Large Scale Railroad
Construction Progress 2015-2016
Work sessions are on Saturday mornings usually around
Come down and help build a railroad!
For more information, or to volunteer, contact Burt
Wright (cell #) 444-0661
The Golden Spike
Ceremony was December 1st 2012
Scale Railroad info...]
Planned for Oct. 1, 2016
With the 1st day of October, we’ll begin the work session 30 minutes
later. At 7:30 AM, the coffee will be on and pastries of some sort
available. On the work agenda is a couple of small repair/adjustments
noticed by Jesse during our last Open House which won’t require a lot of
work. In addition, we’ll also make another batch of concrete ties for
the inventory needed to replace the ties in the station curve at the
north end of the layout. We’ll begin doing that replacement at the end
In case you were wondering, the Open House public rides went very well
with no incidents or derailments until we gave Chris Cheely’s new
two-seated flat car a test run at the end of the train. With Chris
seated in the rear of the two seats, the car “wheelied” and derailed
about 20’ after starting. He sat in the front seat and there was no
There will be a work session scheduled for this Saturday although
most of the effort will be cosmetic with running the train making up a
large part of the effort. With anticipation of running on Sunday at the
Open House, we want to make sure everything is in order with the track.
We’ll also make another batch of concrete ties as we begin stockpiling
for the north curve replacement which will begin later this fall. We
will probably re-install ballast at the caboose curve and also at the
north end where the work occurred last weekend.
Hope to see you Saturday morning. The gates will be open at 7:00 AM and
the weather should be awesome for working. Hope to see you there. If you
can only make one of the days, please consider coming to the Open House
as we really need help there.
Sept. 24, 2016
Lots to do this Saturday to get the track usable for the next
Open House. Last Open House was very well attended but with the
temperatures in the 90’s, it was just too hot to run the trains outside
so the fact that the track had issues wasn’t the only reason we didn’t
run. This weekend, at the work session, we need to address the track
issues identified at the north end of the layout. I’m not entirely sure
what they are or how many there may be, but there may need to be some
tie replacements involved. We have plenty of wood ties that are usable
that were removed from the Caboose curve that can be reused. If we have
time, I’d also like to pour another 16 tie batch. We need to continue
this process through the winter so as to “stockpile” ties for the next
At the last Open House, a gentlemen and his wife stopped in and
described a small switch engine that he saw at an estate liquidation
retail store located on N. Stone a couple blocks north of Grant Rd. He
didn’t know anything about it other than it appeared to be the same
gauge. I decided to stop at the store on Monday and there, lying on the
floor under a desk was what appeared initially to be a small switch
locomotive missing parts. A yellow post-up taped to the roof suggested a
price of $1,000. Given the initial appearance, and the missing parts, I
was suffering some sticker shock.
Further examination revealed that the engine was not homemade, but
was built by a company called Real Trains our of California. There was
no controller, battery, cabling, and most of the side louver pieces were
So I inquired from the proprietor (Chuck Davenport) what information
he could provide. He quickly stated that the price would be $350 and
that he had more pieces for it. He then produced a sealed bag with the
cabling, keys, extra fuses, instruction manual, and then he “threw in” a
pair of 7-1/2” gauge trucks. If that weren’t enough, he also produced a
box full of coupler castings for good measure – all for $350. So, I
couldn’t resist it. I bought it with the added bonus of the trucks and
brought it down to the Museum Wednesday night stopping at Sam’s Club to
buy a deep cycle Marine/RV battery.
Short story, this engine had never been run, the packing materials
were still in tack for the cabling and controller. A battery had never
been installed. With battery installed, everything worked great –
lights, horn, safe operation option, forward, reverse, etc. There is a
lot more to this story which I’ll save the work session this Saturday –
don’t miss it.
PS: I attached an
for this locomotive in case you may be interested. They sell for
$2,699 excluding tax, packing & handling, shipping, and a Group 27
See you this Saturday morning at 7:00 AM and we can discuss some ideas
regarding this locomotive.
August 27, 2016
This Saturday is a scheduled work session, we are planning to work at
the Museum beginning at 7:00 AM as normal.
Only three weekends left before Open Houses begin!
We should get to at least the following items,
1. pour a batch or two of ties,
2. layout possible storage shed dimensions at North yard,
3. continue tie replacement along the South curve(s).
I'd also like to get to a couple trouble spots along the station and
bypass curves as derailments occur in a few places, if enough help is
See you this Saturday, 7:00 AM, if you can make it.
-7½" ga. chairwarmer
May 14, 2016
This Saturday should be a normal work session, but as it
happens to also be National Train Day! We might stop early.
The plan was to take the S4 and stand and set up at the event like we do
for our train shows, but as I have not solved any of the many logistical
issues this would involve, from transportation of the equipment (large
truck or trailer) to 'staffing' our little booth during the majority of
the event, which is from 10am to 4:00pm.
NOTICE: If any 7½ members are capable of helping out with transportation
and or 'staffing' our little display for all or part of the event please
contact me asap Friday, otherwise I will probably not be able to make it
happen, this year anyway.
Sometime between Wednesday & Friday, the 'billboard gnomes' re-planted
one of our prototype billboards near the North-drive entrance, and one
of our two donation "ads" was installed facing right when you come in,
so it should get lots of notice over the next year.
So last Sunday was our 2nd-to-last Open-House before the Summer "break"
(June-August), which means May 22nd is the LAST Open-House till
The 'concrete-tie gnomes' have also been busy lately pouring ties by the
sack-full (a perfect eight per bag of pre-mix can be made at once now.)
I'd like to eventually make some sort of scale cement factory-type setup
when we could put the finished ties while they finish curing and await
placement during our Tie-Replacement-Program over the next year(s).
May 7, 2016
Due to the Open House being this Sunday, there is no regularly
scheduled work session. As usual, there will be activity at the Museum
and you are very welcome to come down to help or watch. It should be
nice as the temperatures are predicted to be high 70’s and the winds
should be no issue.
Last weekend, during the work session, we entertained a large
tour group headed by one of our GPD members (Paul Bartholomew). There to
give rides were Brian Scott and son with his UP GP-40 and consist plus
John Roads and Jesse Miller with the Museum Alco S4 and consist.
68 riders with 13 trips using both trains was a fun time for all.
