Originally, we thought that the city was only interested in painting just the boiler, cab and chassis. However, we learned just before going back up to Modesto that they wanted to paint the entire locomotive as well. We had not done any preparation work on the tender so if time permitted, we would do what we could to get it ready for painting. There was grass and weeds, including a small tree, growing in the space between the oil insert tank and the outside tender wrapper shell where dirt had collected over the years, causing Bill Palmer to quip "You know we are going to have to mow the tender before it can be moved!". It was clear though that the boiler shell was going to take most of our time during the first stage visit.
As usual, the city provided the necessary ladders, hose and cords, etc. to accomplish the work at hand. The city also agreed to provide two needle guns and an air compressor big enough to accomplish the work at hand. They removed one of the storage sheds, leaving only the one with all of the parts we had stored and removed the air reservoir tanks and jacketing to a nearby storage shed so all of the parts removed were in safe keeping.
STAGE 1, PHASE III:
On July 6th, George Barlow, George Maier, Dan Echeto from the S.B.R.H.S. and a newcomer from the Southern Calif. Chapter of the R. & L.H.S., Mr. Jim Hall joined me in Modesto to begin the drudgery work of preparing the boiler surface for stabilization. We had decided that it was not necessary for Bill Palmer to be present for this stage of the game since he had some rather pressing work he needed to attend to at home. Since we had so little time during this trip to get the boiler ready, we decided to focus mainly on the pressure vessel portion of the boiler and hope to finish at least the outside. We would attack the backhead only if we had time and there was very little hope of getting to the tender during this trip.
Unlike the cool nights and moderate day time temperatures of our May trip during Phase I, the weather in Modesto in July is usually very warm with day time temps rising above 102 degrees. It still cools off at night with the westerly breezes off of the deltas and is quite comfortable by early morning. The days were long and the work was hard and there was plenty to do between the volunteers who so graciously agreed to get involved.
The weather was hot and muggy and the work was dirty and dusty leaving everyone filthy and exhausted to the core. Inches at first, then square foot by square foot, Flakes and chips of rust flew every which way splattering anyone close by. Slowly, the stubborn and crusty rust gave way to the constant pounding of the needle guns and air chisel. The deafening sound of two needle guns working side by side had a reminiscent drone of prop air planes flying overhead punctuated only by an occasional lull as volunteers sought well deserved breaks. Yet it was fun! Certainly, only a group of half crazed and experienced preservationists would brave such conditions for over 10-12 hours a day, and without pay! Thus is the lot for railroad preservationist.
We started early Saturday morning and by Sunday afternoon, the boiler exterior was ready for the rust converter. Taking turns on the needle guns, we kept them going hour after hour, so no one was left to slave without regular rest periods. This maximized the tool usage and kept the constant snails pace of such work continually making progress. Sunday evening left only two of us to finish up.
Monday morning found my two boys and I working on until later in the day when Carol Robertson could join us again. I sprayed rust converter on the rusty areas on the boiler and the chassis while my boys pulled the weeds and dug out the dirt from the tender wrapper space. That afternoon, Carol and I managed to needle gun the expanse of rust from the back-head sheet inside the cab. It was while we were doing this, that Carol received our only serious injury. While she was pulling up an extended air hose through the cab window, a coupling got caught and gave way, leaving a bitter end to fly up and hit her above the left eye causing a nasty gash that took a couple of stitches! Not withstanding though we managed to get the boiler ready for painting.
On Thursday, the city began painting the locomotive with the Rustoleum gloss black paint. They had 16 gallons of paint on hand only to run out after painting just the front, top and left side of the boiler and chassis. They were going to return on Friday to finish up but were unable to get any paint until Monday, so painting was not finished until the following week.
I spent the rest of Thursday cleaning up the tender on 2921. This involved cleaning out the buffer region, which was very heavily corroded and rusty, and the rear bolster, tool boxes and tender top deck. All together, we spent 167 volunteer man-hours on this stage of Phase III.
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