EMMA SWEENY RESTORATION
Condition as Received
The model looks much as it did as the Hooterville Cannonball, except that it is named the Amador Cannonball, has deteriorated and lost many parts. Major changes in converting from Emma Sweeney to Hooterville Cannonball include different stack, headlight, and number plate and the lack of the name boards on the side of the boiler. Much of the paint scheme was changed, too, to match that on Sierra RR 3 for Petticoat Junction.
Based on a preliminary inspection, it appears to need about 53 wood, 27 metal, and 3 plastic component models reconstructed because they are missing or only partly present and much standard piping, along with many fittings and about 25 valves.
A few examples of the restoration and reconstruction items are shown in the following photos.
We need your help in reconstruction individual components. Go to the New Parts page to see the list.
All photos by George Niederauer, except those on November 4 (unloading) by Rose Niederauer.
As shown at the front of the engine, the model is built on a solid frame of welded channel steel. All axles are steel pipes that run through short pieces of larger pipe welded in fixed positions on the frame.
Looking back along the engine frame shows that it is well braced with crossed angle irons and steel plates both vertically and horizontally.
Glue joints in the wood smokebox door are coming apart, both hinges are broken at the bolt holes, and several lugs are missing. The headlight and number plate will be replaced with reconstructions of designs for Emma Sweeney.
The open west side of the model really suffered compared to the shady east side. A good example is the cylinder, which will need regluing and epoxy filler, then sanding, to get it back into shape. Where possible, we will restore original wood rather than replace it. Part of the missing snifters (relief valves) on both steam chests will be reconstructed.
The plywood rear face of the firebox will be replace, but the wooden rivet heads can be reused and maybe the staybolt heads. Apparently the model did not include the tricocks – no evidence here or on the drawings. The footplate is missing. Where the turret should be is part of the lubricator – on its side!
The interior of the cab should look virtually as crowded with the same appliances and pipes as on the 315, but most of it is gone. On the left side the red object, where an injector should be, is the triple valve, which should be next to the small driver brake reservoir under the floor on the left side of the cab (green tank in next photo). On the right side only the bases of the brake valves remain, probably because they were attached to pipes (real). Note that some pipes end with flanges attached to the floor.
The cab walls appear to be in decent shape, although the edge of the floor is not structurally sound. The roof has been replaced. The roof joists should be narrow arches, and the half round edging should be a fancier molding. Rain gutters are missing.
The tender frame is constructed similarly to the engine frame. Note the solid wheels with wide iron rims – and no flanges! All brake and springs are for looks only.
An open journal box reveals the wood structure around the pipes for the axle and its sleeve. One of the aluminum covers is missing and will have to be cast.
The locomotive pavilion in Santa Rita Park was originally built by the City for D&RGW 315, but we learned that, as an operating locomotive, it needed to be stored inside. We had a lot of work to do on the 315 after its first winter out in the open, even though protected by a tight fitting canvas tarp. It is now stored in the Silverton Northern engine house.
Once we saw the Amador County Board of Supervisors vote in late April 2011 to release Emma Sweeny to the Society, we starting making plans to prepare for the arrival of the model. In June volunteers assembled the track that was donated by D&SNG and spread the ballast donated by Sandco.
July 7, 2011. The pavilion is ready to accept Emma Sweeny.
We will make other improvements to the pavilion by adding a decorative fence (now in fabrication) around the outside perimeter of the posts, electrical outlets and lighting, and green paint on the fence and posts. Electrical conduit, shown on right foreground post, was installed when the pavilion was built.
Moving Emma Sweeny
Everything finally fell into place on Friday, October 28, 2011, when the trucker called to say he would be in Jackson, California, the next Tuesday. George Niederauer packed up tools, hitched his trailer and left Saturday noon, arriving Jackson late Sunday afternoon. Rod Jensen came over from Ben Lomond, California, Monday morning. After two full days of work Emma was ready for loading.
Amador County staff cleared out trees, branches, and a compost box to provide a direct path in line with the track for the truck. To meet the load width and height limits for a standard move, we removed the headlight; stack; steam dome; cab side grab irons, arm rests, and storm windows; and footboards on the tender sides (added at Sam’s Town). We then removed items that were too loose to travel: pilot, flag stands, smokebox door, rivet heads, tender coupler pocket, journal box covers, etc.
The truck arrived Wednesday morning and was loaded and on the road by mid afternoon. The steep ramp into the parking lot caused the trailer to jerk in going out, shaking the cab so hard we almost lost it right there. At first we were just going to brace it, but upon closer inspection, we discovered that the floor of the cab and the support of the firebox on the frame were badly rotted, no longer structurally sound. So we removed the cab piece by piece and put all in the tender tank. The cab jerk also ripped the front wall away from several pipes; they too were removed and put in the tender.
We arrived in Durango Friday morning, November 4, and unloaded Emma at Santa Rita Park. Good thing. It snowed all day on Saturday.
November 2, 2011. First winched on by cable was the tender, with the rear truck on the front, static part of the trailer.
November 2, 2011. Then, went the engine. With its axles fixed to the frame, only the frontmost and rearmost wheels were taking all the weight.