Thank you for those who came.
||Rumor has it that one of the wild buffalo may have wandered
off but it was finally captured and returned to the corral.
||While the rides were being given, the
outdoor G gauge group continued
working on their layout by completing the staining on the
trestle supports. These are really looking good and we look
forward to seeing them installed this summer.
Wednesday night at the Museum, we disassembled the billboard
structures to installed a billboard sign purchased by Chuck Cuson. The
sign is cemented onto an 1/8” thick 2’x3’ piece of aluminum and
installed where the thin sheeting was installed. Metal framed billboards
are on our list for construction this summer to replace the wooden ones
as they proved not to hold up well in the extreme weather conditions. We
will be installing the bill board with Chuck Cuson’s sign this Saturday
morning sometime after 7:30 when we plan to arrive.
Also on Wednesday night, Chris Cheely brought down a pair of new flat
cars he obtained from the gentlemen in Sierra Vista. The cars only await
trucks and couplers which have been ordered from Tom Bee. We placed them
onto a top shelf in the container.
April 30, 2016:
There is a scheduled work session this Saturday as there is no
Open House on Sunday.
As many of you may already be aware, fellow GPD member Paul Bartholomew
is organizing a tour for this Saturday beginning around 10 AM. He asked
me if we could have the railroad running outside for this tour as they
are expecting possibly as many as 70 people (35 kids and 35 adults).
Unfortunately, neither Glenn Ellis or myself will be in attendance as we
have a trip planned to the White Mountains over the weekend. It would be
great if we could honor Paul’s request and have the train out and
available for rides.
Last weekend, we weren’t able to run the train at the Open House
due to track conditions in the inside (station) loop immediately past
the turnout. There just wasn’t time to make the repairs, so we didn’t
run. As disappointing as that may have been, safety will always prevail.
On Wednesday afternoon, Glenn Ellis and Burt Wright spent several
hours making repairs and adjustments to the bad section of track. After
the repairs were finished, we made several hot laps to make sure
everything was in good shape.
We also installed a concrete tie using Train Mountain tie plates, and
plastic sheetrock mud trays for a mold. Each tie weighs in at about 10
pounds and they have tapered sides and ends. The base of the tie is
significantly wider and longer than the top. Strategically placed holes
were drilled through the bottom of the mud tray to allow for #4 smooth
box nails to be tightly inserted into the tray. Then, #10 fluted plastic
concrete inserts are slid over the nails. The tray is turned up and
concrete poured into it almost filling it. A #3 x 12” rebar is pushed
into the concrete and then the tray is banged onto a hard surface
several times to get air bubbles out and rock away from the sides. The
result the next day is a beautifully shaped tie with a very smooth
surface that has the screw inserts already installed to correct gauge.
Using the tie plates enables the rail to expand and contract without
putting stress on the tie as the rail can move through the tie plate as
the screws tighten down against the tie plate and not the rail flange.
There is also consideration being given to using plastic ties but cost
may become an issue. Also of consideration is the weight of the plastic
tie (ounces vs. 10 pounds) thus placement of some plastic ties may need
to be set into concrete to prevent lateral movement resulting from
centrifugal forces from the trains on a curve. These statements are
simply conjecture at the moment and we’re going to go slowly with this
project so that we can get some history on performance and durability.
Don’t hesitate to comment as all input is welcome (the installed tie is
pictured above and below). In the next few weeks we will probably
install several more concrete ties creating a meaningful section for
inspection. Then the jury will begin their deliberations on using this
option (concrete vs. plastic vs. wood).
Chris Cheely unloaded his new pride and joy and put it on the track.
The engine looks great and ran flawlessly, but don’t ask to hear the
Chris made a purchase from a gentleman in Sierra Vista of a 2-1/2”
scale, 7-1/2” gauge electric engine modeled after a Davenport switcher.
Chris fitted a new coupler to replace a drawbar and then proudly made
several loops around the layout while Burt & Glenn made loops with the
Alco S4. Everything went well although the larger scale engine is a
really tight squeeze into the container.
Hope you can make it Saturday to help out with the tour.
April 23, 2016:
First of all, it brings me great sadness to have to share the passing
of Fred Wilson, one of our early members to the 7-1/2” gauge group. I
received an email from his son Del who had visited the Museum a few
times with Fred when he visited from back east. Fred was here during
that period of time when we were installing the track work. He had
already been involved in this great hobby and had a Northern (4-8-4)
steam locomotive which was simply too large to run on our track. His
experience gave us valuable insight and confidence with this hobby in
which few of us had any experience at all. Fred hailed from Illinois
where he spent his summers but in the winter when he lived in Tucson, he
enjoyed helping us to the extent that he could. We’ll all miss Fred and
wish his family and friends comfort and peace with his passing. Below is
one of the few pictures I could find with Fred helping out in 2012.
* * * * *
Due to the Open House Sunday, there will be no work session this
Saturday. Of course, there will be activity at the Museum if you care to
come down. The outdoor G-gauge guys are always busy at it and seem to
appreciate our help with their project.
Last Saturday, with a light showing of the group present, we tore
into the station curved siding just before the turnout. There were two
problems involving alignment and track joints that were identified as
needing attention. Like any other job, the hard part is starting as
we’ve been aware of the problem in that area for some time. The weather
was perfect and with a slow & methodical effort, we re-aligned, bent &
twisted, replaced numerous ties, re-gauged track, double tied the track
joints with secured rail joiners, and voila’, no kinks & hopefully no
more derailments in that area. Next project will be to re-gauge the rail
leading into this curve from the walk crossing. We found out that we
can’t back the S4 engine around this section without derailing the rear
truck. In case you don’t know this, that engine is really heavy and hard
to re-rail. Thanks to John Roads for taking the following pictures:
|While the track work was being done, the outdoor G-group
were busy pouring concrete roadway surfaces and track
foundations, plus beginning the leveling process on the track
loops. Trestle bridge bent placements are scheduled to begin
after the last May Open House when the Museum will close for the
I was wondering how they were going to
stabilize this section.
