It is unwise to turn down an offer of old railroad equipment parts because most are not available new at any price. But there is a downside to a loose acceptance policy; finding a place to store what is accepted. Well, some of it ends up in the weeds out back. I have spent many enjoyable hours in the weeds discovering the almost forgotten leavings of an earlier time with surprising results at times. I “found” what turned out an circa 1890 metal planer and it is now in our machine shop as an honored piece of “old iron”. It is being restored (slowly) to a functional machine tool. So, it is possible for the weeds out back to yield up rusty lumps of steel and iron which are restored to service by the magic performed by our wizards of the art of renewal.
I was working in the machine shop recently trying to loosen up the levers of the quick change box of the 36 inch swing Le Blond lathe (a pain in the ass for a long time), and having some success at that, when I called my wife to report I would not be home for dinner. The conversation was repeatedly halted to allow the very loud noise coming from the other end of the shop to cease. My wife asked what all the noise was about and I told her it was from the disassembly of some piece of a streetcar. Afterwards, I began to wonder what was going on over there. I was unable to satiate my curiosity right away because the airbrake mavens ask me to perform another “quick lathe job”.
When I got to the area of the noise, I observed an eager group of streetcar folk beating up a set of very rusty streetcar power trucks. After a minor interrogation of the folk, I learned they had fished out a pair of PCC trucks from the weeds out back and were about the task of making a set of shop trucks for our PCC cars. They allowed as they thought the trucks had been in the weeds for fifty of the fifty five years our museum has been here. I took a photo to show my wife where the noise was coming from. Then the photographer side of me took control and I ended up up with some photos which I will share with you.