Sunday, December 23, 2012

Found an black and white photo of the crew working the High Line a few years back. Wish all of you followers of the site, a Merry Christmas and hope to see you during the New Year. We have a growing group for the upcoming weekend. A full moon weekend at that; so the hourly trips around the place winding up to the big Hour will be fully illuminated. Okay, picture is really Carson and Colorado over Montgomory Pass.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Found this great video taken by a local photographer,Patricia Knight, a different view of what goes on around here. Taken during this years Rudy Run. Lots of things going on that day. Thanks to Patricia for taking the time to make this, and to Mike, for giving her the moble platform for most of the video.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Starting Train Season in the High Desert

Yes, we are back at the tracks after the summer off. A few good trips to cooler climate over August kept us busy. Great railroads both, the Bittercreek and Western and the Portola Valley and Alpine. We made it out for the opener the weekend before Halloween. Bill Shepherd was already out, or should I say down from the north. He had worked on the 15 inch roundhouse, the campground water system pressure regulator and sectional shut off for the area, worked on the wall between the 7 1/2 inch engine house and the turntable, and moved the big boulder out of the way on the switchback tail; enabling the siding to be long enough for any train to pass on the switchback. Before we returned in two weeks he had moved all stored fill dirt back up the grade and started the rock retaining wall for the switchback tail track. He admitted to at least 100 loads up the grade. Whatever the count, a lot of work Bill. Thank You from all of us. That goes for all you do at the Railroad and Museum. The Rudy run was well attended by both the Narrow Gauge and the Standard Gauge folks. With over ten different engines and trains running throughout the weekend. The Barter Boys met in the middle again and ran pretty much all weekend, both the Ten Wheeler and the Shay. The GE's were present, both Allan Ratliff's and Gary Stites. Gary even ran his one day, it was a little cool over the weekend. Tolans brought out a bunch too, including Sumpter Valley #101, which the rest of the world knows as D&RGW #50. Paul Lavacot brought out Goose #6, The Thompsons were out in force and brought along C&S #13. Matt Z brought out the Juice Jack of his and ran it around. The Burns brought down RGS #41 down from Salinas, bringing along the JT caboose for all to see the continuing reworking and detailing of the museum car. I hope I didn't forget any, we all had a good time. The annual meeting produced the usual outcome. But the crowning part of the weekend had to be up on the mesa. The 15inch finished their unloading area and it unloaded four, yep I didn't stutter, four locomotives for the festivities. They need some track now. Brendon and Robert built quite a lift. Congratsulations guys job well done. Thanksgiving week the weather was very agreable, T-shirt weather in late November. Thursday not much happened other then deep frying three turkeys this year as the Burns family was in attendence too. Dinner was at 3:00 to facilitate the sun being invited to the gathering too. A feast was spread and no one left the table wanting for something more to eat. #41 was fired up most of the day and after dinner till after dark we enjoyed the temperarate temperature. Friday the dirt started flying. With the help of Brendons Bobcat and the need to move some dirt out of the area they were working above a pile was created at the old lift area. Transloading into five gallon buckets and the Yankee Girl Dumpcar; somehow affectionatly renamed over the weekend as the 'Little Girl', many a load preceeded up the high line to fill in behind that wall Bill Shepherd had made. The GE ran 15 buckets up by flat car and 41 pushed up 'Little Girl' and a flat car of buckets. Each roundtrip equaled 30 buckets up the hill. By Friday afternoon 20 feet of track had been extended and the final count on Saturday was 50 feet of new trackage. Quite a few visitors throughout the weekend stopped by, a few from RLS and even a stragler from BCWRR stopped in and were promptly shown how the bucket brigade worked. Fun was had by all and the fruits of our labor showed. Work is progressing well and with a new source of fill dirt when we need it the upper switchback should be to the end of grade real soon. Continuing fill work on the tailtrack can proceed as and when we have the trains. And the rumor of work on the Engine House is true. We should have the front face in place by March and Bill can proceed with the wood work then. I'll put a link to photos and a movie down here at the bottom and a promise to be a little more expediant on posting for the new year. See you at the tracks, Brian
Joshua Tree, Thanksgiving Run 11-22-2012

