’s rolling stock.

To make the GGRM’s historic collection compliant with federal reg­ulations has required a large investment of funds, volunteer resources and months of hard gritty work, but this effort will soon begin to pay off be­cause the museum’s equipment is now fully compliant and is ready for movement to our new display and storage site in Schellville. Our sincere thanks go out to all of the museum staff and volunteers that completed die work needed to get the GGRM’s collection ready for movement and future operations at our new home in Sonoma County.

Preparation for Moving: The Expected and the Unexpected 
By Jim Bunger

When we began the process of preparing the collection to move to our new home, we knew there were many things that had to be done. For ex­ample, we knew that every piece of rolling stock would need to have new brake valves in­stalled or the old valves sent to a certified brake shop for inspec­tion and cleaning. Following that process, each piece would need an air test by a certified brake inspector. What we didn’t know, however, were the things that inspectors from the railroad and the FRA would find in their inspections. It turned out that some items were big and some were small. It turned out that some of the “small” items were highly labor intensive.

We were surprised to find that the business car Oakland had a broken equalizer spring. This was unexpected and appeared to be a major job. We needed to move the Oakland to a shop track, jack up the car and roll the truck out. But be­cause we had done truck work on the car before, it took less than 4 hours.

We were also surprised to find that commonly used split ring washers are no longer legal on the fasteners on rail car safety appliances (hand grabs, steps, etc.). It turned out that this was one of those simple, but high labor intensive tasks. Each car had to be inspected for those washers and re­placed with star washers. In many cases the bolts were so badly rusted that they broke off requiring extra time for replacing each one.

By Jim Bunger

Before a piece of rolling stock can move on the regulated railroad sys­tem, it must have a variety of stencils applied to identify different things that are mandated by the FRA. Some stencils are generic in nature and consistent on all equipment, others identify items specific to that car and are usually date sensitive. Each piece of rolling stock has a minimum of seven different stencils, and in some cases the same stencil applied in different places on the car. These stencils are cut on a stencil machine and applied to the equipment in a contrasting paint (typically black or-wliite). Previous stencils must painted over first and unfortunately, graf­fiti has often obscured stencils. Because of graffiti it was necessary to delay applying stencils until the last minute.

All of the pieces in our collection carry the Museum’s reporting mark, GGMX (assigned by the AAR), followed by the car or locomotive number. In our case we have used the number given to the equipment by the last railroad that owned the car or locomotive. Thus, SP 141 be­comes GGMX 141. This reporting mark is always displayed in the same general location on each car (as you face the car side, it will be at the left end) and is typically 3″-5″ in height. In addition, each piece carries an ownership stencil that includes a mailing address and a phone number.

Perhaps the most critical of all stencils, is CO.T. & S. (Cleaned, Oiled, Tested & Sten­ciled) typically applied on or near the main air brake reservoir. This stencil identifies the last date the brake valves were serviced, where the valves were installed and tested and by whom.

The stencil tells an inspector that the brake valves were serviced, installed, tested and a stencil applied on May 4, 2018 by the Golden Gate Railroad Museum at Niles Canyon. The date is critical, because it identi­fies when the brakes must be serviced again. Applying the stencils and checking them off the list is just one of the many tasks our volunteers have completed to prepare for the move to our new home.

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