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Construction Progress 2012

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The Golden Spike Ceremony was December 1st 2012

Click to enlarge

Saturday (December 29, 2012): 

Hope Santa brought everyone good health and happiness yesterday. It was definitely a great day for my family. As we wind down 2012, we look forward to the last work session planned for this year.

This Saturday, beginning at 8 AM, we'll meet again to continue working on and making necessary adjustments to various turnouts on the layout. Work can continue on getting the grades established for the 3rd track behind the building. Lastly, electrical work will begin to get the panels set and trenching dug for bringing power to the steaming bay area and the 20' container. Charley Rigney is going to be in town to help out with the electrical improvements and we want to maximize his time.

Last Saturday, we made some time consuming adjustments to the two turnouts outside of the rear door at the back end of the Museum. In addition, the headwall for the north downspout discharge was re-elevated to be equal to the intended finished grade for the 3rd rail siding.

Click to enlarge The work on the two turnouts dramatically improved the movement of train cars through the turnouts, thus it was a good investment of time.  Click to enlarge

Although not entire finished as we didn't have a grinder to finish making a smooth transition from one of the points to the rail coming off the frog, a grinder will be brought to the next session to perform this minor task. 

The weather barely cooperated during the day as it was drizzly and a little more like we would expect for this time of year. No one complained as we do need rain here in the desert. 

There's something about working on a turnout that is gratifying. 

See ya next Saturday.

Saturday (December 22, 2012): 

Click to enlarge With the Golden Spike behind us, this Saturday, beginning @ 8 AM, we'll meet at the Museum to begin work on correcting alignment and gauging issues with the turnouts at the back of the building. While this work is going on, we can also finish the head wall installation around the two drainage structures receiving roof drainage on the back side of the building in preparation of installing the last siding. We hope to have more base material available to finish that grading if we get that far.

Last Saturday was more discussion and less work as the weather, albeit welcome, was inclement preventing us from getting much work done outside. Quite frankly, it was actually enjoyable reflecting on the successes that this group has enjoyed during the past two years. When we finally did get outside, what we found was evidence that there are good reasons why we were experiencing derailment issues through the turnouts near the SW corner of the building. As we investigated the first two turnouts, what we found is that each turnout has it's own unique issues that will require unique solutions to make them more reliable. Patience and some trail & error efforts will ultimately ensure good results. There may be some tie replacements and even perhaps a piece of rail or two, but solutions are at hand.

Click to enlarge Construction of the second siding can also begin by adjusting the 1st headwall elevation as needed and also creating the 2nd headwall toward the north end.  Then, the grading work can Click to enlarge
 begin before the track actually gets placed. 

The weather predicted for Saturday is going to be conducive for working outside with highs predicted near 70. There are no more open houses between now and the 1st of the year so we won't need to leave the grounds immaculate as has been the need during our last few work sessions.

Looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible.

Saturday (December 15, 2012):

With a well deserved break in the action last weekend, we'll reconvene at 8:00 AM this Saturday to lay out a plan of attach as we move forward into 2013. It's been two weeks since the Golden Spike and the Christmas Holiday is looking like the UP's 844 highballing toward us. The new 8:00 AM start time will give everyone a chance to get sore joints and muscles moving and maybe even get a breakfast. With the Golden Spike ceremony behind us now, there are no new imposed deadlines for our performance, thus for now, the heat is off (not to mention it's starting to feel like winter - finally).

This Saturday, we can also begin working on some of the turnout points giving them some needed tweeking and radius to help smooth out the running operations. We haven't obtained base or ballast materials so we can't work on laying track this week - that will have to wait until next week. With the rains over the last day, it may be a little unfavorable to be working out in the dirt anyway.

Below is a picture collage taken by Jesse during the Golden Spike. Please enjoy and give Jesse a big "thank you" for his foresight this last year with all of the photo documentation of our project.

Click to enlarge The parking lot crew willingly took on the task did a spectacular job. This group continues to amaze and bring credit to the Museum. 

Note:  The little black blocks pictured on the left are intended to be tossed out by the engineer when encountering a track problem (unevenness or leveling issue) so the location is easier to find. It was an idea brought by one of our members.

People began to arrive, perhaps a little earlier than expected, but the plan was executed and everything came off as intended. It was a great experience for everyone attending.  Click to enlarge

Jim Degrood was masterful and prepared as he introduced everyone and added insight and humor to keep things lighthearted and fun. Bud Stewart made a wonderful lead-in address outlining the Museum's purpose and history and paid appropriate homage to those volunteers who have given so much to make this all possible.

Click to enlarge The Mayor was extremely well prepared and delivered a wonderful address that was on topic and heartfelt. We couldn't have been more pleased with his presentation. Mary Gulley with the Union Pacific RR read a wonderful proclamation and presented it to Bud Stewart on behalf of the UPRR.

A perfect sized crowd attended and enjoyed the incredible weather, the presentations, the driving of the gold spikes, and then socialized with refreshments before filling the Museum for the rest of the afternoon's Open House. 

Click to enlarge The George(s) had a photo-op and what more can you say about that Pirate routine.  Click to enlarge
Burt's daughter and grand daughters were there to support the efforts and to enjoy the presentation. And the Gold Spikes are set.  Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge After it was all over, everyone took a deep breath. Then it was time to get ready for the GPD Christmas Party at the Barrett's. Chairs got moved and by the end of the afternoon, there were some tired and emotionally spent members.

So join us tomorrow, there may be some significant story telling. We also need to take care of business by choosing our 7-1/2 Gauge Committee Chairman for the upcoming year.

Looking forward to seeing everyone Tomorrow, Dec 15th - sorry for the late email this time, but it was unavoidable.

Saturday (December 1, 2012):  Golden Spike Ceremony

By official decree from our esteemed leader & Committee Chairman, Raymond McDaniel, we are going to take a well deserved and earned week off. There will be no work session scheduled for this Saturday, Dec. 8th.

There is however, an Open House scheduled for both Saturday & Sunday (Dec 8th & 9th) and your attendance at either or both of these would be greatly appreciated. Weather should be ideal with some cooling expected.

On behalf of the Board of Directors for the Museum, I wish to thank each and every person who helped out with making the Golden Spike Ceremony the success that it was. We only had one chance at it and I think we hit a home run. Pictures are still coming in and many will be included in future emails, but below are a few to whet your appetite:

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Here's a You-Tube video to watch the actual driving of the Gold Spike.
Click to open YouTube

Thanks to Jesse as always for taking great pictures.

We'll see you all in a week and a half Dec.15th

Planned for Saturday (December 1, 2012):  Golden Spike Ceremony at 11:00am

Although there are still loose ends everywhere, it's all coming together and Saturday is going to be a GREAT DAY at the Train Museum. The gates will be open at 7:30 and coffee will be brewing. After a brief time for discussion, we'll begin by getting the outside set up with chairs, tables, speaker's podium & sound system, posters, barriers, and seating for the entertainment. Large coolers will get iced and the soft drinks will get loaded/chilled. We'll get trains out of storage and positioned for the ceremony. We should police the grounds thoroughly and maybe do a little final cleanup & put away stuff not needed before guests begin to arrive.

Dress accordingly in something comfortable and perhaps GP related if you have it. If not, wear whatever you have but be aware that photos are going to be taken. If you wear a necktie, be prepared to have it contributed to Trail Dust Town.

Parking instructions for members have been sent out, but incase you didn't get the message, please be prepared to park in the lot directly north of the Museum that is the new "Rock Solid Solutions Store". We have been given permission to use this lot for member vehicles during our event by the owner (Mark).

