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Tucson, Arizona


Toy Train Museum Tunnel


Toy Train Museum Tunnel


Large Scale Railroad
Construction Progress 2012 
(January - June)

Come down and help build a railroad!

(See below for previous accomplishments)

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Large Scale Railroad 2011

Saturday (June 30, 2012): 

After a well deserved week off, we'll meet again with the inside group continuing to work on the R&R's and the outside group continuing with the track leveling & restraining. It's going to get pretty warm quickly, so I can't predict how long we'll be able to work outside.

I don't want any of you to think that the "three amigo's" who traveled to the White Mountains last weekend didn't work hard. As the following picture demonstrates, we got a huge amount of work accomplished.

This week, we've also begun brainstorming the commemorative souvenir's that will be given away and/or sold during and after the Golden Spike ceremony in December. We'll be sharing these ideas with the group during the work session tomorrow.

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Hope to see you at 6:30 AM tomorrow.

Saturday (June 23, 2012):     a short break...

Due to several circumstances including three of our group taking a trip to the north country, the normal work session scheduled for this coming Saturday (June 23rd) is cancelled. We will take this well deserved week off and resume work beginning the follow Saturday, June 30th. Take advantage of the break and stay inside where it's cool.

PS: This Sunday, the 24th, will be the last Open House until they resume in September. Please consider attending and helping with greeting the public.

PPS: Last night was the "Toy Train Express" event at the Museum. This event was designed to encourage people to join the Museum by inviting them to bring in their trains to run on the Museum layouts. An informal welcome ceremony was orchestrated and we may possibly see some new members join as a result. Look for a new face or two at our next work session.

Click to enlarge The track leveling process has begun evidenced by the "hump" being gone.


I'll send out the normal reminder email next Wednesday.

See you all soon.

Saturday (June 16, 2012):

Yesterday late afternoon, the concrete forms were set into the excavations that were dug during our work session last Saturday. If you want to see that progress, you can stop by the Museum this evening during the inside work session. The Museum will be open no later than 7 PM if you want to drop by. The concrete pour schedule is still a little bit uncertain, dependant upon schedules becoming available as we are receiving donated labor to pour and finish this critical stretch. In other words, the concrete will probably get poured early next week but we aren't certain of the specific day and/or time. Click to enlarge

The work session schedule for this Saturday June 16th, beginning at 6:30, will include three different, important, efforts:

1. We will need to backfill between the edge of the excavations to the backsides of the newly placed forms. We will also need to fill in the bottom of the excavation to bring the level up to the bottom of the forms. We could also place the steel into the forms and tie some spacers between the two long pieces to keep them properly separated. We can break up some of the broken pieces of asphalt to set below the steel to get it off the bottom of the trenches.

2. One group (I'll call them the inside group) will begin work developing Operational Rules & Regulations that will govern the use of the 7-1/2" gauge track by Museum Members (and potentially their guests). We have copies of other tracks efforts (attached for your review). Once a draft is completed, it will be submitted to the BOD for review & approval. It will be important that this review is thorough and well thought out. If you have internet access, you can type "live steam" into your browser and there is virtually no end to the amount of information you can get with a little bit of patience.

3. The other group (I'll call them the outside group) will begin the process of track leveling. This will include placing additional ballast as needed as some areas didn't get enough to begin with. Work will also include restraining the outside curve rails to control the effects of expansion and centrifugal forces from train operation. This project will continue on through the summer and into the fall.
The outside group will be made up by those who can get up & down without getting hurt although supervision is always appreciated. With temperatures beginning to rise earlier each day, we will probably work two to three hours outside until the heat drives the outside group inside where they will join the inside group to input into the developing R&R's.

Last week, due to the generosity of George Bartholomew, we made relatively short work out of what could have been a really tough job & that was cutting through about 100 lineal feet of caliche, albeit on 8" thick. Yeah, there was some relatively easy digging although I don't necessarily define any digging as easy, but there was a lot of really hard caliche. George B sent over a small track excavator that must have been designed with our task in mind. We marveled at the talent of the operator and the capabilities of this piece of equipment.

Click to enlarge The excavator is able to dig a trench parallel to the unit, although offset to the side of it. It's like a back hoe attached to a track excavator.


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We widened the "cuts" across the loading zone to enable the 18" wide bucket to be used to dig the entire length of trench. The saw cutting is always a tough task, but still easier than pick & shovel through caliche.

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During the digging, we unearthed the water line that we installed months ago. Luckily, there was no damage done. During the forming process yesterday, this line was cut & stubbed out toward the steaming bays, 16" south of the loading zone. The line was re-buried and is out of harms way waiting for the concrete.

As the morning heated up, and the trenching completed, we packed up the equipment, stretched out the warning tape for the Open House scheduled for the next day, & headed for our favorite watering hole.

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Hope to see you this Saturday @ 6:30.

Saturday (June 9, 2012):

This Saturday, beginning at 6:30 AM, we'll start the process of excavation for the foundations/tracks of the transfer table. We hope to have help in the digging from George Bartholemew who offered to come with a small excavator which should make relatively short work of the digging.

We may or may not begin the forming process depending on availability of forms & stakes. More on that later.

Last week, we took Saturday off to enjoy the train show. The two day meet proved to be a huge success attended by a great attendance on both days. For those who didn't or couldn't attend, Jesse Miller took some photographs of the process of moving tables.

As usual, Glenn's pickup & trailer were huge in making the task go quickly.

Burt's daughter and her boyfriend also pitched in with strong backs.


Click to enlarge As predicted, the entire process took less than 1-1/2 hours. The new digs were impressive and everyone seemed very pleased with the final outcome. Several of our group helped out with setting up some of the portable layouts as well.


 Click for more Swap Meet Pictures
Click here for more Swap Meet Pictures

Everyone who helped out should be proud of their support given to the Museum in this meet. The GPD's hope that this 1st meet at the new facility would break even turned into a great success with a significant net income being derived.

