Sunday, November 16, 2008

New Hoist Progress

Just happened to go for a Harley ride today and I knew that Bill Shepherd would be pouring mud on Monday. So, I swung by to get a shot of the steel work and progress of the unloading area.

Boy, was I impressed!! Bill had Ole Olson do a little tractor work to speed up the grading and to throw the dirt back where the yard tracks will be. The yard will be four foot eight inches above the concrete pad as to keep the yard level and to keep things from rolling into the hoist area. A retaining wall will be on two sides of the hoist with a three foot wide apron around the hoist for access. There will be a step on each side of the hoist for access to the yard while unloading.

Concrete will be poured Monday and block work will start on Tuesday or Wednesday. By Thanksgiving we can fill the cells and even start erection of the hoist but will probably wait on that. We have yet to trench the electrical to the power pole by the ash pit. I'm sure we will start grading and compaction of the yard tracks during the Turkey Weekend, but need to wait to get too close to the new wall.

It's looking good and I thought you would all be interested in what Bill has gotten done to date. Thank you all for your generous donations to date as well and there is always room for more checks in the bank account for the completion of the infrastructure around here. The donation of the concrete block sure helped out as you will soon see.

Thanks to all again Brian

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rudy Run 2008

November 7-10

Good thing I ditched work and came out Thursday night. Friday was awesome; people, weather and activities. Bill Shepherd had been out for a week and it showed. Grade stakes everywhere for the drain project. And grade stakes and dirt flying for the lift project too.

Thursday all the fun started early, the Burns family was at the gate bright and early from breakfast down the street after pulling an all-nighter to get here from Salinas. Gary and Margret Stites brought out their GE 47 tonner and attempted to enjoy the day. Becky and Ray Bjerrum made the trip down from Kerman, brought the whole train down with them, that engine is looking better every time I see it, good work Ray. Al and Lynn Ratliff came through the gate in the afternoon to enjoy the festivities. I got out of town in time to drive out in the dark and Greg was somewhere behind me. The girls, Becky, Stacy and Sydnie arrived on Friday evening, something about work.

Friday morning was unload morning after checking out all the recent activity. RGS #41was steaming up and soon was pulling cars out of the car barn to exercise for the weekend. Al unloaded his GE 47 tonner and a stack of 24’ flats as well. I had his Plymouth to unload out of my truck. Greg brought the Yankee Girl Mining Co. dump car back out as well as dad’s Westside skeleton cars, yes, two now. Those long cars sure can fill up a truck. By then it was time to unload Mike Thompson’s Mogul and cars. Bruce would be up later after donating to the Casino electricity fund. The weather could not have been nicer on Friday; at 7:00 am it was t-shirt weather and stayed that way all day. Saturday was actually warmer but still wonderful.

Saturday saw the Heisler get steamed up for and hour or so till Mike and the boys decided to start hauling fill for the Joshua Tree extension, so I put her down to help out. With plenty of engines out it was getting busy on the track. The extended tails of the Wye help out as a good sized train can negotiate it without cutting the train. The Tolans showed up with a mini van stuffed with trains for the weekend. We also had two visitors from Riverside with a real nice plantation engine that made the grades with two guys on two cars all afternoon, sure worked her wheels off and sounded good doing it, sorry I didn’t get their names.

With most trains having a flat car or two in the consist, most trains took part in hauling a bucket, or two, or seven, from the loading site to the far side of Palmer Bridge for off loading. The Fifteen inch boys were hauling rock out of their cut with Brendon’s mini dump truck and were dumping the rock near the 7 ½” track so that was hauled by train to the work site too. Every body that wanted to, participated in the project all afternoon, and by dark time the road bed was pretty much ready for 50’ of new track to be laid down soon. Over the course of the day, a good estimate, of 125 people were out, or had been to the club during the day. From the vantage point of across the wash at the work site, the coming and going of visitors can really be seen. Most of the railroad can be viewed from there and people were everywhere, the end of the high-line, the unloading area, the museum, etc.

The Fifteen inch boys had a project going too. An air compressor was procured for the day and their collection of an antique rock drill and jack hammer were working all day. The rock drill is an interesting piece of high dessert history and the 90 pound jack hammer is actually more ergonomically friendly then the one I use on occasion at work. They are completing the cut for the balloon loop on the yard project and have a very hard vein of granite standing in the way of progress. The rock drill helps them drill into the vein and then they use an expansion agent called ‘Dexpan’ to fracture the rock. The rock is losing this battle and they are nearing their goal. Good work and your efforts are showing, Kudos to Brendon and his crew.

Terry Watson camped out near the Museum and the doors were open all weekend so that all that wanted could view the museum. Both Terry and Gary Conley have spent a considerable amount of time and talent on the exhibits and their presentation and it really shows. They deserve your thanks for their hard work, stop in and see the museum the next time. Ask about how the head light got up on the perch. And if you have something you would like to be exhibited in the building let them now.

Saturday evening the weather deteriorated to windy and cold real quick. A fast moving storm blew through most of the night and by morning it was just blustery and cool. The annual meeting was held in the museum Sunday morning instead of in the RPO car, after the dust settled the officers of the year ended up being; Tom Arnold- president, Paul Lavacot- vice president, the remaining board members- Brendon Hilton, Brian Ratliff and Bill Shepherd. Cherie Palmer is still our Secretary and Rebecca Ratliff is holding the purse strings as Treasurer. Reports and retorts were had and the ‘state of the club’ was talked about, we are in better shape then in the past and advancement of projects and progress were discussed. Also we invited and elected two new regular members to the fold. Both are hard workers and an asset to the membership, welcome goes out to Bill Hilton and Bruce Thompson.

Dirt continued to fly around the new unloading area on Sunday and even on Monday as well. Plan was to pour concrete for the retaining wall and base for the lift in the next week. With all that helped move dirt that might happen sooner. After things cure the lift can be brought in from its hiding place and the lead track be built from the upper loop. Power and water need to be run from nearby. A goal, of operation by the narrow gauge meet in March has been drawn in the sand. It is a goal that can be had with many good things coming from it. Ease of unloading for the regulars, and with the horrors of the old lift gone, engines that were too big to unload before can now visit. The possibilities can be exciting at least. Build it and they will come.

Oh, and did I mention I’ll be your newsletter editor too. I’ll try to blow a new breathe into the Desert Wind, as we end up our 40th year as a club and soon we will celebrate our 30th year of operation and continued building of the 7 ½”, we have much to look forward to as well as look back on what has happened over the years. You’ll be hearing from me.

A very good time was had and the weekend ended too soon as usual. Looking forward to when we can do it again and hope that all can make it then, Brian Ratliff.