Sunday, March 29, 2009

JT visits MLS Spring Meet

March 20-22, 2009

With the Narrow Gauge Meet over and done it was time to visit another track as it is traveling time for Three Companies. With Mom felling much better these days Al and Lynn were off to the Maricopa Live Steamers Spring Meet. They pretty much just went from JT to Phoenix, ah, that retirement life. Greg and I had to attend our weekly sessions at the salt mill, but we were on the road by mid Friday afternoon. Matt Z, the CVLS president and soon to be new JT member (hint, hint)drove up to Corona for the trip over with us. He had never been to the Adobe track site and was exited to get the chance to go along.

The trip across the desert was uneventful, with the sun at our backs and traffic bearable we were soon in Buckeye and stopped to see Mike Polinsky's new house and to see his Artzberger RGS #20. When these engines are finished they will be as prolific as Little Engines Americans once were. Looking forward to that day.

In Greg's truck we had a stack of flat cars and the caboose to compliment the stack of flats that Dad had with the GE 47 tonner. It makes for quite a string, meandering out among the flora and fauna of the flood basin in spring. On an early Saturday trip through the yard area, Ron and Lila Schmidt had arrived as they were in the area for a spell.
We took them on a scenic trip on one of the five different loops that can be taken at MLS. After a good hour on the ride they were off again to enjoy the great spring weather.

MLS has quite a few 2 1/2"ng engines and cars about their railroad. Karl Hovanitz has a stable of 2 1/2" equipment at the club as well as at his home track at Bitter Creek.
Bruno Platzer keeps a plethora of narrow gauge equipment to pull behind his massive K-36 and GE 47 tonner there as well since MLS is the closest track to his home in Las Vegas. John Mueller's C-16 is at home there as well and is an early representation of Rio Grande equipment. He is working on finishing up a wooden box car, individual boards on the exterior, nice. John is one of the original five to be involved in the JT property. Jeff Hickman has an impressive collection of rolling stock with wide wheels too. A past visitor to JT, Bob Clark from Farmington, New Mexico was down to pick up his new Easlon freight cars. Bob says he lives by the blogs and E-mails from other clubs as he lives in the middle of nowhere. Thanks for the good word about these musings. Thanks to Rick White for the photos of the train, I took one photo the whole weekend.

It is always fun and interesting to travel to other tracks, you learn different ways to tackle things, some work for you, some don't. MLS has a weather demon like we do and the way they go about it makes a lot of sense. They have sand everywhere and their switch throws are the way we should go. We're working on it. Make an effort to visit another club track this season, you'll be glad you did. Next travel spot, Train Mountain Narrow Gauge Meet 09, May 2009, Chiliquin Oregon, see you there.

Monday, March 16, 2009

March 2009 Narrow Gauge Meet

Joshua Tree & Southern Narrow Gauge Meet 2009
and Dedication of the Bill Shepherd Lift
March 12-15

The best decision for having a meet was to have it in March instead of February. The weather was absolutely wonderful; mild temperatures, clear skies, and the next day was ‘more of the same’ all weekend.

The Meet started early for Gary and Margret Stites, they came the week before, a calendar mistake to their favor. Gary got in some valuable throttle time on his GE 47 tonner, learning the ins and outs of its operation quite well by the end of the weekends. The painting project and detailing are coming along fine, good job Gary.

Bill Shepherd has been in town for a few weeks now and his handy work is to be found all throughout the place.
The Gazsi bay is complete and filled now and the steps are forming at the south end of the steaming bays, a greatly needed and appreciated addition and completion to the steaming area. A concrete curb was added to the turn table pit area to keep the soil from eroding into the pit. The only thing left is the erection of the engine house to add the final crown to the improved and expanded complex. Bill has also completed the pedestrian entrance at the front gate. You must come see it for yourself, this is a project that Bill has worked on for over a year in secrecy and it is now de-classified for our enjoyment.

Bill has also been trenching away at the campground septic system, when finished it will need more than four hundred feet of pipe to complete. Bill has also been finishing up the steps and retaining walls around the new lift area. I’m sure there will be added attention to details as we dedicated it in his name on Saturday, a very fitting expression of our gratitude for all his hard work, dedication to detail and the stamina to see it through to completion of many things around our great museum and club.

