Sunday, December 22, 2013

Your right, it is not from this month at Joshua Tree. It was taken during Easter this year when things were warming up and blooming. This season so far we have had plenty of precipitation with hopes for more yet before Spring.

 Just a quick note out to all to have a Merry Christmas and hopes and wishes for a prosperous New Year. If you get any coal, I'll take it.

We will be out after Christmas for the New Years Weekend and to start the New Year off right. This year the holiday is smack dab in the middle of the week so if you get a day or two off make a trek out and enjoy the fresh air and views from the High Line. We've a few projects up our sleeves depending on the weather. And I know of three locomotives, oh five, that will be out sometime over the week.

Hope to see you in the next week or if not you can read about it next time. Any questions you can get a hold of me over the internet at or call 951-768-0137. Merry Christmas, Brian, 7 1/2" coordinator.  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thanksgiving Weekend in the High Desert

Late fall in the High Desert is like playing black or red on the roulette table, sometimes you keep winning and sometimes you keep losing. This past weekend you would have gotten three out of the four and a green one, neither side won.

Wednesday afternoon Greg rolled in with Becky and Sydnie and Caleb in the sports car. Mom and Dad of course had gotten the jump on us all but that's expected. Colette made it by dark and I rolled in about 8:00 and that was it for the night. A decent night, cool but nice by the fire, ample wood kept it toasty.

 Thursday morning was clear and calm with the sweaters coming off real quickly. I did a pictorial on how we unload with our system as a retort to questions asked about it. Mostly from non steamers but still a good set of pictures. See the Picasa link somewhere down below for the pictures. About all I get accomplished was unloading before it was time to start the project of deep frying the guest of honor at dinner this afternoon. We did two this year as it was only eight of us for the dinner, and of course that allowed for many a sandwich over the rest of the weekend. The day was decent if you spent it in the sun. Dinner was about 2:30 so we had a little warmth out of the soon the be falling orb over the western hills. The only bad part about an early turkey dinner is waiting it out for a decent time to hit the hay, as it time for a nap just about dark, which is only 5:00. I toughed it out till just past seven so that nobody would have to take the early bird award from me as I usually am first to give it up for the night anyway.

Friday was play day! The 4-4-0 get steamed up and with the Alco running Thursday with the Edward's Freight motor getting a spin in. Count Dad's 47 Tonner along with Matt's PE freight motor showing up early Friday made for five engines. The Tolan's showed up Friday with Chloe to make it six, Jeff was home from college for the weekend so Lori even came along so she could actually see him for a bit. Saturday Gene Petralgia from down Chula Vista way with his Goose #8 made it seven pieces of motive power, and at one time we had five rolling at the same time. Kevin Tolan rounded up a few helping hands and gave the turntable its annual lubrication. Greg made next years chore a little easier by putting a Zerk fitting in the table deck so we don't have to lift it off of it's perch anymore. Mid afternoon Friday we had our only rain which just gave us an excuse to pull the steamers into the engine house for a spell and smoke out the place. At least we were dry and the sprinkles didn't last that long anyway. Soon we were out running again till it was time for dinner. It was cloudy off and on Friday night and even tried to sprinkle again around dinner time. No such luck, it cleared and the rest of the weekend saw no other threats of precipitation.

Saturday was a gorgeous day in the desert, the last day of November showed nothing like it should be that day. I had been running rocks up to the Bjerrum siding area most of the afternoon Friday and it was time to address a little track work on the upper grade. Terry Watson was in and out all weekend as was John Griffin. Gary Conley made it out for a quick trip around the railroad, even a trip up the high line to the end of track. It was a blessing to see Gary out for even a little bit, he enjoyed the outing and soon it was back to the house as I'm sure it taxed him quite the bit for such an outing in his condition. Loads of fill and four track panels soon were up the hill and things got busy. An errant drill bit slowed the progress down for a while but after sundown Saturday we had 40 feet of track added to the grade. Sunday we added another twenty to the total and after Mondays grading session we had most of it able to operate over it. Letting it sit and settle till next time will help the situation. A final manicure and we can continue up the hill. We are now into digging out the hill again, we have a section that has filled in with runoff from quite a few years of erosion , it is easy digging and the soil will not go to waste as we only at the most have to roll it down to Bjerrum for stockpile till needed. Our goal of to the end of existing grading looks a little more possible over this season. All too soon we will be in the trestle district again.

Monday Dad and I ran two more loads of fill up the hill at ten buckets a load. And we took up Gibraltar and her little sisters up to the fast growing rock pile as well. All in all it was a great weekend for family and getting a few things done around the place too. Even if it seemed like we didn't do much very quickly we got a lot done over the weekend. Next time out is New Years, it is a great place to be away from the hustle over civilized New Years celebrations, out at Joshua Tree it is a little more casual to say the least. Hop to see you out sometime again over the new year. Enjoy Christmas and all the other holidays too. Enjoy the pictures;

Saturday, November 23, 2013

More Track Panels from Westover.

