From the March-April 2008 Headlight

From the Sawhorse of the Restoration Crew
P&SR Caboose #1 – Phoenix Rising
By Jeff Millerick
Well, the Christmas Trees are gone. We’re into a New Year and work season. A pre-workday meeting is held at Pete’s Henny Penny Restaurant and the new work season is discussed. Where do we want to be at the end of this work period? We all hope to have the body pretty much completed – windows, doors, letter boards, roof drip boards, roof, end platform timbers and hand rails.
So on January 12, 2008, we set to work – caboose uncovered, coffee, donuts and drinks in place. A full crew shows up and things move rapidly. By noon the exterior siding is completed and we’re off to Mary’s Pizza for lunch. After lunch the siding crew (Gus Campagna, Charlie Siebenthal and Lauren Williams) move inside. By the end of the day the east interior wall is almost completely sheathed, utilizing the old exterior T&G.
Skip Ruckert and Dave Turner are hard at it priming the eight new window frames that Skip made at home. They are very professional and beautifully done – a huge step forward for the project. Thank you, Skip, for a job well done! By the end of the day, for a cold start, a lot had been accomplished. January 26 we are rained out. February 9 we are back at it. A little tough getting started but a lot is going on. We need to prime about 20 of our new T&G siding material boards to be used inside as all the old exterior material has been used up on the east inside wall the previous work day. Gus has his saw set up, the nail gun is ready – but nothing can be done until the primer dries. Off to the Pizza Shack we go.
After lunch the work starts in earnest. By the end of the day the west inside wall is 50 percent completed. Mike Manson is still busy priming the letter board and siding that were not completed before noon. Dave is busy putting the first coat of red on the new window frames – a lot of edges and corners to paint. Harold Mentzer is standing on his head with a bucket of black DTM (Direct to Metal) paint, coating the steel end and coupler support I beams in preparation for the new oak and steel end beams, which are now on-site – drilled and ready for the end rails and brake staff.
When Harold is finished the steel looks like new. Harold, it’s good to have you back and full of energy, P & V!
At noon, Lloyd Butler show up, has lunch with us before he and Lauren prepare the cupola for its trip to Oakland to be rebuilt at Lloyd’s pattern and mold shop, a job that requires a shop and the talent he has. Thanks, Lloyd!
Last, but certainly not least, Don Brewer and John Schwirtz keep at the paint stripping. Thanks, you guys.
We are fortunate to have gained two new crew members: Scott Bowdish has been with us for two work days now, bent over low saw horses sanding and quietly and steadily preparing the end doors for paint. They are looking good. Scott has a background in railroad new construction. Joel Allen also jumped right in, stripping inside overhead ceiling paint. His background is as a job shop machinist with his own ship and many years of experience. Welcome to you both.
February 9 was a hard start day but a lot was accomplished.
In other restoration news, Bruce Evans sent an article to use from the National Railway Historical Society newsletter about an old narrow gauge boxcar found in the brambles, not unlike our P&SR caboose project, and how its restoration put new life into their organization.
There may be a new acquisition of an early piece of NWP rolling stock. There’ll be a story about it soon.

From the November – December 2007 Headlight

From the Sawhorse of the Restoration Crew
P&SR Caboose #1 is a Diamond in the Rough
By Jeff Millerick
Get a load of this! Another complete set of trucks has arrived. The caboose’s siding is primed and coated with a base coat of caboose red. Installation will soon be completed.
There has been a flurry of activity around #1 – for only two work days a month, a lot gets done. John Schwirtz, Don Brewer and Mike Manson have gotten the end walls to the fresh primer stage – clean and smooth from all the layers of paint. The first coat of caboose red painted on our October 27 work day was a milestone.
Believe me, painting the color on is their privilege alone.
Meanwhile, Gus Campagna, Charlie Siebenthal and Skip Ruckert filled the remaining open areas in the roofing tongue and grove. Loren Williams was busy replacing the end corner T&G below the marker lamp brackets. When this job was completed, the north end was ready for primer, which John brushed on, giving the wall a fresh look. The primer was soon sanded and scraped, nail holes filled and another coat of prier applied. The wall looks close to new, yet retains its 100-year-old character.
Gus, Charlie and Skip moved their operation from the roof to the east wall saying, “Hey, let’s get some siding on this thing. She’s ready. We just might beat the Christmas Tree man before he shuts us down for the holidays. Let’s do it!” The bundle of new siding is broken open; the cut-off saw set up and the new siding is cut to length, 220-plus boards one inch longer than necessary. The quality of the wood is so good all the waste didn’t fill a plastic milk crate. Only a few knots and chips had to be cut out, leaving usable lengths. The boards were neatly stacked and ready for the next work day.
The crew brought their personal saw horses, then strung leftover 2 x 4s from #1’s framing between them. And the painting begins. Using Kelly Moore’s best oil-base wood primer the boards are painted five at a time – just enough to hold onto. First the tongue edges are painted generously (brushed on). The five boards are then rotated 180 degrees groove up, painted, then boards turned 90 degrees, runs on face brushed out, 180 degrees rotation again to backs, rolled and brushed. Then they’re rotated back to face-up for final roll and brush job, giving the faces a smooth surface with no runs showing. They are set aside face-up to dry. It’s a full day’s work for 100-plus boards. Next work day the process is repeated with water-base custom mix to match the original red. They dried quickly.
Gus, Skip, Charlie and Loren took them as soon as they were dry to touch and started the installation process, utilizing Gus’s nail gun shooting galvanized nails. No hammer marks and each nail is set perfectly. They put the boards up as fast as we could put the color on. By the next newsletter issue, this process will have been repeated and the other side will be on.
Meanwhile, Dave Turner has been rattle gunning and chipping the steel end platforem and oupler support beams. The cutting torch is also carefully fired up to cut large rusted bolts and straighten the steel to receive the new oak end timbers above the couplers. The steel is now straight and clean, ready for paint. The 250-300 pound roughed-out oak end timber is now wrestled into place for a trial fit, then removed to have a steel face fitted and the hand rail and ladder holed drilled later, to be installed next work season.
On top of all this, a full and complete set of trucks have been delivered. Dave Turner, while on a trip to the Mount Rainier Railway, noticed a pair of the exact trucks that #1 once had, sitting in the weeds. During a work day lunch, he says, “Get a load of this” and shows us photos. With a set this nice we won’t need to search further for wheels, bearings and who knows what else. The question is asked: “If you don’t mind, Dave, I will call them and ask. Surly they aren’t for sale, but it never hurts to ask.” The call was made and pleasantly answered. “Please give us a couple of weeks. We are extremely busy right now.” Sure. A couple of weeks later, I called again. “Yes, we will sell them to you for your restoration project. We have no use for them.” With a lump in my throat, the Big Question was asked: “How much?” Answer without hesitation: “Scrap value.” Answer: “We will take them.”
Harold and Jo Ann cut the check. Charlie Lix with his big rig was contacted to transport them and we used a large fork lift on this end to unload them. The folk lift rental was more than the cost of the trucks. Upon arrival and inspection all looks good – bearings, wheels, parts, pedestals which we have on our extra parts trucks are exactly the same manufacturer. All parts identical and interchangeable. How lucky can you get! Janney couplers, where are you?
PS: Thank you, Frank Morales, for sawing out the oak end timbers (a day’s work), and Lauren Williams for taking extra time to shape the ends.
Work on the caboose will pause soon as the restoration area will be used as a Christmas tree lot during the holiday season.return to top