The dedication on Saturday was well attended. As a background for the occasion, three locomotives sat on the leads from the hoist. Giving those assembled a touch for what can be done at the new facility. The Speech for the dedication was short and to the point about how all who come out to Joshua Tree leave ‘finger prints’.

Finger Prints, from the early days of when the original founders of the club put their mark on what is out here. From the building of the 7 ½” railroad that started in 1979 to its present scope has taken many more different sets of finger prints to evolve to what we have today.
Some people’s finger prints lay below the surface where they are not as readily seen. Some people’s finger prints might lay behind the scenes, and yet we only see those that are on the surface, those that created through what has been called ‘sweat equity’ the physical plant of the organization; the roadbed, the track, the facilities that make a railroad more then just a circle on the ground. So in honor to one that has left many a ‘finger print’ about the place, we dedicated the new hoist as the Shepherd Lift. Fittingly Bill even wore a blue shirt to match the hoist’s color well. Thank you Bill, from all of us, for all you have done and for many things yet to come we are very appreciative of your time, toil and techniques.

On the operation side of the meet we had a very good turn out. Ron and Peter made a light load trip south with one C-16, #278, in tow. The Burns Family made it down with the whole train behind the RGS #41. The Thompson boys had C&S #13 out for the weekend as well. The Tolans made a light trip as well, only stuffing the van to the gills, no trailer, had the ‘Chloe’ along. Erin Swain and his growing family made the trip from Flagstaff with the Fitchburg Mogul.
On Saturday Jeff Tolan and Erin had double headed with Paul Lavacot’s string of log buggies in tow, power to weight ratio for that drag was pretty low. Allan Ratliff had GE 47 tonner #17 polishing the rail as well, hauling log cars around all weekend, even had a new load to pull; stacks of untreated ties for the soaker.
The days were warm and the nights delightful, Terry Watson had the Museum open all weekend for those that wanted to see the sights. Peter Moseley had not been inside since Gary Conley and Terry had spruced up the exhibits and stated that his Father would have been impressed with what and how they have arranged the Museum. A new addition to the shirts available at the Museum is a nicely embroidered hat with the JT&SRR logo on the front, and for the Narrow Gauge Meet a special run was made with that on the back hoop. All 36 went quickly and could be seen throughout the area all weekend.

Many new faces were seen about the place over the meet as well as many old ones that haven’t been out for a while. Paul Westover invited his folks from Tehachapi to see the place for the first time. Paul’s dad has been cutting the ties for us for quite some time, now it all makes sense. Paul’s brother Richard and his family was up from Santee and has vowed to be out again to help in the ‘finger prints’ with some sweat equity of his own, Paul says he hasn’t stopped talking about the place yet. Kim and Linda Beard spent the weekend and stayed in the ‘romantic’ Pullman car, this is the first time Kim has seen his peddle car set out track near Burns Spur, it was well used over the meet with his and Shepherd’s peddler filling the track. The Chula Vista club had many make the trek to see the sights as well as Ron Wilkerson from Riverside.

A new addition to the layout was the new place signs that the Burns have started making, the original is at Burns and is ceramic from Liz’s art class, the newest and how the others will be made are wooden and double sided. The first new sign fittingly was placed at Tedder, just in front of the Tedder Mansion, below the same named trestle. The placement of the signs adds yet another ‘finger print’ to the railroad.

A great time was had by all and it was over all too soon. Next time out will be Easter Weekend so find all the eggs early or bring them out to hide between the cacti, see you there, Brian

Saturday, March 7, 2009

March 7,2009 Special Workday Again

The Romans had a working plumbing system about 50 A.D. Joshua Tree gets air and water to the steaming bays in 2009, just in time for the meet. Imagine if you will; six water spigots and twelve air valves for your steam up pleasure, leaving the much improved over its' predecessor, the air manifold, as a forgotten piece of equipment of yore. No more dragging the water hose around, as it was always as far away as possible when you needed it and leaking as well, and with a kink in it to restrict or shut off flow to boot. And the air manifold, as much as it was an improvement over individual air compressors thumping at one's feet and under them as well, being able to just reach under the bay or to the one beside yours like one does at all other facilities will be great.

Saturday, Greg and I left the big city in the rear view mirror and came out for completion of two important projects. Greg's' project was to finish painting and installing of the finger guards for the hoist trolley. And to spray some paint on the welded areas of it as well. That last finishing touch before the meet. His handy work looks fine and you are sure to notice it when you unload.

