Policies and Guidelines

From time to time it is necessary that the SPCRR adopt official policies and guidelines. The current policies and guidelines are presented below with their date of adoption:

Collection Goals

Collection Organization

Guidelines for Archival Storage

Use Standards

Loans

Disposal

Ethics

Restoration Guidelines

Private Use of SPCRR Equipment and Tools Policy

Storing Private Equipment at Ardenwood Historic Farm Policy


SPCRR Collection Goals

The SPCRR is a nonprofit, historical preservation organization dedicated to conserving the products, the technology and the memory of the Carter Brothers, a 19th century railroad car builder, whose factory was located in Newark California.

The Carter Brothers were closely identified with California's "Narrow Gauge" movement, and most of their products were narrow gauge. Their shops, which originally were moved from job site to job site, ultimately located along the line of the South Pacific Coast Railroad in Newark. They produced approximately 5,000 wooden railroad cars between 1874 and 1902.

The SPCRR has modeled its Ardenwood railroad after the South Pacific Coast Railroad's branch which once connected Newark with the neighboring community of Centerville. This branch used horses as locomotives for it entire life (1881-1909). Horses provided motive power for many trains of the late 19th century, but little of technology or history of the small agrarian railroads has been preserved or interpreted by railroad museums.

To fulfill these interpretive goals the SPCRR has set the following collection goals and priorities:

  1. To collect railroad cars and other artifacts representing the entire range of equipment built by Carter Brothers.
  2. To collect railroad and other artifacts relating to the South Pacific Coast Railroad, owner of the Centerville Branch, andhost to the Carter Brother's shop.
  3. To collect other cars and artifacts built by other California builders, who were contemporary with and either were effected by or affected the Carters.
  4. To collect equipment and artifacts used other Northern California railroads.
  5. To collect equipment set appropriate to a horse drawn branch line as operated by our group.
  6. To collect other equipment from other areas or eras necessary to interpret our primary goal.
  7. To collect other artifacts, Railroad and non-railroad to set a historic context for our railroad.

(Updated January 9, 1994)

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Collection Organization

We maintain three overlapping organizational systems within our collection system. This system was developed by our organization to manage the collections of an operating railroad museum.

Our collection organization system is parts based. We try to identify and separately catalog all discrete components of an assembly. Each item (or in some cases group of identical items) is assigned an Archive number. This list of numbered artifacts, called the Archive list, is our primary inventory system. We do this for several reasons; first our collection is comprised of a great variety of items ranging from fragments and car parts to single books or photographs, to complete railroad cars, any system we choose had to be able to record all of these. Second many of our artifacts were badly deteriorated and require restoration; we needed a system capable of recording parts, which were replaced during restoration. Third, we wanted to be able to use our collection as a research tool, comparing parts from different sources to track both the similarities and the differences in the cars in our collection. Finally we developed our system so that a parts list could be generated for any car listing each part, what it is attached to, and what bolt(s) are used to attach it.

The second way we organize our collection is by use of the Collection system. We use collections as the way we acquire and record ownership and provenance. Groups of individual pieces, received from a single source, are accessioned into our collection as a block (a collection.) A file is maintained for each collection holding the ownership documents and any supporting historic information. The individual items are then cataloged into our database as resources permit, or in the case of large complex items such as cars as they disassembled and restored. Collections usually carry the name of the donor as the collection name.

The third was we organize the collection is by Gross Technological Artifacts. Our Archive list is parts based. This means that within that system a railroad car exists only as the sum of its catalogued parts, or as a collection name, but not as a single functional unit.

This weakness in the system is further complicated by restoration and even routine maintenance as original parts are removed either because of their deteriorated condition or because they don't match the era we are restoring the car to, or simply to prevent damage due to use. In these cases the original part is placed in protective storage and a replica replaces it on the car. Within this system a car would be found by a search based on its collection name. This search would produce a list of parts which would include: 1) original parts which are installed on of the car, 2) modern reproduction parts on the car, 3) historic (original) parts in storage, 4) and a collection of drawings, photos, field notes and other documents. It might include, 5) parts removed from this car, and used to restore another car in our collection. The list would not include parts on the carbody which have not (yet) been catalogued and therefore do not exist in the system, nor would it include historic parts from other collections we hold. In no way would this list of parts describe the car in question.

In response to this shortcoming we have developed a secondary system to record our collection called the Gross Technological Artifact (GTA) list. The GTA list includes major items such as railroad cars, wagons, locomotives or even major machine tools. To be listed as a GTA an item must have several attributes: It must be a collection of separately catalogable parts which have a single common identity as a unit, they must be useful primarily as that unit, and within our cataloging system they are a "home" location for catalogued parts.

This list also allows us to capture replica equipment, which while not historic in and of itself (i.e. not old) holds value to our group for its historic appearance, as well as its operational value. Additionally these replica cars incorporate some historic parts in their construction, and therefore are a location for catalogued parts.