From the September-October 2007 Headlight

P&SR Caboose #1 – A Diamond in the Rough
By Jeff Millerick
I’ll bet by now everybody is wondering what is going on with P&SR #1. At the last reporting the cupola had just been removed, giving #1 the appearance of still going backwards.
Well, that was the turning point. She is starting to move forward. Lloyd Butler of Oakland Pattern & Mold showed up soon after the cupola’s removal and said he would like to make us some of the difficult parts for the base at the roof level, such as the two heavy end beams sawed to the roof arch radius, the two side beams that tie the two end beams together and also carry the four short roof beams mortised and tenoned into them. With all the arches, angles and dovetail joints, these parts are difficult at best. Lloyd went right to work. Thirty days later he showed up at the work site, wood parts in hand.
All hands went to work tapping and assembling the tight-fitting pieces together. Soon the cupola roof opening was all framed in, new and structurally sounder than it ever was. Two more steel 5/16 x 2 roof-beams rolled the hard way are also bolted to the cupola’s arched end beams and then through the outside walls at the ends, tying the outside walls together while giving support to the frail cupola end beam tails at the outer walls. The outer tails of these two beams are only 2-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ of wood. These four ends are really what held the old cupola up for 100 years! How, I don’t know! Lloyd says he would like to take the cupola to his shop in Oakland and complete the rest of the more difficult parts. Yes, you can, Lloyd! Thank you for your hard work.
While the cupola work is going on the new steel center frame beam is being slid into place. Loren Williams, John Schubert, Gus Campagna, Mike Manson, Skip Ruckert and I pulled on ropes, moving the 400-500 pound beam into place, at which time a floor jack was set under the beam, a little off-center. By jacking a little off-center, the light end went up quickly and was maneuvered up against the car’s bottom transverse cross members to be blocked tight. The jack was then moved to the other end, bringing it up slowly, blocking as it was raised tight to the transverse beams.
Oh, no! Looking at the holes for the two needle beams to pass through – they are too low. How could this have happened? Well, end of the work day, time to go home and we’ll worry about it later. After shaking my head in despair for a week, the light came on. We still need to notch the floor cross beams up 2-1/2″ to the base of the mortise and tenons, giving the tenons support at the center beams. Next word day the notches were made and up went the beam to a perfect fit, giving the tired old wood beams a rest. The new steel center beam will soon be welded to the coupler support beams, just behind the bolsters, tying #1 together from end to end with steel – straight and strong. The needle beams were next slid into place through the center beam holes. They are made of some recycled tough old fir, much tougher than the originals. Boy, do they look good – a perfect fit!
A week later at the Awards Dinner barbeque, Bruce Evans said Roots and he had something for #1. He soon appeared with a cardboard box; inside were four queen posts for our new truss rods. Thanks, Bruce and Roots. We know you worked hard removing them from your parts car. One week later they were painted and ready to install. The turnbuckles, truss rods and square-headed bolts were on site. Within hours #1 has her truss rods again, after 50 years!
Things are going well. Gus, Charlie and Skip have been working on the outside corners, replacing with treated wood the lower deteriorated corner wood. Mike, John Schwirtz and Don Brewer keep pecking away at the paint stripping, between other tasks. Removing multiple layers of paint without damaging the wood has proven to be no small task, requiring infinite patience and there is still more to go.
We have acquired a pair of brake hand wheels as shown on the original SP plans (from Ebay and from a flea market). They have been straightened along with the end rails, ladders and grip rails, ready for the sandblaster.
Basically, all running hardware has been located, except for those elusive Janney couplers. They were relatively common so they are out there somewhere. Please check your iron piles or the piles of the short line railroad you may travel. “Janney” is cast into the top of the knuckle.

From the May-June 2007 Headlight

P&SR Caboose No. 1
From the Sawhorse of the Restoration Crew
By Jeff Millerick
The crew arrived in force with tools in hand, ready to go after a long holiday and winter season. “Where did we leave off? Where do we start again?”
Skip Ruckert: “The blocking in the walls isn’t quite completed. Some of the pieces made from the recycled 2 x 4s are a little thick on dimensions and should b be removed and replaced so as not to interfere with the siding being fair and smooth.”
Gus Campagna: “The cupola should be removed now to start rebuilding the side and support beams under it.”
Don Brewer, John Schwirtz, Vern Alexander: “We need to keep on stripping the paint at the ends and end overheads as there are still many layers to go.”
Well, let’s go!
Skip, Dave Turner and Charlie Siebenthal went to work on the blocking, removing the odd pieces, tying the end joints together with Simpson tie strips – not used by SP but good.
Mike Manson, John, Don and Vern picked up the brutal task of paint stripping, again a dirty job that needs to be done. But when freshly painted it will give them a lot of satisfaction.
Meanwhile, arrangements for removing the cupola were being made. Steve Turner, owner of a logging rig with a HydeBoom and portable sawmill, said he would be willing to help us out. The next work day he arrived at 8:30 with a load of logs on his way to a Saturday Job. “Hey, you guys, let’s do it!” By 8:45 the boom was rigged over the cupola and ready to lift. Oh-Oh, we needed to remove the end support struts and the bolts were badly rusted. Rushing to get Steve on his way, we decided to cut the 1-inch strut bars with Sawzalls – to be welded back together later. Putting some lift tension on the cupola we cut the rods in a few minutes. Up came the cupola and away from the body, parts and pieces dangling and showing a century of dry rot and wear.
The lower edges were very fragile but great for patterns – and some parts were surprisingly sound. The cupola was lowered onto a trailer next to the body to be evaluated and partially disassembled by Gus and Dave.
Everybody is busy, John Schubert working with Skip and Loren Williams on removing the catwalks and old canvas roofing, exposing the tongue and groove roof sheathing with many holes in it, showing many stove pipe location changes through the years. The holes will be repaired later.
While Gus was working on the cupola and laying out the two heavy transverse wood beams that support the cupola, he picked up the old SP plans that showed the roof arch radius was 26 feet, 8 inches. So my brother Don and I one evening laid that radius out and found that our now-installed rolled steel beam supports were not an even radius, leaving the center approximately 3/4″ – 1″ lower than shown on the plans . So out they will come to be re-rolled to our new pattern. They won’t go in as easily next time but will surely take the backache out of the roof and keep the sides at their proper parallel distances from each other. The S shape has been wedged out of the upper side walls, making them as straight as the lower side sill beams, removal of the cupola making this possible.
Our new siding has arrived also and is perfectly to dimensions and of high quality vertical grain clear fir. We got a good deal. The oak end beams also arrived. Not as good but will do. After being cut down to dimensions they should be OK.
In the next word days we hope to have the cupola wood support beams in place, allowing us to redo and repair the tongue and groove. Then a layer of 3/8 inch plywood will be laid over the top, creating a good base for the new roofing mat but most importantly preventing the upper roof from returning to the long S configuration that probably developed while No. 1 was converted into a building.
I guess sometimes going backwards is going forward. It still seems as though we do more taking apart than putting together. But that’s progress!return to top

P&SR Caboose 1 Progress Reports: March 2006-February 2007

Caboose #1 Progress Report

3-18-06. Gathering at the caboose site this morning at 10:00 AM were:
Jeff Millerick, Don Millerick, Gus Campagna, Bruce Evans, Harold Mentzer, Lauren Williams, Charlie Siebenthal, Don Cabrall, Angelo Figone, Skip Rueckert, Allen Tacy, Verne Alexander, Dave Turner, Michael Manson, Marsha Trent.

