On Saturday the 25th I ran out on the Harley to assist Brendon Hilton and his crew of dedicated helpers on an historic endeavor. The plan was to finish the 15" gauge balloon loop on the mesa before their Spring Meet on the first weekend in May. Well it seems that Brendon and company had been at it since Wednesday and had the loop completed excepting final grading and alignment. That was done in quick order and I had the opportunity to operate the 'ore car' with the Sessum's ballast car in tow through the new cut. That is an impressive piece of work Brendon and all the others; that whittled on that section of real estate from April of 2007 when this picture was taken and twenty five months later when the dream was fulfilled, a train can pass through. Later in the morning a few more helpers arrived and the switches were raised just west of the bridge and work progressed on the other side of the abyss above the museum cars. The existing track panels that were past the bridge were removed to allow the grading crew a clear shot at leveling and grading. The roadbed clear up to the base of the hill behind the caboose was regraded and soon the track crew was replacing the old section of track just east of the bridge. Now this rail the 15" use is thirty something feet long, so it doesn't take long to have 100 feet of track laid out, and their tie spacing is a lot further apart too. With the help of their handy dandy 'Iron Maiden' tie holder three guys can get ties put to the rail pretty quickly without too much pain. By the time I left around four that afternoon there was track back to the caboose and it was ready to grade already. A great accomplishment from a hand full of people in short order of time. Brendon's report of the weeks accomplishment is more telling of all that was done and by who, I just wanted to get the word out about what had transpired on the last weekend in April. Something that the early members of JT had envisioned, and has now come to pass.">
Hey guys, this is a work in progress, so enjoy while I get it done. It might change so keep an eye on it, Brian.
The wildflowers are out in force this year, they are blossoming everywhere. And out out the tracks is no exception. The curve out of the station was just one of the many places where it was absolutely covered with flowers.
This weekend's project was many fold and long in planning to be done someday. Foremost of them all was to relay the rail in the station to remove the bent section of track from an automobile driving on the platform a few years back. Of all the things to do at JT it is the most disheartening to have to do something over because of negligence. But it needed done and while we were at it why not improve the situation, so we did.
One. The rail in the station is a lighter or smaller size then we use on the main line and it was intended for use as guard rail and the like. Over the years it has been used up and it is now gone. When the Palmer bridge was relaid in March of 2006 it never got guard rails placed on it, so the light rail on the station track was put to use as the new guard rails for the track. We're still twenty foot short, but better then we were. New track panels with heavy rail are now in place down the station track. And now the switches at the west end of the station can be built using heavy rail.
Two. The station was lacking adequate water facilities when steam engines are at the platform. The only water plug is mid way on the platform. Just great if you're the only train but when it gets busy, and we know that is two or more on our little pike. And it would be nice if the steam engines wouldn't have to stop on the platform for safety reasons too. So let's put the new plugs just past the end of the platform. Well, the station sidings don't go that far, or at least they didn't. We added twenty feet to the three tracks so that all three tracks can now get water at the east end of the station. This makes the station track look a whole lot better now that the track is straight throughout the station platform too.
Three. That nasty kink in the switch on the center track at the station. Any body that's prayed the engine stays on the track as they go through there knows which one. Well with every thing apart while moving things east twenty feet it was apparent that there was just too much track between the first switch and the second one to make a nice curve there. So we took some out, thirty inches of tangent brought the switch in alignment and now we have a nice curve into the second track and a great little 'S' curve to watch when the long trains go through it. We rebuilt the switch so that all four rail joints aren't on the same tie too, that will keep things in one with the alignment forces.