Gadsden-Pacific Division Toy Train Operating Museum Logo


Tucson, Arizona


Toy Train Museum Tunnel


Toy Train Museum Tunnel



Large Scale Railroad
Construction Progress 2018

Help Wanted

Work sessions are on Saturday mornings usually around 8:00am.
Come down and help build a railroad!

For more information, or to volunteer, contact Jeff Swanson (cell #) 520-310-1392

[Large Scale Railroad info...] 

Planned for December 29, 2018

What a weekend - last weekend. In an effort to reduce wheel squeal and thus rail wear, last Saturday I decided to experiment using gear oil to lube the inside of the rail heads on the curved sections of track. I’ve lost count of how many mistakes I made during this effort, but here’s a partial list for digestion:

  1. 85W/140 was the gear oil used. The oil, somewhat yellow in appearance, has a consistency similar to honey and it is tacky to the feel. My initial thinking was that it would adhere well to the side of the rail head. This may be true but this is where the “wheels began to fall off”.

  2. The oil was applied to the side of the rail head using a 3” paint roller attached to a 4’ long extension pole. Using the extension pole eliminated the need to bend over which at my age is a good thing. But applying the oil in this manner probably left a some of the oil near or on the top of the rail head.

  3. The oil was applied to the first 30’ to 35’ of both the inside of the outer rail and the outside of the inner rail on each of the 4 curved sections of track.

  4. The entire train (all of the cars connected) was run around the track about a half dozen times to see if the wheel squeal was reduced. Success! One the first circuit, the wheel squeal was nearly totally gone. Wheel squeal totally disappeared on the second circuit. But after several laps, traction and braking capability also disappeared. With only one passenger loaded at the end of the consist, the train stalled on the nearly indiscernible uphill grade in the S curve with the engines wheels spinning freely. I climbed off the train and pushed it to the top of the grade near the drive entrance and then rode it back into the station. When I shut the throttle down to stop, the train continued to slide through the turnout and ½ way down the straight section behind the building. Slicker than owl poop is my best description for the top of the rails!

  5. The rail was 100% covered with a thin, black, gooey layer of lube. What a disaster! There was no option other than to clean 710 feet of mainline track by hand and then clean all of the wheels on the cars and engine. Dejected, I went home to ponder the problem. It was a certainty that we couldn’t run the train on Sunday, but the top of the track still had to be cleaned. Otherwise, kids would walk on it with the greasy film getting on the bottoms of their shoes and then having it get tracked onto the brick walkway, sidewalks, the Museum interior or even to their homes when they left.

Sunday morning, I began the arduous task of using gasoline to cut the grease and paper towel and rags to clean the rail head all the way around the layout began. Brian Scott came down and helped with the process. This 2-man job took us to about 3 pm. Experience is a great teacher. Maybe the idea had merit, but not the way I did it. Next time we experiment with rail lubrication, it will not be on the day before Open House.


  1. When we have the next scheduled work session, a week from this Saturday, we can again experiment using lubricant on the side of the rail head, but this time, we’ll use marine grease rather than oil.

  2. The grease will only be applied to the inside of the outside rail using paper towel or some other method to prevent getting grease on the top of the rail head. The grease will only be applied to the inside of the outside rail.

  3. The grease will only be applied to the first 5’ of rail leading into the curve section rather than half of the curve section.

  4. The results will be carefully evaluated after we grease only one of the curve sections before deciding to apply grease elsewhere on the Layout.


  1. Learn to live with wheel squeal, issue ear protection, and figure on replacing the rail when both sides are worn out (probably every 15 years or so).

This Sunday is the last Open House for 2018. With Christmas just around the corner (less than one week away), on behalf of our Chairman, Jesse Miller and myself, I want to thank everyone who helped out this year with our railroad. Without your help, we would simply not be unable to continue operation.

I’m not sure what the coming year holds for our group as our numbers have dwindled, but I’m hopeful we can turn this around and find new member volunteers to help out with maintenance and construction of the railroad.

Happy Holidays to everyone. Here’s hoping everyone has a safe and prosperous New Year.

December 8, 2018 (Polar Express)

Wow! That was one intense weekend . . .

All day Saturday was spent setting up lights, displays, decorations, etc and getting the train ready to run in preparation for the Polar Express Event. At 5:00 pm, over 100 people were lined up along the fence waiting for the event to begin. I was able to get a quick picture of the moment before the gates opened and the evening’s events began.

Even though we were shorthanded, we were able to get things started, but as quickly as we began, disaster struck. The 1st turnout coming out of the station went significantly out of gauge due to bad ties and loose screws. The train derailed there twice and so we decided to re-route the train to the outside loop. We haven’t run on the outside loop for several months so it was a risk. The first train through derailed on the outside loop. So we suspended the runs for 30 minutes while the three man crew jumped on turnout and re-gauged the track by resetting screws into fresh sections of the existing wood ties. The quick fix worked but it is only a temporary fix as concrete ties are desperately needed under that turnout ASAP. With nightfall upon us, the Christmas lights began to take full effect making the train ride a very special experience. Passengers delighted as they passed through the curved tunnel section that was planned and constructed by Glenn Ellis. But with nightfall, the dew point dropped and all of a sudden we had condensation forming on every horizontal surface of the railroad. The track became wet, the seats on the cars were wet, the dampness and cold temperatures seemed to completely change the operating characteristics of the railroad. Now, we were derailing on the long curve coming out of the caboose enclosure. Every run, we derailed so we made the difficult decision to suspend the train rides for the rest of the evening until the track could be evaluated in daylight the next morning.

So, why did we start having problems on Saturday night and not before. Well, the problems are not new – they’ve been with us for quite some time. The biggest problem is that we don’t have enough volunteers to stay on top of the track maintenance issues. Those volunteers that we do have do the best that they can, but we need a lot more help to get things back to where they need to be. The three volunteers we did have agreed to come early Sunday morning and see if the track issues on the curved section out of the caboose could be corrected in time to run for the Open House. What was concluded was that the inside rail head of the outside rail on that curved section needed to be reversed (turned around) putting the worn rail head toward the outside. This should have been done when we installed the concrete ties on that curved section a couple years ago but it wasn’t. So, beginning early Sunday morning, John Roads, Tony Kanavage & Burt Wright began to remove the outside rail. This required removing all of the hex screws & washers from the outside of the rail and loosening those on the inside. We pulled the rail joiners and removed 5 sections of the rail. Then, one section at a time we turned the rail 180 degrees and re-installed it using all of the rail gauges Raymond McDaniel made for us. Photo credits to Tony Kanavage & John Roads.


So how badly worn was the inside of the rail head you might ask? The picture below shows the worn side (left) and the new surface (right). Although we had run the train the previous Sunday during Open House without any incident, it is our opinion that the cold temperatures plus the significant condensation coupled with the very rough surface of the side of the rail head all contributed to the derailment problem. MLS has gone to using steel rail on their outside curves but the steel chews up the wheels on the engines and cars. Rail replacement, especially where concrete ties are in place, is easier and probably less expensive than wheel replacements. When we ultimately replace this rail, it’s replacement cost in today’s dollars is still less than $1 per foot. Steel rail costs double what aluminum rail costs. There is a total of about 325’ of outside curved rail on the layout. We reversed well over 90’ on Sunday morning. Machined replacement wheels for our cars cost about $25 each. Assuming we replaced only the outside wheels on the 6 ride-on cars (4 per car) that we use, that would be $600 for 24 wheels (not including the engine). Then, there’s the process of pressing off and on the new wheels and re-assembly of the trucks which would be a lot of work too. We can have more discussion about the pros/cons of rail replacement when it becomes necessary to actually replace the rail.

Work continued on this section all morning long. After Saturday’s effort, these guys deserve some respect – maybe even a little bit of understanding if they seem to be stressed out a bit. Yeah, we did get overtime pay for this effort (let’s see, time and a half @ $ 00.00 = ???).

At the end of the morning, the work was completed and test runs conducted. It was slightly after noon. The crew desperately needed a break and food as no one had eaten since Saturday. We decided to go to lunch instead of starting the public rides at 12:30. This decision didn’t set well with some, but it was a much needed break to allow us to function in the afternoon.

We began public rides at the Museum around 2:00 pm and continued to 4:30 giving rides to well over 100 people. We learned a lot about our track during the event and also about the problems associated with inadequate staffing. We’ve got to correct this problem during the upcoming year or we’ll have to re-evaluate the policy of giving rides to the public.

As a footnote to today’s message, yesterday the battery in Big Joe was replaced so items in the 20’ container may now be moved in and out.

This Sunday is another Open House (4th one in a row). We need volunteers to help out.

Last, but not least, a suggestion was offered to install miniature flange oilers similar to those used by real railroads to reduce the wear to the outside rail heads on curved sections of track. For those of you with engineering minds that might have an idea of how to do this, please throw your ideas out on the table.

Planned for December 8, 2018

Tis the season for what seems to be everything. I have to admit, there is just way too much going on and it has become somewhat overwhelming. So when the going gets tough, the tough get sick. As of last Saturday, it had been 5 days that I had spent convalescing at home from what the doctor told me was a viral infection. I decided to go to the Museum last Saturday morning and I was pleasantly surprised to see Glenn Ellis, Jurgen Zander, and Will McGeary installing the lighted display tunnel on the 7-1/2” gauge RR. I decided to pitch in although there wasn’t much I was able to contribute other than take pictures as I was still under the weather. Glenn Ellis and Jurgen Zander had dreamt up this method to create the tunnel using PVC pipe, oversized tees and crosses, and ½” rebar stakes. Glenn used great aim to drive 20 rebar stakes without hitting anything but the stakes (I’m sure Jurgen appreciated that!).

Bending the structure around the 40’ radii required some engineering plus some trial and error, but ultimately, the plan worked well.

There are three horizontal runs; one at the top and the other two will be slid up to about 2:00 o’clock and 10:00 o’clock to support the plastic and lights. The fittings actually slide on the PVC bents as they were 1” fittings on ¾” PVC. Screws were installed to hold things in position.

After completing the structure for the tunnel, Glenn & Jurgen then turned their attention to fixing the water feature in the G-gauge layout. Apparently the submersible pump gave up the ghost and had to be replaced. Of course, getting to the pump isn’t real easy and a bunch of rock removal had to precede getting into the barrel where the pump resides. This work occurred later in the morning so it had warmed up making it a little more pleasant. Jurgen Zander climbed into the display to disconnect the electrical so the pump could be removed.

Glenn Ellis had a replacement pump, but it’s size didn’t match up with the existing. So, the project got put on hold until the following morning so a correct replacement could be secured.

The group went to lunch & I went home to bed – the next day (Open House) I was too sick to come down. I hope to return to action tonight at the Museum for the Wednesday night work session.

