Saturday, April 22, 2023

An Interesting Odyssey

Last week, my friend Dick Spotswood sent me an email asking if I wanted to join him and other members of the Sacramento Seminar political salon of which is now the past president on the private car Redwood Empire of which he is one of the owners for a move of the car from Oakland to Los Angeles where it is based. It had been hired for a trip to Denver from LA and the party who hired it was covering the costs or returning it to LA. In spite of my hand, I jumped at the chance. I had done this twice before and those trips are recorded in the 2017 messages on this blog. This however was not Amtrak and UP's finest hour or many hours.  

The Redwood Empire is now 100 years old, having been built for the Santa Fe railroad as the private business car for their Los Angeles area division superintendent (are vice president.) Unlike other Santa Fe business cars it was not gutted and modernized in the 1950's so is still wood paneled throughout. The operating part of the car has been modernized with retention toilets and all the electrical gear needed to be attached to Amtrak trains. It is rated for speeds up to 110 miles per hour however Amtrak has a 79 mph speed limit outside of the NE Washington to Boston corridor.

My trip Thursday (4/20/2023) to LA riding on Dick Spotswood's Redwood Empire private car started with a classic Amtrak timekeeping failure.  We arrived at LA Union Station shortly after 1 AM instead of the scheduled 9:10 PM. It was 2 AM by the time my head hit the pillow at the hotel

This was an hour and a half late Train #11 arriving at Oakland, Jack London Amtrak Station after the Redwood Empire car was attached at the Oakland Amtrak yard.

We were rushing to get our stuff to the car as it usually would be stopping by the garage in the previous picture.

We were 90 minutes late out of Oakland as the Amtrak switching crew seemed to have forgotten how to attach a private car.  It should take 15 minutes at most but they took over an hour.  We were scheduled to make up most of the delay but on the trackage going through Gilroy a truck driver hauling a load of 5 new truck cabs didn't realize his load was so heavy his flat bed was now too low and it grounded the flat bed trailer hung up on an ungated grade crossing. Fortunately the railroad was notified and we were stopped before our train could hit it. Unfortunately it took over 3 hours to get cranes in place to remove the truck cabs so the flat bed trailer could rise far enough to be removed from the grade crossing. Then UP had to certify the track had not been damaged. This made the southbound Coast Starlight so far out of sync with all the northbound trains it was scheduled to meet for the rest of the trip causing further delay. 

This was leaving Oakland. We can no longer ride on the observation platform while the train is moving as Amtrak has determined it would be liable for any injuries that could (unlikely) happen to private car passengers.  There is a substantial penalty against the private car owners for violations.  We had to shut the door right after this picture was taken. In 2017 it was great fun to ride outside. 

The only other picture I took was about 7 PM as we were sitting down to dinner. We were only about Paso Robles when the dinner chime was sounded for the first seating. We split into two seatings as the table could not seat all 12 of the passengers. 

After this it was nightfall and I took no more photos. 

Dick had arranged for a catering staff on the train. The main course was a very good lamb chop.  We also had a breakfast snack and lunch buffet along with an open bar that was needed as the delays lengthened the trip and darkness shrouded the best parts of the route such as the hidden coast by Vandenberg and south to Goleta State Park where we were joined again by highway 101. .  

Coming home, yesterday (Friday 4/21), I had a 1:55 PM flight scheduled from Burbank to Oakland. LA Metro was free in honor of Earth Day. I took the LA underground B line from Pershing Square (formerly the Red Line) to North Hollywood (now known as "NoHo"), caught a Burbank City Bus to the Burbank Airport (nobody calls it the Bob Hope airport anymore) area for $1.00 where the driver kindly dropped me at an airport parking lot as his bus could not actually enter the airport road to the terminals so I could take a free parking lot shuttle into Burbank Terminal A. It was 85 degrees F outside in NoHo. I wasn't taking any chances with this method of getting to Burbank Airport and wound up 2 hours ahead of my scheduled boarding time.

Anyway Southwest was over 30 minutes late.  At Oakland I took the Bart Connector to Coliseum station and then BART to Walnut Creek where I just missed the hourly Contra Costa County Connection bus to near my house. At this point I was so exhausted, I took a cab the 2 miles home. Surprise, the Antioch/Walnut Creek line had standing room only as it was about 4:30 PM but someone kindly vacated a senior seat for me. 

Anyway, it was a unique experience and one I will probably never enjoy again as my friend and his fellow owners are in a length process of selling the car.  

