What you are looking at is a 16 inch engine lathe manufactured by the AXELSON Co. It was produced about 1950 in Los Angeles, Cal., It is located in the machine shop at the railroad museum where I practice my trade.The object being machined is part of a ca.1890 steam locomotive water tank support structure.It was used in the Owens Valley by the Southern Pacific narrow gauge railroad. This water tank is being rebuilt in preparation for use at the museum in servicing our steam locomotives. It is said that the steam locomotive gods do not look favorably upon the use of hoses to replenish the water in the locomotive tender. We believe our “new” tank will appease the gods and may bring us good luck ( and get rid of the hoses-eventually).
The machine shop at the museum is my playground and the machine-tools are my toys. It may seem to some that the hard work I do in the quest to make old things “new again” is at odds with my labels of “playground” and “toys”, but that’s the way I look at it. I get a lot of personal satisfaction out of this work and that is why I feel like I do. As a case in point, I repaired an old beat-up whistle that came from a large passenger train steam locomotive many years ago. I rebuilt the valve mechanism and made the whistle pretty again but something was missing! Steam to bring it to life was needed if this old whistle was to speak again. Well, we have lots of steam when our locomotive is running so we mounted the whistle and climbed into the cab. The engineer pulled the cord and I got my reward – big time. The several engineers present took turns at the cord making that old chime whistle sing again – loud and pretty.