NWP (Northwestern Pacific) RDC Budd Railcar

NWP Budd Railcar standing in Willits Station

NWP Budd Railcar standing in Willits Station

Many, many moons ago I saw the above pic in a book on the NWP. The pic recently resurfaced when Operations Manager Frank Davis was doing some research. Per the NWP site that Frank found, “1961 Railcar Lineup, SP 10, Budd RDC car operating as NWP Train 4, ready to start its tri-weekly run from Willits to Eureka on September 30, 1961. It will leave at 1:45 and arrive at Eureka at 7:20, taking 5 1/2 hours for the 98-mile run. Barely visible to the rear are California Western Railroad railcars M80 and M100, ready to depart for Fort Bragg on the coast.”

As soon as I saw the pic I wanted one for our layout. I have been looking to get one for several years at a price we can afford.

The Budd Rail Diesel Car, RDC or Buddliner is a self-propelled diesel multiple unit car (DMU)  Between 1949 and 1962, 398 RDCs were built by the Budd Company of Philadelphia. The cars were primarily adopted for passenger service in rural areas with low traffic density or in short-haul commuter service, and were less expensive to operate in this context than a traditional diesel powered train with coaches. The cars could be used singly or several coupled together in train sets and controlled from the cab of the front unit.

Wiki tells this story: The Budd Company entered the market in 1932. Heretofore Budd was primarily an automotive parts subcontractor but had pioneered working with stainless steel, including the technique of shot welding to join pieces of stainless steel. This permitted the construction of cars which were both lighter and stronger. In 1941 Budd built the Prospector for the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW). This was a two-car DMU. Each car had a pair of 192 horsepower (143 kW) diesel engines and was capable of independent operation. The cars were constructed of stainless steel and included a mix of coach and sleeping accommodations. The design was popular with the public but undone by the difficult operating conditions on the D&RGW. It was withdrawn in July 1942, apparently another failure. However, several technical advances during the WWII  would encourage Budd to try again.

The proliferation of large powered vehicles such as tanks and landing craft led to the development of larger diesel engines and, just as importantly, the hydraulic torque converter. Budd, which by then had produced more than 2,500 streamlined cars for various railroads, took a coach design and added a pair of 275 hp (205 kW) diesel engines. Each drove an axle through a hydraulic torque converter derived from the M60 Patton tank. Budd broke with the “railbus” designs of the 1920s–1930s and used a standard 85-foot (26 m) passenger car shell. The result was the RDC-1, which made its public debut at Chicago’s Union Station on September 19, 1949.

The RDC came in 5 variants. NWP’s was an RDC 3.

Drawing of an RDC 3

Drawing of an RDC 3

What was it like inside?

Inside of an RDC

Inside of an RDC

And what did they look like running? This is quite a lengthy vid which, me being me, I have looked at in its entirety three times:

Now comes the good news. We/I finally landed a G Scale model. She has been fitted with a battery, sound card and radio control. She’s heaven to see operating:

RDC pulling into Tunnel #2

RDC pulling into Tunnel #2

 

RDC adjacent to Big River

RDC adjacent to Big River

RDC by Tunnel #3

RDC by Tunnel #3

1917 Map of Willits

Thanks to club member Mike Aplet we have learned quite a lot about the town of Northwestern (now Brooktrails near Willits) and the Northwestern Mill there.

Fairly recently we were given access to Sanborn maps of Fort Bragg and Willits. Sanborn Maps is an American publisher of historical and current maps of US cities and towns. The maps were initially created to estimate fire insurance risks. The company’s maps are frequently used for historical research, and for preservation and restoration efforts. The maps themselves are large-scale lithographed street plans at a scale of 50 feet to one inch (1:600) on 21 by 25 inches sheets of paper. The maps contain an enormous amount of information.

The map we have of Willits is dated 1917 and much to my surprise shows a yard labelled “Northwestern Redwood Cos Planing Mill and Lumber Yard”.