The Polar Express “Special Event” is this coming Saturday beginning at 5:00 pm. Saturday has been designated as the setup day for the event. There is a huge amount of stuff that needs to be done – especially outside with decorations and lights. Please come down & help out if you can. The event will start just before sunset at about 5:00 pm and will end around 9:00 pm. Depending upon crowds, the train rides may be single or double lappers – we’ll make that decision as the crowds arrive. The train will also need to get decorated. Battery powered lights have been obtained for the train.

And then, Sunday will be an Open House and help is always needed for that.

November 18, 2018

With Open Houses scheduled for the next 4 Sundays in a row and the special event “Polar Express” scheduled for Saturday, December 8th, we will not schedule any further work sessions until after Christmas unless an emergency repair demands that we have a work session. As you are probably already aware, there was no work session scheduled last weekend either. You actually have to go back to Sunday, November 18th to see the work that was completed during the last work session.

At the last work session, the crew (made up of Jesse Miller, Paul Kruppenbacher, Glenn Ellis, Will McGeary, and yours truly were able to finish the replacement of the wood ties with concrete for the turnout near the meeting room exit door. We used the train again to transport all the materials (1/4 minus and concrete ties). continued placement of the ties in a zippered fashion. The first task was to pull out the remaining rock ballast and then remove the screws from the wood ties.

We pulled rock ballast out well past the beginning of the turnout with intention that we would finish setting all of the concrete ties under the turnout.

Then we went back and predrilled holes where we needed to set concrete screws where there were no pre-placed inserts available – namely at the frog.

We finished the project successfully, by replacing the rock ballast, put away the tools, admired the finished project and then and retired to our favorite watering hole down the road.

Although this Sunday’s weather may be iffy as rain is predicted, it certainly will be cool enough to have a good day of running. If it is raining, obviously we won’t be. Check the weather in the morning and come help out on Sunday if you can. We’ve been having trouble getting enough people to run the train.

Planned for November 17, 2018

There will be a scheduled work session this Saturday at the Museum beginning at 8:00 am. This is 30 minutes later for those of you wanting that extra 30 minutes of sleep. Coffee & donuts will be available so come on down and join the fun.

This work session will focus on concrete tie installation again as we only were able to complete about one half of the ties on the turnout leading to the siding adjacent to the backside of the Museum. We need to complete that installation on the turnout so that we can evaluate the technique that we’ve chosen which involves installing the ties in a zippered fashion. Will McGeary joined Paul Kruppenbacher to begin this test installation last week. Using the train has been really helpful to haul ties and ¼ minus to where we need to have it not to mention making it more fun.

Like everything else on the railroad, there’s always a little bit of a learning curve and this process is no exception. I hope we’ll be able to complete the turnout this Saturday.

Last weekend, another train show came and went. I want to thank all of the committee members who gave up some of their time to help out with the set up and take down of the tables. It went relatively well as we were totally set up by 9:40 am. The show was pretty well attended and there were 180 vendor tables set up. By Saturday afternoon, everyone I saw was pretty tired and ready for a shower and an easy chair. Sunday, we were back to the Museum for Open House. Burt Wright quickly installed the guide for the turntable locking pin handle so that the turntable could be used.

With help from Ivan English at the gate, we were able to run the train. Will McGeary, our newest certified Engineer, took control of the throttle of the Museum’s Alco S4 and ran the public train for the entire afternoon. Thanks to Will for the great job and also to John Roads for serving as Conductor, you make a lot of kids very happy with great train rides.

At the end of the day, we got out the Doepke Yardbird that was donated to the Museum some time ago and put it on the track.

Will McGeary took the hand pedal car for a ride on our track and soon we saw some young visitors at the helm as well.

As the ad taken from a 1956 magazine suggests, the car is slightly less than 3’ long. Will was folded up quite a bit to use it. It sort of made me wish I was 5 years old again – naw.

Planned for November 3, 2018

There will be a scheduled work session this Saturday at the Museum beginning at 7:30 am.  As usual, coffee will be available.  On the work agenda will be two possible items depending on how many people come down.  We have had discussion at the Museum on how we were going to adapt the concrete ties into the turnouts.  The initial though was to cast up varied lengths of ties to replace the varied length of wood ties.  This would probably require that the inserts for the ties would need to be drilled and set rather than pre-installed as the turnouts are not standardized and lengths and position of ties vary with each turnout.  Concern about drilling into the ties causing them to crack or spall makes this option “iffy”.  Since we spread the ties spacing to 8” O.C. using concrete ties, it was suggested that we install the standard concrete ties in a zippered fashion, staggering them as they come together into the turnout.  Like so many other things we have done, probably the best way to evaluate this is to try it on one of the two turnouts located in the siding next to the building rather than the main line.  If the results are positive, we’ll apply the technique onto the mainline turnouts

The second work session agenda item will be to evaluate the Big Joe replacement.

Planned for October 20, 2018

There will be a scheduled work session this Saturday beginning at 7:30 am.  The work agenda will include placement of ¼ minus inside the engine shed as well as around the outside of the shed next to the exterior walls.  Preceding the placement of the ¼ minus outside the shed with be a little bit of raking to level the grades and assure good drainage. 

With the completion of the engine house, including the rodent barriers that were installed a week ago, we can now begin planning the Big Joe replacement.  Thus, we will begin discussing and developing a strategy for the replacement of the old YELLOW Big Joe with the replacement BLUE Big Joe. 

As usual, at the end of the calendar year, we need to decide who should serve as chairman for the 7-1/2” gauge committee.  It’s also time to begin thinking about developing our 2019 budget.

Although last weekend there wasn’t a scheduled work session, as usual some of our members came to the Museum with the hope that something could be worked on.  The effort was reduced to sitting out on the front porch of the Museum and watching the light but steady rain for several hours.  That rain continued on and off during the day and then started again during the night.  With nearly 3” of rain falling at the Museum from Friday thru Saturday night, the ground softened significantly and ponding water was still standing Sunday during the Museum’s Open House.  The rains and soft, muddy conditions prompted us to cancel the public operation during the Open House to prevent any issues from occurring on the track.

Planned for October 13, 2018

IMPORTANT: First of all, if you are a Regular Member (voting member) of the GPD Museum and have received a ballot in the mail, please talk with someone who attended the last General Membership meeting (last Friday) regarding members who might be willing to serve on the Board and also the proposed Bylaw revisions before you vote and mail in your ballot. Better yet, attend the Board Meeting a week from this Wednesday (October 17th) as there could be significant relevant discussion pertaining to the proposed Bylaw revisions. You will still have time to mail in your ballot after the Board Meeting.

There is a scheduled OPEN HOUSE this Sunday and the temperatures should be very acceptable for running the train during the Open House. We might have some more rain in the forecast but I’m not predicting that. We’ll know more toward the end of the week.

Because of the Open House, there won’t be a scheduled work session this Saturday. But please, we could need all hands on deck for Sunday’s Open House.

Last Saturday, we completed the installation of the extruded steel barriers that filled the spaces at the bottom of the Engine House walls. We had a lot of help from the outdoor G-gauge group who share the engine house with us. We used the Museum train again to haul the heavy stuff bringing 13 (80 pound) bags of premix concrete right up to the engine house using one of the gondolas.

From there, the bags were pulled into a wheel barrow and expertly mixed to proper consistency.

The concrete was placed into the trenches using the square point shovel and pushed up to the bottom of the extruded metal screens.

Once the concrete set up a little bit, Jurgen Zander and Glenn Ellis applied their finishing skills to create a continuous connection to the screen to prevent unwanted rodent entrance.

Everyone seems to agree that we “think” we’ve created an adequate barrier. Time will tell. Tony Kanavage smoothed out the dirt on the backside of the shed giving it a better appearance and also making it a bit easier to apply the finished touch. (Tony, your foot appears dislocated – how did you do that? The picture below is hard to look at?!?

The weather Saturday was awesome (finally) and we entertained another birthday party with train rides. Jurgen Zander helped out as conductor for the train rides. Here’s a short video of the train ride that someone posted to Facebook:

Thank you Glenn Ellis, Jurgen Zander, Paul Kruppenbacher, Tony Kanavage, Roger Phillips and Charlie Rigney for helping out last weekend.

Planned for October 6, 2018

Finally, the weather this Saturday should be great. Temps should top out in the low 80’s and it might even be cloudy. It won’t matter since most of our work will be in the shade. We are scheduling a work session Saturday because there is no Open House this weekend. The work session is scheduled to begin at 7:30 am.

The agenda for the work session will be completing the installation of the extruded metal screens along the bottom of the engine house to keep rodents out. If we get enough help, we should also be able to also set concrete at the bottom of the extruded metal screens.

Last Saturday morning, we had a better turnout as Glenn Ellis, John Roads, and Paul Kruppenbacher joined Burt Wright and as a result, we got quite a bit of work completed. Shallow trenches were dug along the bottom of the shed that will be poured with concrete to hold the bottom of the extruded metal screens in place. All of the trenches got dug and two of the eight screen sections got installed. Luckily, we didn’t encounter as much caliche in the trenches, but that didn’t make the digging easy.

The last 6 screen sections will get installed this Saturday and hopefully we will be able to begin placing the concrete. Since the concrete will ultimately get covered with ¼ minus and some ballast, neatness with the concrete pour will not be critical.

The extruded screen panels fit snugly with virtually no gaps which should control the rodent problems inside. The 8 sections of extruded metal and 1½” angle iron had been precut with holes drilled using dimensions measured by Jesse Miller & Burt Wright a couple months ago. Jacob Payne made short work of welding the extruded metal to the angle iron on Friday afternoon before the work session. The first two sections fit perfectly which was a huge relief. Hopefully, the rest will also fit correctly this Saturday. After the concrete is poured, we’ll need to touch up the exterior stain at the bottom of the siding. Then we will need to continue to monitor the shed after we complete the enclosure to make sure the pack rats don’t get in. They can do a lot of damage to the equipment we intend to store inside.

At 9:30 am, with the heat beginning to close in, we called it a morning. A large Birthday Party arrived at the Museum, so we got the train out and provided rides for all of the kids. By 11:00, we were done and all retired to our favorite watering hole for lunch, etc.

Looking forward to seeing you at the Museum Saturday morning at 7:30.

PS: Don’t forget this Friday’s General Membership meeting beginning at 7:00 pm at the Museum.

PPS: A reminder notice to get re-certified as an Engineer for calendar year 2019 was sent out to committee members who were certified for calendar year 2018. If you are not currently certified as an Engineer and wish to become certified, please contact either Jesse Miller ( or Burt Wright ( to obtain information (including the on-line test link) on how to become certified. Per the Operational Rules, Regulations, and Guidelines (GPD Policy #11), you must be a certified engineer to operate any train on the GPD 7-1/2” gauge layout. There is no cost to become certified and the testing is “open book”.