Sunday, April 9, 2023

An Accident at the blacksmith shop behind the Port Costa Roundhouse in 1954

An accident has been reported at the blacksmith shop behind the Port Costa Roundhouse.  No further details are available about the nature of the accident.  A local ambulance and the California Highway Patrol Car have responded. 

I was having some fun and put the new Oxford 1948 Dodge pickup truck I had just received yesterday on the. All the vehicles are Oxford products. The weird pattern of shadow from the outside daylight and desk lamp make it sort of look like the San Francisco bay fog has come up Carquinez to Port Costa and obscures Benicia and the Solano hills looking north across the waters.  Just an excuse for not having created a background. 

Judging from the age of the 1954 CHP Patrol car this would have been at least sometime in 1954 and the new (to me) Dodge truck is about 5-6 years old.  I clipped off the metal cast truck bed side rails and have put on one coat of matt varnish to tone town the factory paint gloss. As most of my Port Costa scene is focused on 1950-52 for the railroad equipment the Pontiac CHP cruiser is a small bit of a time warp but Oxford didn't make an earlier version.  I do allow for a time period extension so I can include the model of the SP Budd RDC car which was purchased in 1954 and used initially on Oakland-Sacramento passenger services.  

This shipment of Oxford HO scale vehicles from the UK included 2 red and 2 green 1948 Dodge pickup trucks. Unfortunately at this point in time the SP was only purchasing Chevy pickup trucks. The only appropriate model would be an Busch 1950 Chevy pickup but those are now collectors items and go in the minimum $25-30 dollar range. I understand the majority sold were in a hot rod version appropriate for the 1960's on.  

The other new to me vehicle is a 1942 Chrysler Town and Country woodie station wagon in South Sea Blue. I'm not sure I like the car top luggage rack but at least it is empty. Oxford likes to put these luggage racks on its models of 1940-50's US 4 door sedans. I wonder how many of these were made and sold for model year 1942 in 1941 before Pearl Harbor and the start of World War 2 for the US. Still it's a neat highly detailed model appropriate for the 1950's if weathered and showing a bit of wear.  It would have to have been bought second hand by someone working for the SP at Port Costa.  

I have subsequently found that about 900 of the woodie(woody) station wagons were built before production was halted in January 1942.  20 are known to currently survive.  Google or look up,10072/1942-chrysler-windsor-town-and-country. 

The white pipes above the roundhouse in the upper left of the picture are part of an effort to duplicate the steam supply lines to the roundhouse garden tracks using ordinary Evergreen and Plastruct styrene plastic shapes.   Not doing anything further on that until I recover from the injury described in the previous blog post. The blacksmith shop with it's high cupola for ventilation over the smithy's hearth is an early 2023 addition to the scene and is a final structure model not a stand-in.  

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

An unfortunate delay in any modeling

I have suffered an unfortunate injury which is going to set my modeling back a few weeks if not permanently. 

During the aftermath of clearing the drain on the flat roof garage for my townhouse, I was moving the HOA long ladder in front of the garage when I stepped on a fire maple tree nut that had fallen from an adjacent tree and lost my balance falling on my right side and instinctively using my right hand to break my fall. I apparently sprained my thumb.  

Two weeks later it was not healing and I went to the minor injury clinic at my local Kaiser Permanente medical center. After an x-ray and evaluation I was diagnosed with de Quervains Tenosynovitis and now have a splint for the right hand thumb that I am supposed to wear most of the time to immobilize the thumb and related hand bones and muscles. 

Needless to say this makes the highly detailed projects such as the PFE R-40-26 rebuild from an Accurail kit rather difficult. 

 I am trying to continue some work on the PFE car project during the hopefully 4-6 week predicted recovery time. I can remove the splint at times for washing my hand and hand strengthening exercises. 

Needless to say typing is not the easiest task. 

I am not happy with the color I had to paint the sides using a mix of Vallejo 70.911 Light Orange with a drop of 70.910 Orange Red and two drops of Orange Ochre. This was an eyeball match to Star Brand Daylight Orange #27.  I originally planned to airbrush standard colors but my airbrush wouldn't spray paint (but would spray water and solvent) so the TruColor 107 could not be used. Usually I get a good level color with Vallejo, but this time not. 

I am at the decaling stage but also need to make better sill steps as the Yarmouth #213 double bend steps (Pierre still calls them stirrups) are etched in too thin a brass material for any robustness and don't look right. I have also tried rebending Plano Type C steps.  But doing this is awkward without a right thumb.  Ted Culotta may be offering an accurate sill step for the R-40-26 in the near future. 

I may just finish the decaling and let the rest of the details wait for another date. 

I have a second Accurail kit in storage in case this doesn't work out. 

Enough typing for now...