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The Final Runs of Ventura County Railway 2-6-2 2 4/11/2021

by Chris Guenzler

Our friend, Marty Smith, called me Saturday morning with news that the Ventura County steam engine at Southern California Railway Museum (formerly Orange Empire Railway Museum) in Perris, California, was going to be running its last trip before its 1,472 day inspection. With Elizabeth and I leaving Sunday night on our next big trip, we both talked about it and thought this something we should cover for It would also be the first time that Elizabeth had ridden behind this steam engine. We then called Marty and he was in favor of the whole idea and would ride up with us to Los Angeles in the morning before we drove out to Perris. We both thank Marty for his information that led us to do this trip. We found the details about the trip on the museum's Facebook page and bought our tickets through the link on Facebook.

After breakfast, we drove to the Orange station where we met Marty and bought our Sunday weekend passes. The train arrived and we boarded for Los Angeles aboard Metrolink 661. David Aten boarded in Anaheim and rode with us up to Los Angeles and back. On the return trip, he asked if we were going out to Perris and I said yes. David detrained in Anaheim and the three of us in Orange and Elizabeth drove us to Perris on a route we had not travelled before. It was Elizabeth's first time here since 2012.

FRA 1,472-day or 15 Years Inspection Rules

Steam locomotives are complex pieces of machinery. They fascinate us with their sounds and smells and because their moving parts are visible for all to see, we marvel at how they work. They represent 19th century technology at its finest, and keeping such old machines operating in the 21st century takes hard work, patience and skill. Just as an automobile requires certain inspections at certain mileage intervals, so do steam locomotives, except their inspections are based on service days, not mileage. For steam locomotives, those service intervals are daily, 31-day, 92-day, annual, 5th annual and the "big one" – the 1,472-day inspection. At each interval, all previous service intervals are also performed. For example, during the FRA annual inspection, the parts that are checked at the daily, 31- and 92-day inspections are also checked. These inspection intervals are federally mandated by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), and federal law states that steam engines cannot legally operate until whichever comes first (commonly referred to as "the 1472"). This inspection requires an almost complete disassembly of the locomotive so that every nut and bolt (literally) can be checked. This rule was put into place after Canadian Pacific 4-6-2 1278's firebox exploded in 1995.

"15 years" can fly by and the following is what is entailed to restore the engine to service: wash boiler, clean and inspect water glass valves and gauge cocks, remove and inspect all boiler washout plugs, test all staybolts, inspect all flexible staybolt caps and sleeves, remove, calibrate, and re-install all air and steam gauges, clean steam gauge siphon pipe, renew tubular water glasses, test and adjust safety relief valves, test air brake main reservoir and brake cylnder leakage, enter and inspect tender tank interior and remove boiler flues and clean boiler interior. Since removal of flues requires their ends to be cut off with a torch, this essentially means that the boiler flues must be replaced.

Remove boiler jacket (the sheet metal outer covering of the boiler) and lagging (boiler insulation, inspect interior and exterior of boiler, perform hydrostatic test (water pressure test) of boiler, verify thickness of dry pipes through ultrasound testing, verify thickness of boiler through ultrasound testing, re-compute and update steam locomotive specification card (FRA Form No. 4), inspect smoke box, inspect suspension running gear and appliances. This includes such things as springs, spring hangers, valve gear, rods, crank pins, smaller pins and bushings and all parts subject to wear. This is not specifically listed as a requirement by the FRA, but this is a good time to check these items since the locomotive is disassembled. The 1472 is also a good time to fix or replace other parts that are known to be wearing out. Tires, in most cases, need to be replaced.

Ventura County 2-6-2 2 History

Originally Cascade Timber Company 107, the 107 operated for Cascade Timber until it was sold for $16,865 in 1942 to Ventura County Railway in Oxnard, California as their 2. 21 years later, the 2 was sold to W.E. Standish of Port Hueneme, California in February 1964. It was sold again in 1970 to Terry Durkin for his Orange Empire Trolley (later Railway) Museum, where it went on display in November 1973, then into tourist railroad service. The 2 was extensively overhauled from 2001-2006, then placed back in operation. It was built by Baldwin in 1922. She is due for her 15 year rebuild in 2021.

Our Visit

We arrived with just minutes before the 1:00 PM train and made our way to the train.

On the way to the train, I took a picture of the train just before boarding. We sat in the rear car, which was a former Montreal commuter car. This was very familiar to us as Elizabeth and I had both ridden another car from this series in Iowa in 2008, and I had ridden such a car in 2000. The consist of the train was Ventura County 2-6-2 2, Southern Pacific coach 2144 and former Montreal commuter cars 813, 821 and 800. The trip started with us backing to the south end of track.

The trip down to the south end of the track. We then started forward with the engine pulling us to 7th Street in Perris.

The interior of car 800.

My beautiful wife Elizabeth, maskless for this picture only.

Marty Smith, one of my best friends.

Mount San Jacinto through the hazy skies of the day.

The trip down the straight track to 7th Street in Perris. We returned to the Pinacate station.

Los Angeles Metro Rail 144 built by Nippon-Sharyo in 1989.

San Diego Trolley U2 1003 built in 1982.

San Diego Trolley U2 1008 built in 1982.

Pacific Electric Hollywood Car 717 built in 1925. Elizabeth and I will be making our first trip aboard this car while Marty had ridden it a number of years ago.

The trip down to 7th Street in Perris aboard the Pacific Electric Hollywood car.

My beautiful wife Elizabeth aboard Pacific Electric 717.

The interior of the car.

View of the Metrolink main line coming in from South Perris. We returned to the Pinacate station where had more pictures of the steam engine to take.

Ventura County 2-6-2 2.

Ventury County 2-6-2 2 and its train.

My incredible wife standing by the steam engine.

The builder's plate.

One more view of the Ventura County steam engine and the Pacific Electric Hollywood car. We then found David Aten who had made the trip to Perris by himself to ride the last trip of Ventura County 2.

One more view of Pacific Electric Hollywood car 717. Now it was time to ride the next trolley car.

Los Angeles Railways 1201 built in 1921.

Views from the trolley loop trip.

New Cornelia Copper Company side dump gondola 601 built in 1916 and operated in Ajo, Arizona.

The steam train returning with David aboard.

The wig-wag signals at the museum.

One last view of Los Angeles Railways 1201. Elizabeth visited the gift shop for a mug, T-shirt and pins. As all the car barns, the Grizzly Flats Railroad and the Middleton Museum were still closed due to the virus, we returned to the car and I drove us back to the Orange station to drop off Marty before we returned home to finalize our preparations for our upcoming trip.