Monday, July 9, 2012

July 7th at the tracks

With Train Mountain in the history books for those that went and the Ramble not quiite here yet, we had visitors Saturday. Greg Pepperell and his Father Kevin made a trip out to see the place before their flight home to Austrailia on Sunday. I took off from Crestline at a bit before 6:00am on the Harley to meet them by 8:00 or somewhere near then. The ride down the hill was spirited as only the professionals were on the road at that hour. The weather was nice still at that hour and it wasn't really suppossed to get warm till Sunday. A stop for breakfast at the Country Corner met me up with Terry Watson as he was in with the locals. I had enough time to get out the screaming Yellow Zonker and made a trip up the High Line to see the view. It didn't take long and Greg and Kevin passed through the gate and found the scooter, time to go down the hill. Introductions and a tour from bottom to top filled a little time. They came this far to see, best I could do was make sure they saw it. Gary Conley rolled in and we got a tour of the museum as well. Shirts and Hats to brag about when the get back to Wandong Live Steamers. Greg even took a spin on the Motor Car for a few more pictures.
And then it was off back to the city, well sort of, back towards Old Woman Springs and a trip below Silverwood before hitting home. Nice day, see you this weekend, Brian

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Memorial Weekend 2012

The weather did not know what to do this last weekend. When I was going through Beaumont at 11:00 Friday morning the thermometer was sitting at 58 degrees, is it not the last weekend in May? Friday night it was downright chilly after dark. Saturday morning the breeze was still blowing a bit but as the day progressed, the wind regressed.
Saturday’s project was the westward extension of the Picnic shelter for the new windbreak. The foundations had been poured the last trip out so the woodwork was what needed done this time. First the posts were fitted and secured in their positions and then came the walls. We had plenty of help as the day marched on. Terry and Gary came up from town. Gary and Margret Stites made a day trip out of Saturday. Mom and Dad set the place up as usual, Greg, Becky and Sydnie got a jump on Friday afternoon and made it out well before dark Friday, Becky’s sister, Colette braved the wind Friday too enjoy the time with us too. Martha came out early Saturday to spend a little time out in the desert as well. In addition, Matt made it up from the South to round out the group. Somewhere between the first cut and the walls starting to go up Martha made a trip into town for a few gallons of paint for the project. The new color is darned near the same as the old color, and it looks good. Something that needed done a long time ago I presume. After the new wall was attached the old wall, or should I say the old sheets of plywood nailed together in the form of a wall, came down giving the inside of the shelter two feet more width inside and a whole lot better protection from the elements. An improvement right there if we were to quit right then. But No!! The whole idea of this project was a barn door, or should we say a boxcar door that could be extended out if needed without the props, braces, splinters and rattling like the old apparatus did. First, the track was attached up high and then the door was cut to fit the amount of space we had. Of course, by this time the painting crew of Martha and Margret had gotten a jump on us and was greening up the place so to say. The new door was actually painted before we hung it so it could be dry as we had to man handle it a few times to get it in the right place. By afternoon we had it pretty much finished except for the tweaking and adjusting that comes with starring at it for a few hours. A kick here or there, it looks great and thanks to all the helpers that made it a enjoyable and rewarding project for the betterment of the picnic shelter. Sunday a bit more painting of the rest of the shelter as Martha was on a roll. Dad moved the spools she used as steps to reach the higher beams. Painting the north side really made an improvement to the place. On the railroad, the switchback switch was finished and we can now run a train up the grade to the upper trestle. Some grading was done after dinner but the bulk of the grading was done Monday and by 1:00 in the afternoon we ran the first train over the Upper Ophirish Trestle for the first time since it was erected New Years Eve Weekend 2004. We got a lot accomplished over the weekend and it was all due to some great help. Thanks again to Al and Lynn Ratliff, Greg, Becky and Sydnie Ratliff, Colette Gordon, Martha Hall, Gary and Margret Stites, Matt Zacharzuk, Gary Conley, Terry Watson and the guy in the orange shirt for a great effort.
The Shelter wall before.
After we sweated a bit, the finished Picnic Shelter
The Switchback Switch.
Over the Upper Trestle.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Road Trip to Train Mountain May 2012

