Friday, July 25, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

The rescued caboose

By
From page A1 | July 01, 2013 |

DSC_9086e

HOMER RAIL, of Placerville, left, and Paul Velk, of Shingle Springs, place a support beam in the framework of a caboose being built at the depot in Shingle Springs, while Steve Carol, of Rescue, looks on. Democrat photo by Shelly Thorene

America’s railroads have been called one of the oldest and most romantic enterprises in the country, which is probably why they continue to have such wide appeal.

Doing their bit to preserve that part of American history in El Dorado County (EDC) is a group of local volunteers who are restoring an old caboose that was parked at the county museum for 20 years.

Built in the 1920s, the caboose was originally used to haul lumber, freight and workers for the Camino, Placerville and Lake Tahoe Railroad, which was a subsidiary of the Michigan-California Lumber Company. The railroad connected a lumber mill in Camino with the Southern Pacific Railroad in Placerville. Later it was acquired by a family who used it as a playhouse for their children. When the owners sold their home in Shingle Springs, the new owner, Sandra Koop, donated the caboose to the museum where it sat in a state of disrepair.

Coming to its rescue last May was Placerville resident Ron Sexton, 73, who for many years owned High Country Woodcraft before retiring.

He wrote a proposal to restore the old caboose and presented it to the EDC Museum Commission and the El Dorado Museums Foundation.

In December he received approval for the project and $30,000 to pay for it.

Now the coordinator of the project, Sexton began by building a one-eighth scale cutaway view model of the caboose as a reference during the restoration work and to also familiarize himself with how the actual caboose was made. He said he was able to do so based on CAD drawings provided by another volunteer, Bill Rodgers. That scale model is now on display in the museum.

Since January, Sexton and team of skilled volunteers — with the average age of 74 — have been working on the caboose, which has since been moved to the Shingle Springs Depot.

Sexton said they work on the caboose two days a week with nine to 10 people showing up at a time — most of them experienced woodworkers. They also have volunteers from El Dorado Western Railroad and people who just walk in to help.

“We have an incredible group of volunteers,” he said, “with accumulated woodworking experience of about 425 years. When asked, they show up and then ask what are we going to do.”

One of the regulars is Homer Rail, 77, who volunteers with the museum and is also a member of the Gold Country Woodcrafters. “We’re all old guys,” said Homer, who said he became involved after taking a ride on the local railroad.

Rail said they started by tearing out the old wood so the caboose could be rebuilt from the floor up. However the pieces were labeled first so they could be used as templates in cutting the new wood. But since the original framework had pieces missing, in some cases they had to estimate the dimensions of pieces. They also visited a railroad museum to study how cabooses are put together.

“The idea was to create as exact a replica as possible,” said Rail, noting they are using the same building techniques that were used originally, including the use of mortise and tenon joints along with a limited number of metal bars and bolts strategically placed so the car can flex when it rolls down the rail. Eventually it will have doors at either end of the car, sliding doors on its sides and will be covered inside and out in cedar.

One of the biggest challenges faced by the team was removing the cupola, which weighs 500 pounds. Lacking a way to lift it, they built a ramp and slid it down. However, getting it back in place again once it’s finished will require the use of a lift.

Rail said commonly the conductor would sit in the cupola and watch for hot boxes (overheated axle bearings), hobos or other problems. In an emergency, he could apply the brakes.

However the restoration work does not include putting in brakes which is why, at least initially, there are no plans to use the caboose for rides, although it could be done later.

By fall, Sexton said he hopes to have most of the work done.

“That means finished on the inside and painted on the outside,” he said. “Then all the detail work begins as well as building a cover for it when it’s not in use.”

As for how it will be used, he said there are various ideas being discussed. Some see it as being used as an office or as a ticket booth at events. Or it may simply be a display piece. Ultimately it will be up to the museum to decide.

In the meantime work proceeds on reclaiming one more piece of El Dorado County history.
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or dhodson@mtdemocrat.net. Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.

Comments

comments

.

News

District 2: Candidates debate jobs versus lifestyle

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Accident: 1 bullet hits 2

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1

 
 
Scaffolding issue makes for contentious meeting

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Help available for breastfeeding mothers

By Health and Human Services Agency | From Page: A3

 
El Dorado County School Board vacancy

By El Dorado County Office of Education | From Page: A8

 
.

Opinion

The weekly Daley: A good time to be there…

By Chris Daley | From Page: A4

 
Something to think about: More than what you see

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A4

Popular science

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

 
.

Letters

Watch whom you’re calling ‘conservative’

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5Comments are off for this post

 
Fake ‘small farms’ steal from residential EID customers

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5Comments are off for this post

People of Placerville

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
Computer scam phone calls

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Support of Director Prada

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
Uphold the Third Amendment

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Bureaucracy

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Imagination Theater’s play

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

.

Sports

Quarter century later, Rypien wins ACCG again

By Andrew Hazard | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Outside with Charlie: Paddle time

By Charlie Ferris | From Page: A6

Midget Lites join tomorrow’s action

By Bill Sullivan | From Page: A6

 
El Dorado rallies for last-inning victory

By Mike Bush | From Page: A6

Sports Scene: July 24, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

 
Rush sit a win from Series

By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A7

Tasmanian Devils go undefeated

By Patty Pope | From Page: A7

 
.

Prospecting

El Dorado wines win in Amador

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B1

 
Suds entice the taste buds

By Krysten Kellum | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Things to do: July 25, 2014

By Democrat Calendar | From Page: B2

 
Rhythm and Views goes bluesy

By | From Page: B3

Have an Hawaiian vacation at Carson Road wineries

By Carson Road Winery Asociation | From Page: B3Comments are off for this post | Gallery

 
Summer fun is happening in Twain Harte

By Fire On | From Page: B4Comments are off for this post

Manzanita doubles the music

By Table Nectar And Manzanita | From Page: B5

 
Recording artist at Busby Cellars

By News Release | From Page: B6

Hands4Hope hosts school supply drive

By News Release | From Page: B6

 
Supergroup plays Harris Center

By Carrera Productions | From Page: B6

Artists invited to go western

By Art On The Divide | From Page: B7

 
Visit Tahoe artists during tour

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: B7

Reggae on the River celebrates 30 years

By Reggae On | From Page: B7Comments are off for this post

 
.

Essentials

Building permits 7/7-11/2014

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

 
Lake levels 7-24-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

Crime Log: July 11-13

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

 
.

Obituaries

Wallace Murrel Thomas

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
.

Real Estate

How to have a garden party, minus the whining

By Marni Jameson | From Page: HS3

 
Most common mistakes homebuyers make

By Ken Calhoon | From Page: HS4

.

Comics

Working It Out

By Contributor | From Page: A9

 
Shoe

By Contributor | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Contributor | From Page: A9

 
Rubes

By Contributor | From Page: A9

TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A9

 
Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A9

Tundra

By Contributor | From Page: A9

 
Horoscope, Saturday, July 26, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A10

Horoscope, Friday, July 25, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A10

 
New York Times Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A10

Horoscope, Sunday, July 27, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A10

 
.

Home Source

How to have a garden party, minus the whining

By Marni Jameson | From Page: HS3

Most common mistakes homebuyers make

By Ken Calhoon | From Page: HS4