The weather co-operated and it was a sunny mild morning. The caboose was uncovered by pulling the tarp up onto the roof.
The under-floor was inspected and it was determined that a steel beam needs to be incorporated into the frame to connect the whole caboose together. Each of the individual floor beams was either rotten or previously cut off short of full length. None ran the full length of the car with out serious rot or notching.
The car has a hump as it now sits. Both ends sag downward. Bracing at both ends is needed to straighten the car floor.
> Bruce, Gus and Jeff will look into recycled timbers for the outside sill beam that is rotted thru. The side beams need to be a 5″X9″X32′ piece of wood. Old and dry is best.
> Jeff will check on a steel beam to close the gap between the end sills.
> Harold will look into getting a storage box on site for tools. ***
After straightening the floor and connecting the steel end sills with the new steel beam, the sides may be tackled one at time.
Skip Rueckert volunteered to make the window frames.
Next get-together will be on Saturday March 25 at 10:00 AM at the Library/Archives in Rohnert Park. Gus will make copies of the plans we have for the caboose class CA.
This next meeting is to start putting together a Renovation Plan with a budget and sequence of work to be done on the caboose.
*** Just before going to lunch Lauren opened the building on the property. It has a restroom and plenty of storage room for parts, tools and maybe even a small workshop.

3-25-06. Meeting at RPAC this morning at 10:00 AM were:
Gus Campagna, Harold Mentzer, Christopher Stevick, Charlie Siebenthal, Jeff Millerick, Dr. David Lightfoot, Don Cabrall, Skip Rueckert and Lauren Williams.

Chris is the person who has arranged for us to use the building at 110 Baylis Street to store materials and tools and use the restroom facilities.
Gus reported that he found the plans for a CS 15 Caboose at the CSRM. Charlie will place the order with one of his contacts there. Gus found two sources of timbers for the caboose sills. One at $850 and one at $1200 per stick. Very expensive.
We decided we need to have the caboose sitting flat and level before we can make any decisions on how to proceed. A date was set and later changed to April 15th at 10:00AM for the first full fledged work session at the caboose site. Gus will secure an industrial sized First Aid kit before any work starts. Gus will supply a laser level and Jeff will supply the jacks and blocks need to level the caboose. After leveling, if time permits, we will begin the task of determining the scope of work. Teams will be formed to do evaluations on separate parts of the caboose. Gus will make evaluation packets for each team.
Budgeting was mentioned, but without the evaluation and determination of the work to be done it is anyone’s guess at this point. We will need to determine how far we will go with the restoration, but even that cannot be decided until we have done an evaluation. We have collected almost $15K at this point, with expenditures under $4K.
We discussed the upcoming meeting with the PVP on April 4th. Harold expects Angelo to introduce our group and give a brief overview of what we hope to accomplish. Chris thought that giving the PVP more information was better than holding back. Whet their appetites; get their imaginations going towards our program. He is doing publicity for other groups and will include us in his work. The idea of an Archive/Museum right at the tracks was mentioned, using the former express building was mentioned as well as using the former P&SR depot building moved to a new location. Gus mentioned covered track in the location of the existing track by the parking lot to house P&SR #1, the Petaluma Trolley and maybe even Engine #112 at some point in time.
A method of contacting the group was discussed. Gus will set up a Yahoo Group that will list work schedules and be a repository for restoration data and photos. The site is set up at: Group home page:
Charlie will bring the donuts next time, someone else can make the coffee, and Chris mentioned that there are coffee making supplies and a coffee pot in the building.
Don wants access to take some shots of the caboose ends and under frame before we move the supports. Gus will open the site up for him.

April was very wet and we got a slow start on our biweekly project. We were rained out twice, even though the rain did not fall on Saturday the site was too muddy to do anything but track it around.

May started out on a better note, but the PCR Convention kept some volunteers away doing other fun stuff.

5-6-06. We set up the laser level and blocked the caboose level as best we could. By lifting the ends we made the supports at the bolsters loose. We also braced under the needle beams.

5-20-06. The crew today was Harold Mentzer, Skip Rueckert, Lauren Williams, Don Cabrall, Jim Gray, Gus Campagna and Jeff Millerick.

We worked on doing a survey of the work needed on the caboose. We loosened some bolts and cut away at the side sill to see what was underneath. We also removed some of the plywood siding and temporary walls on the side of the caboose. The metal corner brackets were removed along with the bolts that hold the stair railing on both ends of the caboose. Don Cabrall took pictures of the progress and of the details we were uncovering.

6-3-06. The crew today was Harold Mentzer, Don Brewer, Skip Rueckert, Lauren Williams, Charlie Siebenthal, Don Cabrall, Gus Campagna and Jeff Millerick.

Lauren assembled a “Story Board” under the car to show the position of the centerline reinforcement structure. Then he took up part of the plywood flooring on the cupola end with Don Cabrall. He also took off the first of the original siding boards on the “inner” side. Lauren and Don Brewer also pulled a few of the “Million Little Nails” from the inside of the roof. Jeff and Lauren stayed after and further refined the preliminary design for the centerline reinforcement structure.

6-17-06. The crew today was Harold Mentzer, John Schubert, Jim Gray, Lauren Williams, Don Cabrall, Gus Campagna and Jeff Millerick.

We placed a beam inside the caboose at the roof level just above the mid sill and put posts to the floor. This will help keep the roof straight while we remove the side sill. Lauren and Jeff researched the underside components. We again tackled the surveys, with Charlie and Gus doing the cupola. We made drawings and took measurements. The cupola is so rotten that it will probably need to be rebuilt in its entirety.

7-8-06. The crew today was Skip Rueckert, Lauren Williams, Gus Campagna and Jeff Millerick.

Jeff and Gus picked up Gus’s scaffolding, and then we rented planks from Hertz. At the site we set up the scaffolding along the side of the caboose in order to get to the top of the walls. The eve trim was removed along with some of the roofing at the edges. A lot of junk (old electrical conduit and gobs of tar roofing) were removed from the top of the caboose near the cupola. We were able to see the roof sheathing from the top to be able to evaluate its condition. After lunch we decided to go inside and work on a restoration plan. There had been a lot of discussions about what we are doing, but nothing has been written down until now. We came up with a restoration plan to bring to the NWPRRHS BOD.

See Preservation Committee Report to NWPRRHS BOD 7-22-2006

7-15-06. The crew today was Skip Rueckert, Lauren Williams, Gus Campagna and Harold Mentzer.

We got the siding off the inner side and were able to see all the framing that was left. We removed the window and noted how it was assembled. We also pulled all of the nails out of the ceiling, the “million” little ones penetrating the roof. Skip took off one of the 1″ boards that match the roof rafters under the cupola. The roof sheathing is not nailed to these as I suspected, it is toe-nailed to the rafter. This extra piece just covers the edges. Lauren made notes about the underside and took more dimensions.

7-28-06. The crew today was Skip Rueckert, Lauren Williams, Gus Campagna, Charlie Siebenthal, Allen Tacy, Jim Gray and Jeff Millerick.

Jeff delivered the metal underframe today. Just as we started to level and block the mid right side sill, Lauren decided that the I beam supporting the underframe at the bolster, needed to be moved towards the end of the car. Skip worked on removing some of the plywood from the car floor, just over the center of one of the needle beams. We were trying to determine if the bolts went thru the flooring, they do not. Gus built a (temporary) ladder/stair to get into the car. After Jeff and Lauren moved the I beam we straightened the side and started to remove the old sill. Skip put braces about every six feet along the mid sill and tied them together. It turns out that the joists are mortised on both sides into the sills, not notched over the center ones as I thought. We will be able to replace the two that are broken with relative ease. We removed the needle beams; both are rotten or split and will need replacement. All but the last four feet of the rotten side sill has been removed. A trailer load of trash and rotten wood was loaded up for the dumps.
We will be looking at pricing a 32 foot beam this week. We will need it soon.

8-10-06. The Caboose Finance committee met tonight over dinner. Jeff Millerick, Harold Mentzer, Charlie Siebenthal and Gus Campagna worked out the monetary numbers for the current year and for next year’s needs. The decision was made to purchase a Glu-Lam for replacing the side sill of the car. They are cheap (compared to re-cycled beams), strong and available. We also decided to purchase the siding material and store it to beat any future price increases. We talked about placing the cupola inside the building at Baylis Street and working on it inside during the winter months. The end beams and needle beams will be replaced with re-cycled Douglas Fir beams.