Hope to see you Saturday.     Yahoo! Messenger ID: burt_kwmech

Saturday (June 2, 2012): (Canceled)

Due to the June 1st & 2nd Summer Train Meet, the work session Saturday June 2nd is cancelled. Instead, we are asking for help loading tables on this Friday, June 1st @ 7:30 AM at the Museum. Once loaded, we'll transport them to the Expo Center & set them up in the Grand Ballroom. We'll be done before 10:00 AM. On Saturday, after the meet has concluded, we need to take the tables down, reload & transport back to the Museum. Any help during either or both days will be greatly appreciated. Please wear your orange membership badge.

Click to enlarge Last week, we completed work on the approach track to the transfer table location. This included making the curve track connections, verifying correct alignments, & placing ballast. 


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While the track crew slowly & carefully tended to their work, Dale picked up the container and set additional block under it so that the doors will clear the top of the approach track. What should have taken hours, got done in 10 minutes. 

Click to enlarge Glenn moved the ballast dump, clearing the way for the transfer table area to receive additional fill & be compacted.


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That completed, the string lines came out and levelness was achieved. We're reading to start excavating the trenches for the concrete transfer table rail foundations.

photo credits to Jesse Miller

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Click to enlarge The rail section over the ash dump was cut out in preparation for installation of the steel rail bridge section that will be fabricated by our resident welder/fabricator Raymond.



In two weeks (June 9th), we will be inviting George Bartholomew to dig the two trenches in preparation for our pour.  More on that to come.  George Bartholomew - (former owner of the Edaville RR - history can be read at

Hope to see you this weekend at the train meet. It should be a good one!

Saturday (May 26, 2012):

As I'm writing this email, the temperature is "hovering" around 106. But it's a dry heat. This Saturday, the projected high temperature is predicted to be about 90. It must be all that clean living. This Saturday, I'm moving up the start time to 6:30 AM. It'll be a little cooler and the sun is rising earlier. The start times will be 6:30 as we move forward into the summer.

We will complete the track installation on the approach track (two more sections) and place ballast. In addition, we will begin the process of checking grade for the transfer table tracks - the area must be level throughout the proposed run. We will get the old plate tamper out and see if it still runs.

Click to enlarge Last weekend, we had a very productive productive work session completing everything we had planned and then some. First, the gaps in the loop at the north end on each side of the sidewalk were re-leveled to finished grade.

Track was placed, cut, and connected to the existing steel rails at the driveway and the sidewalk.

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Click to enlarge Alignments were quickly checked and the ballasting was installed, raked, and dressed.


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This work was performed quickly with many hands and we quickly finished and took a moment to reflect on exactly what we've accomplished during the past 12 months. Yes, it was May 14, 2011 (just over 12 months ago) when we first started laying track sections next to the great wall of Rubino. Wow, we've accomplished a lot!

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With the finished ballasting done, we brought in some of the red colored base material and raked it onto the surface giving the front entrance area to the Museum a nice appearance and finished look.

We then turned our attention back to the approach track. We had to do a little bit of finish grade adjustment at the point where we are connecting track to the existing turnout.

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There was a lot of discussion and thinking about an alignment issue, but it was resolved.

Click to enlarge As with every challenge this group has faced, resolution has usually been a matter of just doing it. We were able to get one section connected and fully ballasted and a second section connected as well. Click to enlarge

This is where we called it a day and retired to the ole watering hole aka: Sam's. Robert & Burt enjoyed a new concoction - a peeled fresh orange, set around two scoops of French vanilla ice cream, topped with whipped cream and a cherry. Take the success of the morning work session, with a pitcher of adult beverage, and the dish of orange wedges set in ice cream - it simply doesn't get better than that. We spent some time at lunch reflecting on the accomplishments during the past year. We're all looking forward to December 1st GOLDEN SPIKE

Lots to do, so hope to see you Saturday. Don't forget the new time - 6:30 AM.

PS: Don't forget the 7-1/2 Gauge Committee's offer to move tables for the upcoming June 1st and 2nd train meet. Mike Tuinstra sent out an email earlier this week indicating that the meeting time at the GPD Museum on Friday morning, June 1st will be 7:30 AM (not 8 AM as previously mentioned). Many hands will make very short work of this task.

Saturday (May 19, 2012):

This Saturday at 7 AM, we'll meet to finish placement of the track to complete the loop. We will also begin laying out the transfer table path so that excavation of footings can begin. 

Last Saturday was pretty gratifying with the working pretty much going off as expected and on schedule. We then retired to our ole reliable watering hole where we discovered a wonderful combination of culinary delight: A pitcher of adult beverage in combination with a freshly peeled orange and a scoop of French vanilla ice cream. If that does get your salivary glands in overdrive, then you need to check your pulse!

Click to enlarge We began last work session by cutting & bending the rebar that needed to be placed into the approach track foundation. Raymond's vice clamped to ballasting dump helped to make short work of that task.

While the "bend crew" were getting the bends done, the steel was getting placed and wired into the foundation.

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Click to enlarge Once the steel was in place, we positioned the mixer and began mixing up the concrete for the foundation.

Bring on the cement - today, we've got youth to help with the process! Glenn, if we haven't said this enough, thank you so much for contributing the use of the Bobcat. 80# bags are heavy! Just ask Jesse.

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Jesse gave us all a lesson on how to properly load the mixer with a bag of concrete, bless his heart, who's next? 

Click to enlarge The footing got poured, smoothed out and quickly turned solid enough to support the block. I guess that 90 degrees and 0 % humidity will do that.  Click to enlarge Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge With the block set & leveled, we had time to get the mixer back out & solid grout the block.

We still had some time, so we drilled 5/8" holes through the seven ties in a section of straight track & installed J-bolts with nuts & washers. 