My project was to finish the water spigots and piping at the bays. Time did not allow me to finish as well as I ran out of piping too. So it was trenching time early in the morning as soon as Bill Shepherd finished welding the air risers to the legs. Bill had run a temporary electrical line so the welder could reach to the far bay. The water lines were connected and tested, Bill welded these riser to the bay legs as well. The trench was back filled and tamped and we even had water to use to compact the soil back to level.

With those two things over it brings to a close three great improvements to the physical plant at JT. Water, air and a larger, safer way to unload. With the coming months we will finish the yard tracks above the hoist and it will serve us well in the coming years as a temporary storage area during busy operations.

Bill Shepherd has been busy this past week too. The front gate has a new look. The electrical is completed for the hoist and air compressor there. Today he was pouring the floor for the deck and steps were you will gain access to the yard area above the hoist. He has finished the wall around the hoist area and is soon going to work on the viaducts over the wash. There was a flurry of activity around the place today as the 15" crew was working up on the plateau. And there was activity around the campground as well with pruning and watering. Things are greening up, the trees are starting to bud out and the grass is poking its way up everywhere, Spring is on its way. It promises to be a good wildflower season real soon, don't miss it.

Well, I certainly hope it is in your plans to make it out for the Narrow Gauge Meet it promises to be a great weekend in many ways. See you there next weekend, March 12, 13, 14, 15, 2009

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Extra Work Weekend, February, 28; March 1, 2009

Having just a few things to get done before the Narrow Gauge Meet coming up in March, Three Companies decided to call an extra weekend to finish and polish some construction projects around the tracks. First on the list was to get the air lock controls for the lift operating. Temporary tubing was run to see how well it would work and replace the two by four blocks that were being used. Of course as soon as we got the tubing installed a better way was thought up and in time we will convert the system to reflect those ideas.

After getting the lift in full operating condition the ceremonial first unloading was staged. Dad backed up his truck and as everybody was assembled for the fete, Greg and I uncovered and unstrapped the GE and flats so it would be a speedy affair. With the video going; the engine and cars were off loaded and on the new lead track in less then two minutes.

The Thompsons made it out for the weekend too, Bruce just had to stop and donate money to the Indians at Morongo on his way out and Mike and Nathan got out before the sun set on Friday as well. Mike's project has been to extend the track north of Palmer Bridge and we have found a suitable spot to wrap up the extension so we can all focus on the high Line in the near future.

Paul Westover stopped in on his way back to work in the Tucson area and was seen moving boulders on the upper High Line most of the day on Friday. He found out first hand how tricky the Jays are once they see what you have to feed them. After sharing his trail mix with the beggars, he put the bag back in his truck. Being it was a warm day he rolled the windows down about two inches to let the hot air out, and to let the nosy Jay's in too. Soon there was a Jay in the truck but he couldn't figure out how to get out. Paul figures next time he'll let the truck get hot instead of getting pilfered by the birds.

Bill Shepherd is back in town, he made the long trip down Friday and rolled in to camp about late:30. After resting up and unloading all sorts of new goodies for the club he proceeded to complete the block work on the 'Gazsi Bay'. Sunday afternoon we ran a mud train from the hoist area where the mixer was to the bays to fill the cells of the wall. The track will be secured down to the wall on the 7th as well, giving us a full complement of bays for the meet. Bill's next project was to complete the steps at the hoist area and I'm sure that is curing already in the High Desert springtime air as we speak.

Brendon and Ace Hilton came out for a spell on Sunday and Brought Along Kim Ziepke to work on the old Ford tractor. Not taking long to figure out all the problems it was soon heard running around. The bucket that has for years sat along the road is now at home near the tractor. They spotted an old Cat D-4 on the way out and it is now in Hesperia at Brendon's. Took 'Zip' no time at all to figure it's problems out and now there is another piece of heavy equipment to carve up the landscape.

Westover started trenching for the air and water risers at the bay over the weekend and by Sunday afternoon the air risers were in place ready to weld to the steaming bay legs. The water risers should be finished up on the 7th, during a last ditch effort to have all ready for the Narrow Gauge Meet. Things are shaping up nicely and anticipation is building to see how well things work for the up coming meet. The Narrow Gauge Meet will be a play weekend for Three Companies and I hope you all come to enjoy yourselves too. See you there, Brian