Last weekend, we had a great turnout at the work session and a lot of final preparations were made. We made a final effort to dress up the north end of the property by spreading crushed rock over the dust and silt surrounding the electrical transformer and vault giving it a coordinated appearance with the adjacent landscaping done by the new Rock & Stone store. 

Click to enlarge Raymond made a quick repair job on the whirligig and it was replaced to it's rightful position.


Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge The ballast being moved to the north end of the site allowed us to reclaim a valuable parking space. Click to enlarge

Jim DeGrood stopped by to get a lay of the land before the event as we laid out chairs, the podium, and generally had discussion about how the lighting and audience positioning will be controlled.

Not exactly sure why Burt is called out in the caption above, but it's nice to know that he shows up occasionally. 

Barriers were completed and "test" positioned.


Bob Rubino gave us a lesson on how to pound in a post with a shovel. 

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge More track testing and some leveling adjustments were made to the track. Of course, as others arrived at the Museum during the morning, they too, were given the opportunity to ride. 



This is a video taken & uploaded to YouTube by Philip Sarelis who took a break from his work inside on the N-Gauge layout and took a ride on the "track testing train". 

Can you imagine what Phil would look like trying to sit on an N-Gauge engine and ride it down some N-Gauge track? Don't answer that question.
Click to Open video in

I don't know about everyone else on this layout committee, but I can't wait for Saturday. Weather report says the high will be in the 70's and it will be mostly sunny. That should work!

We'll see you all on Saturday.

Saturday (November 24, 2012):

We will meet on this Saturday beginning @ 7:30 AM to make final preparations for the Golden Spike Ceremony. A huge amount of preparation has already occurred including a bunch of promotion in the form of notifying the media, publishing the dates into various websites including the AZ Daily Star's website calendar, KXCI's events calendar, Ward 3's newsletter Calendar, Discoverlivesteam's Calendar, as well as many other sites.

The parking arrangements have been confirmed with the businesses just to the north of the GPD and across the street to the east. We'll be asking for everyone to carpool if possible from sites nearby and then to use the large area available in the Stone and Rock business just to the north of the Museum so that we can keep the Museum parking lot available for the public.

This Saturday, we'll finish discussions on the planned arrangements of the speaker podium, chair arrangements, table arrangements, and banner-poster placements. We need to finish the temporary barriers and make sure they will fit into the their intended spaces. Final assignments for making sure the needed items arrive at the Golden Spike will also be made. We also need to move the ballast pile to free up that last parking space. I'm sure I've left something out - so we'll need to do that as well.

Last week, the entire reality of the project seemed to come into greater focus as for the first time. The Golden Spike mockup area is completed.

Click to enlarge We actually began running trains with passengers including using the transfer table to load/unload equipment from storage within the container.


Click to enlarge

In some respects, it was like demonstrating the "proof of concept". Bottom line is that it works. Sure, there were plenty of issues, many of which got corrected as the day wore on, but all in all, smiles were the predominant observation as pride swept over the faces of all that attended. That pride was well earned and shared by everyone.

Click to enlarge The Caliente photographer spent a significant amount of time at our work session last Saturday taking photo's for their Caliente Section of the newspaper to be published on the Thursday (Nov 29th)  Click to enlarge

preceding the Golden Spike (Dec 1st). The timing is great.

As we worked out track bugs, Darel Magee's engine suffered it's own variety of bug's with electrical malfunctions. The good news was that It was good to find out early, rather than have it happen at the Golden Spike ceremony, but the bad news is that more work is needed on his engine in order to get it running. Don VanNamen has offered one of his engines as a substitute if needed. He also had one of his small engines running last Saturday.

Click to enlarge As the morning wore on, more successful trips around the Museum were made and with Raymond's generosity, many different members were given the opportunity to take control of his engine  Click to enlarge

to enjoy for themselves, the results of over 2 years of labor. What a great feeling it was.

This was one of the best work sessions we've experienced and the best is yet to come.

Congratulations to everyone who has contributed in their own way to make all of this possible. 


We hope to see all of you again this Saturday at 7:30 AM.

Click to enlarge

Saturday (November 17, 2012):

This Saturday, beginning at 7:30 AM, we'll begin placing the finish touches at the north end of the property. This will mainly entail finish raking to get the big chunks out & spreading the red colored 1/4 minus material over the dirt to give it a nice appearance. We hope to haul in more of the colored 1/4 minus on Thursday.

At 9:00 AM, we are expecting to be visited by a staff photographer from the AZ Daily Star. The result of this visit will be an article in the Caliente Section of the Arizona Daily Star on November 29th about the 7-1/2" gauge layout construction. The timing is perfect with the Golden Spike Ceremony occurring only two days after the article is published. They want to photograph us doing RR related work so we may be doing some track placement to tell the story. We hope to have Raymond's engine and a car or two present during the work session as we begin the process of track integrity verification. Darel's engine and gondola may also be available. Both would present great photo ops as we test the trackage. 

Last Saturday was a great day at the Train Museum. We had a great turnout, we did everything that was scheduled to be done, and the weather was way better than anticipated. We want to welcome back Hugh Madson from his summer in Minnesota and we want to welcome back David Inman from the UA.

The work group split into multiple groups, each focused on a task at hand. One took the challenge of getting the 20' container emptied of pipe which was then moved to the space below the container. 

Click to enlarge

Then two track sections were placed inside the container onto the floor to allow for equipment to be moved to the Museum & stored securely inside the container. These two sections were measured & cut to allow the transfer table flip down ramp to align properly with the end of the track. In addition, the approach track was also cut to the appropriate length as well. 

While that was going on, temporary railings/barriers were being developed for placement during the Golden Spike. Additional materials will be obtained this week to allow for completion of that task this work session.

Raymond setup the stabilizing rollers that he had fabricated for Big Joe and drilled mounting holes. The rollers were then removed for final welding with the hope that they will be ready for equipment transfer this week. 

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge While Glenn Ellis was reliving the past at his 50th high school reunion in Florence, Burt took the controls of the Bobcat and more ballast was moved to the Golden Spike track mockup. For the record, no one was run over and the building is still standing! But as you can see by the picture, everyone was giving Burt plenty of space.

The work proceeded on the track mockup with all of the spikes driven tightly into pre-drilled holes and the two Golden Spike holes enlarged to permit tap-ins during the ceremony. The 7-1/2" siding was stabilized with additional base material brought in, the track was leveled and the base material was tamped into place. Then all of the final ballasting was done.

Click to enlarge How the real railroads are able to lay miles of track in a day is beyond our comprehension.


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Click to enlarge Several monumental things must be noted: 

1. A reliable person reported seeing George Rigney actually pounding in one of the spikes successfully with a sledge hammer. Unfortunately, there is no photographic evidence of that, although there were a few bent spikes laying on the ground nearby. 

and . . . 2. someone finally took a picture of our photographer Jesse ! ! !

Click to enlarge

It was another great day at the train museum. 

For those interested, there is a BOD meeting at 6:30 PM at the Museum tomorrow night (Wednesday). The new BOD members will be introduced and Officers for 2013 will be selected.

Saturday (November 10, 2012):

I want to personally thank everyone who was able to help out with the move of tables to and from the Train Show last weekend. The show was a great success and speculation is that January's show will be even better. 

With the November Train Show now behind us, we need to concentrate on the home stretch toward the Golden Spike Ceremony. This Saturday, we'll start the work session at 7:30 AM (1/2 hour later than last week). Although it is nearly 90 degrees today, it is predicted to be about 40 degrees at the start of the work session on Saturday. Rain may also dampen the work session, but we need the rain so bad that it will be welcome no matter when it comes.