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Then we placed the straight track section onto the freshly grouted block, verified straight alignment with a string and tapped the J-bolts down into the freshly poured grout. We cleaned up a little & then called it a day. Click to enlarge For those who weren't there, the "gap" in the center of this section of block will get a removable metal box to be used as an "ash dump" for the live steamers. Ultimately, the aluminum track and wood ties over the top of the ash dump will be replaced with steel rail and supports because of the heat generated at this spot.
So you can all start keeping score, attached is a Schedule that was brought last week to the work session for review & comment. The attached is slightly modified from the schedule that we initially presented & it will get updated from time to time as we get closer to our goal. The tasks are described in general terms to make it a little easier to see where we are, where we're going, and where we've been. Everyone should focus on the remaining individual tasks while keeping an eye on December 1st. ScheduleRev2012-05-14    Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge Here is a "Preview" of work for this Saturday:

The single curve section will be long enough to make the connection from the end of the existing rail to the sidewalk. The section still needs to be "cut to fit", levelness checked, but we should make short work of this. With another Open House scheduled for Sunday, we need to "button up" the loop & get it ballasted.  GDP 7.5" ga. Test Ride 

Looking forward to seeing everyone Saturday. We've picked up bottled liquids that will be chilled in the refrigerator as hydration is taking on major importance again.

PS: Please mark June 1st and 2nd (Friday & Saturday) down on your calendars - these are the days for our new & improved Train Show at the Expo Center. 

Click to enlarge This time it's a two day meet and this will be the first time at this new site. A significant effort has been placed into marketing this meet since it's the first time we've gone to the two-day format and the first time at this location. As before, we are taking on the responsibility for table set up and take down. We'll meet at the Museum on Friday morning at 8 AM sharp to load tables into Glenn Ellis' trailer plus a pickup truck or two. We'll transport them to the Expo Center arriving about 9 AM where we'll make short work of the setup. On Saturday afternoon, after the meet is finished (2 PM), we'll take the tables down & return them to the Museum and put them back into the container. This is a very important project that we seem to do well. Many hands make very short work of it. Reminder emails will be sent out. 

Saturday (May 12, 2012):

This Saturday morning, beginning at 7 AM, we'll meet at the GPD to complete work on the foundation for the approach track to the transfer table. This will include bending, placing, & wiring rebar into the footing, mixing, placing, and finishing concrete in the footing, and setting block including the "block out" for the ash dump. If we have time, we'll mix concrete & grout the block, but this may need to wait until the next session.

At the Board of Directors meeting last evening, we formally announced that our "GOLDEN SPIKE" ceremony was scheduled for Saturday, December 1st (less than 7 months from now). The Board is extremely supportive of what our group has accomplished and voted unanimously to allow us to direct the event while committing their assistance as needed so that we may enhance the quality and magnitude of the ceremony. In other words, they appreciate and want to encourage us to make this one-time celebration as beneficial as possible to the Museum as well as the 7-1/2" gauge committee. There were no limitations presented, only opportunities. In my opinion, the discussion could not have been better. The only expectation that the Board has is that they be kept "in the loop" with progress reports presented at future board meetings.

So, it's now up to us to pull this off. We officially have a "Light in the end of the tunnel" - and it's Saturday, December 1st. There is a lot to still do, but we have time to get it done. All ideas on how we can make this event successful are encouraged. 

A Task Bar Schedule, that can be used as a gauge to measure progress, will be brought to the work session this Saturday for everyone's review and comment. It will get updated as needed as we move toward completion.

Last week, with corrected survey information provided by Jim DeGrood, we were able to get the rough & finish grade work complete between the main line turnout near the west corner of the porch up to the west end of the 20' container. 

Click to enlarge  Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge Then, we began excavating for the foundation that will support the final 14' of flat track that is elevated to the level of the Container floor.

As usual, Glenn "forked things up" making the hand digging one heckofa lot easier. What would we do without Glenn & his Bobcat?

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What must be some sort of record, Glenn only took out one grade stake during all of the scraping, digging, and hauling. We were quickly able to restore the stakes elevation - "no harm, no foul". We love you Glenn!

Mid morning, over 50 kids showed up for a tour from Sierra Vista. The Museum was humming with volunteers, kids & parents all over the place.

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The group was there for over an hour but we kept on working. At the end of the session, the forms were placed in the footing and we are nearly ready to pour.

Hope to see you all this Saturday @ 7 AM. As usual, coffee & pastries will be available.

Saturday (May 5, 2012):

Last Saturday, we discovered what we think was our first survey "bust" on the project. Luckily, no concrete was poured thus no damage done. We hope to have the surveying reviewed and corrected and/or clarified on Friday to allow us to finish the grading this Saturday. That will enable us to get the forms set & foundation poured for the approach track. If we can't, then that project will need to be put on hold for a week and we'll focus on completion of the loop connections at the north end of the project. 

Last week, we received some valuable insight into the construction of the transfer table concrete rail supports. This help came from Mark Wasko, BSH Builders, who is a friend of the Payne family who were the gracious folks who moved our 20' container for us. We are hopeful that forming material for the transfer tables can be made available and installed for the project skillfully and all we may need to do is pay for the placement & finishing of the concrete. Mark also give us some "outside the box" ideas for forming & pouring the turntable ring although that project is still a ways out.

Last week, with Glenn's help in the Bobcat, we made short work of cutting the approach track grade down to the required distance for base material placement.

I don't know where our backs would be if we had to do this by hand.

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Click to enlarge Actually, I do know where our backs would be.

Raymond finished rebuilding the motorized drive/gear reduction unit for the transfer table and brought it down for a test. It ran fine - both directions.

This unit will be mounted on the rear cross member on the transfer table which will get delivered down to the GP this week.

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Hope to see you all at the meeting and on Saturday morning @ 7:00 AM.

Saturday (April 28, 2012):

The weather should be cooler & clear. More like it should be.

The inside track crew needs to build one more section of curved track.

The outside track crew will be laying the two final pieces of track to complete the loop where the steel section of track was installed last weekend.  We'll also start the process of grading the approach track to the transfer table. This will include the construction of a raised portion to bring us to container floor elevation. To accomplish this, we will form up a strip about 14' long & 16" wide and pour a 4" thick foundation to support a single course of 8x8x16 concrete block. Steel rebar will be installed in the footing with verticals staggered & extended into the cells of the block. If we have time, we may be able to also grout J-bolts into the CMU block for track securing. 

Don't know if we can finish all of this work this Saturday, but we should get a pretty good start on it. 