Also, last Saturday, we began having some discussions about
the possibility of using concrete to make replacement ties as many of
our wood ties are drying out and splitting allowing screws to work
loose. As it relates to this issue, Chairman Jesse was able to find some
outstanding information about concrete ties from the New Unionville and
Western Railroad - Southern Indiana Live Steamers. The links below
should give us some great insight into how we might do concrete ties is
we’re inclined. Please review these links and bring your thoughts and
comments forward for discussion.
Please check the buttons at the bottom of the above referenced web page
go into more detail about the tie construction and installation. We may
wish to make a few prototypes and install them to get some experience.
The finished ties look great.
The metal tie plates they use are available from Train Mountain.
Jesse also found an older Discover Live Steam article which was less
promising but might have some helpful details and similarities.
Thank you Jesse for finding this stuff. May be a great summer project
Hope to see everyone at the Open House this Sunday. The weather should
be awesome (again).
April 15, 2016:
There is a scheduled work session this Saturday
beginning at 7:30 AM at the Museum.
There will a several items for discussion including:
1. Membership development for 7-1/2” gauge operation:
Participation in the Amtrak National Train Day event
at the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum (SATM).
Display of equipment during the June (3rd, 4th)
Development of a brochure describing the 7-1/2”
2. Construction Planning for the summer months:
Turntable & track in/out.
Engine House incorporating G-gauge storage.
Painting of the transfer table.
3. Replacement of horn button for the Alco S4.
4. Relocation of the speed control (“grandpa”) switch on the Alco S4.
5. Scheduling another Safety Meeting to be held in the Caboose before it
gets too hot!
At last Sunday’s Open House, we experienced a couple of minor
derailments, both occurring at the front of the building. With no
obvious causes such as track conditions/passenger loading/car conditions
to blame, it will be incumbent on us to carefully check gauge and track
levelness on both the inside and outside loops.
April 8, 2016:
Last Saturday’s work session... (according to Chairman Jesse)
A monstrous citrus tree (donation) was transplanted from a container
Friday evening and located off the curve in the South corner along the
Once a large enough whole was pick-&-shoveled, the tree was inserted
without ceremony and back-filled. A 5 gal. bucket was filled and hauled
by gondola to the South corner (eight trips were made), watering the new
tree as well as other trees in this general area.
April 2, 2016:
We have a regular monthly membership meeting Friday, April 1st, no
We have a regularly scheduled work session this Saturday, there
is some work that needs to be done, but we'll see who can make it.
Notice: Availability of morning donuts and coffee may be questionable.
We might try to plant a tree, as well as the regular keeping the track
in working order.
So two weeks ago, the '0-6-0PM' or 'C', petrol locomotive 'switcher #5'
got some light runtime after getting some engine work done.
Unfortunately the 6V battery has about reached the end of its usefulness
and will need to be replaced if we decide to keep using it as-is.
We also tossed together a partially (clever) working solution to a
problem we've had with the switcher's manual transmission being very
out-of-reach once seated in our current engineer car arrangement, which
also seems to be working out fairly well with the newly added back &
foot rests. I will try to get some photos to include for next time.
Jesse and Burt were both quickly reminded how much more 'exciting' it is
to drive compared to the far-simpler-to-use elec. S4 #3975, which
recently passed her mark of 200 hours of runtime!
I'm asking for ideas for simple layout additions we'd like to try to get
setup this year, so email me thoughts you may have pertaining to making
the layout more enjoyable to riders as well as members.
Also a reminder if you haven't read the most recent newsletter: Due to
current insurance policy, and until further notice, All steam boilers
are prohibited from operating at the museum. Hopefully we can get this
changed before too many members get their own steam engine projects
March 5 2016:
There will be a scheduled Work Session this Saturday beginning at
8:00 AM. We’re pretty close to moving the start time up a notch, but for
another week or two, we’ll leave it at 8:00 AM.
The little black 060 switch engine returns to the Museum. It may needs
to be put back together, but mechanically it has been gone through,
serviced, and should be running correctly. It’ll be nice to have it back
There is a birthday party scheduled for this Saturday. At the moment, it
is the only Saturday birthday party this month. It is scheduled to begin
about 10:00 AM although people will begin setting up around 9:30 at the
museum. There will be about 30 guests according to Jerry Baltus. We need
to be out of the meeting room by 9:30 AM.
For those who may think we need a more meaningful bridge for the 7-1/2”
gauge layout, did anyone other than Jesse see the world’s longest 7-1/2”
gauge backyard layout bridge? Vertigo anyone? Check this video link thru
Last weekend, the missing padded seat for the 3rd gondola got
built, thanks to Jesse & Burt. Now, we have 3 seats in each of the 3
gondolas. In addition, the seat back got mounted into the engineer’s car
making it much more comfortable to ride. In addition, a slanted footrest
was also added increasing the comfort for the Engineer. Although some
weed clearing was done, we’re a ways from being finished with that task.
We’ll have the “weed train” out in the back to haul pulled weeds to the
trash. Your help would be appreciated.
Hope to see you this Saturday morning.
February 27 2016:
Because there is an Open House Sunday, there will not be a regularly
scheduled work session this Saturday. Of course, that doesn’t mean there
will be no one there because there is stuff going on. The
outdoor G group will be working as usual
as they begin their work on another loop of track on the layout
including installation of the big trestle bents. In addition, there is
another Birthday Party scheduled for 11:00 AM and if we have enough
volunteers, we’ll try to run the train.
People will begin showing up Saturday morning about 8:00 AM if you
choose to come down. The only thing that has to be done is finishing the
work on the Engineer’s Car (seat back).
|During the last work session last Saturday, while Jesse
created a mounting board for a recently acquired fire
extinguisher (FE), the seat back construction was nearly
completed with only the final mounting left to be done. The
reason for mounting the FE to a board was to allow it to be slid
under the engineer’s seat. The FE clamps into a mounting
bracket. Releasing the bracket allows the FE to be removed by
raising it. The seat blocks that process, thus the method to
remove the FE involves sliding the board forward, releasing the
bracket, and lifting the FE out of the bracket. It’s simple and
||As this picture shows, there will be enough room behind the
seat for a small passenger to ride.