1917 Sanborn Map of Willits

1917 Sanborn Map of Willits

The section of the map in the right hand corner is of particular interest:

Detail of Planing Mill and Stations

Detail of Planing Mill and Stations

The location of the planing mill is the current site of modern day Mendo Mill building supply store in Willits. The building next to the main tracks and across Commercial St. from the planing mill (approx. center of second map) still stands today. It is a beautiful redwood building built in the Craftsman style.

The three rail lines in the foreground are the main line from Tiburon. What is not on the map is the wye which I think would be to the left off of the the map.

You can’t xerox maps like these and the only reason I can show them to you is because of the efforts of our website guru and camera man extraordinaire, Roger Thornburn. Thanks Roger.

Mendocino, a book by Dorothy Bear and Beth Stebbins published in 1973

Cover

Cover

Club member Earl Craighill brought this book to our weekly Wednesday brekkers meeting a couple of weeks ago. As the club’s historian I am always interested in books, articles, pictures etc. which amplify what we already know of the railroad and logging operations along the Mendocino Coast. Earl, generous soul that he is, soon granted me the opportunity to take it home and have a long butchers.

The book I found out is mainly about the families who first came to Mendocino and their homes – many of which still stand. Their were some new items about which I heretofore had no knowledge. One item was details of the Azorian fishermen who lived in Mendocino:

The Portugese of Mendocino

The Portuguese of Mendocino

When I first came to the Mendocino Coast in the early 1990’s I was told that you could identify the houses of the Azorian fishermen by the abalone shells decorating their houses.

The next interesting bit of history to catch my eye was this picture of the first mill in Mendocino which was perched at the end of the point:

First Mill on the PointIf you look closely at the photo you can see that the finished lumber is being loaded via a chute onto a lighter and not onto a schooner. The photo below shows the Point a little later and shows three chutes. Perched at the end of the first chute is the clapper man – his job was to stop the pieces of lumber sent down the chute to allow them to be passed onto the lighter.

Loading by chute to a lighter

Loading by chute to a lighter

Interesting snippets what! Thanks Earl for the lend.

1865, 1873, 1876, 1889, 1897,1910, 1994 and 2007 Maps of Noyo and old pictures of Noyo

Thanks to club member and muqquomp of Noyo harbour, Dusty Dillion we have some very interesting maps of Noyo. First is the 1865 map:

1865 map of mouth of the Noyo River

1865 map of mouth of the Noyo River

At the top of the 1865 map you can see the location of the Richardson mill -built by George Hegenmeyer.

Next is the 1873 map:

1873 Map of NOYO harbour showing site of mIL

1873 Map of Noyo harbour showing site of mIl

In the 1873 map you can see that the mill has moved downriver onto the flats on the north side.

The 1876 map:

1876 Map of Noyo Harbour showing land ownership

1876 Map of Noyo Harbour showing land ownership

This map does not show the mill but does show the road and the bridge over the Noyo for the first time.

The 1889 map shows the land has bee sub-divided along the coast road:

1889 Map of Noyo River showing land ownersip

1889 Map of Noyo River showing land ownership

The 1897 map is VERY interesting. Did you know that Fort Bragg had a race track? I sure didn’t. I don’t know if the track was for cars or horses. As there was car racing at Pine Grove just south of Noyo I’m guessing it was cars. The second really interesting piece of info from the map are the rail lines and chute in the upper left hand corner.

1897 Map of Noyo River showing location of race track and rail lines leading to wire loading place

1897 Map of Noyo River showing location of race track and rail lines leading to wire loading place

This picture that Dusty recently gave us shows the chute at work:

Noyo Harbour

Noyo Harbour

This pic, also from Dusty shows spectators watching the chute at work.

Watching the chute at work

Watching the chute at work

The 1910 map adds a few details to the 1897 map.

1910 Mao of Noyo River showing County Road

1910 Mao of Noyo River showing County Road

Lastly we have an aerial photo map showing how things have changes since “back then”.