8-12-06. The crew today was Gus Campagna, Allen Tacy, Don Brewer and Charlie Siebenthal.

It was a short session today as most of the regulars were manning the NWPRRHS booth at the Historic Railroad Square Celebration in Santa Rosa. We removed the last four feet of side sill in very small chunks as it was not rotten yet. We then used a die to chase the threads on the rods that stick out in various places along the side of the caboose, cleaning out the rust that had grown there. We also noted that more than just two of the floor joists are broken just above the mortise that goes into the side sill. We will need to figure out a repair detail for this problem. Just before lunch we went inside the caboose and figured out how best to remove the cupola in one large piece. We figured we would use a Sawsall to cut along side the rafter under the cupola, between the roof sheathing and the rafter. The roof sheathing does not nail directly into the rafter, rather it was butted to the rafter and toe-nailed into it. From experience with the side sill cutting “all” the nails always misses a few hidden ones; this will have to be dealt with when the time comes to remove the cupola. We rolled up the tools and ended the day with lunch.

Chris Stevick came by and I asked him about storing the cupola and working on it inside the building; he was OK with that and showed me where it could be placed.

8-19-06. Jeff Millerick and Gus Campagna went to the Heritage Salvage in Petaluma, a wood recycling center, and picked up two new needle beams and 2X framing material for the wall studs and blocking. Jeff also power washed the undercarriage of the caboose to try to remove most of the crud that had accumulated over the years. He found under the crud the caboose’s old SP number 272.

8-26-06. The crew today was Don Brewer, Charlie Siebenthal, Lauren Williams, Allan Tacy, Harold Mentzer Skip Rueckert, Angelo Figone and Jeff Millerick.

Work included getting the side prepped for installation of the new side sill beam. The beam arrived around 9:30 and was placed along side the wall and blocked so that it was in line with its final location. Don worked on paint prep, loosing bolts for eventual removal of the grab irons. Skip and Lauren worked on the beam mortise layouts and skip made a new floor joist to replace broken ones. Harold and Charlie worked on straightening rods and rethreading them. Angelo talked about a sign to let Petaluma know about its Caboose.

9-2-06. The crew today was Jeff Millerick, Harold Mentzer, Skip Rueckert, Gus Campagna, Charlie Siebenthal, Lauren Williams, and Mike Manson.

Skip, Gus and Harold framed the window sections form material that Jeff had previously milled. We made four window sections.

10-7-06. The crew today was Gus Campagna, Lauren Williams, Skip Rueckert, Jeff Millerick, Don Brewer, John Schubert, Dave Turner, Harold Mentzer and Mike Manson.

Final mortises were cut into the side sill today, holes were drilled for the cross rods and the wall rods. John worked on scraping paint off the door sills. Dave and Mike took the ladder off the end and removed the walkway on the roof. Don kept working on paint removal from the ends.

10-21-06. The crew today was Harold Mentzer, Lauren Williams, Dave Turner, Don Brewer, Gus Campagna, and Jeff Millerick.

Today was a NWPRRHS Board of Directors meeting which was held inside the ‘barn’ on site to quicken the meeting and get us back to work. Lauren and Dave started to move the side sill into position. Using clamps about 1/3 of the way in from both ends and using brute force (large hammer) on the ends to move the sill under the wall framing. The three window frames were positioned in their mortises before the sill was slid in place making a tight fit all around. Two extra studs were placed after the beam was in place. The floor (side to side) rods and washers were installed and the nuts tightened.

11-4-06. The crew today was Gus Campagna, Don Brewer, Charlie Siebenthal, Jeff Millerick, Lauren Williams, Dave Turner, and Mike Manson.

Gus Charlie and Skip did the diagonal braces in the wall and under the windows while Lauren and Dave worked on prepping the other side sill. Preparations included a large “Dutchman” to replace some dry rot under the new window to be placed in that wall. The “Dutchman” was mortised to receive the studs. Dave removed roofing materials near the edge of the cupola to make its removal easier.

12-2-06. The crew today was Harold Mentzer, Charlie Siebenthal, Skip Rueckert, Lauren Williams, Don Brewer, and Mike Manson.

It was a short day today as the Christmas trees have taken over the lot around the caboose. The “Dutchman” was installed in the side sill using Gorilla Glue. Jeff had fabricated some metal rafter braces and these were installed today.

2-3-07. The crew today was Gus Campagna, Mike Manson, Lauren Williams, John Schwintz, Skip Rueckert, Harold Mentzer, Charlie Siebenthal, Ron Bracklow, and Jeff Millerick.

We were joined by Russ and Jane Clover. Mike and John tackled the paint removal project using a heavy duty paint remover and scrapers. Lauren worked on taking up the floor over the needle beams so we can place the new bolts that will hold the beams in place. Gus, Skip and Charlie worked on the diagonal bracing and the nailing blocks for the siding in the ‘outer wall’. We also installed the tie rods that run from the floor to the roof. Ron was our official photographer today, next time we will put him to work. Russ brought the artwork for the numbering and herald for the caboose. He will be doing dry transfers for HO, N, S, O and G scales as well as sending the drawing to a print shop for a 1:1 stencil. Jeff and Gus went to Shamrock, next door, to find out if we could use the fork lift. We need to talk to the manager; Jeff got his card and will call before the next work session.

2-17-07. The crew today was Gus Campagna, Skip Rueckert, Lauren Williams, Don Cabrall, Don Brewer, Charlie Siebenthal, Harold Mentzer, John Schubert, Mike Manson, John Schwintz, Verne Alexander and Jeff Millerick.

First up today was the removal of the cupola. Jeff was able to secure a truck with a boom and a strap to attach to the cupola and lift it free. Gus and Jeff used a sawsall to cut nails holding the cupola to the roof sheathing. Force was used to dislodge rafter tails from the wall at the sides of the cupola. The sway braces on either side of the cupola were cut off, later they were unbolted from the caboose roof. The cupola now rest on a trailer and will be carefully disassembled and its design studied ad documented. Mike, Verne, Don Brewer and John Schwintz tackled the paint removal chores, working on both ends of the caboose; many top layers of paint were removed. Gus, Skip, Harold and Charlie worked on finishing the framing and blocking of the walls. Lauren and John Schubert worked to remove the extra plywood layers of flooring from

2001 Caboose #13 Archives


By Bruce Evans
Chair, Preservation Steering Committee

We put in over 800 hours on the caboose this year. That doesn’t count all the travel time for all the work crew. That’s probably another 300 hours. We’re making great progress on the caboose. The roof’s now solid and rain tight, we’ve got windows in and a door on, the stove’s in, and a lot of the wood rot is history.

But we’ve still got a long way to go. There are quite a few repairs to be made to the inside walls, we need track and slider windows in the cupola, and there’s lots of work to be done to the cabinetry below the cupola.

The trucks need to be rebuilt, interior furniture built, trim to install on the windows, sanding and painting to be done everywhere.

Even after our December 8th workday, work on the caboose has continued.

On December 15th, the stove was moved through the A-end door and into the caboose. The prior week, the Millerick brothers had made a visit to PLA’s caboose 30 in Oakland to determine how to make the floor pan and metal wall guards that will protect the woodwork from the heat of the stove. They learned that the wall plates are simple air gaps that sit out about 1-1/4″. And during the Christmas holiday, they got the metalwork done, including the stovepipe, and set the stove in place. So if we can figure out how to fire a coal stove, we’ll have heat in #13!

