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