Planned for September 29, 2018

There will be a scheduled work session this Saturday morning beginning at 7:30 am. This is 30 minutes later than the last few work sessions. On the work agenda will be installation of the extruded metal fill pieces at the bottom of the engine shed walls to prevent rodents from getting inside. This is critical as we know that pack rats began making a nest inside our GPD engine when we parked it inside the shed two weeks ago. Until we correct this problem, the engine will be parked in the 20’ container. This will delay our Big Joe transfer table replacement project. We have 3 weeks between Open Houses from last Sunday until the next Open House, so we should be able to get this project knocked out during the next few weeks.

When the engine shed was built, it was built as a pole building rather than having a conventional style of foundation with bearing walls. The reason was to eliminate any potential issues related to possible flooding. We extended the exterior wall siding down to about 4” above finished grade with the gap open thus allow free passage of water if we ever have a serious storm water event. The gap also invites small rodents, such as pack rats, to easily enter and exit the shed. The gap was intended to be filled with sheets of extruded metal to address this problem, but we never got around to it. We, now we have to get around to it. 6” wide by 6’-0” long pieces of extruded metal have been cut and will be welded to 6’ long pieces of angle iron. These pieces will then be bolted to the underside of the bottom 2x4 plates that support the exterior wall sheathing. A 4” to 6” deep narrow footing will be dug into the ground with the intent to secure the extruded metal at the bottom and discourage rodents from digging under the barrier.

Crushed rock ballast will then be placed over the concrete to improve the appearance. So, this Saturday will be the beginning of this process.

Last Saturday, Tony Kanavage & Burt Wright installed the 2nd track from the turntable to the engine house completing the track connections. This section is a little bit unique as it had to incorporate a gentle curve before heading straight into the shed. First, we placed straight rail into the head wall mount and raked in ¼ minus to provide a good base for the tie placement.

Then we began setting ties as we usually do.

The process went relatively quickly. When we had about 10’ of rail length secured with the ties, we slid the rail into its final position creating the gentle curve. We then leveled the rails side to side and finished installing the ties to the shed. Tony cut the fill pieces of rail as needed to complete the section of track, and then we brought in more ¼ minus to fill the spaces between the ties and secure the section.

We haven’t mustered much of a turnout at our work sessions lately, so if you haven’t attended one recently, we sure could use some help. Hope to see you this Saturday around 7:30 AM.

Planned for September 22, 2018

There won’t be a regularly scheduled work session this Saturday since there is an Open House scheduled for Sunday. However, as usual some of us will be at the Museum on Saturday beginning at 7:00 am. We intend to begin installing the 2nd track from the turntable to the engine house. You are welcome to join us but if you can only come down to the Museum once this weekend, please attend the Open House as that will of much greater benefit to the Museum.

The weather prediction as of this afternoon suggests that temperatures in the afternoon Sunday will be hovering near the mid-90’s meaning we probably won’t be running again. We’ve generally decided that temperatures above 90 degrees is just too hot to safely be giving the public rides on the train and is too hard on the volunteer staff. Although no such specific restriction currently exists within our Rules, it is our intent to modify the rules to add such a restriction for public operation. Having said that, the final decision may be made on Saturday as things can change. I will try to send out an email late Saturday alerting everyone about the public run at the Open House. Even if we don’t run at the Open House, we will probably display the engine & some of the cars out in front of the Museum with our new sign in an attempt to recruit more volunteers for our layout committee. Having people there presenting the Museum favorably including our DIRE need for volunteer operators is PRIORITY #1 right now. So, please consider coming down Sunday to help. At the last Open House, two Sundays ago, it was over 100 degrees outside. In spite of that, we had a huge number of visitors come to the Museum, probably due to increased advertising by the Museum Board to attract more visitors. We need to take advantage of these new faces coming through the front door and try to recruit new help.

At last Saturday’s work session, Roger Phillips and Tony Kanavage joined yours truly to lay new track on concrete ties connecting the turntable to the track previously installed inside the engine house. The weather was relatively kind to us and our work area had some shade as the team went about the task at hand. We also were entertained by having the Studebaker Club arrive at 10 AM for a tour at the Museum.

The first step was to make sure the previous work to establish rough grade elevation was still adequate. Although there was some need to import a little bit of additional fill and cut a little bit of high grade down, it only to about 30 minutes to re-establish rough grade. We got out the club’s Alco S4 and a couple gondolas and used the train to our advantage. We loaded one gondola with all the tools that we needed and then ran the train back to the rear of the caboose where we loaded the other gondola with ¼ minus. The ¼ minus was used to establish the finished grade by giving us an easy to work with base material upon which the concrete ties are placed and leveled.

We then backed the train, with the loaded gondola, around to the north end of the property where we parked it on the turntable. We installed two pieces of rail secured temporarily to concrete ties spaced about 3’ O.C. to hold gauge. BTW, I want to thank Roger Phillips for taking several pictures documenting this work progress.

We then slowly backed the loaded gondola onto the new rails making it easy to spread the ¼ minus onto the newly graded R.O.W.

Starting at the turntable, we quickly installed the concrete ties at 8” O.C. until we reached the end. Roger cut the short fill pieces of rail to make the final connection to the engine house and before we knew it, the connection was completed. We filled in the spaces between the ties with the remaining ¼ minus. Rock ballast will ultimately get placed later, after track #2 is installed.

Once the ¼ minus was placed between the ties, the installation got a thorough wet down to settle everything in.

While the wetting continued, the work train was taken to the back to the caboose for another load of ¼ minus. Anticipating completion, we stopped at the container and picked up the remaining Museum consist and returned to the turntable with 5 pieces of rolling stock in tow. We shoveled all of the ¼ minus out of the red gondola into the area adjacent to the new track in preparation for receiving the 2nd track at the next work session. It was time to quit & go eat lunch, but first we needed to park the entire train in the engine shed. Concerns were raised that this consist (engine and 5 cars) wouldn’t fit inside the engine shed. There was one way to find out.

The 3 empty gondolas are relatively light (125 pounds apiece), so we decided to back them into the shed and individually lift them from one track to the other, one end at a time. Installing the 2nd track next week will eliminate the need to do this type of heavy lifting, but for now, it was the only way to accomplish the task. As you can see from the pictures above & below, this involved some switching exercise to get the gondolas in the correct order, but that was a fun thing to do. It made us forget how hot it was becoming.

After a short while, the entire consist was parked in the shed with about a foot to spare on each track. We will need to get bumpers installed on the ends of the tracks to prevent encroachment into the Outdoor G Gauge space, but that will become a task for someone who might be willing to take on a fun project. The engine was the last piece parked in the engine house.

We plugged it in (without needing an extension cord thanks to Charlie Rigney’s good planning with the outlet placements, and we took pause for some pictures and contemplated a cold beer with lunch.

Great work guys!

Hope to see you this weekend. We’ll be there Saturday if you want to joins us to build the 2nd track, but more important is attendance at the Open House on Sunday. I’ll try to give everyone as much advanced notice on whether we run or not as the weekend weather predictions get nailed down a little closer. If it’s over 90 and clear skies, we won’t run. If it’s cloudy, we may or may not depending on how hot it does get.

Planned for September 15, 2018

Even though we had a work session last Saturday, we’re going to have another one this Saturday. Last weekend, we corrected an alignment issue across the small bridge at the south end of the parking lot. We ran the engine with a full consist of cars around the Museum several times to check track conditions. We also identified that the automatic crossing signal was not operating. Charlie Rigney was kind enough to check it out and found that the power transformer for the system had suffered an exposive melt-down inside it’s box with the culprit apparently being an outside source such as a lightning strike? A replacement transformer has been ordered and will be installed after wiring has been checked for possible damage/continuity/etc.

This Saturday, we’re going to start a little later as the 6:00 am start time has not been particularly popular. So, we’ll go back to the 7:00 am start time. Having said that, prepare for heat as the predicted high temp for Saturday is 105!

On the work agenda is going to be the replacement of the yellow Big Joe on the transfer table with the blue Big Joe that has been stored in the yard between the 40’ container and the meeting room. The first part of that project will involve removing yellow Big Joe from the outriggers put together by Raymond McDaniel in 2012. The front of Big Joe is simply bolted to the front piece of the front outriggers. Take out 2 bolts and the front outrigger can be moved out of the way.

The bridge is simply bolted to the forks of Big Joe. Remove two bolts from each side and it should easily come off.

Taking loose the rear outrigger requires an understanding of how it is secured as it is not clearly evident by looking at the rear of the assembly.

Big Joe had two swivel rollers installed in the rear to enable the forklift to be easily steered when being used. The two swivels were removed from the bottom corners of Big Joe as shown in the picture below.

Raymond welded a square tube spacer to a piece of plate which was bolted in the location where the swivels were located. A piece of angle iron was then welded on each side of the outrigger for securing Big Joe as shown in the two pictures below.

So removing the rear outrigger involves removing the two bolts and it can then be removed. It is important to understand at this time that Big Joe is pretty heavy. Raising it will necessitate using a hydraulic floor jack and using a bunch of our old 2x4 ties as cribbing.

The 2nd step will necessitate cutting the welds that hold the mounts on both outriggers as the Blue Big Joe is a slightly bigger unit and the dimensions for both front & rear are different. Once the mounts are cut off, they will need to be re-welded in new locations to accommodate Blue Big Joe. The welding may or may not occur on Saturday but it would be great if we can complete the work needed to be ready to weld the mounts. Angle grinders will be used to cut off the existing welds. Hopefully, the mounting methods used by Raymond will also work with the Blue Big Joe.

Reattachment of the bridge may also become a re-adaptation of the steaming bay track previously obtained as a donation from Don Beem in Silver City. It is identical to the steel channel iron steaming bay insomuch as it is constructed using channel iron. It will be stronger and slightly longer than the one we’ve been using. Adapting that bridge will involve having to build a new transition ramp to connect the bridge to the racks and/or approach track. Anyone who has attempted to load trains onto or off the transfer table should be in favor of rebuilding this feature.

Why are we doing this you might ask? Although the Yellow Big Joe has served us well and is still operational (albeit needing a new battery), it is starting to complain when raising our 600 pound locomotive. The Blue Big Joe has a greater weight capacity (1,000 pounds) and will also reach to a greater height making it much safer when loading cars into the container top rack. It’s just time to make the change before we have a failure with equipment on the lift and find ourselves in trouble.

Depending on progress with this project, we may or may not be able to access the trains in time for the next Open House (assuming that it wouldn’t be too hot to run. If that happens, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

Possible change to work agenda for tomorrow. Due to an excellent suggestion from Michael Hejny, we may choose to install track between the turntable and the engine house tomorrow rather than work on Big Joe. This will enable us to move the GPD’s train into the engine house before we embark on the transfer table redo.