We maintain the GTA list as a separate database within and linked to our existing database. In addition to the linked computerized list we expect to keep files for each GTA holding maintenance and historic records. Further each GTA will be the subject of a restoration report explaining decisions and assumptions relating to the object's restoration or construction.

 (Updated February 27, 1999)

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Guidelines for Archival storage

Identifiable historic materials will be preserved, catalogued and protected.
All historic items will be given a unique accession number when entered (cataloged) into the collection; their location, loan or other use will be tracked by this number.
The process of cataloging an item into the archive will include entering information about the item into a database. The format and description of each item of data is described in the attached database dictionary.
Physically, the SPCRR's historic items are stored in several locations. The inventory makes it clear where each is stored, and how many duplicate items are included under a single accession number. The refrigerator car in the park's corporation yard, and a shipping container located in the rear parking lot contain most of the loose material.
Catalogued items are tagged. If there are duplicates normally only one of the group may bear a tag. The tag contains the accession number that correlates with the computerized archive list.
From time to time historic parts are removed from storage to be used in restoration projects, where painted and as part of a car they will no longer have tags, but they are still to be treated as sources of historical information. Tracking these items and safeguarding them is crucial to the long-term goals of the organization and to the individual projects, for a part may be one of a kind and may be called on to answer questions that arise later.
It is the responsibility of the curator to maintain and update the database and to provide a current copy to the board of directors. One of the board shall act as a custodian's custodian, holding a copy of the inventory list and acting as an overseer to the security of all items in the collection. This board member and the curator should jointly conduct inventories of portions of the collection itself, reconciling the physical collection with the list.
A portion of the collection is especially fragile rare or valuable. This includes items such as photographs, original documents, but also can include entire railroad cars. These items will be treated to the same inventory controls as other items, but are far more vulnerable. Thes items will be designated as special collections, and will be subject to additional handling controls. In the case of a railroad car this may consist of use limitations, in the case of photos or documents this may include special storage, as well as controls over access.
Numerous individuals have an interest in this material from a research standpoint, and should have access. To facilitate both access and security a uniform checkout/use policy should be followed under the supervision of the curator. The collection can and should function as a library, with the database serving as both the card catalog and as a research tool itself since it can be scanned like "list all parts from Westside Lumber" or finding all variations of a single part.

(Updated November 18, 1994)

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Use Standards

 

There are four categories for use and use restrictions:

Special Collections: These are items, either individual or GTA's which either because of their special historical significance and or their deteriorated or fragile condition require special care and limited use. These items are only to be used under direct supervision of the curator or designate.
General Collection: This is the bulk of the collection. These are the historic items which make up the collection. These items are available for appropriate use within the rules published by the curator. These items must be respected for their historic value. They must not be exposed to consumptive use.
Utility: These are items which may be used or consumed with out regard to their historic value, but which still hold value to the group for interpretive or general use.
Disposable: Items for which the group must account for, but are either surplus to our historic needs, or of modern non-historic origin. These items may be sold or traded to other groups, or consumed during historic reenactments. This category also includes items of specific non-historic origin, such as computers or modern power tools which the group wants to inventory due to their value.

(Updated March 15, 1997)

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 Loans

As a historic museum and a member of the railroad preservation community, the SPCRR recognizes the necessity and desirability of lending objects, documents, and materials from its collection to other institutions and individuals, and of being able to borrow similar materials from outside sources.

I. Loans to other groups:

Loans may be made to other groups or institutions or on occasion, individuals, if the public purpose of the museum is furthered by the loan. As appropriate, the curator or the board of directors will act on loan requests. Requests will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  1. Availability of the object for the term of the request.
  2. Duration of the loan. Loan terms longer than three months require approval of the board of directors.
  3. Furtherance of the mission of the museum.
  4. Conditions under which the item will be used and stored.
  5. Under SPCRR usage restrictions Special collection items may only be loaned with board of director approval.

II. Loans to the museum:

  1. The criteria for accepting loans will be the same as those for accepting items into the collection.
  2. Objects, documents, and materials on loan to the museum will be administered and maintained with a level of care equal to or better than that given the museum's own collection.
  3. Materials on loan to the museum will be available for use in exhibits, operation, or research purposes unless otherwise restricted by the loan agreement.
  4. Unless insured, items loaned to the museum are accepted by the museum at the owner's risk.
  5. Termination of the loan, unless otherwise specified in the loan agreement loan may be terminated by ether party on 30 days notice
  6. Loans of major items which would qualify for the GTA list require board approval.
  7. For administrative reasons, items on loan may be assigned Archive numbers. In this case, assignment of an Archive number does in no way indicate ownership of the object by the SPCRR.
  8. Leased items will be treated as loaned items within the collection system.

(Updated February 27, 1999)

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Disposal

From time to time it is appropriate to remove items from our collection due to changing goals, because a better piece has been added to the collection, or simply due to housekeeping, (i.e. removing items which never should have been in the collection.) There are two ways an item may be removed from the collection.

If an item has a use code "disposable", then the item may be disposed of at any time by the curator or his designate without review. Normally the item will not be sold for less than the "unit cost" listed on the inventory. Any money received for an item will be turned over to the treasurer.