Built from scrap pieces of plywood found in the container and
using one of the two padded seats that existing on the car
before we started, the project only needed some paint to be
finished. Amazingly, there was a bucket of water based enamel
paint inside the Museum that had been there for (years)? When
opened, it was thicker than molasses. About 2-1/2 cups of water
thinned it out a bit and we were able to brush it on. It was
nearly a perfect color match.
||All that remains to finish this project is to build an
angled footrest to make riding this car comfortable. While this
work was being completed, Jesse cut out and glued foam carpet
padding together to make the 9th gondola seat. All that remains
with that project is to staple on the vinyl covering.
|As we were finishing up, Jacob Payne brought in a second
opinion for how to create a better transition piece between Big
Joe and the storage racks and steam bays. Several options were
discussed as the total field of options continues to be narrowed
down. Hopefully, the best solution won’t be too difficult to
create and we’ll be able to move engines from container to steam
bays to track more safely.
Hope to see you Saturday if you come, but please consider helping on
Sunday at the Open House.
February 20 2016:
Technically, it’s still winter. Really, for another month? Saturday
is slated to be another day in paradise, something our friends in Flint
MI pray for. This Saturday, beginning at 8:00 AM as usual, we’ll gather
at the clubhouse with a couple of relatively important tasks at hand.
• Upholster the new seat for one of the gondolas.
• Either build a box for a boat seat or install a fixed padded back for
the engineer’s car.
• Build a foot rest for the engineer’s car.
• Mount a recently obtained fire extinguisher to the engineer’s car.
• Pull some weeds since they are growing (like weeds) along the route.
Hopefully, this task will become less of a problem to us as a new
landscaping contract is currently being negotiated.
We had an incredibly successful weekend at the Museum last weekend with
the Open House bringing in a great cash donations and the gift shop
sales were brisk to say the least. The previous day, we entertained a
birthday party which proved to be very lucrative for the Museum as well.
With these successes, it’s so obvious and apparent how incredibly
valuable the efforts of all of our volunteers are in making these
experiences so enjoyable to the public who come to the Museum to enjoy
the trains. Although the ride-on train speaks for itself, the
experiences of all who visit wouldn’t nearly be the same without our
friendly & helpful volunteers. Thanks to all who come to help and give
See you Saturday morning.
January 30 2016:
With no Open House this weekend, there is a scheduled work session
this Saturday beginning at 8:00 AM. It is my understanding that there
will be another Birthday Party beginning at 11:00 AM.
Some of the things that we need to accomplish:
1. finalize the 2016 budget request.
2. build another padded seat for one of the gondolas. We only have 8
seats – we need 9.
3. track attention is needed on the station loop as loose track was
identified during the last Open House.
Other things worthy of consideration:
1. strategy discussion regarding a future tie replacement program.
2. replace the horn button on the S4 controller.
3. review safety rules for submission to BOD for approval.
January, 16 2016:
Yes, there is a work session scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday)
morning beginning at 8:00 AM. It could be a little chilly early, so
This work session agenda includes:
1. There are a couple of track leveling issues that were identified
during the last Open House.
2. We need to consider appointing (or re-appointing) a committee
3. We need to develop the 2016 budget including a realistic schedule of
intended projects to complete. The budget must be submitted to the 1st
VP (Glenn Ellis) by end of month.
4. We need to update/prepare the inventory of 7-1/2” gauge committee
related property. The inventory must be submitted to the Conductor
(Steve Collins) by end of month.
Last weekend, I was proud and happy to see our group so active with the
Train meet setup & take down again. We had a great turnout for each end
of the meet and everything went well. To those who came to help, the
Museum BOD wants to thank you immensely as your donation of time and
effort makes so much more possible for the Museum. I want to thank Glenn
Ellis & Jacob Payne for providing the truck/trailer combinations that
made the movement of tables and related equipment to and from the Museum
trouble free. The setup on the south ½ of the room is shown below.
The setup on the north ½ of the room is shown below.
The Lego’s folks out of Phoenix set up a wonderful RR display with
several trains operating. I marveled at how reliable the track work was
on this display as I never saw anything derail.
I also want to thank John Roads for taking on the task of moving our
beautiful engine to and from the meet. It was a very popular display
with kids and adults enjoying it equally.
After two days of enjoying the great meet, the membership of the GPD
including our group deserved a break. But not until we pulled of another
great Open House on Sunday.
We welcomed back from the Chicago area, Dave Peterson. We also
welcomed new member, Tony Wilson who filled in to assist with the train
operation outside. It’s great to have new faces involved as we move into
There is a Board Meeting tonight at the Museum. The agenda is lengthy
and contains many important Museum related issues that will be
discussed. As always, anyone is welcome to attend the Board meetings.
Hope to see you all this Saturday at the Museum beginning at 8:00 AM.
Planned for (December 2015):
Due to the 4 scheduled Open Houses this month, there are not going to
be scheduled work sessions. The first of the four December Open
Houses 12/6/2015 was a good success on an absolutely beautiful day.
We had a good turnout of help making it possible to perform some needed
track maintenance during the Open House. Brian Scott and his sons manned
the public train operation duties with his UP GP40 for the lion’s share
of the running. Jesse, running the Museum’s Alco S4, relieved Brian from
time to time and also helped out with some of the track maintenance
Thanks to all who came and helped out.
This Sunday, Dec 13th, the second of four Open Houses is scheduled.
Please consider coming down to the Museum to help out.
There will be no regularly scheduled work sessions this month since
there are Open Houses scheduled for each of the Sundays (6th, 13th,
20th, & 27th). We are going to need additional help manning these Open
Houses. Please see the sign-up sheet taped to the meeting room door
(inside) at the Museum.
Last weekend’s work session, November 28, 2015, was productive as
the temporary walkway extension to get Museum visitors to the outdoor
G-Gauge layout was built. Although it isn’t perfect in terms of
eliminating all walkway imperfections, it does eliminate a significant
amount of trip hazards. We started from scratch with 2x4’s and 1x6 cedar
boards. First, all the lumber was given a coat of waterproofing light
stain. Then, the lumber was hauled to the front for the installation to
begin. Like most projects, a lot of time was spent getting the
foundation set. That made everything else go easy.
Thanks to the efforts of Chairman Jesse, John Roads, Bob Swanson, Darel
Magee and Burt Wright, we finished the project on-time to allow us to
enjoy our favorite watering hole for lunch.
This walkway will ultimately give way to a permanent walking surface,
probably incorporating brick pavers, once we settle on the station
Hope to see at least 4 of you this Sunday at the Open House (12:30 to
4:30). The more, the merrier!