I hope you can come to help with this project.

Planned for August 25, 2018

With only 3 more Saturdays before our 1st Open House, there is going to be a scheduled work session this Saturday again starting early @ 6:00 am to give us more cool time. Come whenever you can if you can’t make the early start time because we could sure use the help. On the work agenda will be the leveling of the straight track section adjacent to the caboose where the tie replacement was finished at the last work session two weeks ago. We will probably also install some rail joiners to keep track joints from coming apart or squeezing too tight due to expansion/contraction. Depending on home many people come this Saturday, we will begin doing a thorough inspection of the entire track in preparation for fall Open House running.

Last week, although it wasn’t a scheduled work session, a couple of diehards (Tony Kanavage & Burt Wright) did come to the Museum and finished the installation of rail & ties in the track between the mainline and the turntable enabling the first use of the turntable.

The track was leveled and then we pulled the Museum’s train onto the turntable for the 1st test. Thanks to Jurgen Zander for taking a video of the train being pulled onto the turntable for the first time. You should be able to view it by clicking on the following link:

The three photos below show that the rail connection to the turntable is complete and the turntable works!

With the Museum’s train backed onto the turntable, the locking pin is pulled and the turntable is turned.

With the locking pin reset, the train was backed off the turntable and then we took it around the layout clockwise rather than the usual counterclockwise.

We then put the train back on the turn table and turned it back as it was when we started.

It’s been a project for sure, but it really felt good to see it finally function as intended. Thank you Jurgen Zander for taking several of the pictures above and also the short video.

Hope to see everyone this Saturday beginning around 6:00 am.

Planned for August 18, 2018 (No scheduled work session this Saturday)

There will not be a scheduled work session this Saturday keeping with our every other week scheduling. Having said that, there will be people there working outside on various items. If you don’t have anything to do and suffer from insomnia, you’re welcome to join us beginning at 6:00 am at the Museum again. It’s nice & cool at that time and gives us a good 3 hours or more that we can get stuff done.

Last weekend, we finally got the tie replacements done on the straight section behind the caboose. The ballast needs to be reset but we wanted to get some rain onto the ¼ minus that was placed as base and in between the ties for stability. Raking out the ballast won’t take but 10 to 15 minutes.

Then we’ll focus on getting the track laid into the turntable from the layout. The rails are already cut but the ties, although previously set, need to be repositioned & leveled before the rail can be secured to the ties. It’s a little less than 20’ and we should be able to get it done without much trouble.

If we can complete that section, we will then be able to actually use the turntable. The track section between the turntable and the engine shed still needs to be installed.

Planned for August 11, 2018

This Saturday beginning at 6:00 am, we are going to begin work to complete the tie replacement behind the caboose. The area will be shaded that early and we should be above to avoid the substantial heat & humidity that has plagued the past couple of weekends. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get all of the track ties replaced behind the caboose including leveling the section and resetting the rock ballast. At least that’s the plan.

Now for the IMPORTANT PART: A few months back, we began seriously discussing the lack of recruitment the 7-1/2 gauge committee is experiencing for the outdoor railroad. Actually, most of the Museum layout committees are experiencing similar problems although there seems to be a systemic problem acknowledging that the problem exists. Thus, we are going to grab this bull by the horns and try to solve the problem on our own. We have a golden opportunity ahead to get our message out in front of the public with the November Train Show. Ron McLaughlin and Roger Phillips have volunteered to put together a display to be used at the upcoming November Train Meet with a focus on recruitment for the outdoor railroad. The train show is scheduled for November 9th & 10th which is approaching quickly and the need to recruit volunteers to help with the outdoor railroads is immediate. At our current rate of recruitment, operation of the railroad is simply not sustainable. Thus, the presentation at the Train Show in November will be a critical step is trying to get more participation from the public. This Saturday, after we quit working outside (probably between 9:00 to 9:30 am), we are going to put our stuff away and go inside into the air-conditioned meeting room and have a brain storming session with Ron and Roger regarding the train meet display. I’m told that Ron McLaughlin’s wife, Gail, is going to make her very good cinnamon sticky buns and Ron promised not to eat all of them on his drive in from Benson. Anyone who cares about this railroad should be able to participate in this think tank effort and we are going to need “all hands on deck” at the train show to help man the effort. We hope to see you this Saturday for this very important meeting.

PS: Although the 7-1/2 gauge committee took a break last weekend, there were some members that were very busy at the Museum. After installing all of the seat cushions into the Rio Grande caboose, Jurgen Zander, with help from Tony Kanavage, Paul Kruppenbacher and Charlie Rigney, began placing stone around the turntable as a “finishing touch” to the recently installed assembly. Although there is a little more to do to finish that work, what they have done so far is amazing as depicted in the before & after pictures below. Jurgen has directed this portion of the project and deserves a lot of the credit although others pitched in as well. I want to thank all of them for their special caring about the way that the Museum presents itself. With only a few members available to help work on the 7-1/2 gauge layout, the informal partnership between the two outdoor groups as well as some “independent” GP members helping out is very heartwarming. Jurgen, Charlie, Tony & Paul, thank you so much for everything you all do.

I can only imagine how you guys must have felt after doing all of this.


Planned for August 4, 2018 (No scheduled work session this Saturday)

There is not going to be a scheduled work session this Saturday.

Last Saturday, only one person braved the heat & humidity to continue working on the track behind the caboose enclosure. The work performed was removal of the rock ballast from the remaining section of track needing tie replacement. Then, the wood ties were removed with some left to hold gauge and support the rail. The concrete ties were moved into the enclosure and distributed as needed to accomplish the replacement. Unfortunately, only 4 of the concrete ties got placed before the shade went away as the sun rose above the side of the caboose. That effort required 4 bottles of water!

The heat was pretty bad, but the humidity was the real reason to quit. It was a good start but done for the day – the project completion will need to wait for the next work session.

An idea is being floated around which is to either start the work sessions earlier (between 5:00 and 6:00 am) or possibly try evening (starting after 6:00 pm). The morning would be cooler but getting up that early might be problematic. The evening would require some outdoor lighting but there would be no solar impact. Any comments?

Planned for July 28, 2018

Although it may be pretty hot (80-ish) and humid (good chance for rain on Saturday), there will be a scheduled work session this Saturday beginning at 7:00 am. On the work agenda is completion of the wood tie replacement with concrete ties to about 20’ of track on the backside of the caboose (shown in the picture below).

It would be great if we could complete this section so that we could refocus on completion of the track work into the recently completed turntable.

Hope to see you early on Saturday.

Planned for July 21, 2018 (No scheduled work session this Saturday)

There is not going to be a scheduled work session this Saturday as we had one last weekend. I want to thank Paul, Jesse, Roger & Tony for stepping in last weekend in my absence to start doing tie replacement behind the caboose. They are about ½ done with the stretch inside the enclosure. We should be able to be completed with that portion of the track during the next work session.

Roger Phillips was also at the Museum last Saturday to help with the track work. He sent me some pictures that he took of the track work behind the caboose that I want to share with everyone. The first step in the tie replacement process is to rake out the ballast.

A short section of wood ties are removed and ¼ minus is brought in to raise the grade to compensate for the different tie height and also provide a base that is easier to work with. Then a few at a time, the concrete ties are placed and attached.

And so it goes . . . .

I also want to give special thanks to Jurgen Zander for making the headwall/turntable conflict go away by using a grinding wheel designed for concrete. Nearly 1/2” of concrete needed to be ground off at one end of the headwall on the inside face to allow the turntable clearance. His efforts look great and now the turntable will complete a 360 degree revolution without conflict. The south end and north end headwalls are pictured below.

The roller wheels on one end of the turntable need to be shimmed to make the height of the turntable perfectly equal at each end. Then the locking pin plates need to be adjusted vertically to accept the mating pin. Once that is completed, then the track connections can be made.

Jurgen Zander has also been working to set rock around the backside of the turntable stem wall and he has also begun to dig out adjacent to the turntable ring to set pavers. The picture below shows a little bit of that effort which will give the area a clean & finished appearance that the Museum can be proud of.

Thanks again to everyone who helped out – I look forward to finishing this section at our next session.  Have a great weekend and be safe. We’ll be hard at it again the following weekend (Saturday, the 28th). A reminder email will get sent out.

Planned for July 14, 2018

With Independence Day behind us, we hopefully will be able to get working on the railroad again. Several things need to be done now that the head walls are poured at the north and south end of the turntable. Track maintenance is definitely needed behind the Caboose enclosure. This will include replacing wood ties with concrete. That section of straight track has suffered from the constant expansion & contraction due to day heating and night cooling that doesn’t get properly compensated by the current installation. Even though adequate gaps are provided at the track joints, the solid securement of the rail to the wood ties restrict the rail movement and the result is the ties move with the rail and can’t return to their intended position. This movement is a daily & constant phenomena and it results in loosening of the screws, shifting of the tie positions, including upward movement, resulting in the track becoming unleveled and also getting out of gauge. At least one of the slide-on rail joiners has worked its way off the rail resulting in the rails separating. By installing concrete ties with tie plates, the rail is allowed to move laterally through the tie plates as the concrete ties stay put. The expansion/contraction is then accommodated by the gaps at the rail joints as intended. The weight of the ties also assures that they don’t move. Ultimately, we will have all of our rail secured to concrete ties which will dramatically reduce the track maintenance efforts.

Also on the list of tasks is making the track connections from the head walls to and from the turntable although these connections are now a #2 priority as the track maintenance identified above is more important to the safe operation of the railroad.

Last weekend, with only two people attending the work session, we still accomplished the first intended task. We were able to get both headwalls poured at the north and south end of the turntable. The first part of that effort was to get the headwall forms set. We started with the south end and got the form set without much difficulty. We didn’t need to hold the form in place using stakes as we held the form in place using a couple of concrete ties as shown in the picture below.

With the anchor bolts already having been secured in position during a previous work session, we removed the steel plate from the anchor bolts and then mixed up a couple sacks of concrete in a wheel barrow and began pouring it into the formed space. After the form was filled, we pushed the plate back onto the anchor bolts and then waited for the concrete to set up a bit. Then we were able to work the concrete up into the ends of the form and made an attempt to improve the appearance.

As the concrete began to set, we shifted our attention to the north end, set the form and began the same process. As with any project, there was a learning curve to anticipate the time when we could begin working the concrete. Since neither of the members doing this project have ever built anything like this before, experience was a bit lacking, but we still got the project done.

We will try to pull the forms at the Wednesday night work session at the Museum (tonight). The next step will be to begin making the track connections although we need to take care of some much needed track maintenance (tie replacement) behind the caboose enclosure first.

If you haven’t been able to come to any of the summer work sessions yet, we understand that family vacations take precedence, but if you can spare some time this Saturday, please consider coming down to help out. There’s definitely a lot to do, and it’s much easier to accomplish these tasks with more people helping.