Peter Moseley wrote a story on the trip to Train Mountain, and he graciously allowed us to spread it around as a JT Road Trip. We had a great time at the meet. Jimmy Booth's brand new C-16 #223, his RMI #50, Ron's propane fired #278 and Bill & Holly Boller's "bee" along with Ray and Becky's #18 Mogul and #50 gasser made up our local group. Gil Gross rode up with Ron and I and Jimmy had a couple of friends from Ukiah. Bill Dobbs and Dennis Weaver had been there for some time. There were only three other steamers there, one a large sweet creek like propane fired engine with oversize D&RG cars. It ran very nicely. Bill Dobbs didn't run his K-36. The folks at TM were very accommodating and welcoming and the atmosphere was good. The weather was nice and things ran well. Jimmy Booth had been working 16-17 hour days on the engine for the prior three weeks getting 223 ready and it ran flawlessly. There was an issue with the cross head support mountings, but a few hours on the mill in the back shop and we modified the bars and made new mounting blocks and fixed a weakness. The engine fires like mad and Jimmy had the firebox door open and the injectors running coming up the Serpentine. So a great opening weekend for the engine. We used Ron's propane fired engine to go across the way into Friends Land (my term). The track work they have done there is amazing and a really wonderful ride. It took us 6 hours to do the very scenic loop including some water stops and a lunch break. We learned a few things about Ron's engine on propane and were able to make some tweaks after the long ride that improved the steaming. We had too much draft going up the hills and too much cool air was being pulled into the firebox so it couldn't keep up. Someone suggested putting an extension on the blast nozzle so that the exhaust was up in the smokestack to further kill the draft. This made the engine run much better. Surprisingly the bark was really loud and I had to wear ear plugs to run the engine. I will calm it down by enlarging the hole in the end cap I have on the extension pipe. For all the running we did we only used about 8 gallons of propane. We were worried we would run out, but had almost 1/2 half our capacity still in the tanks when were done. The timing is off on the engine and needs to have a real cure. Between Bill, Ron and I we purchased 45 bags of char from Bill Dobbs. Added to our existing stock it is enough for the rest of our lives and then some I suspect. Sharon was in attendance and seems very earnest in her desire to keep the place going. She appears to be living there now. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. But we got the sense that, one way or another, TM was here to stay. So a great meet that was very lightly attended. Don't be afraid of going to TM. It's still a great place. Peter, Ron & Gil
Proud new builder of a C-16
The local group
Serious talk.
Crane flat - C&TS tank and Cumbres section house.
Gil gives it a try
Off and Running
Bill leaves for a run. Thanks to Peter for allowing us all to enjoy his story. Next Road trip Bittercreek.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend May 26,27,28 2012

We're throwing in another weekend to enjoy the desert this season. We have done a super job on the high line this year. The trackage is past the point of the switchback and we have laid track up to the upper trestle. We need to finish the switch, grade the upper line and work on the tail of the switchback.
In time it will have a passing siding and around the curve the turntable will find it's home as well. This time of year we could have a scorcher or a nice weekend. With the mild winter the weather isn't being predictable, but we are going anyway. If you'd like to make a day of it or spend the weekend, make your plans and see you out at the tracks. The last couple of Runs we have had trains out that wanted to haul dirt up the hill, we have plenty to move if you want to try. We at one point in March had them dumping it along the track as we couldn't keep up with the bucket brigade working up the hill. We have that solved, try your hand at it now. See you Memorial Day Weekend, take a little time to pause and remember why we have that weekend too.
Train Mountain after Ramble is stopping by the weekend of July 14,16 2012. Their offical day is the Monday but we'll be out the whole weekend for the curious, and the dedicated.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Easter at the Tracks