Planned for Saturday (November 7, 2015): No work session
Last Saturday, Halloween, we had several people come to help with
the difficult task of cleaning up the back drainage way. The effort was
made a little easier by putting our train to work hauling the brush and
trash to the parking lot in preparation for hauling off site.
||It all began at the north end. Steadily, the group worked
south with countless train loads of brush getting loaded and
transported. Luckily, the weather was kind to the guys who
worked relentlessly cutting overgrowth and pick up trash as
|On behalf of the Museum’s Board, I want to personally thank
Jesse Miller, Paul Kruppenbacher, John Roads, Glenn Ellis, Roger
Phillips, for their hard work and service to help keep the
Museum grounds attractive to all who come. Your efforts are very
||The results of all the work on Saturday is a literal
mountain of brush completely filling the parking space next to
the transfer table track in front of the 20’ container. Sorry,
but I don’t have a picture of that but it is impressive to say
|The drainage way looks so much better – great job ! ! !
||This Sunday there is an Open House scheduled from 12:30 to
4:30 PM. Please consider attending to help out with the public
train operation. At last Open House, the GP’s Alco S4 had no
problems whatsoever hauling the trainloads of happy riders all
afternoon. This Sunday should be no different although the
weather is predicted to be even better with sunny weather and a
high temperature of 78 with a light breeze expected. Look
forward to seeing you all this weekend.
Halloween, Saturday (October 31, 2015):
This Saturday, we have a regularly scheduled work session that
will begin at 8:00 AM, 30 minutes later than previous. For early
arrivers, the building will be open at 7:30 and there will be coffee &
The schedule this week will include the following tasks:
As difficult as this may sound, we
need to try and reduce the amount of growth occurring within the
drainage channel along the back side of the Museum. Pulling some
weeds may be helpful and additional pruning will be needed as well.
We can put a work train together to haul the trimmings to the front
of the Museum to load into a truck for disposal. This project, if
delayed, will only get bigger and more difficult. Please bring heavy
gloves if you can assist.
There are a couple of minor
tracking-leveling needs that shouldn’t be difficult to remedy.
Inspect the electrical boxes and
conduit runs connecting the signal block to the flashing signal at
the Museum entrance. Heavy rains recently at the Museum may have
contributed to the signal operating continuously at the last Open
House thus necessitating it to be manually controlled. It was again
checked Wednesday evening at the Museum although it appeared to be
operating correctly. There have been no rains for a week and things
are drying out. We need to make sure that water isn’t trapped in the
electrical boxes and/or conduits.
The Open House last Sunday was successful as we again had good
ridership although it didn’t start out being busy. With a full consist
of cars due to Brian generously allowing us to use his two riding cars
and the caboose, we were able to load a lot of passengers onto a single
train. One challenge confronting us is the need for us to get some good
photographs of the train carrying happy passengers. The happy passengers
are easy to find, but we need to get written permission from parents of
children and/or adults riding the train to use the pictures on our
website. This will be a challenge for us during a future Open House. One
possible solution might be to simply “stage” a train with our own
members families, kids and/or grandkids to avoid any potential problems.
This can be discussed this Saturday.
Last Saturday, although not an official work session, a few of us
showed up at the Museum to “test drive” the recently completed Museum
engine. Bob Swanson was busy again with his lopper. It’s never ending.
We went ahead and put a full consist together of the four Museum cars
and Brian Scott’s two gondolas bringing up the rear and made several
laps around the Museum in preparation for the Open House. Suffice it to
say that everything worked as it should although the horn button is
still a little bit finicky. We put square white pieces of tape onto the
side front corners of each car with writing to designate the front of
the car plus the intended order/placement for each car so that safety
chain lengths would all be correct and we shouldn’t have issues when
putting the trains together. The tape is only temporary until a more
permanent making system can be employed.
Kudos to those members who put this engine back together because it
worked perfectly both days. We put the full consist together and made
several laps without incident. While we were at it, we used the train to
haul tree trimmings, cut down by our most qualified arborist, Bob
Saturday (October 24, 2015):
There will be no regularly scheduled work session this Saturday, but
it’s a good bet that some of you will come down anyway. If you decide to
come, the doors will be open by 7:30 AM with donuts and coffee available
as usual. Recent rains suggest that we should check track conditions to
make sure we are safe to operate at the Open House scheduled for Sunday.
The great news is that we have our engine back and ready to go.
Below is what we started with last Saturday morning.
|Here is another picture of just the cab – Signarama (owner: Doug
Baker) did an absolutely great job taking the artwork prepared by Jesse
Miller & translating it into beautiful graphics, applied flawlessly. For
your information, the name “Lily” applied to the bottom of the cab under
the Museum Logo is in honor of the very first passenger carried on a
train pulled by this locomotive. Lily is Bill Kaval’s daughter – we miss
Bill and his entire family.
||Special thanks to Glenn Ellis, Jesse Miller, and Roger Phillips for
the careful efforts to make this project go so incredibly well.
|The installation of wiring, original run along the sides of the
batteries was elevated and put into a loom to make lifting the cab on
and off easier as well as prevent damage to any of the exposed wiring.
The only thing remaining to do will probably happen tonight at the
Museum and that’s installation of the “gingerbread” which are the
handrails and ladder rungs, etc. on the frame & body. All the pieces
will be at the Museum tonight beginning about 6:00 PM.
Don’t forget our Open House on Sunday, 12:30 to 4:30 as usual. Weather
should be awesome.
Hope to see some of you Saturday as well.
Planned for Saturday (October 17, 2015):
There is a scheduled work session this Saturday beginning 30
minutes later (7:30 AM) than previous work sessions. The S4 graphics are
completed and the engine is ready for re-assembly which will be the
order of the day. As always, donuts and coffee will be available.
Brian Scott bailed us out last weekend as virtually the entire
group were either out of town or committed to other events. Brian
invited his wife & kids to help with the public train during the open
house including the maiden voyage using his flat car with sides & seat
installed for additional passenger capacity. The car looked great and
worked better. One train hauled a total of 16 passengers (has to be a
Below is a picture of the entire consist including the Museum’s engineer
car, 3 gondolas, Brian’s flat car converted and Brian’s gondola with his
caboose bringing up the rear. It’s impressive & worked well.