Hope to see you this Saturday morning beginning at 7:00 am.

PS: For those of you (myself included) who might have wanted to visit the recently concluded 2018 Train Mountain Triennial Meet but couldn’t find time, you might enjoy this 45 minute YouTube video:

Planned for June 30, 2018 - No work session

So that you may plan for your family “pre-4th of July” travels or events, there is not going to be a scheduled work session this weekend at the Museum. Work sessions will resume on Saturday, July 7th. We will send an email out later next week reminding everyone of that work session.

Last Saturday, we only had two people at the Museum to work on the turntable head wall footings. We got an early start so it wasn’t too hot to do the digging. The footing at the south end had already been dug, so we began our work by cutting the rail to length from the turntable to the turnout to the south. We clamped the rail to the plate which was held at the correct elevation & alignment using bar clamps and the locking pin as shown in the picture below. The anchor bolts extended down about 14” below the plate (2” above the bottom of the footing).

We then mixed up an 80# sack of pre-mix concrete and poured it into the footing. We then went to the north end of the turntable & finished digging the foundation at that end while the concrete began to set at the south end. The north end will have two of these plates set as there are two tracks that will be served by the turntable at the north end. The two plates have to be individually set as the turntable is being used to establish the correct elevation & alignment. Since the turntable has to remain in place while the concrete footing sets up, we were only able to get one of the plates at the north end positioned at a time. Once the digging was completed (it took about an hour), we checked the south end which had already begun to solidify enabling us to remove the clamps and lock pin and spin the turntable 180 degrees. Below is a picture of the south end after the concrete was set, the clamps removed, and the turntable revolved.

With alignments checked, we then set one of the two plates using the same technique we used at the south end. We had to partition the footing into two sections as only one of the two plates would be installed at a time and then we mixed another sack of concrete, poured the 2nd footing as shown below.

It was about 9:30 when we finished the 2nd pour and it was beginning to get hot, so we picked up the tools and headed inside for the remainder of the session. We will probably pour the footing for the 3rd/last plate tonight (Wednesday night work session) so everything will be ready for the head wall pour at our next work session in a couple weeks. We are getting there – slowly but surely.

I also want to give special thanks to Joey Ybarra who has been working behind the scenes to help our railroad by making concrete ties. He showed up mid-morning with a load of another 120 ties (@ 10# each, that’s 1,200#). We unloaded them onto the steaming bay.

We need to be thinking about continuing the tie replacement program as there are a few places calling out for attention including the curved sections at the front (north end) of the Museum and the straight section along the southern fence line behind the caboose.

Thanks to John Roads for the photo contributions. On behalf of our chairman, Jesse Miller and the Museum Board, we hope everyone has a great holiday this coming week as we celebrate our country’s independence on the 4th (Wednesday). If you are heading out of town this weekend (as I will be) or next week/weekend, please travel safely & come back in one piece.

Planned for June 16, 2018

There will be a scheduled work session this coming Saturday morning with the start time being 7:00 am. The weather is predicted to be relatively cool as the monsoon’s are finally making their appearance. Usually, the monsoon rains are in the afternoon so the morning should be perfect for outdoor activity. At any rate, we need to begin the process of building the two headwalls for the turntable.

There has been quite a bit of discussion regarding these headwalls and specifically how to ensure that the locking pin hole that will be welded to the top of a piece of ¼” steel plate will get secured onto the top of the concrete headwall in alignment with the locking pin on the turntable.

The task is complicated by the fact that the forms for the concrete headwall built last weekend (shown above) prevent the turntable from being in position to allow it to be used to align the steel plate with the attached receiving hole. So, in order to make sure that the steel plate with the receiving hole welded to it will be correctly aligned with the locking pin on the turntable, the headwall forms cannot be in place. Jurgen Zander came up with a good solution although it makes the headwall construction a 2-step process. Below is a drawing depicting the plan as sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. The head wall will now be poured in two segments, the first being the footing that will hold the anchor bolts in place. Since the headwall forms will not need to be set to pour this footing, we can use the turntable to get the correct placement of the receiving hole for the locking pin.

For each plate, there will be two, 16” long, ½” diameter anchor bolts connected with double nuts to the plate. We will dig a relatively small foundation about 10” deeper that the concrete ring. We can then align the turntable and set the steel plate (with anchor bolts attached) onto the locking pin and then pour the foundation using one or two sacks of premix concrete. With the concrete placed, we will recheck the plate to make sure it’s level & aligned with the locking pin and then we will wait for the concrete to set up. The second step (probably the following work session) will be to set the forms for the head walls and do the final pour. Since the plates will already be in their correct position, we won’t need the turntable to do the final pour. If after everything has cured, we will still be able to adjust the plate and ensure proper fit with the locking pin as the holes will be slotted and we can adjust the height as the assembly is bolted to the headwall rather than permanently cemented in.

At least this is the plan at the moment, better ideas are always welcome. If you come to the Wednesday evening work night tonight, we can discuss.

Looking forward to seeing everyone Saturday morning.

Planned for June 9, 2018

There will NOT be a regularly scheduled work session for the 7-1/2” gauge group at the Museum this Saturday. However, as usual, there will be activity going on at the Museum this weekend as work continues inside and outside. Last night at the Museum, with the concrete cured on the center pivot axle of the turntable, the blocks that held the turntable in place were removed and the turntable was given a spin. It is with great relief that I can honestly say I can now get a good night’s sleep.

Doug Potter was present and filmed the effort. Here is a MOV video file. Hopefully, you’ll be able to open it to see the “first turn”. (6MB)

If you have nothing to do this Saturday, there will be people including myself at the Museum beginning at 7:00 am. I want to get a head start building the forms for the headwalls that will get poured at each end of the turntable. With some luck, the forms will get completed and we can use them to pour the concrete headwalls during next week’s scheduled work session. You are certainly welcome to stop by and lend a hand and/or inspect the progress into the summer’s work agenda.

Last Saturday’s work session was very productive as we tackled the long awaited placement of the turntable structure into its permanent location. We got two of the Museum’s gondolas out and placed them on the approach track. We slid the turntable (300 pound +/-) off the steaming bay onto Big Joe. We then slid the turntable off Big Joe over the 1st gondola onto the second. Then we finished sliding the assembly off of Big Joe with the end placed onto the first gondola. With several people present, we were able to safely do the transfer.

The we moved the turntable down the backside tracks across the turnouts without incident.

The move worked perfectly and only took about a minute.

Once parked beside the previously prepared ring, we lifted one end of the turntable off the gondola and swung it onto the ground in the center of the concrete ring. Repeating the process, we quickly had the turntable set on the ring. The center hub assembly with the short axle segment was then bolted into place with a plastic ring form installed between the bottom of the turntable and the ground. We checked and re-checked the alignment of the turntable and finally agreed that we had it properly centered and we mixed up a couple sacks of premix concrete.

Pouring the concrete into the hole was probably the hardest part of this job and there was little space available between the plastic ring form and the edges of the turntable structure.

Little by little, the hole was poured full.

With the predicted high temperature for the day being well over 100, we were very motivated to complete this work early in the morning while it was cool.

. . . and then we stepped back to admire the job well done. It was 8:20 am and we were done.

Thanks to all that helped out with this project. Look at the short video, the “first turn”. (6MB) Video taken by Doug Potter.

Planned for June 2, 2018

Yeah, summer is almost here and it’s getting warmer each weekend. This weekend will explain why our winter visitor members have got out of Dodge. This Saturday we have a scheduled work session which will begin at 7:00 am (30 minutes earlier that previous work sessions). The predicted high temperature for Saturday is going to be over 100 and Sunday will be hotter. Thus, the early start time as we’ve got a little bit of heavy lifting to do and would like to get it done before the major heat shows up.

This Saturday will be the day when we place the turntable in its final resting place. Current thinking is that we will get out two of the Museum’s 7-1/2” gauge gondolas and lift the turntable off the steaming bay and place each end of the turntable structure onto a piece of plywood centered in the middle of each of the gondolas. It is estimated that the turntable structure weighs around 300#. It is 16’ long. If we use the rail cars to move it, it will greatly reduce the distance that we’ll need to carry it. Exactly how this is going to work is somewhat of a mystery, but we know we don’t want anyone to get hurt and the tracks go right by where the turntable is going to be placed. Below is a depiction of what this move “might” look like.

The turntable structure itself is currently ready to move – freshly painted as shown in the picture below but also, as of last Wednesday night, the roller wheels are installed and the wood planking bolted on. In addition, the center hub/axle assembly is now greased and the new grease seal installed.

Once we have the turntable moved to its position on the concrete ring, it will need to be perfectly aligned and centered with the hub assembly bolted into place in the center of the structure. Then the hole into which the hub assembly axle is positioned will be filled with a slurry of concrete. In case you haven’t yet seen the location, below is the finished ring before the hole was dug in the center.

Hopefully, the move shouldn’t take too long & I expect that we won’t need to mix much more than one bag of concrete +/- to place in the hole once the center axle hub assembly is in position. So, that is the work scheduled for this Saturday. It will take at least 4 able bodied people to help lift and position the turntable on and off the rail cars plus dropping it (not literally) into place onto the concrete ring. So if you haven’t been to a work session for a while, this would be a good one to attend as we could sure use your help. Don’t forget the new time (7:00 am).

Planned for May 26, 2018 (no work session)

Due to the fact that this coming weekend is the last Open House for the season, there will not be a scheduled work session on Saturday. We are sending this announcement out early so that people may make plans for the long Memorial Day weekend coming up. Also, with Sunday’s predicted high temperature currently setting at 101, we obviously won’t be running the train on Sunday. So, for those who may be thinking of getting out of Dodge, get in line and have a great time – you all deserve it.

Last Saturday at the Museum, we had a great turnout to begin preparing the turn table structure for painting. On board were Tony Kanavage, Glenn Ellis, Roger Phillips, Jesse Miller, Paul Kruppenbacher, Jerry VanCleve, & Burt Wright with Jurgen Zander & Charlie Rigney waiting in the wings if needed. Many hands made relatively short work of the preparation tasks as several wire brushes were working on drill motors at the same time.

While the prep work continued, we cut & pre-drilled the holes into the 2” x 6” planks that will be bolted to the brackets welded to the side of the channel iron. Glenn Ellis then brushed on a very healthy coat of water sealant to the 2 x 6 planks.

With time to spare after the prep work was finished, a coat of primer was sprayed onto the turntable structure. It dried quickly leaving enough time to paint the turntable. A single coat of flat black Rustoleum was then applied and it looks great!

The finished product is almost ready for installation but that won’t happen for a couple more weeks.

If you’re going to be in town over Memorial Day weekend, please consider coming down to help out at the Open House on Sunday. Even though the outside trains won’t be running, they always need help inside with the layouts.