Also on December 15th, Bruce Evans tracked down a pair of door striker plates and a handle for the stove lids. The existing door striker doesn’t match the style of door latch we have. With the originals long gone, we’re fortunate that Jeff Millerick was able to come up with a pair from another NWP caboose. So matching the strikers up with the latches is a pretty good deal considering.

Don Cabrall visited the caboose a few times after the December workday, and was able to make some modifications to the door latches that will make them work better. One problem with the A-end door latch was that the keyhole was drilled a little off from the latch, so Don drilled it so that the key will work better. The latch mechanisms had worn during their careers, and Don did some machine work and made a new wider spacer for the other latch set so that the lock bolt moves more accurately and freely within the latch.

On December 19th, Bruce spent two hours at the caboose cleaning up and moving things around. The result was more room to work on the next set of projects – most of which will be inside.

The November and December work crews had some projects underway, and some of those will continue while a couple of other new projects will get started.

David Lightfoot, Jim Gray, Don Brewer and others have been working on sanding, scraping and priming the outside – mostly the right side. Denni Chambers and Jim Gray followed up with primer so that we wouldn’t have bare wood exposed. As weather permits, this work will continue. We need to take advantage of the scaffolding as long as we’ve got it, as it really makes the work on the sides and the roof much easier, and we don’t know how long we’ll be able to keep it. Hopefully we can continue on this work during the winter, and really get into it come summer and get the finish coats on the outside.

On the inside, Cliff Baumer and Gary Anderson got the old pocket door stuff off the A-end in November, and got the new doorjamb up. Don Cabrall, Mike Holland and Hugh Metcalf followed up in December and got the door and hardware installed. It’s great having a real door on the caboose for a change, and it sure helps make it look a lot better too.

A couple of critical projects that we need to get started on inside the caboose will start in January. First is to figure out how to re-apply T&G material to fill in the void on the forward right-side wall where we removed the wood that had been scabbed on incorrectly. We’ll try to fur out with felt (from the roofing project) and use wide boards about every third row – much the same as we did on the roof repairs. This should hopefully space the new boards so that they will line up with the old ones. If we can accomplish this successfully, then we can get the last downstairs window in, and probably use the same technique for the wall repairs in the rear conductor’s compartment.

The other interior project is to repair the left main upper header over the conductor’s desk (left side, rear) where it was cut into. We’ve got a piece of wood for the repair, but the scabbed-in piece needs to be taken out, a new filler piece cut to fit, and then glued in and sanded down.

Of course, there’s lots more to do, but these – and some other structural repairs – need to be completed before we can do much finish work on the inside.


By Bruce Evans
Chair, Preservation Steering Committee

We had some good rains in November, and careful examination of the interior indicated that our roof job was good and things were dry inside.

There was only one work day in November – the 10th – due to the holidays.

On that workday, Gary Anderson and Cliff Baumer got the new door jamb in the A-end opening after removing all the old pocket door material.

Don Cabrall worked on the window lock for the second end door, which had been delivered since the October workday.

New member Denni Chambers worked on cleaning the caboose stove, and got some primer on the bare wood on the outside of the caboose. Turns out the stove has a coat of red paint on it (we thought it was rust) which we will probably remove and repaint black.

Lou Spiros continued working on the AB brake valve piping, and is now ready to run pipe to the retainer valve on the B-end.

Jim Gray and David Lightfoot continued removing the old stick-on lettering on the right side of the caboose, and did some sanding on the right exterior.

There will be only one workday again in December. We’re hoping to be able to work on the stove so that we can get it installed and working. We’ll also continue scraping, sanding and priming the outside to provide protection for the wood.


By Bruce Evans
Chair, Preservation Steering Committee

We had a little work left on the A-end roof, and had the roof buttoned up on October 6th. We came back on October 26th and put some caulk at joints with the cupola that we thought might be a potential for a leak, and caulked the B-end faceboards. These boards had not been replaced, and had some gaps in them. The boards were OK, but they had shrunk over the years.

On October 6th, the first of the end doors was delivered and got some fine sanding by Lou Spiros and Don Brewer. Don Cabrall has manufactured a pair of spring-loaded window locks for the new doors, and was there drilling and fitting the lock on the first door.

The door work slowed down over the summer, but Bruce Evans and Mike Holland got back on it recently and now have both doors completed. There will be some doorjamb work that will need to be completed before the doors can be hung. Jeff Millerick has come up with some original caboose door locks, and we’ll try to get these on appropriately.

On October 26th, Cliff Baumer and Hugh Metcalf worked on the cupola, getting the rest of the front- and rear-facing window glass in. The trim also went on, and Hugh put some primer on all the bare wood in preparation for winter. The primer is a red oxide, very close to what the final caboose color will be, and it really gives us an idea of what the caboose will look like when completed.

Work will slow down a bit in November and December, as we give our work crew a break for the holidays. We will work one day each month, concentrating on sanding, prepping and painting the exterior, and on the end doors. We’re also hoping to get the rest of the stovepipe installation completed so that we can fire up our wood-burning caboose stove.


By Bruce Evans
Chair, Preservation Steering Committee

September was probably one of the hardest work months we’ve had so far, but it was also probably the most gratifying. We got a new roof on the caboose! We modified our original plan, and put down felt with adhesive, then covered that with a rubberized membrane – which is really tough stuff. The adhesive was pretty messy, and we had as much on ourselves as on the roof. But we got the covering on, and can now rest easier when the rains come.

At the same time we were working on the roof, we also installed the new stovepipe and roof jack that Jeff Millerick manufactured. This is all heavy gauge steel, and received a special rust-preventive treatment before being painted glossy black. The design of the stovepipe was taken from caboose #14 at Healdsburg, and really makes the caboose looking good again.

We’ve been working a little on the siding, and hope to be able to get at least one side prepped for primer and paint in the next few months.

Next work will be to get the end doors on and put in some cupola windows. One of the end doors has been delivered to the caboose, and needs only hardware, paint and a jamb to put it into.

As we work toward winter, we’ll be lining up some inside projects, one of which will be to try to get one of our old cast iron caboose stoves cleaned up and installed. That way, we’ll be able to work inside in comfort.


By Bruce Evans
Chair, Preservation Steering Committee

August saw work completed on the cornerpost area of the cupola. This had been a setback for us, but we got everything buttoned up in August and started prepping the roof for covering.

Most of the drip rail was on by the end of August, with only the right side and A-end rails needing to be placed.

Lou Spiros and Jeff Millerick disassembled one of the trucks on August 11th. This was done to determine whether we would be able to use the wheelsets and bearings. It was an interesting project, which we had been looking at for some time – how these things come apart. As it turns out, we compressed the spring, held it compressed with a bolt, and once the spring was removed, the whole thing just sort of fell apart. There are no bolts holding the truck together – it’s all held in place by the tension of the springs.

We did find a pitted journal on one axle, and a rusted journal on the same axle. Fortunately, this was an axle that we were going to probably replace anyway.

Jeff Millerick manufactured a stovepipe in August, using caboose 14 at Healdsburg as a template. It’s heavy gauge steel, with a spacer at the bottom where it goes through the roof. Jeff also made the roof jacks for the top and bottom. By the end of the month, we had completed all roof repair work, had prepped and sealed the roof, and were ready to start putting down new roofing in September.

Work continues every second and fourth Saturday by Society members. If you’re interested in this restoration project, e-mail


By Bruce P. Evans
Chair, Preservation Steering Committee

Back on the June 23rd work day, we ran into a pocket of wood rot in the main beam and two other structural members that all come together at the right rear of the cupola. We cut out a portion of the main header beam, and of the carlin behind the cupola, and completely removed the cornerpost. In July, we worked to apply splices with lap joints to the main beam and the carlin, and re-milled the corner post and got all these parts installed. This work set us back a bit, but it was essential that we get it done.