I got a phone call from Paul Westover Wednesday afternoon that he had just dropped off 25 new track panels at the tracks and he was off to some distant location to go to work. I had planned to make a trip out there Saturday so now it was cast in stone that I head out there. A call to Dad and he agreed to an early morning trip out to put them out of the way and in a safe place. The clouds in the sky as the night sky was turning guaranteed a nice sunrise. We were not disappointed in the coming light show. The heater in Dad's truck gave no hint to the outside temperature at all. A dusting of snow over Beaumont and Banning gave hints that it was cold outside. We made the turnoff to 62 just as the Big Orange Ball cleared the distant Chocolate Mountains to the East of us . Clouds masked the hills south of the Morongo Basin but it was dry on the highway, rain had fallen earlier the night before because the intersections in Yucca Valley were their post rain lakes.
   Breakfast at the Country Corner was quick and Hot. As we headed up the hill we got into the clouds and drizzle started as well. We made quick time of getting a flat car out for moving the panels and in no time we were back in the truck and headed back to warmer climes. All looked well from a quick tour of the joint and knowing full well that we would be back soon for Thanksgiving Weekend a walk around in the cold rain did not sound at all appealing. We now have an ample supply of track for our push up the hill with promises of more on the way. Thanks Paul for the supply and Dad for making the trek with me. See you all soon and have a blessed Thanksgiving. Avoid Black Thursday and spend your time out here.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Rudy Run 2013, November 7-11, 2013

Well, if you stayed home this weekend I hope you had fun. This past weekend out at Joshua tree was wonderful; the weather, the people and the good times. Dad said it was a little cool Wednesday night but Thursday it warmed right up. I got into town Thursday evening and it was delightful with ambiance wood in the fireplace. The Burns' showed up Thursday early and Gary and Margaret Stites, had their stuff unloaded as well by then. Greg and Becky rolled in not too far behind me and Matt finished off the night arrivals with his appearance from Chula Vista. I unloaded the American and brought parts out for the Alco so I had plenty to do Friday. 41 steamed up and ran most of the day Friday. The caboose came home for a bit to make room for a refrigerator car project. The paint job looks nice and it finally has lettering too. Bill Shepherd has been working on the turntable pit area; lots of rock and fill to bring it up to grade. Steve Nelson trucked out his C-21 project for the world to see and 41 pushed it around the better part of the weekend. The Edward's Freight Motor ran a bit over the weekend, John Griffin has it running like a top. He has ran it quite a bit over the summer helping out with the upkeep of the railroad during the off season. The Friday night Carne Burn was a hit with plenty of folks around the patio. Saturday saw the Maywald RGS 20 make it out. Ray and Becky Bjerrum brought out their two(2) speeders for a spin on the hill. There was plenty of action on both the 7 1/2" and up on the 15" as well. Two Shays and a critter wore the rust off of the railheads up on the big stuff. The day was crystal clear and warm with the evening delightful again. Saturday night Steak night was well attended and lasted quite some time I hear. Sunday always starts off slow as we have a meeting to take up the mid morning time slot, but after it got out it was back to fun. 41 ran during the meeting and whistled gleefully as it passed the station. I got another crack at the American and Maywald's fired up the 20. As none of us were leaving till Monday the action stayed on till darkness kicked in. Plenty of buckets made it up to the turntable area for fill and kept the willing busy loading, hauling or dumping all three days. Sunday a concentrated effort was put forth and the old unloading pad was swept clean of fill material; just in time for bbq on Sunday night. The guests around the digs all weekend was plentiful, with the parking lot busy both Saturday and Sunday. I have a few pictures of the goings on as well as pictures from John Griffin and Mike Massee on the below link. Hope you enjoyed it, come back and see us again real soon.

For any questions or information feel free to drop the Project supervisor a email at, see you for Thanksgiving Weekend, November 28-31.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Opening Weekend at Joshua Tree

