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Down the Track at the Shop

by Robby Peartree

The byline this week is different. A member of the shop staff, Robby Peartree, wrote the following article. Robby is intimately involved with the work that needs to be done and the work that is being accomplished in the shop complex. He volunteered to write a monthly update of the activity down in the shops, what follows is his report.

There is a lot of activity that happens at the railroad museum than just running trains. An incredible amount of work happens behind the scenes before a train can move. We need to find and train crews, sell tickets, pay bills, inspect and repair the rolling stock and equipment among the many tasks we have to accomplish at the museum. One of the goals for the Nevada Northern Railway Museum is to get more volunteer involvement in the shop. To reach this goal we need to bring more attention to what the shop is doing and how people can help.

With the end of the year, it is time to focus on the tasks that need to be accomplished in preparing the railroad for another successful year. The shop’s focus for January will be steam locomotives #40 and #93. Steam locomotive #93 has performed admirably in the past year and it is once again time to perform the annual inspection on the locomotive. The annual inspection is rather involved. The locomotive’s boiler will be inspected inside and out, hydrostatically tested, and put back together. The engine and tender will be separated and all pieces to the running gear will undergo inspection. The locomotive and tender will them be put back together prior to the first photo shoot in February.

Steam locomotive #40 is a much more involved project than #93. The locomotive is undergoing a federally required, periodic inspection for continued service. The appliances (parts that perform various functions such as the air pump), jacket (metal shield for the insulation) and insulation, and boiler tubes are all removed. The goal between now and the first of February, is to put #40 back together. To accomplish this, all 150+ boiler tubes need to be installed, the boiler hydro tested, the insulation and jacket put on, and all of the appliances put back on the locomotive as well as other work. A lot of hard work is ahead of us to accomplish this goal of having 40 in service by February.

The diesel locomotive side of the shop is also very busy. The work list includes the annual inspections for diesel locomotives 109 and 204. This inspection involves various operating systems including the locomotive running gear (wheels etc), electrical systems, and other components. The work on the locomotives will be finished by the 15th of January.

The passenger cars haven’t been forgotten. The work list for them is under development. The big news is the addition of two cars to the fleet. These cars should start their journey to Ely this spring. This additional passenger seating capability should greatly improve our ability to handle passengers without having to use the historic Nevada Northern cars. When these cars arrive, a lot of work will need to be done to make these cars presentable for our guests.

Other projects that are ongoing include the cleaning of the shop and warehouse buildings. These structures are vital to the operation and having them better organized will help all of the projects in the shop. We plan to set up the newly acquired horizontal milling machine. With this machine in operation we should be able to do a lot more machine work here. We are also working on stabilizing the machine shop engine house structure from further deterioration of the structure. This includes strengthening the structure for earthquake resistance and repairing the deteriorated masonry.

For those of you who like the outdoors we have a lot to do outside as well. Once old man winter eases his grip, we need to hit the ground running. The list of projects that need to be accomplished here include annual projects such as clearing cuts and ditches of debris, weed removal, tie replacement, making and installing replacement signs along the right of way and other items. Other projects should last years including repairing the roof on the tunnel before we have any problems.
So we have gone through a lot of different projects and the next question is how to get them done. When one looks at the list there seems that a lot of the work requires skilled labor. That is not necessarily true. A lot of railroading is dirty hard work that just needs a lot of muscle. This muscle can be supplied by just about anyone.

Many of the jobs that we need to accomplish were done by trades where there were apprentices, journeymen, and skilled craftsmen working on the same job. Trades were passed down when all of them worked together. Today we have far fewer people to get things done so to meet our goals we need the support of individuals who are willing to help out and preserve this living industrial site. Fortunately, there are many people who do volunteer in support of this noble goal. These people come from all different backgrounds and bring different skills with the goal of moving the railroad towards accomplishing its goals. Many people do not come with railroading skills, but do come with the willingness to work and learn what to do. They bring an ability to work hard and a desire to do things right. They can and do accomplish great things with their sprit that they bring.

So how do you become a volunteer? It is simple call or come by the museum and get involved. We have many tasks from hands on work in the shop, research projects in the vault, or finding information on how somebody did something somewhere else. The more help we get the more we can accomplish and a better job we will do. If you want to volunteer but the shop doesn’t interest you we always have other tasks that need to be done. So come by, visit our little organization, and see what you can do to help.

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Hours of Operation

Monday - Saturday | 8AM - 5PM
Sunday | 8AM - 4PM

Our Location

1100 Ave A, Ely, NV 89301

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