The rotted boards in the roof sheathing have been replaced with the exception of four short boards behind the right rear of the cupola where we had to make repairs to the beams below.

The air brake valve, cylinder and reservoir will need service, and Lou Spiros has arranged that with an old friend who works with the Union Pacific. Lou has been looking into how to take the trucks apart for inspection and service.

Our plan had been to replace the friction bearing wheelsets in the trucks with roller bearing wheelsets. A talk with Mike Mangini, chief mechanical officer with Golden Gate Railroad Museum – may have changed that plan. Mike says that we’re heading into lots of problems changing out the wheelsets (two wheels mounted on an axle.) The bearings on our existing trucks are 5×9 inches. The bearings on roller bearing trucks are 5-1/2 x 10 inches. This difference would necessitate spreading the side frames of the trucks to accommodate the wider bearings and axles.

An alternate would be to purchase trucks that already had roller bearing journals, but we would then have to change the centerplates (where the caboose sits on the trucks) which would be equally difficult.
The best option at this point appears to leave the trucks as is. The caboose can operate on NWP rails (with the permission of the railroad operator, of course) with friction bearings. The caboose could not be interchanged to another railroad (i.e.: California Northern or Union Pacific.) There would be the maintenance issue to deal with – friction bearings require constant attention to assure that there is adequate lubrication, otherwise they overheat and catch fire.

On July 28th, the work crew put up scaffolding on the right side of the caboose. This scaffolding was loaned by a local resident. This will allow us to work on the sides of the caboose (stripping, priming and painting) and apply the new roof covering.

As of early August, we were once again getting close to putting the roof covering on. There were some things that needed to be done first however: the few small roof boards, the remainder of the drip rail, and the right rear cupola window.

Once that is all completed, the roof will get a final cleaning and inspection and be sealed with a preservative. (Throughout the restoration process, we have been sealing all the new wood that was applied to help prevent wood rot in the future.)

It is anticipated that in September, we will have at least started putting the roof covering on. We think this will involve a process that will be slightly modified from our original plan. The original roof covering was Irish felt impregnated with an asphalt-base material, covered with canvas impregnated with several layers of paint. In the best interests of the caboose, we’ve chosen to apply a rubber membrane on the roof, and cover it with the canvas. This will create a roof that will almost certainly never leak.

Once all the work to enclose the caboose is completed, we can then move on to re-finishing the exterior. Unfortunately, about the time we’re ready to tackle that portion of the project, winter will be setting in. We’ll need to evaluate how much work we can do on the exterior without exposing the wood to damage from the elements.
And if we get the caboose enclosed and can’t work on the exterior this winter, there’s always plenty of work to do on the inside. The inside was stripped, so we’re starting from scratch in there. There is some known wood rot at the base of the cabinetry below the cupola which will need attention. The icebox and its door will need to be rebuilt.

Work continues every second and fourth Saturday by Society members. If you’re interested in this restoration project, e-mail


By Bruce P. Evans
Chair, Preservation Steering Committee

The work on the caboose progresses slowly and meaningfully. We continue to encounter situations that require us to stop, look and think. Much of our pondering is why the NWP craftsmen did what they did, and the rest of the pondering is how they did what they did.

It’s been a learning experience for all those who have worked on the caboose. And while it seems that we’re moving very slowly, in retrospect, we’ve really accomplish quite a lot.

Our whole focus to this point has been enclosing the caboose – doors, windows and a weatherproof roof. In the process of accomplishing this, we’ve encountered the expected roadblocks of wood rot and non-NWP modifications. But we persevere.

Throughout the repair process, we continue to be faced with the question of just how far we should go in replacing parts and materials. Some items – rotten wood – obviously need to get replaced. But how far back do you cut off a piece of wood? How much rot do you accept in determining which boards stay and which get replaced? How far do you go in trying to accurately reproduce a missing part?

All these questions require answers. The work crew has been great about facing these challenges, and both making and accepting decisions. There have been times when it would have been easier to replace something with new wood, but we would have sacrificed original “NWP wood.”

All this work wouldn’t be getting done, one way or the other, without the time invested by our restoration crew. We seem to be down to a few consistent workers who are there almost every time: Mike Holland, Hugh Metcalf, Jeff Millerick, Lou Spiros, David Lightfoot. Others have made workdays when they can, and we would love to have them back more often.

The September-October issue of the Headlight will be a special issue dedicated to the Caboose 13 Restoration Project. We will have extra articles and as many photos as the editor will permit.

We have spent the last six months on the roof, first taking everything off, then assessing the needs, and finally making repairs. The crew has been great is spotting rot and problems that need attention, then diving in and taking care of those needs.

We were getting close on June 23rd, to having work completed on the roof. This would have let us move on to the next step – preparing and applying the new roof covering. Unfortunately, we ran into a problem which is not insurmountable, but which will set us back a little bit.

We had replaced all the exposed rotted roof boards on all three roofs (A-end, B-end and cupola) and were about to install the right rear cupola window base and frame when David Lightfoot ran into a pocket of rot. With his excellent probing vision he dug into the bottom of the cornerpost of the cupola, and just kept going.

After we had removed a couple of short pieced of roof board at that location, we started to see that the rot was in fact in the main horizontal header beam that runs the full length along the upper corner of the caboose on each side. This beam is 2-1/2″ x 5-1/2″ and is a major structural component!

The further we dug, the further the rot went. We were able to access some of the rot from inside the cupola, and determined that the carlin at the rear of the cupola, which connected to the header beam, was also rotted off, as was the vertical post of the cupola.

When we got done digging, we had determined that the main header beam was rotted through over 80% of its dimension – from the top down. Only about an inch of good wood remained at the bottom. The only thing that had been holding up the roof and the carlin – which held up the right rear of the cupola – was the plywood wall of the cabinet below!

By the time we quit for the day, we had cut out a piece of the header beam about 14 inches long, and a piece of the carlin about 9 inches long. But we left with a plan. We’re going to cut a notch in each end of the header so that we can install a new piece of fir where the rot was, and connect the header together again with a lap joint, and lots of glue and screws. Hopefully, we will be able to create a splice with enough structural integrity to hold that area together.

We will still have the issue of connecting the carlin and vertical post to the header, and all this will take extra time.
So we’ve experienced our first major setback, which may delay the re-roofing a little. But the crew has been very creative in overcoming all these matters, and we won’t give up until we see all the repairs made and this caboose back in better shape than ever.

The door frames are now together, and have been face-sanded. We thank Jim Mulheren and the crew at Ukiah Custom Cabinets for this sanding work. We’ve had the glass cut for both doors, and are now in the process of milling the trim. Some of this trim is unique, in that it has the “S” cut on one corner, a rabbit cut on the back corner, a quarter-round cut on the opposite corner, then another rabbit cut on the remaining corner – all four corners have cuts! Then, on the other (outside) side of the door, is a piece of trim than acts to hold the upper window in. This piece is a half-round with a square lip on each side and measures 1″ x 1-1/2″.

All of this molding has presented a challenge in providing an authentic reproduction of the original. The tooling and machines that were once used in the NWP shops to produce this material are long gone.

We were, however, able to find some router bits that almost exactly reproduce the original designs, and with the inclusion of some tricky cuts on the jointer, we’ve been able to duplicate almost exactly what was originally on these doors.

Jeff Millerick has completed work on the door latches he acquired near Fort Bragg, and has found a single SP key that will work the locks. One of the locks had a crack, and Jeff was able to braze it so that it won’t continue to deteriorate.

Jeff has also been working on the stovepipe, which needs to go on before the roofing does. He’s making a heavy-gauge steel reproduction of the stovepipe on Caboose 14. When the caboose project is complete, this pipe will connect to our original cast iron SP wood stove.


