Active railroad museum members are pack-rats disguised as normal people. They act normal until they come near railroad artifacts in danger of going to the scrap-dealer.When this happens, their thin veneer of normality is cast aside as they busy themselves with plans to save the artifact in question. They are capable of heroic actions as they carry the rescue plans to successful conclusion. This is how the Orange Empire Railroad Museum came into possession of a pile of rusty cast iron alleged as the remains of a water tank used by the Southern Pacific Railroad’s narrow gauge line in the Inyo Valley of California.
Rusty piles of old iron, with history attached, have the a curious power to attract people capable of restoring old iron piles to their former glory. So it came to pass a plan was approved to restore the S.P water tank. A subsequent examination of the iron pile revealed the legs would have to be machined to a common length and the mounting surfaces trued if the restoration process was to go ahead smoothly. But how was this to be done?
After consultation with shop people, it was decided the OERM machine shop could and would do the work. The images below tell the story of how the machining of the water tower legs was done. Click on any image to enlarge the image gallery.
The machining operations on the leg assembly parts were completed without difficulty beyond that expected when machining large, rough and irregular castings. The historic value of these pre-1900 cast iron parts and the wish to avoid difficulties during assembly were reconciled by not machining any surface which could be seen after the legs were assembled. The erection of the leg assembly was completed smoothly due to the care taken in setting in setting all foundation piers to a mutual height and the leg parts machined to uniform length and true surfaces.