The work session will begin with a strategy meeting as there are many things to discuss and tasks to be assigned.  Here is a tentative schedule for the actual ceremony. We still don't have a commitment from UP for one of the speaking spots. If they come - fine, if they don't - that's fine too. But I do hope they come.

Please plan on being there at 7:30 sharp so we don't waste time. When we finish with the meeting, the cool edge of the morning should be dulled a bit and we can continue working on the track at the north end of the building.

There are three work sessions left before the Gold Spike including this one. Our work this weekend will include:

  • Finishing the Golden Spike Mockup including final raking, ballast placement, spike driving, and hole preparation for the actual Golden Spikes.

  • Raking / smoothing out the ground on the north end in preparation of bringing in the red 1/4 minus material next work session.

  • Cleaning out the 20' container in preparation of equipment move-in.

Hope to see you there. Bring a sweatshirt as it may be a tad chilly.

Saturday (November 3, 2012):
No Work Session this coming weekend, Nov 3rd. - Train Meet at the Expo Center ! ! !

Another well deserved weekend off - sorta. This Friday, at 8:00 AM, anyone who can help out is requested to meet with us at the Museum to load tables for the train meet at the Expo Center. Like last time, we'll load up and drive over to the Expo Center and then set up the tables. We already have a layout and unlike last time, the taped markings will already be on the floor so you won't have to wait for yours truly to get that done. We're going to be able to mark the floors on Thursday PM.

It has gone pretty quickly before, so I am anticipating that it should go pretty quick this time. Expect to be done setting up somewhere between 10:00 and 10:30. This is a two-day train meet with the doors open to the public beginning at 2 PM on Friday, closing at 7 PM and then opening again at 9 AM on Saturday with the meet ending at 2 PM. We'll need help with the take down as well, so if you can possible stay after the end of the meet, we'd sure appreciate that as well.

I'll send out a reminder email later this week. We hope to see you all at the meet.

At the work session last weekend, it was a real test of what it's like to work on the railroad albeit we had no modern tools. Jesse Miller took some absolutely awesome pictures of the work that occurred and got them to me early so I'm sharing them with you now. 

Raymond created flip down ramps on each end of Big Joe for transitioning from vehicles to the transfer table and then onto the steaming bays or container racks. 

With a little more tweaking and welding, this project will be in the books.

Click to enlarge The track crew up front learned to have a enormously greater level of respect for the pioneers of railroad construction as we laid 11'-7" of track. Click to enlarge

The first step was to create a pair of equal length pieces from the two unequal lengths. Bob Swanson took the lead on this by doing the measuring perfectly. Raymond handled the torching and we managed not to set the parking lot on fire. Then, we got out a pair of fiche plates from the Caboose and 4 of the bolts, washers and nuts, burned a couple of holes, and bolted the two short pieces together making two equal length rails.

Click to enlarge So, thankfully, the Bobcat was able to lift these rail sections and get them over to the previously set ties where we had placed the tie plates. Click to enlarge

We did due diligence by checking everything for level & plumb and then carefully set the rail down on the ties nudging the rail as needed with pry bars. 

We first began by setting one rail, pre-drilling the spike holes and pounding in spikes (two per plate) at each end of the rail. Then, using the track gauge from the Caboose, we set the other rail.

Click to enlarge Experimenting with the pre-drilling hole size, we were finally able to get the rail secured. Anyone who thinks this was easy, I've got some property in Florida you may be interested in. Click to enlarge

The final result, which isn't yet finalized as many more spikes need to be driven, looked pretty good. 

Click to enlarge

We'll send out another email next Wednesday reminding everyone of the next work session.

The weather was awesome - this is why we live in Tucson AZ.

Saturday (October 27, 2012):

Golden Spike Ceremony is on Saturday, December 1st.

There are exactly 5 more Saturday's between now and December 1st (not including December 1st). One of those Saturday's (November 2-3) is going to be spent at the November Train Show. That leaves only 4 more work sessions. There is a fairly significant amount of work and planning left so we are going to schedule a few meeting dates to get together and go over some of the tasks that need to be addressed and hopefully individuals may be able to take on a task or two to "lighten the load" on others. That way, we won't come up short on time. In addition, we may schedule an additional work session or two if the need arises - we can discuss that this Saturday.

This Saturday, there are several tasks that can be worked on but the major task will be installing the Golden Spike mockup. We'll be laying approximately 11' of real track just north of the building. The excavation should be ready before Saturday as Glenn & Burt are going to "Fork Out" the caliche Wednesday (this afternoon) using the Bobcat. This decision will eliminate having to have a large portion of our work group just standing around watching the Bobcat busts up that miserable stuff. We'll be able to start the work session by immediately starting to rake out the area and establish the required rough grade. We'll have the Bobcat available to do the heavy lifting with the ties and rail so we may actually get the mock up close to being finished. We'll have to secure the area as there is an Open House the following day. If anyone wishes to join Glenn and Burt at the Museum this afternoon, they are going to be meeting at Famous Sam's for lunch at 1:00 PM and will be at the Museum shortly after 2:00 PM. There is also a normal Wednesday night work session at the Museum so you could stay for that as well.

Wednesday (October 24, 2012):

On very short notice, Glenn Ellis and a few other brave souls met back at the GPD Wednesday afternoon to bust up the caliche material so that we could get the Golden Spike Mockup installed this Saturday. 

Click to enlarge At first, the process was painstakingly slow while the Bobcat skidded across the top of the hard pan. Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge Many back & forths resulted in the stuff finally surrendering and we got down to the level we needed to be. 


Click to enlarge

Once the miserable stuff got busted up, the Bobcat was able to scoop up the material and add it to the top of the bank where additional fill dirt was needed.

Then, since we had time, we started raking the excavation to get to intended grade. This didn't take long as the Bobcat got us to within an inch of where we needed to be.

Click to enlarge We set a string to identify flat and lever and then finished raking the excavation. It took 30 minutes and the space was ready for tie placement.  Click to enlarge
Since it was still daylight and we were there with the Bobcat, Glenn picked up the ties with the forks on the Bobcat and drove them into the excavation. We rolled them off the forks into place. We then began backfilling the space when darkness began creeping in.

This Saturday, we'll finish backfilling and raking out the area in and around the tie placement. We'll set the tie plates, cut the steel rail to the appropriate lengths and get ready for ballasting. We may even get that done too.

As usual, Jesse Miller provided photo documentation of this project and all of the pictures we've been enjoying are because of his interest and commitment to the project. If you have a chance, let Jesse know how much we appreciate his efforts to photograph the work.

See you this Saturday at 7:00 AM.

PS: Don't forget that we have an Open House on the following day (Sunday) from 12:30 to 4:30. There will definitely be a lot of opportunities to explain to visitors what this track section is going to be and invite visitors back for the Golden Spike - December 1st.

PPS: November 2nd and 3rd (Friday & Saturday) Train Meet at the Expo Center. As usual, we're asking for help with the move of tables on Friday at 8:00 AM (meet at the GP to load) and then on Saturday at the end of the meet with the take down. FYI, according to Dave Hoverstock, we are almost up to 150 tables at the meet. It's going to be HUGE!

Last Saturday was a very busy work session. Raymond McDaniel completed work building the first steaming bay rail assembly. Dale Cover marked out the cutting height for three of the posts on the 1st steaming bay while the rest of the group broke out the cement mixer and began mixing concrete. 

