Cal Tinkham

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Greg_Lewis
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Cal Tinkham

Post by Greg_Lewis » Mon Aug 20, 2018 10:07 pm

caltinkham.jpg
Live steamer and steam expert Calvin C. Tinkham passed away peacefully at home August 13. He was 87. Known to his friends as Cal, he had been a member of the Northern Nevada Live Steamers, the Golden Gate Live Steamers, the Sacramento Valley Live Steamers and Train Mountain. His ten-wheeler Virginia & Truckee No. 26 logged thousands of miles on railroads around the west.

Born in June of 1931, Cal lived next to the tracks of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad that ran from Reno, Nevada to Virginia City. The daily trains running by his house and frequent rides on that line planted the seed that grew into his love for steam power. His first job was as a pipefitter’s helper in the Southern Pacific shops in Sparks, Nevada.

He went on to become a fireman on cab forwards running up the Southern Pacific Modoc line towards Oregon, and served a stint in the Army as a steam locomotive instructor in the transportation corps. By the end of the 1950s, it became clear that railroad steam power was nearing its end and there was little future for enginemen, so he moved on to other steam pursuits including obtaining a chief stationary engineer’s license.

He restored steam tractors and road rollers, and spent 17 years in the restoration shops of Harrah’s automobile collection in Reno. There he built or rebuilt low to high pressure boilers, steam generators, fire and water tube boilers, simple and compound stationary engines, and steam turbines. He also maintained Harrah’s narrow gauge locomotive, a coal burning steamboat and a steam popcorn wagon.

Cal’s skills were not limited to steam as he also designed and built a turntable for a pipe organ console, an automated machine for drilling holes in used gambling dice, and was even called upon to fabricate custom cookie cutters for the casino’s executive chef.

His friends recall his willingness to share his skills and knowledge and his talent as a builder. Ken Schroeder, owner of the host railroad of the Northern Nevada Live Steamers, said, “Steam was in his blood, and if you needed to know anything he would always share. He was a great builder, he rarely used castings. He’d just machine what he wanted out of the solid.”

Steve Alley, owner of Allen Models of Nevada, said, “Cal was the man that got me started. When I walked in at the Northern Nevada Live Steamers he made it so easy to feel welcome. That was the key that drew me into what I have become.”

Sacramento Valley Live Steamers member Greg Lewis said, “He was more than a mentor. He was like a brother. His generosity with his time and knowledge was legendary.”

Long-time friend Roger Gash said, “We were lucky to know him. He was generous and sharing.”

Survivors include his wife of 52 years, Mignonne, and his brother, John.

Remembrances may be sent to the Sacramento Valley Live Steamers, the Golden Gate Live Steamers, or the Nevada State Railroad Museum for use or restoration of historical equipment.
Greg Lewis, Prop.
Eyeball Engineering — Home of non-interchangeable parts.
Our motto: "That looks about right."
Celebrating 30 years of turning perfectly good metal into bits of useless scrap.

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ccvstmr
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Re: Cal Tinkham

Post by ccvstmr » Mon Aug 20, 2018 11:42 pm

Greg...so sorry to hear the news of Cal's passing. Thank you for capturing Cal's "life and times" in your post. There was no doubt, Cal was a true gentlemen. Willing to take the time to share his knowledge and experience with anyone in need of information in many subject areas. His background spanned many types of work and skills, but like many railroaders...had more than a handful of stories to tell about his days working on the high iron.

Consider myself lucky to have known Cal and his wife, Mignonne...both lovely people. Used to get together with them during business travels to Reno. It was always a treat to listen to Cal spin a story and then some...as well as visit his backyard shop to see whatever creation was in the works. He was an excellent craftsman as evidences by his different types of models.

Find attached some pix from a visit to the Northern Nevada Live Steamers back in 2010...
IMG_9826.JPG
IMG_9857.JPG
IMG_9868.jpg
IMG_9850.JPG
IMG_9885.jpg
Cal, high greens to you. Thanks for the memories. Carl B.
Life is like a sewer...what you get out of it depends on what you put into it!
I don't walk on water...I just learned where some of the stepping stones are!
I love mankind...it's some of the people I can't stand!

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wbarbe
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Re: Cal Tinkham

Post by wbarbe » Tue Aug 21, 2018 7:38 am

I had the pleasure of meeting Cal at the Nevada State Railroad Museum and to see his fantastic engines. He was a great craftsman and a really nice guy.

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NP317
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Re: Cal Tinkham

Post by NP317 » Tue Aug 21, 2018 10:22 am

Sigh...
Sorry to hear this news of Cal's passing.
I had the pleasure of meeting him several times at Train Mountain, and seeing all the engines/cars shown in the photos above.
Close inspections revealed the accuracy and detail of his creations.
Cal: You will be missed.
~RussN.

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Greg_Lewis
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Re: Cal Tinkham

Post by Greg_Lewis » Tue Aug 21, 2018 9:24 pm

Thank you, gentlemen, for your kind thoughts. I'll print all this out and take it with me to the memorial service in Reno on the 29th. It was fitting that I wrote the above while sitting in a campground across the river from the Roaring Camp railroad, listening to the whistle of the Shay echo through the redwoods.
Greg Lewis, Prop.
Eyeball Engineering — Home of non-interchangeable parts.
Our motto: "That looks about right."
Celebrating 30 years of turning perfectly good metal into bits of useless scrap.

GORAN ROSEN
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Re: Cal Tinkham

Post by GORAN ROSEN » Wed Aug 22, 2018 10:48 am

I had the pleasure of meeting Cal at TM 2002, 2003 and 2006. He took us out around the track for raking needles during the working week as soon as we checked in for the first time. Cal was a very nice man and we imediately felt very welcome in his company.
At several occasions we accompanied him on trains being pulled by his Virginia & Truckee No. 26 and the Windsplitter.
Last time he showed me his latest construction as can be seen above, an impressive work although it was not ready at that moment.
Cal will be missed and we were lucky to have known him.
R.I.P.
Göran Rosén (and my buddy "Snake")

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