Jelani Hall’s Nomination for the 2016 What’s in your box? Giveaway

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Turn Wright Machine Works, my name is Keith,….. cut, redo. Take two.

Hello Keith, This is my nomination video for the Turn Wright Machine Works 2016 Toolbox giveaway. My name is Dave Fontes, and I would like to nominate Jelani Hall of Santa Rosa, Ca.

Per the guidelines, here is a little about Me,

My name is Dave Fontes, and I live in Rohnert Park, Ca, about 45 miles north of San Francisco.

By trade, I am a Heavy Duty Equipment mechanic / operator. I work on barge cranes, crawler cranes, truck cranes, excavators, dozers, and heavy duty trucks. The company I work for does marine dredging, marine and land based pile driving, and wetland restoration projects. I have mills and lathes at work that I use at times to make parts and repairs on equipment.

My hobby for the last 20 years has been 2 -1/2″ scale, 7-1/2″ gauge ride on steam trains. I have built one 1,200 lbs live steam locomotive, one 450 lbs battery powered diesel locomotive, and a number of rail cars. I have two more steam locomotives in the works. I own a Bridgeport mill, a Grizzly bench top mill, a 6″ Clausing lathe, and a 19″ LeBlond lathe at the shop at work.

I am one of the founding members of the Redwood Empire Live Steamers, and Interpretive Museum of Santa Rosa, Ca, and I serve as the Track Superintendent.

Enough about Me.

One of the junior members of the Redwood Empire Live Steamers, is 15 year old Jelani Hall. Jelani has been a member since he was 11, and is always helping the Railroad museum on workdays and rundays. He is learning the art a running a live steam locomotive, and can operate the gas/hydraulic diesel locomotive. He is also active in his church, and other museums in the area. Although He is a sophomore in high school, he is currently taking a Machine tool class at the local junior college.

One of the older members of RELS, had started a electric locomotive project, and due to health reasons he was unable to finish the project. He decided to donate the project to Jelani, and within a year, he had the locomotive running on the rails.

Recently I was at Jelani’s “shop”, which is his grandmother’s two car garage. We were setting up a pair of roll around locomotive stands to replace his 2x4s and haydite block island that was his locomotive stand. As I was moving things around I took inventory of his machinist tools. He has one electric hand drill, a box of dull drill bits, a framing square, a tri square, a claw hammer, and tape measure. Not much in the way of “machinist” tools.

Jelani would like to build a small 0-4-0 steam locomotive, and he has the drive and the ambition to do it, but He does not have the means… yet. Myself, and others, are on the lookout for a 6″ bench top lathe, and a bench top mill that would get him on his way to being a machinist vs a carpenter, no offence to carpenters. I think a toolbox with a nice assortment of machinist tools could help Jelani realize his dreams, start a career, and build a live steam engine to preserve the history, and the art of steam locomotives in small scale.

Jelani is one of the most helpful, and well mannered young man I have known. He is always there to give a hand. You could not get a swear word out of him, even if you smashed one of his fingers with a ball peen hammer. I hope that the “Tool Box” giveaway can help give back to a young man always giving.


Keith, I would like to personally thank you for all of your time a effort you have put into this great project. This has to be one of the biggest steps for a beginning machinist. Having the tools to “Getter Done”. I know I struggled for years trying to gather the right kinds of tools I needed to achieve my goals.

Again, Thank You,

Dave Fontes.

Jelani Hall operating Dave Fontes’ 2-1/2″ scale 4-6-0 live steam locomotive.

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