This has been a great year so far. Entering into the summer will restrict the hours of work sessions due to the heat that creeps in late morning. We will push up the start time for work sessions to begin at 7:00 am starting with the scheduled work session June 2nd which will give us another 30 minutes of time to get things done. If you can’t get up that early, come down when you can – your help is needed whenever you can get there.

May 19, 2018

There will be a scheduled work session this Saturday at 7:30 am at the Museum. On the work agenda will be the preparation work on the turntable structure recently delivered to the Museum. It is currently located on top of the steaming bay next to the loading zone. Preparation work will involve wire brushing and/or grinding off surface rust and then priming the areas with rust preventative primer. While that is occurring, the 2 X 6 planking needs to be cut to length, pre-drilled for the mounting bolts, and then coated with wood preservative. If we can complete these tasks, we can brush on a coat of flat black Rustoleum paint that we have. So, you might notice that there is NO “digging” indicated for this work session so everyone can get involved.

Last weekend was a total bust as far as the 7-1/2” gauge committee was concerned. There were only two members present Saturday morning – so we decided to blow off the move of the turntable from Burt’s house to the Museum. Sunday wasn’t much better as we didn’t have enough crew to man the train at the Open House, so the train never came out of the barn. Even though it was Mother’s Day, the Open House was well attended by the Public.

Midmorning Sunday, before the Open House began, Glenn Ellis met Burt Wright at his home and together they were able to slide the turntable structure off the welding table into his trailer.

The turntable was then delivered to the Museum where, using Big Joe, they were able to slide the turntable off of Glenn’s trailer, across Big Joe, and onto the steaming bay. No lifting was necessary which is a good thing – the turntable weighs in about 300#.

Look forward to seeing all of you this weekend.

May 12, 2018

There will not be a scheduled work session Saturday as this Sunday is a scheduled Open House. Having said that, and assuming that all the welding gets completed on the turntable, it could get delivered to the Museum by Saturday morning in preparation for its installation. Prior to installing, there have been suggestions that we first paint the turntable. If it is to be painted, now is definitely the time to do that. Thus, on Saturday, we could begin preparing the surfaces on the turntable for paint application. That may involve grinding, wire brushing, and/or sanding. Color choice has not been made but flat black is currently in 1st place. Input is always encouraged. In addition, we will need to apply weather resistant stain to the wood planking that will be installed on the side of the turntable. So, although there is no “scheduled” work session, there is always work that happens at the Museum. Come on down and enjoy the camaraderie. I guarantee – NO DIGGING!

Current weather forecasts show that the high temperature for Sunday could again be over 90 degrees again. 90 degrees has been our cut-off to operate the train outside. The decision to run will probably be made on Open House day as it’s too early now to declare it as a GO/NO-GO. All members are encouraged to come to the Museum as even if we don’t run, we always need help inside the Museum.

Last weekend, only a couple of the 7-1/2” group came to the scheduled work session. Thus, we were only able to get the hole dug for the center pivot foundation. No pictures of that excavation were taken – it looks like any other hole in the ground. It only took about an hour to get the hole dug and yes, we did encounter a bunch of caliche. We took the opportunity of finishing early to go over to Superlite Block Co. (previously Young Block) around the corner from the Museum. What we found was an interesting style of cap block that was slightly wedge shaped that could have application as a finish to the outside of the concrete ring. Jurgen Zander developed a drawing shown below showing how such block could be installed. We will have more discussion about this concept during future work sessions. Your input is always appreciated.

UPDATE from last weekend: With Jacob Payne’s welding skill not to mention his welding equipment and that awesome welding table, the welding on the turntable structure was pretty much completed. Still needed are mounts for a push bar on at least one end (probably removable to facilitate moving the assembly) plus mounting supports for “wooden sideboard planking”. In addition, linkage for the locking mechanism to secure the turntable in alignment needs to be added.

In the picture below, the turntable is on its side with the top of the turntable facing right – the notches cut into the top of the cross members will allow for the wheel flanges. The mounts for the rollers extend out 6” from the edge of the channel iron. That makes the entire assembly 22-5/8” wide at each end. Otherwise, the table is only 10-5/8” wide (7-5/8” gauge width plus two 1-1/2” wide pieces of channel iron). The wood side board planks will be installed between the mounts for the rollers with the outer edge of the planks even with the roller mounts. With a 14” wide locomotive on the turntable, the wood side board planks would extend a little more than 4-1/4” out from the side of the locomotive. We plan to use a standard width 2 x 6 (5½” wide) with a ½” space between the 2 x 6 and the channel iron. I figure the supports could be 1-1/2” angle welded to the side of the channel iron located so the planking would be level with the top of the turntable. The boards would be secured to the angle iron with carriage bolts. We would stain the boards with water-resistant stain like we used on the engine house. What do you think?

Below is a picture of one of the MLS turntables (they have more than one). It has wider planks that appear to be 2 x 10’s or 12’s), but the added width doesn’t appear to add any particular benefit functionally speaking (actually the additional width could be counterproductive in our application since our turntable will be installed closer to the ground. The yellow handle on the right of the MLS turntable is the locking mechanism used to secure the table in place when it’s being used to load a train. As I recall, there was only one of these locking mechanism’s on the table. It is our intent to have only 1 locking mechanism initially although a 2nd one could be added later if we felt it was necessary.

On the MLS turntable, the roller wheels were mounted below the bottom of the turntable as shown in the photo below. Our rollers are installed into pockets attached to the side of the turntable. The height difference is about 4” with the result being that our turntable will be much lower to the ground. The addition height of the MLS turntable resulted in them having to create a deeper well which required them to have a concrete retaining wall poured entirely around their turntable to compensate for the added depth. We avoided that by mounting the rollers off the side of the turntable rather than under the turntable.

Below is a photo of the locking pin used on the MLS turntable. Not particularly pretty, but it is functional. Our arrangement will be very similar.

Hope to see all of you this weekend – Sunday is the critical day if you can only come once – I know, it’s Mother’s Day, but a lot of mothers come to the Train Museum on Mother’s Day.

May 5, 2018

First of all, I want to thank our winter visitors who have stayed in touch with me, even after they have left town. Fred Daigneau checked in with me yesterday and wanted to say hello to everyone. He complained that his internet wasn’t working, it was cold outside, and he was ready to head back. I probably shouldn’t tell him that it’s going to be 100+ this weekend! Dave Peterson checked in via email on April 25th stating he was sorry to miss all the fun as he had to shovel snow instead! I think I join everyone in saying that we really miss these guys – hurry back both of you!

Yes, there will be a work session this Saturday morning beginning at 7:30 am. On the work agenda will be doing some final raking & shaping of the ground around the turntable to facilitate drainage if and when we get rain. We can also do the excavation in the center of the turntable in preparation of creating the footing for the center pivoting hub assembly that will support the center of the turntable.

Last weekend, we stripped the forms from the previously poured concrete ring. We had no particular problems removing the screws that held the sections of bender boards together and removal of the rebar stakes also went relatively well. Then the hard part began as there was quite a bit of dirt that had to be removed from the center of the ring. We encountered caliche again that needed to be picked out. Thank goodness for young backs who could help with that task.

We then leveled the dirt inside the ring to be about 1” below the concrete surface.

It took the better part of the morning to get the dirt raked out and there were some tired souls who will testify to the amount of work that was done.

The group was up to the task and we finished just before lunch break. Then, with the surface raked flat, we filled the center with water to “settle” the ground in preparation for the next step. It took nearly ½ hour with the hose on full to create the shallow pond you see below. It was gone within another 30 minutes.

Ultimately, we will place some ¼ minus material spread inside to keep dust down and give the space a finished appearance. Before we do that, we will need to dig the center excavation for the pivot hub assembly footing.

Below is what the turntable looked like just before we left for lunch.

Now that it’s beginning to take shape, this is proving to be a pretty exciting project to be involved in. The turntable structure is being fabricated/welded at Burt’s house on a huge welding table built by Jacob Payne. The welding table is level and is large permitting the turntable, which is 16’ long weighing nearly 200 pounds to be easier to fabricate. Below is a current picture of the system mocked up before welding begins.

The hub assembly was donated to the project by Glenn Ellis. The trailer axle was bent badly in the middle, but we were able to cut off each end to give us two hub assemblies (one to use & one spare).

The hub assembly will be attached to a steel plate welded into the center of the turntable shown below. Tonight, the center will have a 3” diameter hole drilled where the pilot hole is located to accept the end of the hub assembly. You are looking at the bottom of the turntable in all of the pictures.

In the picture below, you can see one of the notches that are cut into the pieces of channel that hold the long pieces apart maintaining the intended 7-5/8” gauge.

Not depicted are the pieces that have all been fabricated that form the pockets into which the 4 roller wheel assemblies will be mounted (two at each end on the sides of the turntable). My hope is that the entire assembly will be finished & delivered to the Museum by May 12th. Our next work session will probably be May 19th although the 12th isn’t out of the question.

Hope to see you Saturday – Remember there is no Open House this Sunday but there is going to be a General Membership Meeting this Friday. Hope to see you all this weekend.

April 28, 2018

There will be a scheduled work session this Saturday beginning at 7:30 am at the Museum. You might have been wondering if we were able to do the concrete pour last weekend. Well, we did manage to “git er done”. On the work agenda for Saturday will be stripping the forms off the concrete ring poured last Saturday. We also will lower the elevation of dirt inside the concrete ring to at least 1” below the concrete surface. To address concerns being expressed about water ponding inside the ring, if we have time, we will extend a drain from inside the ring to the adjacent drainage channel. We can also shoot some grades around the outside of the ring to determine which direction we need to divert drainage from the areas adjacent to the ring. So, it will be a full morning – please consider stopping by.

Last Saturday, although being the day before the Open House, a few hearty souls came down to help with the concrete pour into the previously formed ring. Before we got started with the pour, we had to bend & wire in all of the rebar around the ring (two #3’s w/spacers).

As usual, manning the mixing duty, with a bunch of experience, was Glenn Ellis who expertly controlled the slump with just the right amount of water. The mixer worked flawlessly again and we are grateful to Raymond McDaniel for making it available to the Museum.

Paul Kruppenbacher lent his back and arms to the effort by hand placing all of the concrete (one ton of it to be exact) bucket by bucket into the previously formed ring. Tony Kanavage kept up with Paul or vice versa, as they methodically moved around the circle making sure to pull the rebar up off the ground and into the concrete as they went. The notched screed worked out well to make sure the level of the concrete stayed no higher than the form and below the level of the bar stock. I need to try and get a more flattering view of Paul working. Sorry Paul. Will McGeary joined the fun and provided some encouragement to Tony as his work is the part that will ultimately show.

