Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Gearing up with Dad

Every time I start thinking that my crazy projects are getting out of hand, I take a look at what my father is working on and it makes me feel better.

Case in point, the other day I stopped by the folks' house.  Dad's car trailer was parked out front with this thing on it:

Dad's Gears

If you don't recognize it, you're not wrong.  This is the reduction gear that used to drive the pivoting railroad bridge next to the Petaluma Marina.  You can see it in action here:

That bridge had been in place since 1903.  So for the better part of 112 years, these massive steel gears have done the job of swinging the bridge into place so trains could cross the river and then back out of the way so waterborne traffic could get past.

This year, there's been a lot of construction and improvements on those tracks in order to make way for the new SMART train.  This is a long-overdue commuter train that will carry passengers from as far south as the Larkspur Ferry terminal to as far north as Cloverdale.  

Since there will be a lot more traffice on the SMART train, the powers that be have decided to retire the old swing bridge in favor of a secondhand drawbridge that was relocated from somewhere in Texas.  The new bridge is this shiny green work-in-progress:
Railroad Bridge at Haystacks Landing

So while the construction crew has been slowly dismantling the old bridge, Dad has been watching the proceedings from his office next door.  When he saw the gears being pulled out he wandered over and asked the crew what they planned to do with them.

It turns out that they were slated to go to the scrapyard.

Dad decided that he had some other use for them.  He didn't know what, but something better than the scrapyard.  So he ran home, hitched up the trailer, and went back to pick up the whole kit and kaboodle.

After much deliberation, he decided to park the whole rig next to one of the barns.  After a bit of rearranging the other stuff tucked away under the tree, he parked an A-frame on the spot, then backed the trailer under it:
Dad's Gears

After a bit of wrestling it around with the help of a chain fall, the gears had found a new home:
Dad's Gears

Of course, a lot of folks might wonder why someone would want such a thing parked in their garden, so I suggested a use that dad decided was good enough:

It works.

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