1994 Aerial View of Noyo Basin

1994 Aerial View of Noyo Basin

Last, but not least is a street amp of the area around Noyo harbour dated 2007 which shows the growth in streets but interestingly the original coast road remians.

 

2007 Street Map of area around Noyo Basin

2007 Street Map of area around Noyo Basin

Thanks Dusty – your contribution and knowledge is invaluable.

 

Once upon a time there were two Mendocinos in Mendocino County, California…..

You think I jest? If you do, alas, you are wrong.

Cover of Post Office Book

Cover of Post Office Book

I bought this book, Post Offices of California by H.E. Salley a while back. I have many, many unread books and this one languished in the pile for quite some time. It surfaced because I was invited to the Fort Bragg Philatelic Society meeting. To try to not look like an unknowing fool at the meeting (easy to do) I dug it out and took it along as camouflage.

Whilst at the meeting I learned that my book contained the info that there were indeed two Mendocinos. The one I knew about is located seven miles south of Fort Bragg. According to my book there has been a post office there since December 1st, 1858.

The second Mendocino was named after Cape Mendocino and located 36 miles south of Eureka. The post office was established there on the 19th of October 1852. Cape Mendocino was then part of Mendocino County and later became part of Humboldt County when it was created on the 12th of March 1853. Mendocino #2 later became known as Capetown. The post office didn’t last very long – it closed on the 20th of December 1853.

How about that for a piece of totally useless local history trivia?

Lego Trains

Lego Train Advertisement circa 2003

Lego Train Advertisement circa 2003

Soon after we came to Fort Bragg in 2000 I discovered Lego Trains. Daughters Holly and Annalise gave me pieces for birthdays and Christmas the next couple of years. In 2004 Hank Simonson and I were asked by the Fort Bragg Friends of the Library to build a model train for a Seasonal Display. Hank and I decided to build a Lego Train that showed trains taking the toys the elves made at the North Pole to a secret location in Fort Bragg for Santa Claus to distribute because Santa couldn’t carry them all in his sleigh. We built caves to hold the toys and Hank wired lights into all of the caves so that the kids could see the toys by switching on the lights themselves (Disney Fort Bragg style). We wrote up the story and posted it on the wall. Hank had fond memories of reading the story to the visiting kids. Here’s a couple of pics ……

The North Pole Train Layout

The North Pole Train Layout

Hank Simonson at work wiring the North Pole layout

Hank Simonson at work wiring the North Pole layout

The runway for Santa sleigh replete with skid marks and working bulldozer to clear the snow

The runway for Santa sleigh replete with skid marks and working bulldozer to clear the snow

The Lego layout was never built to be a permanent thing and I took it apart so’s to be able to re-use the base. My interest in Lego trains did continue and I bought/downloaded software to enable me to create Lego locomotives/rolling stock on the computer. I spent MANY frustrating hours/nights trying to create a Lego Garratt  to no avail. People really did create accurate models of real locomotives – see here to see the “General” made out of Lego. I designed a 16’ by 16’ Lego layout but couldn’t find a space to house it. Then I discovered On30 and my interest in Lego trains waned quickly.

Which brings me to my visit to Utah to visit my daughter Tanisha who lives there and our visit to the Ophir-Tintic & Western Model Railroad Show. To my great surprise the biggest layout at the show was an immense Lego layout. In a brief conversation with one of the creators I learned that there is software to help one design show layouts and there a number of Lego railroad clubs around North America. The layout was a huge hit with all us Lego builders (very large and very small) and it attracted a huge amount of attention. Daughter Tanisha took the pictures below. I took my Lego trains out when I got home on Wednesday,blew off the dust of ages and started dreaming ……..

The freight yard and the south end of the town

The freight yard and the south end of the town

The town ...... note the incredible detail

The town …… note the incredible detail

Sailing ships on railroad tracks ..... very clever

Sailing ships on railroad tracks ….. very clever

The freight yard ... all the switches work

The freight yard … all the switches work

Detail from the freight yard

Detail from the freight yard