At the moment Jacob is the only apprentice volunteer on the El Dorado Western Railway. He comes to the engine house every other Saturday to help the crew restore the Diamond and Caldor No. 4 Shay locomotive and other El Dorado County railroad artifacts.
And in the process, he learns a few skills that will help him throughout his life here on earth.
Since I don't work in the trades, Jacob's visits to the engine house give him an opportunity to acquire essential skills. This’ll give him a head start when he takes an ROP class at his high school next school year.
Unlike earlier generations (myself included), boys today don’t take as many shop classes in junior and senior high school. Although I've spend most of my career working as a cook and chef, the wood and metal shop classes that I took in the 1960s have helped me along the way.
"You check it again because it's easier to check than fix," said Keith Berry, a close friend and president of the railway.
Jacob has spent the morning assisting Keith measure and cut the pieces for the battery box to the Diamond and Caldor Railbus No. 10. Once cut, another volunteer will fabricate the box.
Keith shows Jacob how much pressure to apply to the chop saw as he cuts a piece for the coupler pocket on the railbus. He is also learning how to use a powerful tool wisely and safely.
Jacob cleans the edges on the piece of tubing for the coupler pocket. This ensures a clean surface when the welder welds the piece in. And it gives Jacob a chance to learn how to control and use the grinder.