In this issue, we are publishing several accounts of 'steam school' programs conducted by various organizations. This one is reprinted with permission from Roots of Motive Power, Inc. Newsletter, Vol. 15, No. 2, July 1997, P. O. Box 874, Willits, California 95490.
Due to popular demand requests from you, the members of Roots of Motive Power, we sent out notices for the first Steam Engineering and Safety Class in the last Roots Newsletter. Within a few days, the Museum was besieged with people wishing to attend the class. We cut off enrollment at 50 students for the April 6th class and immediately set a date in May for a second class to handle the overflow of 30 additional students. The majority of students came from Sonoma County, where an article about the upcoming class was printed in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
Developing a curriculum for the one day class was difficult, since steam engineering filled several semesters at any university. Besides wanting to hook students on the wonder of steam power, we wanted to stress the all important safety aspects of operating in the public eye.
With help from Bob Hinerman, Bobbie Yokum, John Bradley, Chris Baldo and Jim King, we pulled together a curriculum that incorporated the Roots Safety Guidelines and Operating Rules, the booklet adopted by Roots in 1991 to cover the operation of all machinery in the collection. We knew that one did not become a steam engineer after a one day class; but that the information imparted would be a first stage to be followed by months of working with steam in Roots work days and steam ups or other activities.
The class was structured in two parts, a classroom session from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and an outdoor session from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. involving equipment in the collection. The classroom session covered such subjects as the properties of steam, boiler construction and boiler maintenance, the steam engine and machine operation safety. Bob Hinerman and Chris Baldo handled the classroom instruction. With an ample supply of coffee and home baked goodies from Bobbie Yokum, Vi Hinerman, Norma Avery and Norma Branson, the students made it through the difficult part of the day with only a few sharp elbows to awaken the snorers. The students proved to be a bright group coming from many areas and from many interests. Some were involved with other volunteer groups operating steam equipment, several owned steam equipment themselves, and several were interested in joining Roots activities and becoming involved.
Willamette Iron and Steel 11 x 13 'Humboldt Yarder, ' built in Portland, Oregon, in 1913 for Mendocino Lumber Company.
Bucyrus Eric 50B shovel, built 1930, owned by Guy F. Atkinson Company its whole life until donation to Roots of Motive Power, Inc.
The outdoor portion of the class involved students steaming up four pieces of equipment in the Roots collection under the watchful eye of experienced Roots engineers. We utilized the Williamette Humboldt yarder, the American Hoist and Derrick double drum winch, the Raymond pile driver and the Marshutz and Cantrell spool donkey. After being divided into four groups, the students rotated to each piece of equipment on the hour. Starting with a cold boiler, the students built a fire, watched steam build to operating pressure, and then operated the machines under steam. It is a process that we do time after time, and never fail to learn something new about steam along the way.
Roots would like to thank the many students that made the class a rewarding process and hope that they continue their careers as apprentice steam engineers. We are especially proud of those that have continued to work on Roots projects over the last few months. Our group will be better for the new blood and the understanding of the responsibility involved in operating for the public. We hope to incorporate comments about the classes into the 1998 class to make it an even more rewarding experience.
Close-up of Moore and White Company variable speed governor on Erie engine with boiler of Raymond Concrete and Pile FF400 pile driver in background.
In closing we would like to thank the many Roots volunteers who helped put on the class: Shad Kelly, Bobbie Yokum, Shane Grupp, Danny Mihelcic, Kirk Graux, John Bradley, Vi and Bob Hinerman, Chris Baldo, and Norma Branson.
A major thank you also goes to Dan Taylor and the staff of the County Museum for co-sponsoring the event and handling the reams of paperwork involved.