Hope to see you this Saturday at 7:30 AM (new start time). Should be
(October 7, 2015):
The Alco S4 frame has been returned to the Museum and is ready to
begin the reassembly process. The graphics applied look great!
Saturday (October 3, 2015):
This Saturday morning at 7:00 AM, there will be a scheduled
work session at the Museum. Work tasks will include re-work of the
siding on the back side of the building which is long overdue. It has
some fairly significant humps and valleys which need to be shaved and/or
filled to get that track level. Although it’s a siding and probably can
function with the bad track, it looks bad and we should correct it.
We will also get an update on the progress on the S4 graphics
Saturday (Sept 26, 2015):
There will not be a regularly scheduled work session this Saturday at
the Museum although there will be members present as usual. The building
will be open at 7:00 AM as normal and donuts & coffee will be there as
usual. With the Open House scheduled for Sunday (the following day), and
the Alco S4 not yet completed, we won’t be able to run on Sunday. That
is somewhat disappointing, but it happens. That doesn’t mean that your
help wouldn’t be appreciated on either or both days. On the task list is
re-assembly of the Big Joe control panel to correct the failed solenoid
which occurred during the last Open House. In addition, we might want to
begin prepping Big Joe for some paint work as it really could use some
sprucing up. If you come Saturday AM, it will be great to see you. If
you don’t, please consider coming to the Open House on Sunday to help
the rest of the crew & spread some good will.
Here’s proof that the engine is painted. On the left is Gilbert
Lopez, retired owner of Tucson Auto Collision Center, who took a lot of
pride doing the paint work for us. If you ever have a chance to meet
Gilbert, please thank him for his efforts as he gave us a pretty big
break with the work he did. The engine (frame & cab) is now at the
graphics shop getting the graphic design made & installed. Since that
work is being donated, we really can’t dictate the schedule. We hope to
have the engine back soon so we can begin the re-assembly before we
forget how it goes back together.
Saturday (August 8, 2015):
Perhaps a little bit cooler (maybe even less than 100) and virtually
no chance for monsoon rain, we will have another work session scheduled
for this Saturday morning beginning at 7:00 AM. Donuts and coffee will
be there – will you?
Sorry, no pics from last work session although there was more alignment
and leveling work done at the location where the new turnout was placed.
We didn’t have much time to test the area with a train, so that will
need to be done this weekend. We also want to get some clear
understanding of the grade work that will need to be done into and out
of the turntable area so that any cut/fill work can be planned.
Hope to see you there.
Saturday (July 25, 2015):
This Saturday, there will be a regularly scheduled work session
beginning at 7:00 AM. The gates will be open at 6:30 if anyone wants to
arrive early. Coffee and donuts will be available as usual. Expect it to
warm up fast so we will probably only work outside until we lose shade.
At the previous work session, we installed the previously removed
turnout at the north end of the site that will provide access from the
main line into the turntable area and eventually into the engine & train
storage building that will be constructed. The hardest part of this job
(like most projects) is just forcing yourself to get started. This first
step was to lay the previously removed turnout on top of the existing
curved section of tract that exits from the existing turnout. This
allowed us to approximate where the turnout would be installed plus
where to make the first “rough cuts” of rail.
With the rough cuts made, we removed the section of rail and raked
out all the ballast.
We then placed the new turnout with the curved section of track
overlapping the rails from the turnout. We then connected the turnout to
the straight track.
We knew that re-alignment of the curved section would be required to
create a smooth transition into the new turnout. Thus, we had to remove
a lot of ballast from that section of curve track and begin the process
of re-aligning the track to provide a smooth transition into the
A lot of “ooching” and tapping resulted in what we thought would be an
Once we were relatively comfortable that we had the curve track
alignment close to where it should go, we made the final cuts of the
overlapping rails and made final connection between the turnout and the
A kink is quite obvious in the curve section connection to the turnout
in the picture above, however the turnout needed to be straightened by
aligning the straight portion with the approach rail (rotating the
turnout slightly clockwise) which was helpful. We called it a day as the
heat began to become too much.
|Last Saturday, although not a scheduled work session,
the turnout and track leading into it were leveled and ballast
replaced. The track was test run and it was judged to have too
much of an abrupt entrance into the turnout just north of the
frog. Correcting this will be the task for this week’s work
||While we worked on the leveling, the outside G-gauge guys
were busy as usual. Electrical conduit was placed under there
mainline to enable them to get track power from the north end of
the layout to the south end.
|Under the highly qualified supervision of our new “resident
electrical guru”, the effort produced the needed result on the
||No plumbers here (no “wise” cracks – pun intended).
Those G-gauge guys had incredible foresight when they chose this
location under the shade of the two largest trees on the property. When
the sun is shining, it’s hot plus it’s humid. The shade provides
enormous relief thus enabling us to work well into the morning hours
before giving up.
The finished product appears the same as before we started but a lot
of work was accomplished. While we finished cleaning up outside and
putting stuff away, Glenn Ellis, our glue sniffing expert, was inside
the (air conditioned) building cutting all the plastic support
structures for the G-gauge track including gluing all the plugs.
The outside project is moving along at good pace. Come on down and
enjoy the process.
Hope to see you this Saturday morning again.
Picture credits to John Roads and Jesse Miller.
Saturday (July 11, 2015):
There will be a regular work session scheduled for this Saturday
beginning at 7:00 AM. The outdoor G-gauge group will also be at the
Museum working on their layout.
Yes it will be hot and it will be humid, but luckily we don’t have
pressing issues to contend with. Thus we can take lots of breaks and
just enjoy the camaraderie.
Tasks at hand may include beginning grade work for the turntable
and/or placement of the turnout where the spur from the turntable will
connect to the mainline. Hope to see you at the Museum.
Saturday (June 6, 2015):
Work session Saturday beginning at 7:00 AM (new start time) As
summer approaches, we’re moving the start time up a bit. Although this
Saturday won’t be too terribly hot and we might even get some welcome
rain (probably wishful thinking), we’ll have the gates open early. We’d
like to have some discussions about the construction/design of the
turn-table as that construction needs to occur this summer. We also need
to review and discuss the proposed changes to our safety & operations
We’ve had our last Open House of the season and below is the last photo
taken of the public runs.