November 2, 2011. Our big come-along was used to pull the tender and engine sideways to center the wheels on the track, then the trailer. It was J R Sellers (pulling) and his truck that pulled the Skanska trailer, accompanied by Heath Higgins (eyeing the alignment), a Skanska driver.
November 4, 2011. With most of the cab and much of the boiler piping placed inside the tender tank, Emma looked even barer. The truck is backing up to the pavilion in Santa Rita Park.
November 4, 2011. The engine was slowly winched down onto the track. Heath Higgens is checking its progress and alignment to the track. Once on the track, Jim Granflaten pulled it along the track with his pickup and long chains. Heath gave instructions for movement, relayed to Jim by George Niederauer. Back at the engine, Ron Atkinson (blue jacket), Ted Swearingen (gray jacket), Ron Nott, and Chris Killgore (both hidden) push the engine back to the track center as it rolls. It worked sometimes, but mostly we used the come-along.
November 5, 2011, Saturday. After the beautiful, warm weather in Jackson, it was a good thing to have Emma out of there on Wednesday and in the pavilion on Friday. We just missed the snow that hit the Sierra Mountains Thursday and the snow that came down in Durango all day Friday. The pilot, which was transported in the front of the tender, was placed on the rails against the pilot beam. Other than putting some of the parts back on it, we will let it sit over the winter to acclimatize to our dryer climate.
November 17, 2011. A warm fall day allows us to put some parts back on Emma so it has the general shape of a locomotive again. Ron Atkinson (back to camera), Duane Danielson, and George Niederauer (inside smokebox) mount the headlight. Steve Lewis, Durango Herald
November 17, 2011. Lifting the heavy smokestack are Dennis D’Alessandro on top, George Niederauer on the running board, and Tom Atkinson on the ground. On the other side, pulling on the rope, was Ron Atkinson. Steve Lewis, Durango Herald
Restoration and Reconstruction
In the spring of 2011, when we learned that we would be getting the model, all we had for reference material were VHS copies of the movie and a few still photos. To our great surprise, we were fortunate to learn that Tom Artzberger, Pagosa Springs, Colorado, had a nearly complete set of copies of the full size drawings from Twentieth Century and had made copies in half size. Then, Larry Jensen, author of the book The Movie Railroads, now living in Gunnison, Colorado, donated his nearly full set of full size drawings to us.
HELP! We are missing the following four drawings out of a complete set of 73 sheets, and the Twentieth Century Fox archives doesn’t have them:
#24 – Cab sheet #4; what parts are on it is not known
#34 – Cab front bracket
#35 – Movie lettering and decoration for engine
#110 – Movie lettering and decoration for tender
We began reconstructing parts in August 2011 with a local master craftsman. We enlisted other wood and metal workers in the community, including students, and among our members nationwide to take on such projects over the next several months. See the results on the Small Projects page.
March 2012. Ted Bower of Los Angeles donated the original wood model of the automatic coupler for the tender. It is the only major appliance still remaining intact from the studio prop shop, thanks to it being stored by Ted Bower and his father.
June 9, 2012. Several volunteers joined in the Wash and Scrub day for Emma. Young Joe Weigman (white shirt) brought his friends Ringo Racheff on his left and Cody Racheff on his right. Patty Racheff
June 9, 2012. Joe Weigman really got in the spirit of the work, scrubbinn under the main rod. Patty Racheff
July 14, 2012. After scrubbing and scrapping the front is ready for repairs to begin.
July 28, 2012. The missing piece and adjacent bottom section were replaced, both glued and screwed into position. The rough top was sanded to smooth out the deteriorated surface somewhat. The three pilot brackets had been held in with short lag bolts, which allowed them to loosen. For a solid structure we used long bolts through to the top of the pilot beam and countersunk to hide the bolt heads.
July 28, 2012. After cleaning up the pilot, we bolted the two outside pilot bars to the top frame member and the middle pilot bar to both the top and bottom frame members. Then, the draw bar bracket had to be installed before the pilot bars on either side of it were attached. Large lag bolts hold the bottom of the outside bars and both ends of other bars in place.
July 30, 2012. The right cylinder before restoration. The steam chest was removed for restoring. Compare with photo of engine front for August 17.
August 4, 2012. Plenty of Bondo was used to fill in cracks and deteriorated surfaces on both the pilot and pilot beam.
August 5, 2012. Pilot and pilot beam are primed with tinted paint for the alkyd red top coat and white oil-based priomer for the 1-Shot brass paint.
August 6, 2012. The pilot and its brackets are painted red, and the pilot beam black. The saddle for the draw bar is brass colored.
August 15, 2012. Smokebox door is repaired with three new pieces of wood, then filled with Bondo and sanded.
August 17, 2012. The front of Emma Sweeny as displayed during Railfest. The draw bar assembly in brass is in place. Two wood pieces are temporarily placed on the frontmost right wheel. Each stave of the right cylinder was screwed down, and Bondo was added to fill cracks and depressions, then painted brass. The smokebox door is temporarily screwed in place. More work needs to be done to fit it properly and add hinges. Only half the door lugs were ready for display. The temporary number plate is a photo glued to a piece of plywood. The two lantern brackets were stripped of old paint and painted brass.