The second method is used for an item with any other use code. First the curator will present a list of items to be de-accessioned to the board of directors for approval. The board will then approve or disapprove the list and may place restrictions on how the items may be disposed of.

When disposing of items of historic value, then the curator and the board of directors should first give consideration to other museums. The board of directors must notify the donor of the item if appropriate.

All proceeds received from the sale of collection items must only be used for collection related activities.

Loan and or Lease agreements supersede disposal rules.

(Updated February 27, 1999)

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Ethics

As a non-profit educational and cultural institution, the museum must adhere to the highest professional ethical standards in the fields of history and museum management.

Staff, directors, or volunteers are prohibited from using any collection object for purposes other than for official activities of the museum.
The museum's collection should be used and represented objectively and honestly, in accordance with the best available scholarship and historical accuracy.
No staff member or participating volunteer may compete with the museum in any personal collecting activity. The museum shall have the right to acquire any item purchased or collected by the staff at the price paid by the staff member, if the item falls within the museum's collecting criteria. Objects acquired through bequests or as personal gifts are exempt from the museum's "right to acquire." In cases of disagreement over these provisions, the board of directors' decision shall be final.
No staff member or volunteer may use his or her affiliation to promote personal collecting activities.
Collection documentation, including all interpretive material, is the property of the museum if it was gathered during the course of museum activities.
When considering an item for possible disposal, the curatorial staff and the board of directors must deliberate openly and objectively on the impact of the decision on both the item and the museum and its constituencies. At no time should such an action place a rare or historically significant item in jeopardy.
Any proceeds received from the disposal of a collection item must be reserved for the benefit of the collection.
When referring someone to an outside supplier of services, a list of at least two qualified sources should be provided so no appearance of favoritism is created.

(Updated February 27, 1999)

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Restoration Guidelines

Our Restoration Philosophy and guidelines are under development. They consist of two parts, a philosophy of restoration, and a set of guidelines to be considered during the course of a restoration, to guide the many decisions which must be made. This philosophy and guidelines have not been formally adopted by the SPCRR.

 

Our Restoration Philosophy

  1. We are preservation organization, and preserving the artifact comes ahead of all else.
  2. The process of restoration is as important as the product
  1. Restoration as interpretation.
  2. Preserving skills and knowledge is as important as preserving artifacts.
  1. All restoration decisions are based on research. All restorations must be fully documented. Each restoration will be documented in a Restoration Report.
  2. Equipment is restored to operate if possible... but we may chose not to.
  3. Restoration is not a stand-alone activity.
  4. All members must understand that a policy exists.

The following are questions we need to ask, and concepts which we need to use. (But they are not by themselves a restoration Philosophy)

  1. Do it like the Railroad did it, and its corollary, You can't do it like the Railroad, they already scrapped it!
  2. The four R's, repair, restoration, rebuilding, replication along with the non-R, Conservation.
  3. Understanding the device.
  4. Identifying a target year,
  1. Removing updates (what is your target year, justify the decision)
  2. These are complex technological artifacts
  3. You do not have to take it back all the way, or you may chose not to remove updates
  4. Restoration target decisions may not be rational.
  1. Let the artifact be what it wants to be.
  2. Replacing missing parts. (How do you decide what to use, documenting your decisions)
  3. Saving and cataloging removed material.
  4. Now that you have restored it what are you going to do with it?
  1. Use controls.
  2. The interpretive message(s) (This never stops changing.)
  1. The research never ends.

(February 27, 1999)

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POLICY FOR PRIVATE USE OF SPCRR EQUIPMENT AND TOOLS


The purpose of this policy is to establish rules for the private use of SPCRR equipment and tools including but not limited to hand and power tools, trailers, and mowers.

Policy It is the policy of SPCRR that the private use of SPCRR equipment and tools including but not limited to trailers, mowers, and hand and power tools is hereby prohibited. If a tool is taken out of service for repairs, email the SPCRR Yahoo Members List of the situation with, if known, a date when the tool will be returned. Once the tool has been repaired, email the SPCRR Yahoo Members with the updated information.

(November 29, 2016)
PDF version here

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POLICY FOR STORING PRIVATE EQUIPMENT AT ARDENWOOD HISTORIC FARM

The purpose of this policy is to establish rules for the storing of privately-owned equipment within the SPCRR Car Barn, on the outside yard tracks, or elsewhere within the Park.

Policy It is the policy of SPCRR that no private equipment, materials, or property be stored within the Car Barn, on any SPCRR track, any other SPCRR facility except for equipment brought to the Park for Rail Fair and other special events unless such equipment is covered by a long term lease agreement approved by the SPCRR Board of Directors. Equipment brought to the Park for such events shall not be transported into Ardenwood Historic Farm earlier than two (2) weeks prior to such events, and shall be transported out of Ardenwood Historic Farm within two (2) weeks after the conclusion of that event. Any extensions before or after an event must be in writing.
(November 29, 2016)
PDF version here

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