Click to enlarge The concrete was mixed and poured into the pipes with rebar set into the pipes as well. Click to enlarge

Then the steaming bay rail was placed into the wet concrete with double nutted J-bolts in placed and double nutted and ballast weight added. All that will be needed now is final adjustment to be level which is why Dale suggested the double nutting. 

While the steaming bay was being completed, Raymond drilled and bolted the transfer table to the forks of Big Joe. One more item off the list. Click to enlarge

The track crew was working at the opposite end of the property putting down another 20' of track from the turnout that will ultimately route to the turntable. We needed to get this track down so that the Golden Spike Mockup could be constructed. This work required establishing rough grade, finished grade, track placement & ballasting. Many hands made short work of this project.

Click to enlarge We had a new volunteer offer to pitch in. David Inman, a Civil Engineering Major from UA and a previous student of Dr. Wesolowski came by and we put him right to work.  Click to enlarge

School schedules may keep him from being a full-timer, but we certainly welcome new (and young) backs to the group.

Once the track was set and ballasted, we started removing dirt from the north side of the newly placed track so that the Golden Spike mockup could be placed with the intent that the top of rail heights for both the full size mockup and the 7-1/2" gauge track will be the same. That means that we needed to dig down about 8-9". The Bobcat didn't have it's forks, only the bucket which didn't do much damage skidding across the top of the caliche. Click to enlarge)

Wednesday afternoon (this afternoon), the Bobcat will return and really fork things up so Saturday we should be able to nearly complete the mockup.

There is some really exciting news to share with everyone about the Golden Spike Ceremony as well. Come on down this Saturday (7:00 AM start time as usual) and find out what's cooking. Hope to see everyone there.

Saturday (October 20, 2012):

This Saturday, beginning at 7:00 AM, we need to complete the track leveling process for the loop. Another load of ballast will get delivered tomorrow, so we'll have plenty to get the job done. We can also get started with the Golden Spike mockup as we've settled on the design & location and we'll have the ties, rail, tie plates and spikes ready to get prepared for the mockup. Before that process actually begins, we have decided that we need to install one more section of track connected to the turnout at the north end of the building. The prototypical mockup for the Golden Spike will start at that piece of track and go north about 11' where it will temporarily terminate. It will ultimately serve as the walkway to the visitor's viewing and seating areas planned for the shaded areas north of the building. 

We need some help getting about two dozen spikes cleaned up and ready for painting. This will necessitate either a lot of wire brushing or sand blasting if anyone has a sand blaster available.

We will need to cut the six steaming bay plastic posts to the appropriate lengths including making sure that the cuts are all level. Raymond is almost done building the rails for the steaming bays so we may be able to get them "set into concrete" if time permits.

We can also begin laying the 3rd track on the rear of the building although the head walls around the drainage basins need to be completed first. One is in place but just needs to be raised slightly. The 2nd needs to mimic the 1st.

Last Saturday, the work was concentrated around three separate areas. The track leveling process between the drives required a significant amount of ballast placement which was aided by having Glenn & his Bobcat handy again.  The crew made relatively short work

Click to enlarge of this process and lateral leveling began. Longitudinal leveling still need to be performed to take a few sags out of the run, but this shouldn't be any hill for a climber. Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge With ballast placed between the track and the rock wall, the area looks great and finished. A little more raking within the space, and the initial leveling task will be completed.



While the track crew was busy, the work continued in the steaming bay area, completing the hole digging for placement and alignment of the six posts that will support the steaming bays. 

Click to enlarge The pipes in place and aligned and set plumb, the holes were backfilled and wet to firm up the set. 


Click to enlarge

Next week, we will cut off the pipes to equal length (30" on one bay and 36" on the 2nd bay). The area will get raked and we'll be ready for the steel steaming bay rails.

Hope to see everyone this Saturday at 7:00 AM. it should be a wonderful day with weather to brag about.

Saturday (October 13, 2012):

The countdown has begun. The December 1st Golden Spike date is now cast in concrete with a proposed time of 11:00 AM for visitors to arrive. The Board has blessed our proposed efforts and everyone is looking forward with great anticipation to that day. There is a lot of work left to be done in preparation, but I'm confident that we can pull it off and we'll take great pride in doing so.

This weekend, we should be able to complete the initial track leveling. All that is remaining is the section of track between the two driveway entrances. A lot of ballast needs to be spread into that area, but it's easy to get to and shouldn't take too much time. While that's going on, Raymond will continue to work on Big Joe in hopes of getting him electrically motivated. He's asked to be left alone during that effort so that he can concentrate & focus on the task at hand. There isn't much space inside the compartment where he's working, and so he'd appreciate no assistance for this session. 

In the meantime, we can use all of the help we can get with the track. I hate to even bring this up, but three of the six holes for the steaming bay uprights still need to be dug to their finished depth. We aren't yet ready to put concrete into the pipes, but getting the holes ready would be great. In the back of the building, we need to complete the short retaining wall that surrounds the drainage structure by slightly raising the set block to the intended grade level of the 2nd siding. Then, we'll be able to begin laying that last section of track along the back of the building.

We can discuss ideas for the Golden Spike mockup as it appears that this will be a full size structure. A few interesting ideas have come up that are worthy of consideration.

Last week was a busy one for sure. Both the 40' and the 20' containers received a fresh coat of white paint and they really look great as a result. 

Click to enlarge The painting crew, headed by Glenn Ellis, were thorough and they applied 13 gallons of paint in short order. Coverage was great for a first coat and probably will suffice for now. Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge Work began on the digging of the holes intended for the steaming bay supports as Dale brought out his water pick to get through the layer of cliché. The painters really appreciated the mud, but it was a life saver for the digging crew using the post hole digger. 

Three of the six holes were completed and three were started with completion intended for the next session.
Raymond struggled with the Big Joe wiring project. He acquired a 12V aahoooga horn as a warning signal and mounted it into the already crowed compartment housing the hydraulic equipment on Big Joe. At the end of the day, Raymond described his frustration with the project by using the terms "one step forward and two back". He's determined to get it wrapped up this Saturday so that he can move on to the next task at hand.  Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge The track leveling crew finished leveling the track around the north end of the building up to the north driveway entrance. The only remaining segment is between the two driveway entrances.


There is a lot to report on with respect to the Golden Spike celebration. Many tasks remain and we could use some assistance with some of these tasks if possible. I'll have a list prepared on Saturday that you can look at and see if any of the tasks might be something you could help out with. Any assistance will be appreciated.

Saturday (October 6, 2012):


I'm sorry for the late mailing of this notice - it's the exception, not the rule. But another computer related catastrophe had to be corrected before I could get back into gear. To err is human, but to really foul things up takes a computer!

This Saturday, we'll meet again to continue the track leveling exercise around the northeast end of the building. We are also ready to paint the 20' container as 15 gallons of white paint was obtained by Glenn Ellis a week ago. We can also begin work on setting the 3rd rail siding along the northwest side (backside) of the building. Plenty to do as we're quickly approaching the Golden Spike December 1st celebration.

Last Saturday, the group worked hard leveling the curved section of rail from the north corner of the building around the front to within about 50' of the north drive.

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Glenn had the Bobcat available to do the heavy lifting with the ballast making the ballast haul a lot easier.

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A lot of ballast got placed in a relatively short amount of time.

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Father & son teams were busy on both sides of the buildings and the finished work from each pair looks great. We hope that about two more work sessions will be needed to finish the initial leveling and allow us to begin testing with real locomotives and cars. 
Click to enlarge While the leveling process was going on, Hans & Noah were busy setting a short head wall around the southern most catch basin on the rear of the building. This will stabilize the grade for installation of the 2nd siding at the rear of the building.