Raymond & I have pieced together a tentative schedule for the rest of the year's work sessions. It will be available at the work session for review & comment. The schedule is focused toward the "GOLDEN SPIKE" ceremony occurring on Saturday, December 1st in the late morning which will precede the Open House that occurs that day to start-off the Christmas Season. Please put that date on your Calendar. We want to give the GPD Board of Directors as much advanced notice as possible for this celebration so that formal plans and appropriate marketing decisions can be made. Everything on the schedule between now & then is in flux and can be adjusted. Please make it a point to review the proposed schedule on Saturday so that we may make final adjustments and submit to the BOD at their meeting May 9th.

As a special treat after the work session, Glenn Ellis has invited all of us to his home for barbeque on his back patio. I'm told that adult beverages will be available. There is a Jacuzzi for those with a desire to relax their sore muscle's. All you'll need is your swim trunks. 

Click to enlarge Last Saturday was very productive. The outside track crew poured the closure with the steel rails set into the sidewalk area. This process involved removal of a previously placed temporary concrete patch, re-leveling the section, and installation of steel mesh. Forms were reset (longer as the gap increased by about 15").

The rail, welded up by Raymond was set into carefully cut notches and then leveled. 

Then the fun began with the mixing of a bunch on concrete (twenty some 80# bags).

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Click to enlarge The slab size was "manageable" for our inexperienced crew and several got into the act with some finishing work.
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Click to enlarge While the outside track crew was making a career out of setting a little concrete, the inside track crew came outside with the help of Jim Degrood and surveyed the location and set grade hubs for the approach track that will connect the transfer table to the layout. 
Jim brought some sort of gadget that made the effort relatively painless as we could not use a string to scribe a 40' radius as the center point was not accessible. The crew worked their magic successfully, and the alignment and grade hubs are set. Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge A solution to the need for getting the track raised to the container floor elevation was engineered by the group in preparation for the following work session. But probably the greatest contribution came from Dale Cover on Sunday when I visited him and his wife Virginia who is currently recovering from a nasty fall a few weeks ago. I won't go into details about Dale's contribution here, you'll have to wait until the work session this Saturday. Thank you Dale. We do need you. 

We've got a lot of work to do this Saturday and we need to get an early start. Hope to see you at 7 AM, before it gets too warm.

Saturday (April 21, 2012):

Last Saturday, John showed up with snow & ice on his truck. This Saturday, it is predicted to be 96 degrees! Only in Arizona.

This Saturday, we'll pour the sidewalk patch incorporating steel track in a manner similar to the way the track traversed the two driveway entrances. This change of concept followed a lot of discussion about future settlement in the area and the need to keep ballast tamped and track leveled, both of which would require removal of the horizontal planking. In addition, the cost will be less. What is sacrificed is appearance although it is a relatively minor issue. What it does mean is that the track laying schedule will need to be adjusted out one more week to allow the concrete to cure. So closure of the loop will occur on Saturday, April 28th barring any untold weather catastrophe.

Another task that needs to begin is the process of laying additional ballast along our track as many locations didn't get enough. Then the process of leveling will need to begin.

Last Saturday, we were finally blessed, as predicted, with some rain. Yeah, it was cold and a little windy as well, John Buchanan (Glenn's friend) showed up at the work session with his truck partially covered with snow & ice. Apparently they had about 4" of the white stuff in Oracle where he lives. Burt quickly made an "ice ball" and did some target practicing. But, the weather was expected and as advertised, it did not dampen our spirits.

Click to enlarge The first task outside was to pull up the "boardwalk" and load it up and haul it off as it's job was completed. The sidewalk opening was raked level, formed off, with re-mesh placed in preparation for placement of concrete. Steel rail will be welded into gauge this week by Raymond McDaniel and it will be set into the sidewalk pour this Saturday.


With the sidewalk preparation completed, work continued at the north end with placement our another 20' long section of curved track and the turnout and new section were quickly ballasted.


Click to enlarge

  Click to enlarge  Click to enlarge

With track work completed outside and still some time left in the day, we collected all of the junk that has been piled outside of the container and with the willing offer from John Buchanan to haul it off for us, we loaded up his truck with all of the junk, tied it down, and it's now gone. Ivan's personal parking spot is back and things are good at the GP!

Thank you John!

Click to enlarge With all of the work going on outside, the inside crew was busy resurrecting the curve track template table which was moved into the work room, reassembled & aligned.

This task completed, the inside crew then knocked out the two needed curved sections to complete the approach track to the transfer table. 

Click to enlarge
Our creative photographers sent me the following picture to encourage all of us that completion of our initial phase of construction is pretty close to completion.

I'm not sure we should really look at this as being the finish line, but it certainly does represent a significant milestone.

It was another great day of progress and fellowship at the Train Museum.


Hope to see you all this Saturday @ 7:00 AM or whenever you get there.


Click to enlarge

Saturday (April 14, 2012):

We'll give it a try again this Saturday (7:00 AM) even though we may be in store for some much needed and prayed for rain. I doubt that it will dampen our spirits. The temperature shouldn't be too bad either so we hope you'll be able to attend.

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Last week, we had one of our best turnouts ever. I'm not ever sure how many people showed up, but we definitely made short work of getting another section of track laid and also setting the last turnout. The crew outside was all over the place working as we are quickly closing the gap to the connection at the driveway.


The first task was to re-establish the curved track alignment and finished grade. This was quickly accomplished & painted onto the ground.

The curve track was then placed, ends cut, gaps set, and then ballast was wheeled in & placed to secure the track.

Then, the last turnout was set in place, track ends cut, gaps set, ties added and then the turnout was ballasted.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge While the track work was going on, another portion of the crew were rough grading between the turnout and the sidewalk crossing. This area was dug down, leveled, base material set, compacted, and final leveling done in preparation for this weekend.  Click to enlarge
We opened the fence at the north end to bring in some fill. This temporary opening will give us much needed access into the north portion of the property as fill is needed along the top bank of the drainage way as well as access for the excavator that will be brought in for digging out the turntable pit. The bobcat will use this access way for working out the final grading for trackage from the turntable.  Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge The track crew inside continues to produce track at an amazing rate. The outside crew has had difficulty keeping pace with this inside crew.