The past weekend was a kick back affair at Joshua Tree. The Summer was kind to the track and John Griffin's attention to things over the summer kept the opening weekend light on tasks at hand. After getting John checked out on the Edwards Freight Motor earlier in the year and getting the box and "Bass Pro Shops" fishing seat off of the deck to make the thing functional as a work vehicle and able to move a bucket or two of dirt around the place, he took care of 99% of the roadbed maintenance necessary to get this place rolling. The only major, and I'll say major as we did a lot of little things all weekend, was get the wye switch back up to operational status. It was a family weekend for the most part. Allan and Lynn Ratliff with the GE and the ever present string of Westside Flats. Greg and Becky, and her sister Colette. Matt Z made it up from the Baja region to spend the weekend but not all the pieces to make his PE run made the trip. I got to try out the new equipment and this weekend I will find out if the improvements made will help the newest engine in the fleet tackle the grades. One interesting outcome of the desert summer was the demise of a few trailer tires from the sunshine and temperatures. The 'new' Airstream suffered two blowouts while sitting still from the effects of Sol on the not so new tires. At least one doesn't need to pull over on a busy highway to change them. Bruce's rolling abode has one splitting apart as well, but you can still see the air in it. The weather was most pleasant and enjoyable during the greater part of the weekend. After putting it all away Sunday afternoon the breeze picked up and it was okay during the cooking hour, but after bedtime the leaf blower went to work and cleaned up the place. Weather at home the past two weeks has been on and off, overcast one day and Santa Ana's the next, the annual last gasp of Autumn while Winter starts to kick. Bill Shepherd is back in town for a while and has probably got a project or three well underway by the time we get to see them. Anyway, I hope to have a great weekend for the Rudy Run, see you there.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Opening weekend at the tracks.

It is time again for us all to gather in the desert for a good time. Be it moving a little dirt up the hill. Pulling a string of cars up the grades. Or standing around the steaming bays enjoying the camaraderie. This weekend is for making sure all is well around the track and area. Over the summer John has kept the place looking good. Keeping the ground squirrels at bay from undermining the place. We have a few summer weeds to shorten and kick a few kinks out in places. But there will be plenty of time to exercise the locomotives too. See you this weekend, if not I'll have some fresh pictures of what we did come next week.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Fall has arrived in the Desert

A quick trip out to the tracks yielded some surprising notes on the past summer. The clouds had come back to Corona and with it cooler temperatures as we left a little later than planed from the house. As we cleared the Pass and dropped into the Coachella Valley it cleared and be came a clear yet blustery day. The first views of the summers rains were evident as you enter the gorge and start climbing the grade up to Morongo. The normally dry and road rutted wash showed that it had over four to six feet of new cutting from recent flooding. The roadway was not affected but the dirt road that used to go up the wash is gone in most places, replaced by a new course of the river or just cut away completely. Near the top of the grade where the water course was blasted out of rock to make way for the road it is washed clean, no sand or rock filling it as you go by. On the highway sand in the middle of the road tells stories of water crossing in the low spots. I brought along my buddy Honda Ray for the day as he helped load the trailer he should get to see where it was going. Past attempts to get him to come out and see the place had failed, this was a free trip for him. Breakfast in Joshua Tree was had and John Griffin and Terry Watson showed up as we ate. It is nice to get to catch up on things from the locals perspective.  As one turns up Quail Springs and nears the turnoff many low spots in the road still have sand patches that have not been blown away by the traffic that passes. Turning up Willow the water had ran on the lower section and the road itself is in good shape, a grading session might of happened when the road was damp enough to do good. It is not as wash boarded as it has been earlier in the year. The little yellow ground flowers are abundant half way up the road, reminding one of a good spring flower show. The summer rains had run in the washes but no damage on the railroad was noted, a good soaking helps the recent roadbed construction and the much needed moisture was evident as the Juniper bushes and tree where a healthy dark green. We quickly unloaded the dump trailer and Ray was off to see the place, Terry caught up with him and gave him a tour of the full size cars, he was impressed with the 15" and did want to see more of that; told him he would have to come out on a scheduled event for that as I didn't have a key for that. John Griffin has been doing a great job on the 7 1/2" track, filling bridge abutments and keeping the squirrel holes along the right of way filled up. He has been using the Edward's Freight Motor that was a donation from the Henning's as it was intended and is hauling buckets to where they are needed along the tracks. He has moved quite a bit of fill over the summer. I even took a trip or two around the system as all good superintendents should, surveying the whole place and deducing where we should concentrate our efforts this coming season. The only thing that needs done is to address the growing vegetation along the right of way from summer rains before they get much bigger.
 Ray was checked out and given the chance to see the railroad from the helm as I cleaned up and readied the truck for the trip home. We put things away and all to soon it was back down the road towards home. Autumn has come to the high desert and I am ready to get back out and continue our projects. Hope to see you out soon.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Summer is almost over and Joshua Tree time is around the corner.