Hope to see you Saturday AM.
Saturday (April 18, 2015):
7½" ga. .Work Session this Saturday at 7½'o'clock.
Also this Saturday we have a birthday party starting at 11am for 12
children (ages 4-7) plus adults. So having a few crew members to
stay (a bit later maybe) and help give those folks some rides.
CAUTION: work may spill over to 'Garden' related tasks depending on
attendance. There might also be cake, ...or not.
Below are some photos from our last work session on March 28
as well as some recent Open-House shots.
As we begin to prepare the museum's Alco S4 (#3975) for it's new paint
this Summer, this also comes just past the 100th hour of run-time,
according to the counter.
This will serve as a good point for us to perform a periodic maintenance
and check on the systems and layout for wear and any last minute
improvements before getting painted.
We did it! We've finally gotten around to installing those awesome
'mile' markers created by Dale back in July of 2012 (3 years ago!,
before the containers where painted, pre-big-joe, and before the brick
walkway)...also the new parking lot has been completed and is very nice
The markers are labeled 0-7 in ½ increments, so keep an eye out for
these about ever 50 feet along the outside, about 3 feet from the track.
After the new lot work was completed, it was decided we could use
some additional drainage just North of the curb our track goes over,
just West of the loading area.
Installing a ~4" diameter PVC a couple feet long was fairly academic at
this point for our growingly-experienced track crew.
Thanks again to Brian for 'heading-up' the Open-House rides with his
Conductor and their 1.6" scale GP-40-2, #1428.
Planned for Saturday (March 14, 2015):
This Saturday, beginning at 7:30 AM (30 minutes earlier than
last session), there is a scheduled work session at the Museum. The
parking lot pavement has been placed, but work is continuing. At the
request of the Board, the gates will remain closed and locked for at
least another week as work in the parking lot is continuing. There are
many things that need to be done this weekend. Of significant importance
is needing to have discussion regarding the experiences from last
Sunday’s Open House. The following tasks are needing to be performed:
We will need to remove the broken
crossing signal light damaged by pavement contractor. A cast aluminum
fitting was broken which may be repairable and/or replaceable but it
needs to be removed.
We need to re-check gauge & levelness of
track various track sections experiencing derailment events.
We need to thoroughly inspect the yellow
gondola for mechanical issues.
We need to have discussion regarding
several sections in our Operation Rules.
In order to better identify specific
locations on our layout, we should install the mile post markers
created by Dale Cover.
We need to come to a final decision on
paint scheme for the Alco S4.
|At the last work session, the Roger took on the task of
painting the south gates. Now, both sets are freshly painted and
||Several of the group pitched in to assist the Outside G-gauge
group with some drainage ditches that were expertly dug by Jacob
Payne using his walk-behind ditch witch trencher. Not an easy task,
but way easier than hand digging. The pipe got installed and the
ditch covered up in preparation for the up-coming Open House. Kind
of looks like a County Job.
Hope to see you all this Saturday @ 7:30 AM.
Saturday (March 7, 2015):
This Saturday, beginning at 8:00 AM, we’ll meet at the Museum
for two purposes:
1. The 1st and primary purpose is to make sure track conditions
haven’t deteriorated due to recent rains. That shouldn’t take long as we
had a successful Open House operation on February 22nd. Having said
that, we are now into March Open Houses scheduled for the 2nd & 4th
Sundays, the normal work session schedule will become the “in-between”
weekends. There may be exceptions as we go toward the summer and into
the fall (such as this weekend), but we’ll try to stay on schedule if
possible to facilitate personal scheduling needs. When there are
changes, and there likely will be for well-documented reasons, we will
attempt to provide as much notice as possible. Therefore, besides
showing up a little early on Saturday for the Rails in the Garden Tour,
normal work sessions for March will occur on Saturday the 14th and 28th.
April will be the 4th & 18th. May will be the 2nd, 16th & “possibly” the
30th. The Museum will be closed for 3 months this year (June, July &
August) rather than two.
2. The 2nd purpose to come on Saturday is the “Rails
in the Garden Tour” which is scheduled for both Saturday &
Sunday. The Tour starts at 10:00 AM and ends at 4:00 PM each day. This
year, unlike other years, the Tour is free to the public and it has
received great publicity including a blurb in today’s AZ Star. The GPD
Toy Train Museum is one of 16 locations that are identified on the
Garden Tour so we should expect a lot of visitors. Sunday is also
a normal Open House for the Museum but we will need to open a couple
hours early to accommodate the Tour.
We have found a possible source for “automatic switch machines”. They
are produced by the Big Boots & Western Railroad (http://bigbootsrr.com) and
http://bigbootsrr.com/for_sale.html. There is a
YouTube video showing them in action:
This is what they look like not installed:
Here is what they look like installed:
The cost for one switch machine assembly is $90. Two can be purchased
for $170. Shipping is $16. They run on a 6V battery pack (4 C cells)
although they can also be operated manually if needed. They come with a
push button control that you mount on a ¾ PVC pipe or conduit. They can
also be adapted to operate from a DC power supply if needed.
Bill Kaval indicates: “They could easily be integrated wirelessly as
well (RF key fob). Remote turnout signaling can be done using hall
effect transistors (solid state version of a reed switch”). Someone out
there may actually understand what that means. I certainly don’t.
At any rate, it appears that these may be the switching solution we’re
looking for at the front of the Museum. This will get discussed &
perhaps decided upon this Saturday so that we can place an order for
Hope to see everyone this weekend either on Saturday or Sunday or even
Saturday (Feb. 21, 2015):
There is a lot of track & ballast maintenance needed so this Saturday
is going to be important to us. If track maintenance isn’t your cup of
tea, there are other projects beckoning for attention like painting the
south entrance gate to match the repainted north gate. The crossing
signal pole also needs to have the painting completed. Testing the
weight limits on the three gondolas also needs to be done ASAP. We
figure to get a relatively accurate weight for one of our bricks and use
them to load each gondola to see what these cars will be capable of
We didn’t get much done two weekends ago for reasons shown below. This
was an incredibly rare event for Tucson, but I didn’t hear anyone
complaining about the rain – although I’ll readily admit that I can’t
hear very well.