The total amount of straight track needed to complete the entire layout will be finished this Saturday. We now need to turn our attention to making two additional sections of curved track to finish the approach track to the transfer table.

It was another great day at the Train Museum.

Hope to see you this Saturday.

Picture credits to Jesse Miller & John Roads
Thank you guys for making these messages interesting and making the email much smaller!

Saturday (April 7, 2012): 

REMINDER: I'm sending this out a day earlier than normal so I can remind anyone who may be interested, there will be a meeting tomorrow night (Wednesday) at 7:00 PM at the GPD regarding the Large Scale layout future. There was a short blurb about it in the GPD newsletter that came out Saturday. So, if you are interested in the future of G gauge inside and/or outside or you are interested in the further development of Standard Gauge tinplate trains inside the Museum, you may want to attend this developmental meeting.

Now, on to 7-1/2" gauge - Wow! The weather God has certainly been good to us. This Saturday should prove to be no different. We'll meet again at 7:00 AM for those early riser's (late arriver's are certainly welcome too) - coffee & pastries will be available as usual. We need to set the last turnout & get track laid & connected to it. In addition, we need to cut long ties for the straight track section that will cross the sidewalk area. Lumber for that task will be available.

Raymond has been busy for the last week & a half making the 2nd outrigger for the transfer table and he plans on delivering it to the GPD this Saturday as well. This monumental task has been done without assistance at his home in his backyard. We all owe an enormous thank you for all of his efforts and donations of materials.

Last week, we were joined by John Buchannan who is a friend of Glenn Ellis. He's the one in the picture who doesn't look like Darel. John has previously helped us out with various donations of equipment as well - namely the ballast chute and most recently the metal stairway that will ultimately be adapted to replace the existing wooded steps into the Caboose. His help and presence is appreciated for sure.

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Click to enlarge

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We began the work session last Saturday by excavating another portion of the area around the front of the building in preparation for more track laying. It was great to have the Bobcat back & even greater to have Glenn back in the driver's seat.

It never ceases to amaze me as to how Glenn can steer this machine into such a tight space. Our backs, arms, etc. really appreciate that. Welcome back Glenn.


Dave Petersen's help has been so appreciated this winter, and it is with sadness that I report this was his last work session until he returns in the fall.  I think he felt a little guilty about leaving us here in the DESERT HEAT so he worked liked crazy as shown in the pictures I took.

We'll miss you Dave - as a matter of fact, how bout we get on AMTRAK and come visit you in late July or August?

Click to enlarge

We finished up the excavation and filled the trench with the remaining base material we had on hand. Hopefully, this Friday, Glenn & I will get one more trailer load of base delivered to the GPD in time for the next work session.

Click to enlarge The base completed, leveled, and watered for compaction, we brought in some of the red material & raked it into the remaining rock ground cover surface to make the area presentable for the Open House scheduled for the next day. The area was then cordoned off for the Open House occurring the next day. With a little time remaining, the group then headed to the west side of the building where we set two sections of straight track on the primary siding. Although not shown on the picture below, ballast was then wheel barrowed back and placed on the newly set track.


Click to enlarge This was a full work session with a lot accomplished. The track making crew cranked out two more 20' long sections of straight track getting them closer to completion as well.

Unfortunately, your substitute photographer (me, as our regular photog's didn't attend) wasn't able to sneak in the room to actually document that they were working. But, they did manufacture 40' of track so something must of happened.

The group reflected on the progress made during the past 12 months during a break. 12 months ago, the Great Wall of Rubino was just being finished. Virtually no track had been laid and drainage was thought about but no work was done to control it.

Keith Pullen who has posted our historical pictures and reports on the GPD website has provided these links to direct any interested folks to these pictures & descriptions. The first link is for 2012 & the 2nd link is to 2011. I invite you all to reflect on what we all have accomplished.

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See you Saturday ! ! !

Saturday (March 31, 2012): 

We will continue working this Saturday (31st) toward completion of the loop. Coffee & pastries will be available as usual beginning at 7:00 AM. The weather will cooperate as usual. We hope to have Glenn back in the fold as he's now up and moving around albeit still on the mend. Although we'll be moving some base material, we hope to have the use of his Bobcat.

Last Saturday, two 20' sections of curved track were set onto base that was replaced during our last work session. The new curved sections were tied into the turnout at the northwest corner of the building. This was the first curved track laid for quite some time and some of us forgot how tricky the connection process can be. In addition, the radii of the pre-made curved sections seemed to have increased while in storage and this had to be corrected & re-established during the placement.

With new hands involved, some explanation of the process needed to precede the process of making these connections and I'll readily admit, it took a little bit of "practice" to get back into the swing of it.

The "kinks" got worked out though. It took a little effort but all in all, the process went well.

The second section arrived and took little time to place. The practice we got on the first section helped get the second section connected in quickly. Jesse test drove the single truck through the curve (it passed inspection). The results were rewarding and everyone seemed proud of the finished product. The ballast got placed on the new track including the turnout and the straight track leading into the turnout. We were ready for the Open House the following day.
Some of the group indicated that they could see a light in the end of the tunnel. No comment on that . . . 

At the Open House on Sunday, there were a lot more comments about the 7-1/2" gauge RR as suspected - this section of track is right in front of the main entrance to the Museum.


On an related note, Dale Cover has been working at home during the week on the GPD's first ride on car. Dale has constructed this straddle beam type car from plans published in Live Steam Magazine that were prepared by a live steam group located in Ohio. This proven design will provide a safe means by which the public could be provided with rides when we get to that point. The picture below shows the unfinished body of the car awaiting sealer, paint and truck assembly installation. The trucks will be provided with brakes for safety and will be purchased separately. One thing I've learned about Dale is that there is no lack of a "can do attitude" in this man's makeup.

Some of you may recall the damaged kiddie car that was donated to our group by fellow GPD member Marlin Benson. The car had a damaged wood frame, a broken metal axle mount, and was missing all of its' wheels. Above is a result of some interesting ingenuity as Dale took the project on to resurrect the piece and make it whole again. Dale solicited the welding/brazing talents of Raymond McDaniel who repaired the axle mounting and then Dale made the wheels from scratch using wood scraps and then incorporated inverted automatic fan belts for tires. He re-glued the split frame and for little investment other than a dose of sweat equity, the 1920's vintage toy is again in one piece that makes sense. Great job guys - you both deserve kudos'.

