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California State RR Museum 2010
Prakash Tendulkar, May 15, 2010


On May 15, 2010, I visited California State Railroad Museum with my wife to take annual "Behind the Scenes" tour that covers Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) shops buildings across current Amtrak station in Sacramento, California.

CSRRM.jpg (74498 bytes)  DSC_0346.jpg (33061 bytes)

California State Railroad Museum (CSRRM) is one of the country's premier railroad museums and is widely lauded for its rolling stock collection and its commitment to providing a cultural as well as a technological history of railroads in California. The CSRRM's main goal is "to educate not only about trains, but about railroads' place in history".

So, it is natural that they envisioned an idea to create Railroad Technological Museum or RTM on former SP's shops, with few good buildings, a turn table, fully restored transfer table and 240 acres of land. The museum cannot be self-sufficient simply on ticket sales as most of the restored equipment will be for display as well as occasional operation on special events.

Depot.jpg (74472 bytes)  The current Amtrak Depot has, 1, Historical SP Depot, 2, Amtrak station and 3, Light Rail connectivity. 

Sacto-shops.jpg (79413 bytes)  If you look at current landscape, you can see track coming in SE direction at bottom left, Amtrak station, track turning 90 to the left and heading north, then two 45 right turns and finally heading east towards Roseville and Donner Pass.

CSRRM and Union Pacific (UP) are working together to realign track close to shops providing smoother approach, eliminating speed restriction. The remaining land will be developed in shopping centers and residential complexes. This will become a permanent source of revenue for RTM and CSRRM.

One building, Erecting shop has plenty of locomotives, many have been restored to operating condition. Building next to it, a boiler shop, was stripped off of all machinery when SP was merged with UP which had another shop few miles north at Roseville, CA. This building has three tracks connected to main line to receive and / or deliver rolling stock.

Today, the building houses drop table to remove bogie without lifting locomotive, it has lathes to true wheels, press to install wheels on axle, and few other machines to perform some of the restoration job locally. The transfer table between buildings is operational. Most machines have been acquired through Federal surplus program.

That makes some simple tasks tricky. For example, chucks of first lathe could handle material much longer than length of axle but it could turn only one wheel at a time. It came from missile production line. Now the second lathe has come in and it can true both wheels of an axle simultaneously.

Since they will work on steam locos also, they need a press to install wheels on axle, although modern diesels have factory made one piece assembly of axle and two wheels. The first lathe will be handy to true to worst driver wheel in steam loco and then use it as master to true the remaining driver wheels.

Mezzanine floor in erecting shop will be used used by visitors to see restoration work without entering hard hat area.

Funding for additional machinery and restoration of building to meet latest code standards has been arranged through bonds by State of California. Funding for erection building will take some time because of economy.

Fortunately, museum has a very good pool of skilled volunteers who worked for railroads and that pool includes two cats; just kidding. And it has a long list of donors.

DSC_0348.jpg (63651 bytes) Transfer table

DSC_0349.jpg (58940 bytes)  Assembly of smoke box component and clamp

DSC_0352.jpg (63433 bytes)  DSC_0354.jpg (65119 bytes)  Drop table

DSC_0355.jpg (65260 bytes)  Crane to lift traction motor and axle assembly

DSC_0356.jpg (60842 bytes)  DSC_0357.jpg (79600 bytes)  Punching hole in " thick metal sheet

DSC_0358.jpg (79056 bytes)  Pressing to bend metal at 90

DSC_0362.jpg (55071 bytes)  Lathe to true a single wheel without an axle

DSC_0363.jpg (61714 bytes)  DSC_0365.jpg (60441 bytes)  Lathe from missile factory

DSC_0377.jpg (65682 bytes)  Turn table as seen through window of erection building

DSC_0386.jpg (63131 bytes)  SD45 with EMD 20-645 power plant

DSC_0394.jpg (80500 bytes)  Tunnel motor ventilation of SD45

DSC_0375.jpg (71528 bytes)  DSC_0385.jpg (68258 bytes)  DSC_0392.jpg (68354 bytes)  DSC_0395.jpg (87166 bytes)  Few glimpses

To summarize, I was not disappointed. CSRRM is moving in right direction under able management of California State Railroad Foundation, a private body that is free from government bureaucracy. The museum is under Department of Parks, State of California so it pays no taxes, donations to her are tax-deductible. 

Please do not compare CSRRM with NRM in New Delhi. Two organizations are different, work under different rules and even though NRM had good managers, they do not enjoy the resources that CSRRM has, especially a pool of skilled and dedicated volunteers and donors.

Pictures from visit to same shops five years back.

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