By Bruce P. Evans
Chair, Preservation Steering Committee

We had only one workday in May, due to the Memorial Day weekend. But we got a lot accomplished regardless.
We put the drip plate on the A-end cupola roof, which finished repairs on that end of the caboose in preparation for re-roofing. We did however find one remaining small piece on the front left over the porch that will need to be replaced.

Cliff, and Bruce Evans removed the roof covering on the B-end and the cupola. As expected, we found some wood rot on the B-end roof, but not as bad as on the A-end. There were a couple of small areas of roof boards we removed in front of the cupola, and two small pieces over the porch. We will also have to replace two or three face boards on the cupola’s B-end.

When we got to removing the roof covering on the cupola, we found something interesting. The whole caboose had been re-roofed with standard asphalt roll roofing. We removed this layer, and beneath it we found a 30-inch sheet metal plate, directly in the center of the cupola. It was sandwiched between the roll roofing and the original canvas roofing. It was screwed down around the perimeter, and had three stove bolts in the center. There were no holes through the roof. We were taken completely by surprise, since you couldn’t see any part of this circle until the roofing was removed.

At first, we thought maybe it was some new form of crop circle. A check with Frank Buscher, Society member and former installer of radios in NWP cabooses, confirmed that it was in fact the ground plane for the radio antenna. Frank said that a conduit came through the roof away from the ground plane, with a long sweep which ended up at the antenna base. Frank told a story that there was a particular shop employee that was the only one that could put this slow sweep in the conduit for this application. He also mentioned that this employee didn’t do much else.

Also during May, Bruce and Mike Holland worked in Bruce’s shop in Ukiah and got the two end doors assembled. Much work still remains on these doors, as they will have to be run through a drum sander, windows framed and installed, and trim manufactured. Three special router bits have been ordered which will replicate as accurately as possible the trim which held the window frame in.

Bruce duplicated the B-end left cupola window frame, which had considerable wood rot. He also repaired the filler block which when under this window.

Mid-May, Bruce ventured to Floodgate, along the old Albion Branch, and picked up the caboose parts that Bev and Doug Elliott have donated. Included are an oil stove, three high-back seats, sliding windows and the self-contained toilet. We intend to use the toilet, and the windows if they will fit – the rest is trading fodder.

June will see continuing work on repairs to the wood rot in the roof and cupola, and we will start constructing scaffolding so that we can apply the canvas roofing.

As always, the Caboose 13 Restoration Project can use help from Society members. For information, e-mail NWPRRHS secretary or phone 707-568-3540. Or, for information on the caboose project, e-mail Preservation Committee


By Bruce P. Evans
Chair, Preservation Steering Committee

April saw us close to wrapping up roof work on the A-end. Through the diligent efforts of David Lightfoot, Mike Holland, and Cliff Baumer, rotted roof boards have been replaced, as have the faceboards on the front of the cupola.

In the process of replacing all of these components, some other work fell into place. This included placement of copper flashing at the juncture of the roof and the cupola. This flashing was found to be missing, and is largely to blame for the rot that was found.

Also being replaced are the fascia board at the top of the cupola, a filler board over the left window, and the drip board which goes over the fascia board. All of these boards are custom shapes and dimensions, and are being handcrafted or repaired as faithfully as is possible by Bruce Evans.

Mike Holland, Gary Anderson and Bruce Evans continued work on window replacement, and we now have replaced all but one lower level window. The last window is being delayed due to some work that needs to be done on the adjacent wall. When the caboose was modified for the pizza operation, some work was done on the right wall which is “not to code” – anybody’s code!

So Steve Waterfall removed the interior wall covering on April 28th, so that we could see what work awaits us there.

Mike Holland and Bruce Evans have started work on the two end doors. Wood has been purchased – clear dry fir – to the tune of around $200. The wood has been cut to size, and the doors should be put together by the end of May.

In conjunction with these doors, Jeff Millerick has come up with some original door latches. These came from an NWP wooden caboose that had been found East of Fort Bragg, but had been burnt to the ground. Someone had taken the latches off however, and Jeff was able to acquire them. They’re old and used, but we think we can restore them for use on our caboose.

With the completion of work on the windows and the A-end roof, we’ll be moving to the B-end roof and the cupola. We’ve confirmed that there is some rot on that end also, both at the cupola and over the rear porch. The roof covering still needs to be removed and the rotted boards removed, which will occupy our only work day in May, the 12th (no work day Memorial Day Weekend.)

Bill Bradley, Angelo Figone and Bruce Evans ventured to Cloverdale on April 17th to give a presentation on the NWP to the Cloverdale Historical Society. Included was a slide show on NWP wooden cabooses and the Caboose 13 Restoration Project. The fifty in attendance enjoyed the presentation.

As always, the Caboose 13 Restoration Project can use help from Society members. For information, e-mail NWPRRHS Secretary or phone 707-568-3540. Or, for information on the caboose project, e-mail Preservation Committee


By Bruce P. Evans

We managed to get two good workdays in for March, although the 24th was cut an hour short when it started to rain. But good progress was made both days.

The roof boards on the A-end are all now back on, thanks to the efforts of Cliff Baumer and David Lightfoot. The cupola thru-bolts have been tightened and the front center bolt put back in so that we’re ready for new faceboards on the A-end. Before the faceboards go on, we’ll place some copper flashing that Jeff Millerick obtained for us. This is an addition that was not original, but should help to avoid the leakage and rot that has occurred in the past because this flashing was missing.

Hugh Metcalf and Bruce Evans sealed, glazed and primed windows on the 10th, and with the help of Don Brewer and Lou Spiros, four windows were installed on the 24th. We started installing trim, and realized that the sills are not typically NWP. So . . . back to the drawing board for the enth time. We’re going to flush the inside of the sill with the wall, place a flat sill against that with a trim board underneath. Will look much better and be close to prototypical.

Haven’t started the end doors yet- hope to do so in the next month or so.

Saturday the 24th was also a cleanup day in preparation for the caboose open house on March 31st. Jeff Millerick, Don Brewer and Lou Spiros all helped organize and sweep up the interior. We also got rid of a pile of junk outside. The caboose looks better on the inside than it has in years!

An open house was held at the caboose the afternoon of March 31st, with 22 visitors signing the guest book. Everyone showed interest in the project, and seemed to approve of the work completed to date.

A short presentation was made that evening at the Annual Awards Dinner, with a slide show showing our progress.

The photos that Doug Richter has provided in conjunction with the Richard Biermann collection have now been used for a visual display of almost 20 NWP wooden cabooses. This display was presented at the Annual Dinner. In the future, it will be part of a presentation at the Cloverdale Historical Society in April, the Annual NWP Reunion in August, and other events.

Many people have contributed financial donations to keep the caboose project moving. But others have also contributed materials and supplies. Jim Morris of Builders Glass in Ukiah has given us safety window glass at half price. Jeff Millerick continues to find little odds and ends for cabooses, and has manufactured two new conductor’s whistles and marker lamp brackets. Mike Pechner obtained two air hoses from the UP Oakland Maintenance Facility. Lou Spiros also obtained two air hoses, inspection books, air brake gaskets and filters and other small items.

Caboose 13 work days are the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month. NWPRRHS members are invited to participate- no special skills needed. For information, e-mail or phone 707-568-3540. Or, for information on the caboose project, e-mail


By Bruce P. Evans

The rains came in February, which held up much of the work on the caboose. The caboose is now well covered with tarps, but work on the roof can’t progress when we can’t get to it. We have addressed a situation with the roof sheathing, wherein the original boards are about 1/16″ wider and thicker than standard lumber available today. We cut and spliced some boards to make up the difference in width, and will cut 1/16th out of the groove where new boards adjoin old so that they will sit down even on the underside.

Regardless, all this work on the roof awaits good weather.