Although I don't have photo's of the accomplishment, Raymond completed the welding & fabrication of the first of two outriggers that will support the transfer table (the Big Joe forklift donated by Dale Cover). The assembly was delivered during our last work session and was off-loaded into one of the containers. It weighed a lot and was manhandled by the members into storage. Construction of this transfer table is a huge project and very necessary for this railroad to function. The first installment looks great and the second outrigger will be started soon. We're close to needing to excavate the trenches for the transfer table and will need a highly skilled concrete crew to form, pour & finish the two parallel strips of concrete. These two strips must be parallel and level to each other for the transfer table to roll correctly. We will be contacting several concrete contractors to see what the costs will be. Any suggestions or recommendations will be welcome. 

Thanks again to Jesse Miller & John Roads for taking and sharing these photo's of the RR work and also to Dale Cover for the photo of the beam car project (I assume that his wife Virginia took the picture). These really add to the interest of these emails and I'm told that those who can't be with us really appreciate the updates with pictures.

Hope to see you Saturday! 7:00 AM

Saturday (March 24, 2012): 

Amazing weather Monday - saw it all: Rain, hail, snow & sleet. Temperatures fell like a rock. This Saturday, it will be clear & 80's again - you gotta love Tucson.

We'll be without Glenn Ellis again this Saturday, although we hope to have him back soon. He's mending well and he appreciates all the well wishes. Rumor has it that he might be able to attend some of the Open House this Sunday.

We'll meet again Saturday beginning at 7:00 AM to hopefully start setting curved track where we placed base material last weekend.

As shown above, last weekend, we had to first, remove the previously set new base material as it wouldn't compact.  There was no easy way to accomplish this task but we got it done.

We placed the new material, leveled it and soaked it to get compaction.

In addition, we set rip rap into the newly created headwall in preparation for the predicted rains to come a few days later. The rains came & this structure did exactly what it is supposed to do. Great job to all that contributed to this effort.

We even got a hand from Darel ! ! !

The track making crew is continuing to build up the stockpile of straight track while the outside track laying crew is making slower progress.

Dale Cover is beginning to build our first beam style ride-on car. I've seen the beginning progress & it's going well.

Hope to see you Saturday. Burt

Saturday (March 17, 2012):

We will again meet this Saturday @ 7:30 although people are starting to show up earlier as the sun is coming up earlier. The gates & building will be open at 7:00 if you want to come a little earlier. Coffee will be on and donuts available. Early birds get the worms!

We were lucky to get assistance last weekend from John Roads, who is Jesse's Uncle I think. As it turns out, John is an old fire fighter friend of "yours truly" except that John is still at it. John not only lent a strong back to the process, but was also responsible for taking the pictures you see below. Thank you John!


Last Saturday the track building crew inside kept churning out the straight track sections and delivering them to the outside crew. Their efforts are starting to pile up outside and are making the outside crew look a little inefficient. The picture above seems to be crying out for someone to add an appropriate caption. 

Having said that, the outside crew is having a tough time keeping up with the inside guys for sure, getting a little bogged down finishing up grading in the front of the building with completed headwalls: 


& placement of rip rap:


Headwalls now completed, this coming work session will probably see replacement of the base material that was set a couple of weeks ago as the last haul of that material won't compact nearly as well as the previously used base which compacts much better. In fact, this new material isn't compacting at all which will be problematic and will not provide adequate support for this critical section of track. Burt & Glenn will try to obtain replacement material this Friday for use on Saturday. At worst, we will place some of the straight track that the inside crew has been hard at work manufacturing. Either way, there is plenty to do.

Looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible. Burt

Saturday (March 10, 2012):

This Saturday @ 7:30 AM we will have coffee on and pastries available for fuel. Weather has been awesome for sure and this weekend appears to be no exception. Progress for the last work session included completing a new drainage structure with headwall across the Right-of-Way at the NW corner of the building. We ran out of stacked blocks, otherwise it would be done & backfilled. We'll get some additional block and get this finished this Saturday. We still need to place rip/rap rock below it for stabilization of the bank. 

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Click to enlarge This Saturday, we can begin the installation of curved track at the north end of the building where finished grade was placed last week. 

We had a new visitor come and help last Saturday - another Robert added to the group. We can certainly use another Robert. Robert, whose last name is Moulton (I think) is the one holding up the rake in the picture above. Good thing he was there because that rake could have fallen over if he hadn't been.

Robert (Bob) spends every other weekend up on Mt. Graham keeping the telescopes running for the UofA and is enjoying (hopefully) a little "low tech" for a change. He claims to have the highest train layout in the State installed up on Mt Graham - it's O gauge. We really appreciate his help and hope he continues to join us. For those of you who weren't at last Saturday's work session, below is a picture of Robert downloaded somewhere from the UofA's website. Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge Depending on time and manpower, we can also complete the 1st siding north of the passing siding on the west side. Although it may be slightly lower in priority that the north loop connection, the straight track sections are now built for this siding and it can be completed. 

Don't forget that we have an Open House on Sunday. Your help is always appreciated at these events. Hope to see you Saturday.   Burt

Saturday (March 3, 2012):

We'll again meet at 7:30 AM this Saturday morning with wonderful weather to continue working on the railroad. Last week was productive with the backside main line and passing siding becoming completed with ballasting. The drain grate was installed adjacent to the back walk and the space along the walk filled with ballasting.

We'll hold off on building the 2nd spur on the backside for now to concentrate on the north end. The turnout crew has begun making straight sections again to fill the need for additional straight track to complete the spur along the backside as well as the straight sections approaching the planned turntable and its' related sidings. As you can see from the picture below, we still have a couple pieces of straight track to set from the passing siding turnout to the north. 

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We may have a new volunteer come Saturday although I can't remember the gentlemen's name. Look for a stranger (not as strange as me) and be friendly as we can certainly use a fresh back and a pair of knees!