Something pretty cool about a father & son working on a railroad. Noah kept himself busy by pushing the test truck around the track finding small issues here & there.

We look forward to seeing you all there on Saturday @ 7:00 AM. Weather should be about the same as last week.

PS: Don't forget that Friday night is the GPD regular membership meeting.


Click to enlarge

Saturday (September 29, 2012):

After last weekend's experience in 100+ degree heat again, we should see at least a 10 degree cooling on Saturday - made to order for more track leveling. With the new start time of 7:00 AM being a hit, this Saturday should be very productive. Again, if you can bring a shovel and/or a steel rake, it will help. 

Click to enlarge Here is a photo that clearly shows the results of the track leveling effort. Can you guess which track we leveled? 

We'll attach both the passing siding (depicted on the left side) and the curve around the front of the building this Saturday.


Last Saturday, we leveled all of the track on the northwest side of the building. 

Part of the exercise involved removing a 1'' high hump in the subgrade which ain't easy given the fact that the track was already ballasted.  Many hands made relatively short work of that task and the result was gratifying.

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Click to enlarge All in all, we leveled over 100' of track. We're about half way there on the mainline and "on target" to be running for the Golden Spike. Click to enlarge

Raymond was busy again installing parts and pieces on the transfer table and at the end of the day, he demonstrated his accomplishments. Jesse was busy with the camera again and took a couple of short videos that are posted onto YouTube. Below are the links to those videos. 

(track testing)
YouTube railroad MOW test 
(transfer table testing)
YouTube Transfer Table Testing

 Hope to see you all this Saturday.

Saturday (September 22, 2012):

With a new start time as promised (7:00 AM), we'll meet to continue north on our goal of getting track leveled & straightened while Raymond & others interested in ironing out the operation of the transfer table work on speed control, etc.

Last Saturday, we began work on correcting some drainage erosion that was occurring near the southwest corner of the property. The trick is trying to convince the water to go where "we" want it to go and then slow it down if possible.

The erosion was occurring immediately adjacent to another drainage structure we previously built to get water away from the building and under the tracks.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge  The current erosion is water running along the edge of the embankment mainly coming from the south & then at it's chosen low spot, running down the embankment taking dirt along with it. The group dug out a V-shaped trench a few feet wide to the south of the existing headwall and then began the arduous task of wheel barrowing large river rock to the location & placing it by hand to correct the problem.


With plenty of good supervision . . .
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we finished the project quickly with many hands by re-grading & leveling the route which the storm water takes to get to the intended location where it will turn & spill down into the drainage way.

Click to enlarge Click to enlarge

With the task completed, hopefully we won't need to revisit drainage for a while. Thanks go to Glenn Ellis & Burt Wright for collecting & hauling in about 3 ton of additional rock for us.

Raymond welded up an awesome little bridge using steel rail to span the ash dump area and a couple of the guys installed it. A metal box drawer is all that is left to complete this project. The picture tells 1,000 words. Great job Raymond! Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge We also began working on track leveling along the west or north side of the building depending on your perspective. The first task related to that was to take out a "hump" in the track that appeared, potentially due to expansion or possibly someone lifting the section with bad intentions. I'm leaning toward the expansion theory as it is the only reason that makes sense. Taking "humps" out is not an easy task as all the ballast must be removed from between the ties as well as that which may have gotten underneath the ties. 
This has to be done for the length of the hump to get it back down level.  With the hump removed, the ballast was replaced & additional ballast brought in as needed.


While the track crew was busy out back, Raymond and Robert were wiring up controls for the transfer table. They drained "goop" from the hydraulic fluid reservoir and we will be refilling with clean fluid including installation of a filter/strainer in-line. They got things connected and with a "fresh battery", we all were invited to see it operate. The initial testing shows that we need to do more adjusting & tweaking. It goes a little fast and we need more adjustment for the chain. Raymond has a handle on both of these issues and solutions are forthcoming. Click to enlarge


Click to enlarge Dale Cover has built a completely functional water tank that will serve steam locomotives. Very well built and loaded with ingenuity as I've learned to expect from Dale, it was delivered in the back of Burt's truck and was placed into the short container until it's installation location is finalized and prepared. The tank will need to be finished painted before being placed outside as well. 

Color schemes are up for discussion. 


Speaking of the container, we decided to dispose of all the cardboard tubes for the time being as they are readily available at no cost. We also dismantled the template table for building turnouts as space in the new meeting room is needed. We also filled Burt's truck with another load of tree trimmings and the tubes, etc for a dumpster run. All in all, it was a good day at the train museum. Click to enlarge

Hope to see you all this Saturday. 

PS: If you have a steel rake and square shovel, they could be helpful as we only have a couple of each.

Saturday (September 15, 2012):

This may be the last 6:30 AM start time as fall is approaching and it's a little bit nicer in the morning. 

We'll get back on track this Saturday at 6:30 AM by continuing with the track leveling work. This will be done while Raymond continues wiring up the transfer table, this time hopefully with the correct electrical switches as last week, time was unfortunately wasted installing the wrong type of switch provided to him by yours truly. Sorry bout that Raymond. We can also begin design for the more permanent and better looking enclosure for the Big Joe. We've got a lot of extra siding from the porch enclosure project and a bunch of steel framing studs stashed as well.

We also need to finish cutting up some trimmed branches by the 40' container so that they will fit into the back of Burt's pickup for hauling. 

Last weekend, the group finished off cleaning out the front of the property removing all of the trash, trimming more overgrowth, and loading everything for disposal. 

I'm sure we've hauled over a ton of growth and trash out of this space and our efforts 
Click to enlarge have greatly enhanced the beauty of the properly.  You can even walk down the sidewalk without being impaled with thorns. Click to enlarge
We completely filled Burt's truck with brush and trash which got hauled off. 

We should all take pride in the improved appearance of the Museum facility which was just in time for the 1st Open House of the season. 


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Click to enlarge For those who weren't able to attend the Open House, there were a lot of people in attendance. We were crowded all day long with little to no break in the visitors. The HO layout, which several of you helped make a reality, was in almost full functional mode. It was truly an amazing site.

There were cars parked along the street during the entire Open House. 

For those of you who attended the Open House, thank you. For those of you who helped out on the layouts inside in addition to helping out with the 7-1/2" layout outside, the pleasure, rewards, and yeah, maybe a little pain as well, was doubled. On behalf of the Museum membership and the BOD, I want to thank all of you for your time & efforts contributing to this wonderful cause. It's fun to volunteer.

See you Saturday at 6:30 AM.

Saturday (September 8, 2012):

This Saturday, again at 6:30 AM, we'll meet to continue the work on the RR. However, this Saturday will be a little different than last Saturday insomuch that I would ask those who may struggle a little bit outside with the heat to work inside putting the final touches of "clean" onto the displays for the 1st Open House of the fall season that will occur on Sunday @ 12:30 to 4:30. In fact, if you could spare some time on Sunday to be at the Open House, that would be great too!

For those willing to work outside, the following tasks are needing attention:

  • We need to rake out the dirt along the edge of the drainage way adjacent to where the turntable will be built. That shouldn't take long and it will greatly improve the appearance at the front of the building. In addition, general grounds cleanup would be welcome as the Open House is the next day.

  • We will be painting (hopefully) the rear container. We are a little at the mercy of Household Hazardous Waste who sells paint for $2 to $3 a gallon, but we should have some by Saturday.

  • We may want to stow the transfer table rail in one of the containers so no one trips on it as we don't have any barriers in place yet.

Last week, we got quite a bit of track leveled around the rear & west side of the 20' container. This involved shoveling of more ballast . . . 



and then placing & tamping the ballast . . . 