By noon, we were done and the group retired to Sam’s (our favorite watering hole) for a much needed break and refueling.

Hope to see you this Saturday at 7:30 am for another fun day as the turntable is quickly approaching reality.

April 21, 2018

Sunday is an Open House. At the moment, the predicted high temperature is looking to be over 90, thus we may not be running. That is subject to change depending on the weather and also available staffing.

There is some motivation to do the concrete pour on Saturday morning since the ring is now formed. Holding off may result in kids tripping on or messing with the forms so it makes sense to get the concrete poured ASAP.

So, at the moment, we are scheduling a work session for Saturday to do the pour. The pour will need to be preceded by placement of a pair of 3/8” rebar inside the formed the circular ring which shouldn’t take long at all. We should have the 20+ sacks of concrete at the Museum by Saturday morning for the work session. The weather is predicted to be mid 80’s so the AM should be ideal. Consequently, we are going to try to do the pour Saturday morning. I hope you can come & join us in this effort.

Last Saturday, the installation of the circular forms was done. Although the process took some time, it went rather well in my opinion. Plywood templates were used to set the width & height spacing for the bender board.

Then, using a rotary hammer drill & a long ½” masonry bit, we pre-drilled holes adjacent to the bender board to accept the ½” rebar stakes. They were hammered into the pre-drilled holes and held the board securely. The board was tied to the rebar stakes with tie wires.


The installation on top of the masonry retaining wall required wooden vertical pieces screwed into the block. That also worked well.

The finished results speak for themselves.

While Tony, Jacob, & Burt worked on the forms for the concrete ring, Paul Kruppenbacher, with help from Jurgen Zander, went to work on replacing several broken or split boards on the wooden bridge walkway between the tracks.

After the boards were replaced, they gave the walkway a fresh coat of stain. Looks great.

As if that wasn’t enough, with Jesse’s help, we managed to give a birthday party a train ride around the Museum. The kids always love the train rides and we make a big deal out of them for the birthday boy or girl. This is why we do what we do.

Looking forward to seeing you Saturday morning @ 7:30 am and don’t forget the Open House Sunday.

April 14, 2018

There will be a scheduled work session this Saturday at the Museum beginning at 7:30 am. On the work agenda will be setting forms for the concrete ring pour now that the steel ring has been placed. Construction of the turntable itself has begun in hopes that it will be completed when we need to get it installed. But first things first. The bender board that will be the forming material is already at the Museum awaiting it’s installation.

I can’t remember who suggested it, but drilling holes for the installation of the vertical rebar used to secure the forms is going to work out great. We tried one last Saturday just to make sure it was the right approach. One of the tasks needed will be to cut the ½” rebar into short lengths using the rebar cutter stored in the engine shed. It works well but it takes a strong set of arms and back. I figure we’ll need a rebar every couple of feet inside and outside. I think we’ll need at least 32 pieces of cut rebar (perhaps more) with each being about 16” long. It will be a full morning to get this task completed. Once the forms are set, we’ll be able to schedule the pour.

April 7, 2018

There is no scheduled work session this Saturday due to the Open House on Sunday...but come on down anyway.

Last Saturday was a regular work session back to work on the Turntable, and on the schedule was to install the steel ring to the previously prepared posts.

So 1st was the measuring and the verifying, then the work began welding the rolled ring to the posts hopefully forming some sort of circular shape.

But 1st 1st, a small extension was added to one of the more "sunken" posts. One to weld and another to hold the bar stock in just the correct position.
And worked continued around from post to post.

... to post until we got back to where we started. Then just a quick cut off the extra and we had one mostly perfect circle!

See you all this Sunday at the open house and don't forget the monthly membership meeting Friday night.

March 31, 2018

There will be a scheduled work session this Saturday beginning at a new time (7:30 am) as winter has past and spring is officially here. With Saturday’s high predicted to be near 90, we want to get a little bit of a head start. On the agenda for Saturday’s session is the installation of the 1” x ½” bar stock ring for the turntable. The ring is actually three separate pieces that were rolled to the approximate diameter (15’-4”) needed by Smyth Industries who is a major steel fabricator of water tanks in Tucson. They were kind enough to offer their assistance to us using their massive steel rollers which they use to create the curved sheet steel pieces that make up large welded steel water tanks. Before the ring can begin to be installed, we must cut off the ends of each piece as the ends won’t have the curve applied (typical for rolled steel is that the last foot and a half +/- comes out straight).

Last Saturday, although not a scheduled work session, new member Fred Daigneau, Roger Phillips, Tony Kanavage & myself got out the transit and re-established the appropriate grade and then did the math necessary to find the intended elevation for the tops of the steel supports that will hold the steel ring. What seemed like a relatively easy task proved to be anything but. Just ask Roger & Fred how their knees and backs felt after this exercise.

Although I had the easy job of looking through the transit scope, I managed to miss one of the elevations by an inch! This resulted in the one post being cut 1” too short. Like previous screw-ups one my part, we will need to impose upon our resident welder to fix my mess by welding in a 1” long filler piece.

We closed off the unscheduled work session by giving train rides to a bunch of kids who came to the Museum for a birthday party.

Hope to see you this Saturday @ 7:30 am to begin the installation work on the ring of steel.

In case you can’t make it on Saturday, I wish each and every one of you and your families a wonderful Easter Sunday.

March 24, 2018

Since we missed the work session last Saturday, we will attempt to get done what we should have done last week. So, for those of you who can join us on Saturday morning @ 8:00 am, we’ll get the steel posts cut to the correct elevation in preparation of the steel bar stock ring installation. If you can only devote one visit to the Museum this weekend, please come on Sunday for the Open House so we can have enough people to run the public train.

March 17, 2018

There is not going to be a scheduled work session this Saturday as several members are traveling to Phoenix with Burt (Dave Peterson, Jurgen Zander, Fred Daigneau, & Tony Kanavage) to attend the Spring Meet of the Maricopa Live Steamers and the “Everything Railroad” swap meet. Both events occur at the Adobe Mountain Desert Railroad Park on Saturday with the swap meet starting at 9:00 am until 1:00 pm. The flyer for the swap meet can be viewed at this link: documents/Swap Meet Flyer.pdf The website for the Maricopa Live Steamers is: . For those of you who have heard, GPD member Chris Cheely has finally taken possession of his new Dash 9 engine as pictured below. Chris will be at the MLS meet this weekend.

For those members staying in Tucson this weekend, you may want to consider coming down to the Museum if for no other purpose than to operate the train as there is a fairly large birthday party scheduled for 10:00 am on Saturday. The train could be operated for that party if enough staff are present. Remember, if the gates are closed, only an Engineer and Conductor would be needed.

Last Saturday, the steel posts were set into concrete for the support of the bar stock ring that will support the turntable. This was a relatively easy task compared to the effort to dig the holes. The next task will be to mark each post where they will then be cut to be level & the appropriate elevation.

A recently joined member to the GPD came to the work session last Saturday and we quickly put him to work. Fred Daigneau is a winter visitor from Ohio. He was an engineer on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad ( ) located in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park which is between Akron & Cleveland, Ohio. Welcome aboard Fred!

Fred also helped out during the Open House on Sunday by sharing some of the flagman duties with Dave Peterson and also helped to corral the kids at the Station. With several of our “regulars” not available on Sunday, we weren’t sure we could run but Brian Scott & his son Trevor came down and ran the train all day. We had great weather and the crowd was steady all day. Everyone seemed to have a great time and initial reports from the Gift Shop were very encouraging. Thank you Brian, Trevor, Fred & Dave for all your help.

March 10, 2018

Due to the Open House this Sunday, there will not be a scheduled work session this Saturday. As usual, there will be some of the group who will come anyway. If we have 2-3 people come, we will install the steel posts intended to support the bar stock ring for the turntable. This effort shouldn’t take long to complete and there is no digging involved (yea!!!). As usual, if you’re bored and want something to do, come on down and join in the fun. If you can only devote a single visit to the Museum this weekend, please consider coming to the Sunday Open House as we will be running thin on staff to operate the train as a couple of our regulars won’t be able to come Sunday.

Last weekend, we had the “Rails in the Garden” event visit the Museum on both Saturday & Sunday. We had a great showing on Saturday with plenty of staff to operate the train. Ron McLaughlin brought his “shorty” Santa Fe Chief with his engineer car and work caboose staffed with a couple of teddy bears from Benson. Roger Phillips brought his trailer full of Burlington Northern equipment from Casa Grande and we had three trains running on the track. The Museum’s Alco S4 with a couple of gondolas and the newly fitted-up beam car was used for passenger rides. It was a lot of fun with three trains running without having to worry about staff. With visitor’s arriving at a slower pace than a normal Open House, we were able to run the Museum train with only two staff persons. We had the drive gate closed, thus no flagman was needed and there were no lines waiting to ride the train all day, thus the station master duties were not needed. It was great weather and we were able to take lots of breaks during the day making it truly a pleasure to be there helping out. Sunday was the same – although we just had the Museum train running. John Roads and I were able to run the train all day until about 3:30 where we put it away. Thanks to those who came Saturday to help out including those who helped with the outdoor G-gauge setup. We received a lot of positive feedback.

In the morning during the work session, we were able to get the 9 holes dug for the steel posts. It was harder than anticipated due to the presence of rock in the holes. The water pic got us through the caliche without much effort, but it wouldn’t do a thing to the rock we encountered.

John, Jesse & I dug for two hours and have the sore shoulders/arms to prove it but we did get it done just as the Rails in the Garden visitors began to arrive.

For the event, Ron McLaughlin brought his Santa Fe Chief to add interest for the visitors.

Roger Phillips brought his trailer full of Burlington Northern equipment from Casa Grande.

It was a great day at the train Museum. Hope to see you this Sunday for the Open House.

PS: Don’t forget that Chairman Jesse has called a special meeting tonight beginning at 7:00 pm at the Museum. Please consider attending to add your suggestions regarding the following agenda items:

• Brainstorm how to get more help on our run days. Discuss Schedule/Signup.
• Recruitment & Train Show(s) display.
• Ongoing & future projects.
• Begin planning the Holiday Event scheduled for December 8th.
• Chairman & other committee appointments.
• Junior Engineer Program

March 3, 2018

Even though there is the Rails in the Garden Tour coming to the Museum at 10:00 am on Saturday, we will be having a scheduled work session beginning at 8:00 am. On the agenda will be the post hole digging for the vertical posts around the perimeter of the turntable ring that will support the 1” x ½” bar stock. We need 9 holes dug approximately 12” deep spaced approximately 3’ apart. Once dug, we will set 16” long, 1½” square tube posts into the holes and pour a small amount of concrete around the posts to hold them solid. Once the concrete sets, we’ll measure each with our builders level and then cut off the top of each to have all be exactly level to support the steel ring. The steel ring will be welded to the posts at a future work session. The turntable is going to be 16’ long and will ride upon the top of the bar stock which will be set 4” inside outer edge of the turntable (outer edge of the concrete ring).