Looking forward to seeing you all there - coffee & pastries will be provided as usual.

PS: Don't forget the general membership meeting tomorrow night beginning at 7:00 PM. Dinner will be served beginning around 5:30 or so. 

Saturday (Feb 25, 2012):

This Saturday @ 7:30, we'll meet again to enjoy the unbelievably nice weather and maybe even get some track laying done. With the passing siding completed last work session and the last turnout completed, the grade pins set and the alignment painted on the ground, the track crew has no more excuses for not getting the north loop connected. 

Look at all these tools! Evidence that these guys appear to know what they're doing.
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Jesse, our newest member of the group, sent the attached photos plus a suggestion that it's "almost time to start looking for a golden spike". Raymond wants to start having some discussions about this, so give it some thought and we'll start the discussions this Saturday.

See you all on Saturday - coffee will be on & pastries available. 

Saturday (Feb 18, 2012):

Looks like the weather will give us another good day to work on the railroad. Was that winter that blew through town on Tuesday? Good Riddance!

As usual, we'll meet at 7:30 or so and coffee will be on & pastries available. Further grade work & track placement will occur along the west side where last week the going got a little tougher. Swinging a pick is hard work - even for the young guys. Fortunately, there will be less of that ahead.

Thanks again to Jesse for taking some time to take pictures.

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More track coming soon!

February 11, 2012 Photos, courtesy of Jesse Miller

Raymond is in the material acquisition stages for the turntable and transfer table. Wheel examples have been obtained and they look good. He'll probably bring them on Saturday for inspection.

Thanks to Jim Degrood, we've got our north end connection re-established and grade pins set. Final grade work can now begin.

See you Saturday AM.   Burt

Saturday (Feb 11, 2012):

I apologize for the late notice - I dropped the ball (I can't wait until I retire so I'll have some time - I know you guys that are retired are laughing at that remark!).

The work session Saturday morning is on as usual at 7:30 AM at the GPD. 

We'll continue up the back side of the building and begin with grading around the north end. We got a little bogged down last week with correcting the grade separation of the parallel passing siding as we found almost 2" difference while setting the northern turnouts. With that behind us and probably more of the same ahead of us, we will just continue to make progress.

Budget and inventory for 2012 were submitted to the GPD as required. I believe that we are continuing to meet our intended obligations to the GPD and as a group, are in good standing.

In the mean time, we'll just keep doing what were doing.

Hope to see you Saturday morning - coffee & pastries will be there.


PS: Open House Sunday 12:30 to 4:30. Please consider attending all or part.

First thing, there will be a General Membership Meeting this Friday night Feb. 4, 2012 beginning at 7 PM at the Museum (dinner at 5:30). Everyone is invited whether members or not. The guest speaker will be our own Jim Degrood who will be talking about the modern streetcar project. This will prove to be an interesting program. If you come early, at 5:30 PM, there will be a fine Italian dinner that will be served (for a $5 donation) to anyone who wants to eat before the meeting begins. Again, all are invited. It's a great time for fellowship & the food is great too!

Saturday (Feb 4, 2012):

This Saturday, we'll again meet at the Museum @ 7:30 AM for another work session. There are a lot of things that need to be done soon. The following identifies some of these items:

  1. Begin preparing the north end of the building with finished grade material.

  2. Review & verify the need for additional drainage structures at or near the north end of the building including the proposed turntable location.

  3. Stake the alignment for the approaches to the planned turntable. Survey & establish grade for these approaches.

  4. Treat the end of all the cut turnout ties with wood preservative currently stored in the container with a can & brush including new ties to be cut at this work session.

  5. Cut enough ties to build two more turnouts.

  6. Install another section of straight track (possibly two sections) on the west side of the building.

  1. Complete ballast work on the recently installed track & turnouts.

  2. Build another right hand turnout.

  3. Design the transfer table tracks and stake the proposed alignment. Survey & establish grade for these tracks. Excavation for concrete and concrete & steel placement will follow.

Obviously, not all of these items will be done or even started this Saturday, but we need to begin thinking about them now. To help you identify the progress we've made, I have attached for your viewing pleasure, our current track plan. I have "highlighted yellow" the track, turnouts, & turntable, etc. that are not yet installed.
Hope to see all of you Saturday.  Burt

PS: The next Open House is scheduled for February 12th, 12:30 PM to 4:30 PM

Track to Install (Click to enlarge)
Track to Install [PDF]

(See below for previous accomplishments.)

ls_begining1.jpg (263730 bytes) Wayne Click to enlarge Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge Rock Drain Click to enlarge             
  Real track

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We were lucky to have had two fresh faces pitch in this weekend. Jesse Miller had been following our progress on the GPD website and decided to stop by for a first hand look. Jesse pitched in with several tasks and took some great pictures (some below) and also a really cool short movie posted to youtube. Hopefully, you can just click on this link GPD LS Track+Ballast Test and enjoy the cleaver short movie of the track crew at work. Mitch Fure and his son Jase (not sure of the spelling there) were also welcome additions as we struggled a little bit on the backside getting things level & flat. It's always nice having another hand to push dirt & swing a pick. The company that Mitch works for donated the banking machine & materials that made it possible for us to transport all of the 2 x 4 RR ties to the wood treatment facility in Eloy. At any rate, if they come next Saturday & I hope they do, please extend a personal welcome to them both. I'll include more pictures in an email this coming week.  Burt  

More on  GPD LS Track Ballasting, GPD LS Track Re-alignment

GPD 7.5" gauge Track Work - Ballasting, GPD 7.5" gauge Track Work - Backdoor Bobcat

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January 28, 2012 Photos, courtesy of Jesse Miller

Saturday (Jan 28, 2012):

Before getting started, Raymond & I want to extend thanks to Hans Huth for taking the following photos during the last work session. Photo documentation is really important and interesting when we look back at where we started. All of us appreciate you doing this Hans. We thank you.