We didn't have the Easter Egg Roll or the Chocolate Bunny Ear Eating contest but we did get a little work done up on the Hill. Easter Weekend was a laid back, get a few things done, kind of weekend. Dad spearheaded the patio rehab project which when finished will have a cool 'barn door' wind break on the windy side of the patio. Sort of a box car door arrangement to move the break out of the way when we don't need it. Does anybody have an old narrow gauge box door hardware assembly floating around collecting dust? Maybe we could paint a F&CC Gold Belt Route Emblem on the side to match. The pad for the refrigadezer was formed, poured and in place by Sunday morning.
The Stites came out with their GE with the intentions of hauling buckets up the hill. We moved quite a bit. Dad's GE ran great as well with new batteries to boot. Saturday morning we moved full size ties for the Museum boys to build the new steps to the station from the parking lot. Terry and Gary also put the switch stands on a display for all to see instead of stored in the restroom as where they have been hiding for some time. The small but effective work party moved up to the high line and soon found another boulder that was impeding our constant grade, it only weighed about 600 pound and didn't take half as long as the one we moved in March. This on even got a flat car ride to the end of track for use in the wall when we get there.
Our, at the time, fast shrinking stack of track panels made it to the top of the hill and we had enough to finally join the upper trestle into our growing rail network. When the switch gets finished we can take that picture of engines on both levels. It is looking great and the help factor seems to be growing as the tracks move up the hill.
Mid day Sunday Paul Westover delivered a trailer load of track panels to keep us going for a while,
We are planning on a Memorial Day Weekend at JT so if that fits your schedule we'll see you out there in May. And we are the final track on the After the Triennial Train Mountain Ramble, on the 17th of July. Guaranteed you won't need a jacket that weekend.

Monday, March 19, 2012

February and March at the Digs

Just because you have not read it here does not mean that we have been idle around the track at JT, just the opposite. We have been diligently marching up the high line. In February on the Standard Gauge Meet over President's Weekend the procession of fill dirt in five-gallon buckets reached a feverish pace. Somewhere around 300 buckets went up the hill and forty feet of track was put in place. We even beat down a boulder that was protruding and keeping us from making a flat and level area for the passing siding and switchback up the hill.

We had a small but dedicated group out in February. Both the Barter boys, Art and John meet up and enjoyed the weekend with us. From Chula Vista, Scotty Lewis and Timmy brought out the Santa Fe Ten Wheeler for exercise on the hill. Tim Baker and son unloaded their 'Pulga' and tried to run the wheels off of it. The Ratliff and Stites GE's were very present with Gary doing double work of running his engine while the Trestle end cap project cured. Gary and Margret have this end plug project coming along nicely, even changing out the end caps on two other bridges so they all look the same.

In March we had the Narrow Gauge Meet, Friday and Saturday were very low key with an easy two days of socializing and operating when the mood struck. Up to five engines were running in the late morning with plenty of time for lunch and more socializing. RGS 41 was down from Salinas with the Burns family, Both GE's were in attendance. Lavacot's came out and Goose 6 got some exercise.

Bill Shepherd is in town to do masonry work up on the 15" and we got him to survey a new set of numbers for the high line grade from the newest location of the switchback and the upper trestle, remember the one we built in 2004 that wasn't near anything else? It is now only 120 feet away with a rough grade connecting it to the rest of the world. Sunday the switch frog was cut in on the up track and soon it was noted that a rock was protruding in the way of a constant grade. A little excavation soon became a lot of excavation with pry bars and shovels, the little hump in the track was now a major problem that needed removed. After about three hours of sweat equity it is now part of the outer retaining wall and track work can proceed towards the next trestle.

With the switch location now set, the number two question has been where does the turntable go? On the other end of the passing siding that needs to be built for passing and changing of direction. This again gives us two fronts of construction but both in the same direction of our continued march up the hill. The new construction has attendance improved with lots of enthusiasm growing for helping out. Spring Break run over Easter weekend should be a great time to see the desert. As some flowers were starting to emerge from the winter sleep. Plan on coloring your Easter eggs at JT this year.