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge  



and then carefully having the head inspector scrutinize the final work . . .

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Glenn Ellis brought a portable canopy that was a really welcome addition for those who were available to wrestle with the leveling process.  Click to enlarge


While the leveling was going on, Darel Magee, Dale Cover, and Burt Wright took turns power washing the containers to prepare them for painting.

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Click to enlarge            Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge While all that was going on, Raymond McDaniel was taking stock & measurements for additional fabrication that needs to occur with the transfer table enabling greater stability to the table when lifting heavy engines.

Another great picture of the drive mechanism Raymond has mounted to the transfer table.

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An upcoming project will be to paint the new transfer table - it isn't too soon to start thinking about colors.

Hope to see you all at the Work Session Saturday and the Open House Sunday.

PS: don't forget that this Friday will be the General Membership meeting that will start at 7:00 PM, dinner being served about 5:30 for a $5 donation.

Saturday (September 1, 2012):

This Saturday at 6:30 AM, we'll continue our efforts on the layout including the following potential tasks:

  1. Track leveling process must continue in earnest. We have several hundred feet of track that needs to be leveled with additional ballast set & tamped into position. 

  2. The 20' container needs to be power washed in preparation for painting and painting can begin. 

  3. There is still some trash left in the bottom of the drainage way at the north end of the property that needs to get removed.

During last Saturday's work session, the transfer table took front & center. First order of business was to stack up cribbing to allow for the transfer table to be picked up to permit welding to be done beneath Big Joe. Fortunately, Glenn Ellis got his Bobcat running again just in time to have it available to pick up the assembly & place it safely onto the cribbing. 

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Raymond's fabrication of mounts done during the week paid off significantly as the parts & pieces went together like a glove. 

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That is not to say that welding upside down while laying on the pavement is easy. In fact, I don't know where we'd be without the talents of men like Raymond. Great job for sure!

 Once the welding was completed underneath, we picked up the assembly off the cribbing and set it back onto the track. The welding then began on the top side completing the rear mounts (above) and to weld tabs onto the front cross members to secure the front forks of Big Joe (below).

Click to enlarge   Click to enlarge

The final step for the day was to weld on the cross table (also built by Raymond) to angle iron in preparation for final securing.

Click to enlarge The "coup de gras" was connecting a battery brought by Glenn Ellis to Big Joe and giving it a test run - both vertically & horizontally. This was the first time we've operated the drive unit engineered and built by Raymond McDaniel & it operated beautifully at just the right speed. It really nice to see a well engineered piece of equipment function as planned. A debt of gratitude is owed to Raymond for all of his ideas and skill in putting this thing together and especially to Dale Cover for the generous donation of Big Joe making this project possible. Little remains to make this project fully operational.
Jesse Miller, as usual, is responsible for taking these great photos as well as finding this photo of a neat little engine house somewhere on the internet.

Although this engine house is nestled in the wood's somewhere, which ours won't be, it does approximately represent the size, scale and potential appearance of the engine house currently planned for the north end of the property just north of the planned turntable as depicted below. 

Click to enlarge

Great find Jesse! Anyone interested in drawing up plans for this structure?

At the BOD meeting last night, the 3rd draft of the Operational Rules & Regulations was presented to the GPD Board for their review & comments. For the most part, the document was well received by the Board. After receiving BOD input and incorporating needed changes, the next step will be to transmit this document to our insurance carrier for their review & comment. 

As it was last week, copies of this draft will again be available at the work session this Saturday for review.

Hope to see you all this Saturday morning.

Saturday (August 25, 2012):

This Saturday, at 6:30 AM, we'll have at it again. We'll finish up the north end property cleanup as last Saturday, we hauled off all the cut brush. Depending on the progress made this week fabricating mounts and the rail assembly for Big Joe, we may be welding on the mounts and getting that project closer to being usable. We still have a lot of track leveling and testing to do as well.

Last Saturday, after a well deserved week off, we got busy again and made great progress. Although we didn't have the benefit of using the Bobcat's forklift capability, we were still able to get Big Joe (which was donated to the Museum by Dale Cover) out of the container safely and get it placed into position onto the cross members that were previously built by Raymond McDaniel.

This accomplished two great things. First, it created space inside the container which will make access easier to retrieve materials and tools. And second, with it placed on the cross members, it now looks like it's 

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge going to really work out well for us. We guess Big Joe to weigh in somewhere in the 400-500 pound range, but the cross members didn't budge at all when the weight was loaded on, even with three of us perched on the front simulating the weight of an engine. With all the weight added, the assembly rolled easily up and down the transfer track although I think we'll all learn to appreciate the electric motor drive that Raymond fabricated to the assembly. 
The front rollers and rear swivel casters were removed from Big Joe as the mounting of Big Joe to the cross members will be done without having to weld or drill additional holes to the underside. 

This picture shows where one of the two swivel casters was attached to the underside of the Big Joe frame.
Click to enlarge

While the transfer table work was going on, there was major blood letting occurring at the north end of the property. All of the brush and tree trimmings got loaded into Glenn Ellis' dump trailer and was hauled to the reclamation facility on Ina Road.

There were dozens of cuts and punctures suffered by those who offered themselves up for that task. Jesse Miller offered to do the "scrunching" by jumping up and down on the load while the group continued to heave-ho more & more branches onto the trailer. All tolled, we took nearly 1,200 pounds of tree trimmings to the dump and WOW, does it look great.

See you all this Saturday @ 6:30.

Click to enlarge

Saturday (August 18, 2012):

Wow, it was hot last weekend and we all enjoyed a week off as a result. We will return to the layout this Saturday @ 6:30 as usual to continue working in at least two areas:

1. We'll get Big Joe out of hibernation and get him placed onto the wheeled cross members so that final mounting connections may be fabricated. Part of that work will involve removing the wheels from the underside so that connection mounts can get made. Perhaps the following week, we may be able to get things bolted together and give the transfer table a try. If anybody has a 12V car battery laying around that will take & hold a charge, we could use it for testing.

2. The second item needing to be completed is the cutting up of the trimmed materials removed from the north end of the property two weeks ago. They will also need to get loaded & hauled.

The Rules & Regulations have been put into appropriate format and they are planned to be distributed to the GPD BOD in about two weeks. We'll try to have the compilation printed and available for viewing during the next two work sessions to incorporate any last minute considerations.

Hope to see you all there this weekend, it should be about 10 degrees cooler and there's lots to do.

Saturday (August 11, 2012):


It's just too hot! With the weather prediction indicating temps in the 108 range coupled with the monsoon humidity, it's just too dangerous for us to be doing the types of tasks that we have lined up. We have earned and deserve a break and our Chairman has decided that this weekend's work session is hereby cancelled. Please put the following Saturday (August 18th) on your calendar as the weather should get back to tolerable levels so that we can continue.

Last weekend was one of the most productive work sessions we have experienced in quite a while. At the urging of Dale Cover, we spent less time upon arrival chatting about train stuff and got right to work while the weather was cooler. The first task of the day was to layout the angle iron rails for the transfer table. Using a chalk line, we snapped a straight line on the concrete ribbon nearest the container, drilled pilot holes through pre-drilled and countersunk holes in the angle iron into the concrete. This was made easy with an impact drill brought to the project by Dale. We then moved the angle aside and finished  Click to enlarge
drilling the holes with a 5/16" concrete bit to allow the insertion of a plastic insert. The angle iron was then placed back over the holes and #14 x 2" screws were installed. The angle iron pieces are 1" x 1/4" x 10' long with each side being 47' long.
Click to enlarge With the first side secured, we then had to get the two cross members for the transfer table out of the container (they are heavy!) and clamping them together with perpendicular boards to create a track gauge. 