With the Summer rapidly coming to a simmer it is time again to gear up for some time out at the tracks. I know life around my house has been all but a blur with many things happening over the course of time. Many at the same time. I've worn more than one set of tires off of the Motorcycle in the past six months. Some new additions to the rolling stock and engine roster have come my way as well. Looking forward to gracing the rails with them all. I will be adding the dates for the next season for all to be able to plan a trip or two or three out to the desert. We have had some decent amounts of rain this summer and things are a bit greener. If the precipitation keeps up a good Spring showing of flowers could grace us. Hoping to get a lot of work done on the infrastructure this fall and winter. Completion of the roof and steel work on the 7 1/2" Engine House should keep us busy in the steaming area. And of course the High Line extension will forever be an interesting endeavor. Work on the turntable at the end of the switchback can see some improvements, it would be nice to let the fill around the turntable stabilize to the most it can till it gets put in. Hoping to alleviate any future problems with settling.  Hope to see us grade and lay track to above Tedder Shed, where the siding "Pauline" will be. A water line will have to be constructed to that point and from then on water will be under the grade for future needs. Up keep on the existing trackage will always get attention, probably more so now as my new engines have 'skinny' wheels. As this list gets longer and longer as does the track to run on. Looking forward to a good year and to see all again and meet some new folks as well. October is around the curve.

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Mid Summers trip to the tracks

Made a day out of a little project yesterday and threw what I needed into the bag on the back of the Harley and enjoyed the day along the way. Yesterday was one of those Summer stormy days. Clouds and moisture from tropical storms way down south of here spin their way up here and make for Thunderstorms, Humidity and maybe Rain. The rain helped the fire burning in the San Jacinto mountains and it rained in the high desert in the early morning hours before light. The smell of rain, started as I cleared the Badlands on the 60 and rounded the curve into the San Timeteo drainage; the Cottonwoods and Scrub Oak smelled good. And further up around Whitewater the roads edges showed that it had rained. The Tamarisk trees were the smell as I made the transition to the 62 and headed up the hill. After that the Greasewood Bushes were the aroma clear up the grades up to the high desert. Yucca Valley got the brunt of the rainfall and a few intersections still had their curbsides full. Dropping down into Joshua Tree the roads dried up but one could tell a little rain had fallen. A quick stop for a taco at the corner and I was on my way up to the tracks. As I arrived Gary Conley was just finishing up his morning planting of sticky plants in the front of the museum. Looking good Gary, keep up the good works. Terry Watson rolled in before too long and they both went up and did a little work on the Espee Caboose. After breakfast I finished the chain drive repair on the Freight Motor and took it for a spin to check things out. As I rounded the curve above the first Trestle on the High Line there was a local resident too close to the tracks. At first he just sucked it in and stopped. I backed off a bit and dug out the camera, he decided to move a bit away from the roadbed and I passed on up the hill. On the way down he had scurried a bit from where he was and ten minutes later on my return up the hill he was nowhere to be found. I spent a little time searching the area to no avail; who said Tortoise's where slow? A cool day with a little sprinkles in the afternoon but all in all a great day. The railroad is in good condition and nothing that can't wait a month or two before tackling it. Looking forward to our Road Trip in August, hope to see most of you there. Have a great Summer, Brian.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend was a kick back weekend with more time for reflecting on achievements than achieving more. Pack rats had found a new home in the patio area and eviction notices issued. And a plan for their non return was enacted. Now if we could just get those that use the barbecue to empty the ashes out the next morning the place wouldn't get a coating of ash for the next visitors to clean up. All the Ratliff's made it out with me not getting in till Saturday night after a day at Los Angeles. Monday Jeff Tolan and Greg Reiter made a trip out and wanted to move a little dirt; so they loaded buckets and hauled them up the high line while I finished grading the track above the switchback to the upper trestle. Now you can walk up there a lot easier when construction starts up again in the fall. A little summer rain will set it up fairly well. Monday afternoon John Fenlon from GGLS showed up with his SW1500 for a few trips around the railroad. He got the chef's tour of the place and then made a few trips around himself. Wasn't here long but I believe he had a good time on his whirlwind tour of Southern California.  The temperatures were not too high and the breeze did keep it in check. The boys were up on the 15" but that is theirs to report. Things are looking up up there. Not a lot of pictures taken either but it was an easy weekend. Here is a link to the pictures, just click onto it and enjoy, Brian
We move onto road trip season and the next outing we will see each other is up at Bitter Creek. See you there.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend 2013

Now, not forgetting the reason for the weekend, it is time to get in another weekend at the tracks. I'm sitting home waiting to go to Los Angeles in the morning. The rest of the folks are out enjoying the desert. Come tomorrow evening I will probably be out there too. Should be a cool weekend out in the high desert and if emails predict they're should be a few people out that way this weekend. Hope to see you out there, Brian

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spring Break in the High Desert