Last Saturday, we took off again in honor of our Valentines. My
Valentine was happy to see me working on the house for a change. What
did you get your Valentine for Valentine’s day. I got mine a new roof !
Jesse has been exercising his creative juices again and below is his
latest effort. He has single-handedly taken this effort on and he is to
be congratulated for all his great work. I really like his latest design
as it is simple yet very creative. But I also liked his last efforts as
well. Who is Lilly? I’ve attached most of his noteworthy efforts for
your review. We need to make a decision soon so we can begin getting
painting estimates – perhaps even donated work. The BOD approved our
budget at the last BOD meeting which included $600 for paint & graphics
work on the engine.
Previous efforts are shown below:
At the last work session where we actually did stuff, a huge
amount of human capital was expended. Manual Labor showed up and
obviously Burt got first choice of the tasks. In his defense, the gate
did need to get painted.
While Burt was hard at work, the others did a little digging in the
back. Jurgen didn’t seem to mind the work and he certainly knew which
end of the pick to hold. Although most of the trenching was mechanically
done with a gas powered walk behind Ditch Witch generously provided and
operated by Jacob Payne, the stretch across the main line of the 7-1/2”
track however, had to be hand dug, in fact, bored through using the Dale
Cover provided invention “water-pic”. Although it got us where we needed
to go, it did make a bunch of mud in the process.
||Once the hand digging was done, we were able to get the 2’’ pipe donated
to the Museum by Jacob Payne installed with the obligatory 18” burial
depth. Once installed, we backfilled, tamped, re-ballasted, check gauge
|Then the group began chasing the trencher down to the north end of the
property picking out rocks where necessary although the trencher did a
great job making the trench straight & consistent.
The 2” pipe was then installed into the finished trench, terminated at
the north end. The entire trench backfilled, tamped, and raked to
restore the grounds for the Open House scheduled for the next day.
Hope to see everyone this Saturday morning again. Start time is 8:00 AM
although the building will be open at 7:30 as usual.
Saturday (Feb. 7, 2015):
This Saturday at 8:00 AM, we’ll get together and do the stuff
we couldn’t do last weekend as we got a way too much rain. With the
ground totally saturated, we called off the public runs on Sunday as
well. Although there were some disappointed visitors, everyone seemed to
understand why. This Saturday, with temperatures in the high 70’s
expected and no rain, it should be a great day to work on the railroad.
Here are some of the tasks which might be considered for this Saturday:
Replace the billboard
material with something that won’t warp, crack, delaminate etc. as the
current ¼” plywood is doing. Suggestions offered so far include
acrylic plastic, galvanized sheet metal, and tempered Masonite. Anyone
else with an idea?
Re-adjust the front drive
gate so that the ends come together in alignment. Re-paint the front
Paint the top of the
crossing signal pole.
Test the gondolas with
weight to determine their riding capacity.
And last, but certainly
not least, with 2” of rain falling on the layout, we want to make sure
that the track system is safe to use.
Of course, the G-gauge group will be working outside with us during
the morning. There may also be effort to begin the utility trenching
under the 7-1/2” mainlines.
Saturday (Jan. 31, 2015):
Could be a little wet this Saturday, but we’re planning on
We do have a work session scheduled for this Saturday morning with
intention to meet at 8:00 AM. While we drink some coffee and eat a few
donuts, we can discuss what we’ll be able to do, weather permitting.
John Roads proposed that we should to do some load testing on our three
gondolas. The purpose is to attempt to ascertain exactly how much weight
will result in compressing the springs a specific distance. We currently
don’t know this information and probably should.
Track maintenance is on the agenda as it always should be. In fact, an
on-going track maintenance program is strongly suggested and encourage
by our insurance carrier. With Open Houses planned for each of the next
4 Sundays, we want to make sure our track conditions are stable and that
any changes or deterioration due to the rainy weather is corrected.
In addition, the outdoor G-gauge group may begin a trenching project to
install electrical & water utilities to their layout location. Those
excavations will cross our track plan in a couple of locations. We need
to make sure that work is done carefully and restoration of the area is
completed properly. This will involve having to compact the backfill –
especially under the R.O.W. Track alignment and levelness must also be
checked. If it’s raining, that work probably won’t happen this weekend.
We need to cooperate and assist that group as needed as we share the
north end of the property.
Jesse shared some pictures from the previous work session when
the Outside G-gauge group began their work.
|The property has been completely Blue Staked before any
excavation work was done. Even though the only digging is to occur
in the north end of the property, we had the entire site done as
replacement of the parking lot is going to occur soon. With the
G-gauge layout painted on the ground and the utilities all
identified with paint markings on the ground and little flags pushed
into the ground, Glenn was ready to begin the digging.
||First task at hand was to move / relocate the Ore Car. Luckily,
Glenn’s bobcat came in really helpful as he carved out a shelf in
the center hill section of the property. He then quickly moved the
Ore Car with track to its new home. Restoration of the landscaping
made it seem as if the car had always been there.
|Then, the chain link fencing material was rolled back exposing
the entire front face of the property to the street. This enabled
Glenn to get inside the area without having to drive over our 7-1/2”
R.O.W. He then started getting the rough grade carved out in
preparation of placement of retaining wall materials.
Several block have been placed along the sidewalk defining the
finished grade for the lower level of G-gauge track. Backfill was placed
and the ground compacted using the plate tamper. At some level, it was
kind of fun to get back into doing manual labor using shovels, rakes,
and picks. I can say that because the back pains have subsided somewhat.
Expect more of this project to move forward quickly.
Saturday (Jan. 17, 2015):
This Saturday, beginning promptly at 8:00 AM, we have
scheduled a work session. The Work Session coincides with a Birthday
Party scheduled to begin at 10:00 where we need to man a 7-1/2” gauge
train for the 20-30 kids plus adults that are coming.
It’s been a few weeks since we’ve concentrated on the layout and there
are some track issues, mainly on the curve track exiting the caboose
enclosure. That area is begging for some attention. In addition, we need
to check the track leaving the station as we’ve experience a few
derailments in that area as well. We need to complete our budget request
for 2015 so bring your thoughts about that to the work session. There
are already ideas being presented. The inventory should be done by
Saturday, so that will be off our plate.
Weather should be clear, in the low 70’s, perfect for playing with
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