This allowed the opposite side angle iron rail to be gauged correctly. We then drilled the pilot holes for the opposite side, moved the "track gauge" and completed the project. 

It took about 2 hours total and we were done.  It looks great and the cross-members rolled easily end to end as planned. 


The next step will be to unload "Big Joe" from the container and place it onto the cross members. Glenn's bobcat with forks will really help out with that task in a future work session. This will enable us to design & fabricate the mounting arrangements.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge While all of this was being done, the Gate Crew with Raymond taking the charge, welded in vertical supports for the north swinging gate to allow it to be cut & folded for clearing the pedestrian gate. Raymond fabricated a clever and easy to use clamp to secure the gate in the unfolded form when closed.

We are so fortunate to have skill sets like this in our organization.

Click to enlarge The welding completed, including hinge attachments, it was time to make the cut.  Click to enlarge
This allows the end of the gate to fold onto itself creating clearance for people entering the museum through the pedestrian gate. 

Darel Magee applied white paint to the gate leaf making it all spiffy including "hot pink" at the ends replacing the faded orange. The gate works great and looks great too. This group did a great job with that project.

Click to enlarge

If this wasn't enough activity at the work session, Glenn Ellis took the Swanson's on an excursion into the jungle at the north end of the lot. 

Click to enlarge The mess up there was almost indescribable and has been ignored for way too long making the task of clearing it out about as inviting as balancing the federal budget.  Click to enlarge

The only way to do it is to start cutting & yes, it is painful.  Now, we have left in it's wake, hundreds of homeless wasps and who knows what else. 

Jeff Swanson, claiming to be cast in the same mold as Indiana Jones with respect to having a profound dislike for slithering desert dwellers, was hip deep into the quagmire pulling out yards and yards of cut tree branches & bushes which have been thriving at the head of the floodwaters coming down the street for years. I can't even calculate how much was cut & piled, but suffice it to say that it was a huge amount - oh, and did I mention it was hot out! Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge While the brush cutting was going on, and the transfer table rails installed, additional drain pipes were installed across the tracks in two locations to relieve storm water ponding issues observed at the Museum during major monsoon downpours. Luckily, we've had another monsoon pounding since and the two locations appear to be working well.
With all of that work getting done, we still had a little time to play. Don VanManen brought a new acquisition to the Museum that he can use to help test our track work in work sessions to come. Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge This little gas powered speeder made the loop and found some track issues that will get corrected next time. Amazing piece of equipment and a lot of fun to ride, even on unlevel track.

We'll all get together a week from Saturday - on August 18th.  I'll send out reminder emails next Wednesday. Hope to see you all then.

Saturday (August 4, 2012):

This Saturday at 6:30, same place, we'll continue the process of track leveling but we also need to add a couple of minor drainage improvements that became apparent during a couple of monsoon gully washers. In addition, the rails for the transfer table will be ready for installation. Raymond's group may also start fabricating the folding gate at the north drive.

Last week, a significant milestone was reached when a complete circuit of track was run with the use of a small 4-wheeled electric engine brought to the facility by Don VanManen. We coupled Burt's locomotive tender onto the engine (backwards) as the tender has a drawbar on the front end.

Click to enlarge and slowly made our way around the entire facility. It wasn't exactly trouble-free as many track leveling issues were encountered making the trip go pretty slow. 
Click to enlarge Don had the initial honor's but quickly shared the experience with others. Click to enlarge

While all that silliness was going on, Raymond recognized that the gates ultimately need to "get out of the way" now that trains are starting to run. He, Dale & Robert took on the task of reversing the swing on the north drive gate. In addition, they have engineered a method to prevent having the pedestrian gate blocked when the north portion of the drive gate is fully opened. The solution is to have the end 1/3rd of the gate fold.

Additional work during the day was to rake out all of the rock & unevenness in the grading that was done between the transfer table concrete ribbons.  Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge Lastly, we saw cut / cleaned all 100' feet + grooves in the concrete grade crossings so that wheel flanges had a clear space in which to ride when engines or cars cross our drives. This need became painfully apparent when we drove the engine across them (lots of bumps). That project went pretty quickly & is now completed.

It was a very satisfying and full day of work. We all retired to our favorite watering hole for well earned refreshment. 

We want to give special thanks to Don for allowing us to use his new (for him) engine. We hope to see it often at the Museum as we all look forward to repeating the experience of the day. Click to enlarge

See you all Saturday morning.

Saturday (July 28, 2012):

We'll meet this Saturday @ 6:30 AM to continue the process of track leveling. We may have some motive power available this time to try things out - we'll just have to wait & see. At worst, we do also have the ride-on tender available to get a feel for things.

Last week, the outdoor group was busy backfilling into the transfer table area bringing final grade to be just below the concrete level in preparation of final ground cover. In addition, more fill was moved to the north end of the property to start elevating the turntable location plus putting a diversionary lip at the edge of the drainage way to cut down on the erosion issues. We are on pace for a record monsoon this July which is great news plus it provides us with a lot of beneficial evidence to address drainage issues still remaining. While the outside group was busy, the inside group was brainstorming the structural additions that will represent the goals for the upcoming fundraising campaign. Two specific "structure" projects were identified:

Passenger Platform: With enough bench seating for a trainload of people (perhaps a dozen +/-), the goal is to build a relatively long, narrow, ornate, wooden structure supported on single columns similar to those found on the O-gauge layout. I was able to find a photo of an example that is installed at the track of the Pennsylvania Live Steamers as seen below.

Pennsylvania Live Steamers Platform

The proposed location for this structure would be just outside the main entrance of the Museum and would be the predominant structure viewed by visitors to the Museum driving in from the north. 

Yard / Control Tower: A raised of the ground vantage point for trainmen to view all of the critical train operations including passenger loading, yard & siding entrances, turn table operations, etc. This structure will be located just off the North corner of the building between the mainline curved track and the turntable. This unique vantage point visually will be able to see all train movements where turnouts may be present. In addition, it's "front of the building" location will also visually add more interest and excitement for visitors and guests to the Museum. Below is a photo of a similar structure installed in the yards at the track of the Maricopa Live Steamers in north Phoenix.

Maricopa Live Steamers Control Tower

The proposed tower would be smaller & lower to the ground, but similar in appearance & function. 

Barriers in the form of landscape features, hedges, etc plus other non-menacing forms of items intended to encourage the public to be in safe viewing locations were also discussed. A schematic site plan showing these structures and other items will be developed soon & shared with the group. 

Hope to see you all this Saturday.

Saturday (July 21, 2012): 

This Saturday, the group will again converge on the GPD Museum to do some major brainstorming regarding a wonderful turn of events that occurred earlier last week. Although only in the earliest stages of their work, the GPD's Fund Raising Committee (FRC) has decided to do another major fund raising effort - only this time, the raised monies will be earmarked toward developing a safe public operation on the 7-1/2" gauge railroad. A significant amount of imagination must now be exercised and focused toward development of schematic and/or specific ideas that should be included in the presentation which will kick off later this year. As was true with the last fund raising effort, it is expected that this fund raising effort will span 2 years.

The FRC now needs us to move forward quickly to assist in the development of schematic representations of potential projects that could be included in this fund raising effort. All of the projects should be aimed directly at providing a more meaningful experience for Museum visitors who come to enjoy and/or interact with the outdoor railroad and related outdoor features. We need to brainstorm these potential projects and decide what projects are best suited toward a successful fund raising effort. In some respects, it's like handing a toy train catalog to bunch of kids just before Christmas, but we have to realize that we simply can't do everything now. What are the outside projects that will provide the most bang for the buck and schematically, what would they look like? That's our task. Our future is very bright and excitement is building.