This past weekend we made yet another trek to the tracks for a little R & R at the RR. Friday was an enjoyable afternoon and evening around the patio. A small dedicated few made progress over the weekend. Friday evening the breeze came up but sometime in the night it abated. Saturday dawned nice enough and the task of installing the I-beam for the overhead hoist was tackled. Bill Shepherd had left one panel with screws in it so it could be removed for this task. Simple enough, Bill likes his screw gun and there were plenty to remove. Then to get the beam in place, fortunately there is a bank nearby to rest the end before getting it in place. Once installed the beam was a tad long so the handy-dandy Hack saw came into action and saved the day. Not much to remove, just that extra on the end due too an angled building and a square cut. With that finished the wall could be replaced and the trolley installed on the beam. The breeze came back while this project was going on and the plan to paint was scuttled. A bumper was installed at the turntable end of track to keep equipment out of the construction area unexpectedly. The breeze didn't stop the visitors from arriving and visiting. Saturday nights dinner was inside for reasons the salad wouldn't blow off the plate. Sometime Saturday night the Zephyrs abated again and Sunday dawned warm and calm. The paint crew seized the opportunity and in no time at all the second coat was applied to the new engine house. The lead tracks were then relaid with steel rail for photogenic reasons and the engine house is a couple of more steps closer to completion. A good, weekend with enough projects completed to make one feel an accomplishment was made. Good weekend, great visitors and the blooming desert was worth seeing once again, the desert is coming alive as we saw many critters basking in the sun. See you next time.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Engine House is up, and Painted

This was a very productive weekend with just a skeleton crew, great weather and good times. Friday was a Good day and spring in the High Desert is worth the trip out. Allan and Lynn Ratliff made it out Thursday and I even made it out before noon on Friday. My buddy Don drug out the dump trailer with yet again another load of wood and pipe from my project in town. Matt Z made it to Corona for the soon to be famous Carne Burns at the Garage on Thursday nights. Greg and Becky rolled in before dark too. A afternoon trip to the store for paint in readiness to paint the fresh wood on the Engine House.
Saturday morning the paint crew was assembled and we put the first coat of color on the Engine House. It sure is easy when you don't have to cut around the windows. The windows will be installed as they are fabricated hopefully over the summer. The same goes for the engine doors. Bill Shepherd will install the people door and the roofing after he returns in the fall.  The rest of the day was spent enjoying the great spring day.
 Sunday we installed 50 feet of track on the switchback tail to extend it to the point where the turntable will be. Bill Shepherd had excavated beyond the old end of track so that we would have a siding equal to the length of the short leg of the wye at the bottom. That is the limiting factor, if you can turn on the wye you can clear the sidings on the high line too. There is a nice narrow hand dug cut before the track opens up for the turntable area. Great work Bill. Now we just have to get the siding in. We have plenty of fill that needs to get up the hill for that endeavor.
 It was a great weekend and we go back out in two weeks for the Spring Break run. April 11-13, make plans now to see the desert before all the wildflowers disappear. See you there. A link for the pictures on Picasa below.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Break/Easter Weekend

This coming weekend we have another trip out to the tracks planned. Bill Shepherd has been busy out by himself erecting the wood portion of the Engine House. The doors and windows will be added over the summer and this fall, after it cools down, but the wooden structure is up and tar papered for the summer. We need to get a coat of paint on it to protect it from the elements and that is the big plan this weekend. Of course we will get in the honorary egg roll and other festivities we are famous for on this great weekend. This Friday would be a Good Friday to come out and spend the weekend. Bring your painting clothes. Bill has also etended the grading and wall work on the switchback up the High Line. A handmade cut through the small hump into the next open area where the turntable will be installed. We have about 50 foot of track to lay there. I on behalf of all the members would like to thank Bill for his dedication and deligence in his endeavors for the railroad and the museum.

Here is a link to the Picasa Album for the photos of the Engine House project. Right click and open a new tab.

Narrow Gauge Meet March 7-10, 2013

If I were to pick one thing that covered this weekend it would be this video from Dave Fontes that he shot Saturday afternoon. I was a great weekend and well attended too. We had six steam engines at the bays and six other engines out as well. Two GE 47 tonners, both Al Ratliff's and the Stites engine. RGS 41 was down from Salinas with the Burns boys. Bill and Holly Boller arrived with the Bumble Bee 268, Ron Schmidt, Peter Moseley and John Dolph came down from Portola Valley as well with C&S #10, complete with the new boiler and some more detailing then in the past. It was nice to see #10 back on her home track as she was our work horse  in the early days when she was under Rudy's wing. We didn't get any snow to push with the plow but it tried Friday Morning early. The rain stayed away except for a brief moment Friday night. Mike Thompson had C&S #13 up from Eastvale, the two C&S engines the closest they got to each other was in the steaming bays; that would of been a nice lash up. Ray Bjerrum and Becky came down from the San Jauquin Valley but no third C&S to make the trio. Dave Fontes came south for the weekend too, with him he unloaded his RGS Ten-Wheeler #22 a first timer to run the rails out here, Dave also has a RMI engine in Westside lettering for yard service and hauling the cold steamer around.  Doug Maywald, who recently picked up Karl Hovanitz's RGS 20 from Bitter Creek, brought her out for a run and it ran most of the weekend. He and his son Bailey learned there is more than running around in circles out here; we have real grades and bi-directional running, they picked up on it real quick. The Tolans bought out Sumpter Valley #101, those Davenports look good in Yellow. Paul and Celeste Lavacot were out and RGS Work Goose #6 made a hot lap around Sunday.  Matt Z had his Juice Jack running around before he let the smoke out of something and it was unceremoniously pushed into the truck for a trip home. Plenty of people out all weekend even though the meet was pretty much not known as our website isn't up to date, a problem that is being rectified as I type. Dinner around the BBQ and the patio was Carne
Asada on Friday, a Matt Z regular thing these days if we can get him away from his duties in Chula Vista for the weekend. And the ever popular Steak Night on Saturday was a grill full. I've got some Picasa pics also. just right click on the link below and open as a new tab, that should magically appear. See you soon, you missed a great weekend if you didn't make it out to this one.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Narrow Week.