We have removed and replaced the cross-nailer over the front roof joist in the cupola. Jeff Millerick has had some copper flashing made up which will go on under the face boards of the cupola and help preserve that area better in the future. The cross-nailer was made wider than original, so that it would go under two vertical posts in the cupola which had rotted off at the bottom.

After a false start on the windows, we now have nine new frames assembled and ready for glass and installation. We were initially going to set glass into the clear opening of the windows, holding the glass in with wood stops. This is how the caboose was when we acquired it, but after looking at other cabooses, we realized that all these cabooses originally had framed windows. So . . . . we got material and made up frames, which were assembled by Mike Holland and Bruce Evans at the Millerick Shop on the Feb. 14th work day.

With good weather, we should have the “A” end of the roof repaired and the lower windows in by the first of April.

Meanwhile, we’re getting ready to manufacture the two end doors (which were replaced with pocket doors sometime in the past.) Mike Holland and Bruce Evans made a trip to Caboose 14 at Foppiano Winery in Healdsburg, and took complete measurements of those doors�which are original style doors for these cabooses.

Doug Richter continues to conduct research, and in conjunction with Richard Biermann, has now provided additional photographs of NWP wooden cabooses to the Society.

A report on the caboose project will be provided at the Annual Banquet to be held in Santa Rosa on March 31st. For information on the banquet, e-mail or phone 707-568-3540.
For information on the caboose project, e-mail


By Bruce P. Evans

Work on Caboose started officially on Saturday, January 6th! A crew of 7 started by removing the remainder of the roof covering on the “A” end. (The “A” end is the front, the “B” end is the rear.) This entailed also removing the roofwalk and the ladder. Jeff Millerick had to use a torch to loosen the nuts on the bolts so the ladder could be removed. The roofwalk bolts came off much more easily since they went through the roof and the roof joists and could be removed from the inside.

Upon removing the roofwalk and roof covering, we immediately noticed some conditions with the wood that was removed or uncovered. The roofwalk planks are in good condition and will be re-used. The supports under the roofwalk planks all have some rot and will be replaced. Several roof sheathing boards near the front of the cupola have rot and will be replaced. And the nail strip on the outside edge of the roof was so full of holes that it will need to be replaced.

Don Brewer and Mike Meyer started prepping the windows of the “A” end to receive new sills and glass.

While the rest of the crew were working up above, Lou Spiros was inspecting the undercarriage portion of the caboose. Lou is a retired SP car inspector, and knows his business. He found, in general, that the mechanical portions of the caboose are in good condition, and with some repairs, the caboose should be able to run again with little problem. The draft gear was new in 1956, and the caboose appears to have been retired very shortly after this was installed.

The Jan. 6 crew consisted of Cliff Baumer, Don Brewer, Bruce Evans, David Lightfoot, Mike Meyer, Jeff Millerick and Lou Spiros.

On Jan. 13th, a crew of Gary Anderson, Cliff Baumer, Don Brewer, Bruce Evans, Mike Holland, David Lightfoot, Hugh Metcalf and Jeff Millerick spent the day removing rotted wood from the “A” end roof in front of the cupola, the sheathing on the front of the cupola, and the lower cross brace at the cupola front. Work also continued on prepping the windows, and the “B” end ladder and roofwalk were removed.

Doug Richter has continued working behind the scenes, coming up with new photos of NWP Cabooses 11 and 14, which will be added to the Society archives. Doug has now been able to confirm that the change from the 6000 series numbers on NWP cabooses, to the single-digit system occurred sometime during or immediately prior to 1948.

Donations have continued to trickle in, but much more financial support will be needed so that work can continue on Caboose 13. If you can help with financial or material donations, please e-mail the Preservation Committee.

If you want to work on the Caboose, please e-mail the Preservation Committee. Note: Our Society policy is that you must be a member to participate in work crews.

January 6, 2001 work crew on restoration of Caboose #13

December 2000 Update

The Preservation Steering Committee (PSC) had hoped work on Caboose 13 could start by the end of the year, but the availability of funds has held things up until early January.

Now that funds have become available, work parties have been scheduled for all Saturdays in January. The initial work is to remove the remains of the old roof covering (part had blown off during transport), identify and replace wood sheathing that contained rot, and put on the new roof covering.

The reason for the delay was based on the desire to have an assurance that once the roof came off the caboose, that we’d be able to expeditiously put a new one back on. Leaving the interior vulnerable to moisture was most undesirable.

Wanting to have the caboose secured from the elements at the earliest possible time, the Board was polled about moving unrestricted funds to the caboose rather than wait for additional donations. The Board did unanimously approve this plan, but it was too late to schedule a work session before Christmas.

The new roof covering is a unique process, in that we are using the same materials and techniques used for the original roof application in the 1920’s! This process involves placing a layer of Irish felt which is treated with Airbol. This is then covered with canvas which is stretched and tacked down with several thousand copper tacks. The canvas is then heavily painted. This is the same application used by the Millerick Brothers on P&SR #8. While considerably more work than roll roofing and tar, it is functionally better since it is more flexible, and is historically correct.

Much work is needed just to get the caboose closed in and secured from the elements. All window glass needs to be replaced, and both end doors require replacement. Builders Glass in Ukiah has offered to provide safety window glass at a reduced cost. But we could use help with the manufacture of the two doors. If anyone out there has the experience and equipment for this task, (or to help with any other aspect of the project) let us know through the Society mail, e-mail or phone.

Work has continued behind the scenes while funding was being arranged. Doug Richter did some research for the PSC and came up with a unique photo of #13 from the Richard Biermann collection. [At end of update] Photos of #13 are scarce. This is only the third photo of this particular caboose known to exist. The shot is from December 12, 1955, and puts the 13 at San Rafael. The photo also presents some questions, since the stencil lettering conflicts with Futura lettering also believed to have been used in the 1950’s, and a step board is clearly in place around the cupola which does not show in other photographs.

Member Jim Gray prepared a planned cost curve based upon our proposed budget, and is also working on a timeline schedule which will permit us to visualize what work should be going on at a certain time, and in what order. Both of these tools should help to keep us on budget and on schedule.

Jeff and Don Millerick placed some additional cribbing under the caboose, to help stabilize it as work began, since it sits pretty high off the ground and not on its trucks. Jeff has also donated an unmarked marker lamp (that sounds wrong, but that’s correct!) and an inspectors lamp.

Allen Tacy did the graphic layout design work for a new run of HO gauge model railroad flatcars of the 1940’s era, and forwarded that to Bill McClung in Colorado. Bill will be producing the flatcars, and donating them to the Society. We will them sell them to raise funds for restoration of the caboose.

Now that work has started, donations–both financial and of materials and services–are much needed to keep this work going. If you can help with financial or material donations–or want to work on the caboose–please e-mail the Preservation Committee.

Caboose #13 in San Rafael, December 12, 1955.

November 2000 Update

The caboose has been tarped for the winter. This is due to holes in the roof that were opened up during transport from Pleasanton to Millericks. There is also an open hole for the stovepipe, and open windows in the cupola with glass out. Our first efforts will be to (1) remove the existing roof covering, (2) repair some wood rot, (3) apply a new roof covering. The roof covering is interesting, in that it will utilize the same materials and methods used in the original construction. This consists of putting down a layer of Irish felt, treating that layer, putting down a layer of canvas, stretching the canvas and securing it at the edge with copper tacks. The canvas is then painted. Several people responded to the resource questionnaire, and we have about a dozen who are ready to go to work on the caboose. The Board is arranging to move some funds so that work may start very soon. We hope to have the first work session by the middle of December.

Anyone who is interested in working on the caboose may let us know through the Society phone, Post Office box, or email NWPRRHS Secretary.

Please email the Preservation Committee with your questions about our restoration efforts.