This past week was a road trip to MLS for their Spring Meet. RGS 41 and crew left Monday for AZ and Al and Lynn Ratliff followed the next day with the GE. Greg, Matt Z. and I sailed out Friday mid day for a whirl wind trip. Saturday was a nice day but storm clouds chased all off that had to head north or east, leaving a few to weather out a late night deluge that lasted till day break. MLS is a runner’s track, with miles of meandering trackage to choose from, Saturday with the help of the train order map, Greg, Dad and I made a three hour tour without returning to the station by connecting to other loops at interchanges and wyes. Talk about flat butt by the end of the ride.

Once again Easter weekend and the Spring Break Run are around the corner, plan for an interesting weekend, and see you there. Brian

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Trestle to the Sky Completed

On a cold, desolate and windy hillside on not the warmest day of Winter, a few hardy, brave or silly souls watched as Mike Thompson ran his little Shay up the High Line and over the newly completed trestle and back onto Terra Firma once again. A lot of people had a part in the construction from start to finish, being it a lot, or a little, it all paid off as once again we are in the dirt hauling business if we want to extend track. Here is a link to see it on You-tube--

The weekend started pretty busy, Two GE 47 tonners, Stites and Ratliff, the Tolans brought out the D&RGW #50, and Art Barter hauled out his Shay..
Art showed up early Saturday and promptly set out to haul a load of dirt in buckets up the High Line. All day long he trekked them up the hill; when asked how many trips he had made, he replied he had lost count. But he always had a smile on his face, even ate lunch on the fly. Kevin and Jeff Tolan made it out Friday night and spent Saturday helping out, Rusty pulled Yeoman duty and hauled steel and whatever else was needed up to the work site all day.
Even pushed the Yankee Girl Dump car in the afternoon to bring big loads up the hill.

Gary and Margret have been building resin plugs to fill the ends on the steel tubing used for the trestles. They started on the Lower Ophirish trestle and had enough to just about finish the new trestle. They have almost one hundred more to make to fill all the holes on the trestles on the High Line, great work you two.

The dedicated crew worked till it got cold Saturday and we finished the rail and tie work Sunday morning. After the short but sweet ceremonial first engine photo shoot it was back to work to stay warm and two sections of track were ballasted beyond the trestle by the end of the day. Allan Ratliff hauled buckets up with his GE and the Thompson Shay pushed the Yankee Girl Dump car up the grade, the Shay sure sounded good with that load on it.

With the Standard Gauge Meet coming up in February it would be a great time to see the railroad and the surrounding desert, make plans to visit this next month, see you there. Brian

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Years Weekend at Joshua Tree 2011

Winter in Joshua Tree stayed somewhere else this weekend. T-shirt weather, clear days, no 'W', and we got a few things done as well. The trestle was extended three more bents which allowed us to add two more lenghts of rail to the span. Our next outing should finish the trestle and put us once again on Terra Firma, or at least a decent fill.

Friday afternoon, Santa came in a blue van. Bill Shepherd showed up with the first of many of a donation of ties from Oroville. Originally from the Klamath and Western when Train Mountain took them over. They were treated and some never have been in the ground. A quick unload with plenty of help created a nice little, ha, stack on three pallets of 5100 ties.

Saturday we worked on the trestle, drilling anchors, setting bents, welding stringers, adding rail, checking curvature, taking pictures, discussing matters of the world, enjoying company, working at the speed of 'lite', screwing down rail to messy ties, load testing and feeling a sense of accomplishment. Come out next time and see it finished.

Saturday night, trains left the station hourly and then back to the poker game. We had quite a group out till late, or early, depending on the perspective. They didn't keep me awake, I left after the 10 o'clock train. Train service ended after 1 o'clock. Sunday not much of anything happened, just enjoyed the day, and a beautiful one at that. Did some welding and working on the Yankee Girl Dump Cars, in preparation of finally having wheels for them.

If you're thinking of spending some time with us now is a great time to see the desert, see you next time. Brian