So, bring some paper & pencils. Eraser's are a must. Check your ego's at the door and unleash your imagination. What an incredible opportunity this will be. The FRC's marketing publicity will probably include 7-1/2" gauge motive power, ride-on cars, outdoor seating areas (with shade structures), safety items including signals, gates, barriers/fencing, and landscaping, etc. Also to be considered will be utility extensions to the Steaming Bays & possible electrification of the Caboose. In other words, the FRC's efforts may encompass several varied projects all with the intent of improving the outdoors experience for visitors. It will be important that we also consider the integration of the outdoor G-gauge components as we move forward with this effort.

Last Saturday's work session proved very productive as we were fortunate to get the services of Mark Wasko, who is the Owner of BSH Builders. He and his crew came and set the concrete forms for the transfer table over three weeks ago, but conflicting schedules and broken down equipment had foiled his return to get the concrete poured. But he became available last Saturday, and the outside crew easily adapted to the change of plans. 

Click to enlarge While Burt & Glenn went to get the concrete, the forms were rechecked for level.

The trailer full of concrete arrived, the rebar was set and the fun began.

Click to enlarge
It pretty much went like clockwork (albeit a little overdue). Two wheelbarrows were perfect for placing the concrete into the forms, except for one wheel barrow load that didn't quite make it. Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge It took about two hours, and with the skilled finishing abilities of Mark helping us, we were done. It really helped having a cloudy morning sky as well as the concrete patiently waited for Mark. It was a perfect pour. Thanks again Mark for all your help. By Saturday, the forms will be pulled, and the area raked out so we can begin work on the transfer table rails, etc.
The inside crew finished their work on the initial draft of the Rules & Reg's so it can be passed on the the BOD at their August meeting for consideration. Dale Cover made up Mile Marker signs for the main line identifying 1/2 mile increments which will actually be placed at 50 foot increments along the mainline loop. 

These little signs are very clever and will help us be able to relay information pertaining to track issues in the future.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge The outside crew, had time left after the concrete pour to continue their track leveling process between the caboose enclosure and the south drive. They took a moment out to pose for a group shot.

We've had a few monsoon storms this week which, like previous storms, have taught us where drainage issues remain to be a concern. It's really amazing how well our initial drainage features are holding up.

See you this Saturday at 6:30 AM. Please hold Raymond McDaniel in your prayers and thoughts as he is having some corrective heart adjustments done this week. We hope to see him well soon!

Saturday (July 14, 2012): 

This Saturday, the inside group will continue the discussions regarding the Rules & Regulations that will guide us safely into the future. The outside group will continue on with track leveling and restraint of the curve sections where needed. We should be able to get the track leveled all the way to the south drive, perhaps pushing beyond the south drive. Perhaps the transfer table pour may get completed this week and we can begin contemplating the fabrication of that important piece of equipment.

Last Saturday, George Rigney again led the progress inside with the complicated work of getting the Rules & Regs "right".

Click to enlarge It isn't easy explaining what the north side of the building looks like. It's kind of like explaining "who's on first". The group is making great progress and no one has been punched in the nose yet. Click to enlarge


Raymond will be representing the group's progress on the safety reg's at the GPD's BOD meeting this evening at 6:30 PM for those who may want to come by & listen in. 

While you're there, take a look at the HO & Large Scale layouts - the HO guys are really getting serious and their work rivals anything seen inside the Museum since the N gauge and S gauge layouts were rebuilt.

Click to enlarge

While the inside group labored in the air conditioned comfort, the outside crew found shade behind the caboose.

Click to enlarge Unfortunately, the leveling process went too quickly back there and we found ourselves out in the open sun again going through the curved section.  Click to enlarge

Beyond this initial section of curve track, one section experienced some significant "heave" and pushed outward shortly after being installed last summer. It has patiently waited until now to get corrected. We had to remove all the ballast and reset the track, repositioning the rail joiners and resecuring the rail to the ties.

We staked the curve back into position, recreating the appropriate gaps and reballasted the section. We were blessed by the fact that all this work occurred in the shade of an adjacent mesquite tree as seen in this picture. Click to enlarge

Of course, after all the hard work, several of the crew had to experience the results of their work by getting a push ride on a tender over the now leveled sections of track. 

Click to enlarge It will be great to get some motive power on the front end of this. 

The group then retired for a well deserved lunch at Sam's. All in all, we had a great day working on the railroad. 

Hope to see you all this Saturday @ 6:30 AM. If you have time on your hands, come by the GPD tonight for the Board Meeting and check out all the work going on inside the building.

PS: Also take a look at the newly redone website for the Museum. Yes, that's our track on the left border.

Photo credits to Jesse Miller & Keith Pullen

Saturday (July 7, 2012): 

I hope everyone had a great 4th of July and that your part of town experienced the wonderful & welcome monsoon rain. With the high temperatures taking a break, and the rains tailing off well before the fireworks displays began, we certainly enjoyed a wonderful evening outside. 

This Saturday, beginning at 6:30, the inside crew will continue working on development of the Rules & Regulations while the outside crew will continue leveling track through & around the caboose enclosure. 

Last Saturday, Raymond brought in a "show & tell" item that he's been working on at home in his shop. It is the frame for the tender that will be used by the 2-6-2 Prairie locomotive that he's building. Jesse quickly borrowed it and put it to work outside to test leveled sections of track.

Click to enlarge

While the inside crew was diligently working on the development of the Rules & Reg's, the outside crew was finding success leveling the track from the side of the 20' container, across the parking lot to the east with the final task of replacing an 8' section of rail that was damaged when the large mine elevator structure built by the "lightning brothers" fell over on our track during a monsoon storm last summer. It put a significant dip into the track making it impossible to level. The damage is now removed & replaced with new & the track re-leveled.

We welcomed two new visitors to our group last Saturday. Bob & Jeff Swanson (father & son) attended the GPD's new member welcoming event a few weeks ago and followed that up with their visit to our work session. We presented them with the intellectually challenging task of placing additional ballast along the ROW in preparation of the final leveling. Is this really the way we should greet new members?

We certainly hope they return.

Click to enlarge Raymond also made & brought a seemingly simple tool that, at face value, seemed like it may be helpful so we tried it out. This is nothing but a piece of heavy steel rod with a 90 degree bend at one end and a triangular loop bent at the other end. As it turned out, this tool will rival the "water pic" developed by Dale Cover as a back saver. We immediately put it to work with excellent results. It had exactly the right amount of weight (mass) and length to make this lifting of ballasted track relatively easy. Click to enlarge

As you can see by the photo below, the level we are using is very short. Does anyone have a "slightly" longer version so we won't need to use the board? A 12" long level would be perfect.

Click to enlarge The day heats up quickly and the added humidity isn't particularly welcome. Jesse has challenged us to invent an "umbrella car". OK, you inventor types - see what you can come up with. All joking aside, when we encounter a track problem that requires us to work at track level for an extended amount of time, shade would be a welcome asset. We will have several of these types of repairs during the next few weeks as we work to restrain curved track joints. Does anyone have a portable canopy that we could borrow for these upcoming work sessions?
Although we took some well deserved hydration breaks, the results of our efforts we meaningful & measurable as can be seen by this photo.

I want to thank Jesse Miller for sending me these great photos. Hope to see you all on Saturday.

Click to enlarge

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