I have certainly not forgotten one of the best weekends we have had out at the tracks so soon. All that needed to get done around the home front had to be done in three days; and getting the story and pictures up didn't make the cut. I'll leave you with a teaser for sure. Bill Shepherd is in town and he is doing miracles for the organization. See you after I get back home, Brian

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

President's Weekend/Standard Gauge Meet

This past weekend was our President's Weekend, Standard Gauge Meet. Not that you could only be Standard Gauge prototype with skinny wheels, if you brought it out you could run it. And those that did had a good time. The late winter weather was very hospitable, which lent itself to being a enjoyable outing. The breeze was blowing something fierce in the San Gorgonio Pass area Friday, but as one turned and headed for the high desert the Zephyrs ceased. Friday evening was cool but not chilly. Having got out to the place just minutes behind Al and Lynn we had the GE unloaded in no time at all. The second Skoglund flat car returned to native trackage after an interesting time at Rat's Garage getting new trucks, couplers and a sub frame to assist the old wooden car through a few more decades. The Linseed oil still stinking up the right of way as she rolled around. A new paint job added the finishing touches and she rode effortlessly all weekend no issues at all. The Barter Boys, John and Art showed up in the afternoon as well, bringing their Ten-wheeler and the Shay along with plenty of cars to pull around. The Barter Coal Co. wooden hopper cars ran many a trip spreading ballast along the high line. They are a wonder of late 19th century wooden car technology with their rods and levers working as the prototypes did when things were done with brain and brawn. Greg and Becky made it up in the early evening and we got to see Sydnie too. Basketball season is over for now so she got to spend time with family. Robert and Barbara rolled up from the low desert where they snowbird from the Great White North. Saturday dawned just as beautiful as the day before and a little warmer at that. Soon the Westside flats were hauling the necessary equipment to the Engine House area for the assembly and welding of the front door frame. It is of steel so it will look as of wooden beams. Final prep for alignment before we drilled anchor bolts happened as well as some concrete poured to support the one side to make the doors square with the bays inside as the alignment was a tad off; not bad as the whole engine house never was really planned or built at one time. Art and John spent the day running their engines and easily running loads up the hill between laps down to the station. Soon the sun was setting over the hill and it was time for activities around the patio. Timmy and Scotty Lewis rolled in before dinner and spent the rest of the weekend with us. They came up from Chula Vista to the Santa Fe shin dig at San Bernardino Saturday, so as being halfway here made the rest of the journey. There was plenty of red meat cooked over a tantalizing bed of Oak coals along with plenty of side dishes. Saturday evening was filled with many stories around the fire barrel, one knows not how many may have been true, but fun none the less. Sunday was even better weather wise than the two previous great days. T-shirt weather is once again back in town. Erection and welding of the door frames was in order and quick work of the project with plenty of help and advice filled the morning. Timmy had Matt Z's freight hack out for exercise most of the day, only the batteries kept him from running it more. One of the weekend fix-it projects was the switch frog to the middle track on the east side of the station. It has been giving a few engines fits for some time. It was given a proper bending and re gauged and it gave not a hint of trouble the rest of the weekend. Robert spent some time oiling, fixing and adjusting the Edwards Freight Motor and it ran quite well for him. He said it had been a few years since he had a vehicle with a manual choke and it would come back to him after a bit. I guess I'm spoiled, my favorite around town vehicle I drive these days has a manual choke, standard transmission and roll up windows; and I think of them as luxuries. The 47 Ford even has a hole for a hand crank, not that I would want to try that. We had five trains running over the weekend, plenty of people with smiles abound. March 8,9,10 is the Narrow Gauge Meet, we hope to see you out for another great weekend in the high desert. As usual, click on the picture below for more great views of the good time had by those that attended.
President's Weekend at Joshua Tree, 2013

