West Side Lumber Company Tank Car #5
This 3100 gallon tank car started it’s life in the late 1800’s on the Nevada-California-Oregon narrow gauge railroad. It’s unusual-shaped tank earned it the nickname of the ‘coffin’ tank – why this shape was used is unknown. The tank car was used to gravity feed oil into the N-C-O steam engines.
Picked up by the West Side after the N-C-O was standard-gauged, it was used for hauling oil into the woods for the logging engines. After larger tank cars were built, the #5 was rebuilt in the 1950’s into it’s current fire-fighting look.
A new heavy duty flat car was built, a steam-powered water pump was installed, and the distinctive tool box and platform were added.
After the demise of the West Side, the tank car ended up at the Roaring Camp tourist railroad in Felton CA. Used for several years for hauling oil and water, it developed tank leaks and was put on display.
The Sumpter Valley Railroad Restoration (SVRR) group ended up with #5 in the early 2000’s in a trade for a Climax steam engine boiler. The tank’s flat car was in bad condition, and collapsed on the ground when unloaded in McEwen OR.
In 2007, a restoration effort was begun to restore tank #5 back into working order. The ground-up rebuild started with a complete reconstruction of the 3’-7” wheelbase trucks, a carefully documented new flat car using all of the original iron hardware, and a two-year project to rebuild the tank into a water-tight vessel again.
The Western Railway Preservation Society (WRPS) took over project for the SVRR about half-way through the 7 year restoration, and saw it through until completion just before the SVRR 2013 fall photo trains. The tank car is now used as an auxiliary tender for their #3 two-truck Heisler.
Picture gallery – click on image for larger view.