Last week built on the previous weeks effort as we're making noticeable headway toward our goal of completing the loop. Getting the new 20' container (pictured in one of the photos below) delivered, with a crew busy setting & leveling it plus Raymond's crew finishing another turnout & almost completing a 2nd, plus the track crew finally starting to permanently set turnouts on the west side of the building made everyone start feeling good again. The weather certainly helped as well and this Saturday will be no exception. We should be able to complete another turnout and put down a significant amount of track plus possibly get ballast placed as well. Work has begun on trying to get steel contributed to our cause to enable us to begin work on the transfer table & storage racks in the containers.

In addition, due to the diligent efforts of a couple of our group, the Lincoln Funeral Train donated to the GPD by Lionel has now found it's new home in the Number 1 display case in the front of the Museum. Look for some publicity opportunities possibly to come with respect to that effort. Great job Wayne & Robert - we can be really proud of this 1st class effort.

Raymond & I look forward to seeing everyone on Saturday beginning about 7:30 AM. As usual, the coffee will be on & pastries available. Enjoy the pictures below.  Burt

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January 21, 2012 Photos above, courtesy of Hans Huth.

Saturday (Jan 21, 2012):

As usual, we will meet at the GPD beginning at 7:30 AM this Saturday morning to begin track laying and turnout setting along the west side of the building. Additional turnouts are still needed, so work on another turnout may also parallel the track laying effort.
used container in place Last Saturday, the placement of the 20' container went very well as it arrived on-time and was off-loaded without incident. The box was positioned and then leveled. No more rattlesnakes appeared, which was good (three large rattlesnakes were found under the container when we picked it up but we left them there). A bunch of drainage piping 6'' through 10" plus a roll of fabric was also given to us with the container so we now have plenty of drain pipe for future use if needed.
The Large Scale Committee (Standard Gauge & G Gauge) met on Wednesday night to discuss their future. Raymond attended the meeting representing our group and reported that change, if it occurs, will probably not be very dramatic. Our track plan revisions were given to the group's Chairman for their use. Ask Raymond on Saturday for a complete rundown on what was discussed.

Hope to see you all on Saturday.  Burt
used container in place

Saturday (Jan 14, 2012):

This Saturday will be another work session, however there is going to be a somewhat different type of effort needed. 

We have become the proud owners of a 20' long, 8' wide, & 8'-6" high, storage container. Although the paint is weathered, the container is actually in better condition than the 40' container currently on the property. 

As with the effort to place the 40' container, safety will be the overriding goal. Please respect the equipment that will be used during this work session as the operators cannot hear people over the noise of the equipment, and vision is significantly obstructed when sitting in the seats of the skid-steer's (Bobcat). Taking responsibility for yourself and keeping an eye on others will assure that we'll not have any unwanted events. The new container will weigh in at around 5,000 pounds - it will be no contest if you are in the way. Please be careful ! ! ! 

This is a picture of the container - the trash around it is already cleared away making it relatively accessible for the loading. We are picking up the container starting at 7 AM on Saturday morning and it will be delivered to the GPD immediately after getting it loaded. This move is being made possible with the generous help offered by friends of my family. They are providing equipment capable of safely moving the container. Please don't hesitate to extend appreciation to them for this generous offer to help when we arrive at the GPD.

The placement of the container at the GPD will require (temporary?) relocation of some items. These items include the concrete table & benches that are near the trees at the end of the loading zone as well as the long beams & planks donated to us by Jerry Munson (Contractor who built the porch enclosure) that are adjacent to the loading zone. Glenn will have his Bobcat available making these relocations easier. The ballast pile can remain in place for now, however Glenn will be pushing it (re-piling) toward the south to give us a little more space to back in the 3-axle equipment trailer being used to move the container. Glenn will also get some dirt from the "borrow" pile in the drainage way, south of the caboose, to use as a ramp to allow the trailer to go over the extruded curb, hopefully without damaging it. This will permit us to get nearer to the location where the container will ultimately be placed. We will have an adequate number of 4 x 8 x 16 CMU blocks available for leveling the container so with some luck, we'll be able to get it located and leveled during this session.
This sketch shows the intended location for the container as well as the route that we will back the trailer to give you a clearer understanding of what will happen. dashed lines indicate the approach track and approximate locations for the steaming bays. Not shown in the transfer table alignment which will be in front of the two containers.

As stated above, this move will begin at 7AM at a property near Valencia & Kolb (far southeast side of town). We estimate that the loading process should take approximately 60-90 minutes with another 30 minutes drive time to the GPD.

Please understand that this is an estimate based upon a limited amount of experience and things can happen.  Thus, if the items mentioned above could be cleared and/or placed by 9 AM, this whole operation could come off successfully. I will have my cell phone with me (444-0661). 

I will call (Glenn) if the estimated time constraints change, otherwise, we should be at the GPD around 9 AM +/-.

This acquisition is very timely as we are starting to design & prepare for transfer table, steaming bay & approach track construction - all of which would have made it more difficult to move this container into it's resting spot. 

The starting time for the work session Saturday will be 7:30 AM as usual. Glenn Ellis is the key holder that will open up.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact either Raymond or myself.


Saturday (Jan 7, 2012):

This Saturday will be another work session and another turnout to construct.

The session will begin at 7:30 AM - hope to see as many of you as possible.

Don't forget the meeting this Friday night - there will be a dinner served before the meeting as the kitchen is now put back together. 

The program for this meeting is US. I got a last minute request from Bud to do this which will not be a problem. I'm going to put together a slide presentation showing pictures of other facilities running so that all members will understand just what this will look like. I will have pictures of turntables, transfer tables, steaming bays, etc and lots of pictures and perhaps short video clips of 7-1/2" gauge trains in action. Having our group attend this meeting in mass will be great if possible. I will also be introducing Raymond as the new Chairman to take us forward.

Hope to see you all there.   Burt

Saturday (Jan 1, 2012):


Sorry for the late notice, but the holidays have resulted in my decision making capability being put into somewhat of a holding pattern. But after a short discussion with Raymond, we decided not to waste what appears to be a great weather day and do a work session tomorrow. We will meet at the GPD at 7:30 AM and probably start another turnout and perhaps start positioning and installing the two turnouts on the ground..   Burt

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