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Little Snow at JT

One of our local members, John Griffin, took a trek up to the tracks this morning, February 10, 2013, after we recieved a dusting of snow in the area. It was not much but enough to add a different look to the area. As the sun poked over the mountain it quickly melted away, as you can see in his pictures from up the fire road. Just click on the picture below to see the slideshow. Thanks for sharing this wonderful morning John.
A Little Snow at JT 2-11-2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Ready for the Weekend

The second of the Skoglund Flat Cars is ready to roll, after major work to save what could be saved without it being an all new car, she is painted and oiled with new trucks underneath and even new couplers so she can roll anywhere, anytime on the railroad. New end beams had to be made to fit as the old ones were in numerous pieces after disassembly. The rest of the wood was saved but a healthy few coats of primer and stain were applied to slow the ravages of time and weather. I know I am impressed on how good it looks after seeing it in pieces on the engine stand. The pile of sand and grit below tell a tale of its own. The new Artzberger trucks underneath allow us to retrofit the rest of the museum cars as they are rebuilt with roller bearings instead of brasses. Come on out this weekend for the Standard Gauge meet and see the recent activities that have transpired these last few weeks of winter. See you there. Any questions give me a call. There has been concern about where the link for pictures is at? This website is best seen from a computer or laptop, reaching it via a smart phone doesn't do as well. The link for the pictures is to put your pointer on the picture below. Hey, cool isn't it? The Museum Flat Car Project 2013">

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sorry for the delay

Sorry Guys and Gals that follow this website, I am trying to get the rest of the site updated but to no avail. Calendar of events is over here on the right column, I shortened it up so it is easier to find. I can't do anything about the Calendar on the main site. We are alive out here in the desert and it is a wonderful time to come out. February is the Standard Gauge Meet. Bring your engine or just bring your lunch, come see us. Brian

Mid Winter Run January 17-21, 2013

The weather the weekend before was cold in Southern California; the cold snap was the coldest it had been for a while in the entire west. It froze hard one or two nights and the only know damage was a few hose bibs on the north side of a trailer; in the all day shade it provides. John had patrolled the area and found the growing ice patch created by the water leak. A week later as of Monday there still is ice on the ground around the riser. John turned off the water to the campground water supply at the time and a quick removal and plugging of the two bibs on Friday allowed the system to be pressurized again. I made it up Thursday about nightfall, not as early as I intended but, I had a frozen pipe issue to deal with in Crestline the night before and an injured friend in the hospital to see before my trip could start. Mom and Dad beat me out again. There were no records set on time spent around the fire barrel either that night. It was an early night. Friday morning was a beautiful clear start to a great day. Each day the weather warmed, each night the moon grew in phase and the winter evenings were breeze free. We unloaded the GE and Dad’s caboose from his truck as well as the rehabbed Flatcar from mine. The freshly oiled deck of the flatcar shone in the sun, and the aroma of Linseed followed the car around the track. The new trucks and framework underneath worked flawlessly all weekend. Another of the Skoglund cars successfully back in display service. We trimmed a pesky Cats Claw bush from alongside the full size caboose so that Gary and Terry could get scaffolding close enough to the caboose to paint it. That Pole-chainsaw has been a useful gadget. Dad and I put together the Westside flat consist and made a steel load trip for the engine house project. Vagabond delivered the steel on his way home Thursday night. With the recent cold weather and the flu going around; propane sales to the locals and supplying oxygen to the hospital has him putting in long days. Thanks for the extra effort Vagabond. Friday saw Bruce Thompson arrive midday, with Mike after dark. Greg and Becky showed up the usual time and Greg deftly parked the trailer in its spot in one stab as always. Colette made it out just about dark to round things out. As we sat around the fire, in rattles Brendon, Ace and Braden; the new excavator on the trailer behind. The fire in the patio saw plenty of action Friday night it was a good time. Saturday Greg started work on the Engine House front doorframe project. Alignments to the bays inside were figured out, and the steel for the posts cut to length. Measurements, re-measurements and more measurements to get it just right happened all weekend as the engineering progressed. The mockup was clamped together by Sunday and it looked good. Pieces were then all packed back in the truck for milling, drilling and tapping at home. When it returns we should be able to bolt together and weld from the tabs to allow the beams to be removed individually for more machining come time for the doors to be installed. Mike Thompson found a job putting the finishing touches on guard rails on the two upper trestles. I rearranged the Tedder Shed for more room and easier access, it will be cluttered up in no time. Not much dirt rolled up the hill this weekend as we worked on the little things that needed done; a new alignment block for a steaming bay, for one of the loose ones from many years of service. Cutting up of a big stump so it would fit in the fire, Ace refilled our dirt pile for us so we have many more buckets to schlep up the hill. Monday morning a sink hole got attention just below the Palmer Bridge before small cabooses and short reefers fell in. Spring running season is approaching, come enjoy the desert. It was a low key enjoyable weekend, complete with a birthday cake on Saturday night, Colette’s. The weather is unpredictable but it was beautiful this weekend. Standard Gauge Meet February 15-17 coming up next month. Of course, the Narrow Gauge engines can run too. See you there.
Joshua Tree Mid Winter Weekend January 18-21, 2013