But first things first, we need to get out the water pic, post hole digger, hammer drill and caliche bar and dig 9 holes. Once dug, we can mix up concrete and set the steel posts.

Last weekend, we took a welcome respite from the routine. The previous Saturday, with cool temperatures and overcast skies, the group got busy establishing the finished grade for the concrete ring. A little bit of digging was needed and the mound of dirt in the center had to be leveled by backfilling against the recently constructed retaining wall. We had a good turnout and the work went relatively fast as we completed the intended tasks. Below, Burt, Dave, Jesse & Tony are hard at work getting the grade established for the concrete ring. Roger was behind the camera.

The white lines in the picture below approximate where the post holes will be dug. Jesse, Dave, Tony, Michael and Roger admire their work.

Hope to see you all this Saturday. If you can, plan on staying for the Rails in the Garden Tour.

Every once in a while, I’ll pull out some old photos and we’ll reminisce a bit. I think it’s important as we continue to move forward to reflect on where we’ve been. ENJOY.

• November 2008 – Formal creation of the 7-1/2” gauge committee approved by the Museum BOD. A year of planning begins.

January 2009 - In the beginning, erosion & weeds were the norm.

October 2010 – In the picture below, Glenn Ellis, using his Bobcat, moved all of the cut soil from the front of the Museum to the rear to provide a stable & level roadbed for the railroad. Notwithstanding, notice the 2” diameter pipes driven into the ground about 4’ apart that hold restrain the pieces of rail that hold back the imported soil. Those pipes are 2’ long and had to be driven into the ground through caliche and rock. Raymond & Burt hammered on one for about 20 minutes but couldn’t get it driven completely. That’s when Dale Cover suggested that we use his “water pic” which was nothing but a piece of ½” pipe with a valve and hose connection on it. Of all the ideas brought forward during construction of this railroad, the water pic falls at the top of the list for saving time, not to mention our backs. The water pic enabled all of the 30+/- pipes to easily be driven into the ground in about 2 hours. Thank you Glenn Ellis and Dale Cover for your invaluable contributions to the Museum.

March 2011 – Bob Rubino and Hugh Madsen took on the project to create the rock retaining wall out front using rock excavated from the home of Glenn Ellis.

Magnificent would be an understatement describing their work as the wall has withstood the test of time without any failings whatsoever. Thank you to both Hugh & Bob for their contribution.

February 24, 2018

There will not be a scheduled work session held this Saturday. Work on the turntable will pause until the following Saturday’s work session. An email will be sent out next week explaining what the next steps are for the turntable. If you want to come down on Saturday, you’re certainly welcome to do so as there is a birthday party scheduled on the calendar so it would be nice to be able to give the kids a ride.

Last Saturday, Roger Phillips brought back the straddle beam car with the mounting pieces for the trucks installed including coupler pockets and couplers temporarily on loan. We quickly installed the pair of Tom Bee trucks that we had on hand and put the car on the tracks. For those of you who might remember, Saturday morning looked and felt like a drizzly day in San Francisco.

Not deterred, we got the beam car on the track and hooked it up to the Museum’s Alco S4. With headlights on, we then took it for a short trip up & down the foggy tracks.

This homemade beam car was built a couple of years ago by Dale Cover in his garage using donated lumber. It was painted at the Museum and the seat upholstery was added by Roger Phillips. Although it has some warping issues, it will give us a good opportunity to test the concept with passengers before investing a bunch of money in commercially available steel units of similar design. Planned improvements include edging along the sides of the footrest board to prevent a person’s foot from accidently sliding off the car.

We may consider building a beam car utilizing a welded steel frame similar to that depicted in the photos below. Steel will reduce the likelihood of warpage although care during the welding process to keep the steel straight & plumb will be critical. We’ll see how the wood beam car works out before we go down this road. The photo below is a beam car currently marketed for $395 on the website They are being built in Florida so shipping could add dramatically to that cost.

Another example of a beam car frame being marketed on the same website is depicted below (photo shows three separate frames stacked on top of each other). The frames are priced at $295 each. They are also located in Florida.

Now to the important stuff: This Sunday is Open House. We will be somewhat short staffed as yours truly will be out of town. If you can attend the Open House to help with running the train, please let Chairman Jesse know so that plans can be made. Jesse’s email is . The weather for Sunday will be sunny and cool. Should be fine for running the train if there is enough staff.

February 17, 2018

Yes, it’s late notice, but the weather has been pretty wild the last few days. Working outside in the dirt/mud wouldn’t have worked out so I had to wait to make sure that Saturday would be dry. The forecast says 70’ish and we shouldn’t have any rain overnight so it should be dried out. Therefore, there is a scheduled work session to begin at 8:00 am.

On the work agenda will be backfilling against the newly laid up retaining wall. This accomplishes two things; 1) it gives us a level place to work and, 2) it lowers the pile of dirt to enable us to get the grades established for the concrete ring.

Once the dirt pile is lowered, we can then establish the exact location and grade for the placement of the concrete ring that will support the ends of the turntable. If we finish that task, we can then determine where the vertical supports for the circular bar stock will be installed and perhaps begin digging the holes needed to install them.

Last weekend, although not a scheduled work session, we did get the last course of block installed on the stem wall as well as placement of rebar to secure the concrete ring to the stem wall when it is poured.

Tony Kanavage was kind enough to do the block installation which was checked and found to be nearly perfect in terms of being level. Great job Tony!

The turntable is slowly becoming a reality so it’s not too soon to start thinking about how to safely use it. Our engines may not weigh as much as a real one, but 600 pounds ain’t exactly light. As much as we try to make the track dead level in and out of the turntable, there will be a slight grade between the turn table and the engine house. Unattended equipment could roll into the turntable.

So, easily placed and visually obvious wheel chocks will need to be created and used or ???

During a Wednesday night work session at the Museum, we decided to get the train out and do some “night-running” to see how well the GPD’s Alco S4 headlight would illuminate the track as we are probably going to be giving night time rides during the Holiday Event scheduled at the end of the year themed around the Polar Express movie. Below is a photo taken during that test behind the caboose.

Night time running is a very different experience. I encourage you to try it. Think about how this will look with Christmas lights and decorations along the route. It’s going to be fun!    Hope to see you tomorrow morning.

February 10, 2018

There will not be a “scheduled” work session Saturday due to the Open House Sunday. However, rumor has it that the completion of the concrete block stem wall for the turntable will occur Saturday so if you are looking for something fun to do, you are certainly welcome to come down @ 8:00 am and join this jolly group of masons while they work their magic. As usual, on Open House weekends, if your schedule only permits one visit to the Museum, please choose Sunday as we’ve been having a lot of difficulty getting enough help to run the train during Open House.

Last Saturday, Glenn Ellis & Tony Kanavage took on the placement of the first two courses of 8” x 8” x 16” concrete blocks.

Like any project, sometimes the hardest part is just getting started. With the weather cooperating, and with John Roads, Jesse Miller, Paul Kruppenbacher feeding Glenn & Tony mortar on demand, they dynamic duo made good headway. Laying block isn’t the easiest task on the planet, and laying block in a curved pattern on a sloped embankment with uneven surfaces doesn’t make it any easier. On top of that, QC inspection from Burt Wright, who was relegated to “gofer” as he was recovering from flu, slowed progress to a crawl, but even with the problems, the group managed to get two of the three courses laid and it looks pretty darn good.

Only one more course of 4” x 8” x 16” remain and then the grouting.

Hope to see you this weekend – especially on Sunday!

February 3, 2018

Wow, what incredible weather!

Sorry for the late notice but Saturday, beginning at 8:00 am, we plan on moving into the 3rd phase of building the turntable. That will be the laying up of concrete block to create the stem/retaining wall for that portion of the turntable that extends slightly into the drainage swale. Depending on the number of individuals who come, we may also address a couple of track conditions identified during Sunday’s Open House.

Last Saturday, a few brave souls showed up to complete phase 2 of the turntable project which was the mixing and placing of a concrete foundation into the excavation (Phase 1) created a couple of months ago for the turntable. We quickly re-established the elevation needed for the top of the footing and set some rebar stakes to help us establish where the top of the concrete needed to be. Then, we strategically placed the cement mixer (obtained from Raymond McDaniel) at the edge of the excavation. This allowed us to mix & dump the concrete directly into the trench eliminating the need to wheel concrete to the trench. To prevent dirt from falling into the concrete during the pour, a trough was formed using plywood and roofing felt. By the way, thank you to Raymond McDaniel for putting wheels on that mixer!

4 volunteers then mixed up the twenty, 80 pound sacks of concrete and managed to get 98% of it into the location where it belonged. Glenn Ellis ran the mixer and created a consistent mix each time allowing it to easily pour down the embankment into the trench. It only took about 2 hours, and the result was great.

With Glenn in charge of making the mix, Dave Pederson and Jurgen Zander worked the trench below pulling the concrete as needed to each end of the excavation.

Once poured, equipment was cleaned & put away and we retired to our favorite watering hole to listen to Burt complain about having to lift 1,600 pounds of concrete twice.

We have now completed Phase Two of the project. Phase 3, which is the laying of 3 courses of cinder block (2 courses using 8”x8”x16” blocks and 1 course using 4”x8”x16”) on top of the foundation, will begin this Saturday. If any of you have experience laying concrete block, it would be great to have your help. It’s not that many block – less than 35 total.

Below are a couple of snipped images from our design drawing:


As a look ahead, once Phase 3 is completed. Note that the phases indicated below are intended to represent approximately 1 work session at the Museum. Some may get combined and others may be split into multiple sessions depending upon the amount of help we get.
• Phase 4: excavation & grading at the surface creating a level area for the 360 degree 8” x 4” concrete grade ring.

  • Phase 5: form & steel setting for the grade ring.

  • Phase 6: mix & pour the concrete grade ring.

  • Phase 7: form, steel setting, and concrete pour for the center hub assembly.

  • Phase 8: build and place the turntable.

  • Phase 9: form & pour the curbing required for installation of the approach tracks into the turntable.

  • Phase 10: grade the ground from the existing track to the turntable and from the turntable to the engine house.

  • Phase 11: Install track connecting the existing track to the turntable and from the turntable to the engine house.

Hope to see you all this Saturday at 8:00 am.

Large Scale Railroad - 2017
Large Scale Railroad - 2015-2016
Large Scale Railroad 2014 (July-Dec)
Large Scale Railroad 2014 (Jan-June)
Large Scale Railroad - 2013
Large Scale Railroad 2012 (July - Dec)
Large Scale Railroad 2012 (Jan-June)
Large Scale Railroad 2011

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[Page Published February 12, 2019 ]
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