A few days ago, I received an E-mail message from the science teacher with whom I had worked as a classroom volunteer a couple of years ago. We had known each other for a long while and he was asking how I was doing. We had not communicated with each other for nearly two years. One message led to another and we ended up making a plan for us to visit the Orange Empire Railroad Museum (OREM) today. He picked me up at my house this morning and we had an uneventful trip to the museum. Once there, I got some minor photography chores out of the way and we moved on to the main business of the day which was to show Myles the museum. He visited the museum ten years ago and much had been done to improve the museum since that visit. We started by touring “Grizzly flats” where the 3′ gauge equipment is on display. He was interested in seeing how the work to rebuild the “Emma Nevada” locomotive was being carried out. We walked out of the the building and looked at the narrow gauge “armstrong” turntable and the partially completed water tank. I told him the history of the Ward Kimball gift to the museum and what the gift enabled the museum to accomplish. I also told him we need $30,000 to buy the redwood staves needed to finish the tank. You never know. However, he demurred! We then drove over to the shop area “outback”, where the BIG locomotives are being rebuilt. Myles was blown away by the size of the locomotives in the shop and the complexity of the work being done by the volunteer mechanics. He was particularly impressed by the 108’s paint job. He thought it very well done. A very old (1939) EMC diesel switching locomotive was being worked on and a crew was installing one of two truck assemblies to the locomotive. Earlier they had discovered that one of the two newly rebuilt truck assemblies did not roll properly. They subsequently discovered an axle bearing that was worn such that the lubrication oil was being wiped off the bearing as it rolled and this removal resulted in the observed high friction. I was very pleased to learn they had used the Pratt & Whitney jig bore machine to rebore the bad bearings. This machine does not get much attention as it looks old and tired. This machine has the capability to bore a 12′ deep hole and we keep the ancient machine around because of this capability. It was by then lunch time and I had no trouble convincing Myles that we should drive into Perris for lunch. I took him to Jenny’s Restaurant and there we had a tasty lunch consisting of a bowl of chili for me and a chili size for Myles. During lunch I elaborated on the stories I had told him earlier about the 55 year history of the museum. The drive home was at times slow but it was uneventful – always a blessing.
I am very appreciative of the time Myles spent with me on our excursion to OERM and I want to thank him for making the trip. I hope to do it again.