Friday, January 11, 2013

Joshua Tree Flat Car Rehab

I'll call it a Rehab because in no way do I or did I intend to rebuild the Skoglund/Joshua Tree flatcars to a once new condition. They were built out of available material in the late 80's and early 90's when Gene would 'winter' at the railroad. Gene could make a silk purse out of a sows ear. Using what he had and enough home spun talent to full a modern university football stadium; he whittled out patterns, melted down aluminium cans and lawn chairs poured his own castings. His wheel pattern for the cars is one of the best profiled wheels out there to be found. And in a time when there were no suppliers of what we call 'jewelry' for detail parts, he made his own. After they left Joshua Tree in the mid 90's they went back to Colorado; nice place in the summer if you're a flat car but they spent the winters there too, outside, under snow. After Gene's passing, the train set of cars Gene built came back to the Museum, worn and weathered but home again. The flat cars have seen some use, the yeoman of cars, flat cars catch the short stick on treatment. they get loads dropped on them, too many people at a time ride them, they get left out while the pretty cars get rolled inside during the weather. But, they have character, the decks are worn like their full sized brethren. I do not recommend sliding around on top of them unless you have a trusted friend with a pair of tweezers. They are in need of a paint job but in the same light that is why they are so appealing. The museum purchased new trucks so that the old ones could be refurbished to modern roller bearings instead of brasses that become dislodged in derailments or improper handling. They will definitely roll better and be easier on themselves in the same time. They came home to Rat's Garage for the work, as I have some new found idle time. The old cars have no steel sub frame, the couplers are screwed into one end of the wooden beam and all stress of pulling, pushing and whatever happens when cars are in a string go through the wooden beams, as old as they are. Well, the Three Companies cars, you might know them as our 24' Westside flats have a steel center frame. This frame allows the forces off pulling, pushing or whatever to be carried through the steel frame onto the next car. Well if all the cars have steel frames it looks like one of those kinetic ball toys, the ball hits the static ones and the end ball pops up. If you have a weak car in the middle, you figure it out. Back on the subject, I found a piece of tubing that would fit nicely between the frame sills without having to compromise the wooden structure, I installed new couplers so that they would mate well with all the other rolling stock that frequents the railroad. The new couplers attach to the ends of the tubing, the truck bolsters are welded to the tube and now the car has a steel skeleton to bear the stress and help support the load without rebuilding the car and loosing its character.A quick coat of Linseed oil on the top will help arrest the weathering and preserve what is left of the wood, while leaving the texture untouched. Boy, I sound like Bob Villa. I'm trying to get them finished by this up coming Run on the next weekend, January 18-20. It should be a good weekend, with all the weather we have had in Southern California the past few weeks, come out and enjoy the outdoors. See you there.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Years Weekend 2013

The end of one year and the beginning of the next always has been a time to reflect on what has happened and to choose a new beginning for the next, new and upcoming year. Yeah right, just another weekend; and an opportunity to get a little time to enjoy the desert, work on the railroad and get together with family. This New Years weekend was a long weekend. With the family making it out Thursday afternoon and evening things got rolling on Friday this time around. The weather was cool and expected for this time of year, if it warmed up enough to lay the coat down you remembered where it was in case you would like to put it back on. The recent delivery of a trailer load of old patio wood and tree trimmings kept the fire barrel glowing most of the weekend. Friday we had guests from Golden Gate Live Steamers; Dale and Marsha Furseth brought out their Atlantic for a day on the hill. I didn’t get to see the operation but they seemed to have enjoyed their day. Greg and Dad got a jump on the Engine House project and made a trip to Vagabond Steel for an order of what we need for the doors and front frame. Saturday Thomas Downing and his family arrived and they brought his GP-60 and a string of cars for a couple of days of high desert running. Saturday the back wall of the patio was finished. Another four sheets of plywood were added to the outs ide of the back wall, eliminating the polka-dot plywood look it has had for a while.
A strip was added to the top of the sliding door for aesthetics as well as an attempt at keeping the breeze down at times. Bill Shepherd the last time he was out did some electrical work on the patio too. The questionable temporary wiring of old was replaced with conduit and hard wiring. A new light shining on the woodpile with a switch for when not in use is very nice but the real neat addition is the combination barbeque light and interrogation center. This light is bright enough and in the right position, you can actually see what you are cooking. And, it comes with its own switch too. Thank you for your contributions Bill, it is always fun to find all the things you did after you’ve left. Bill will be back in mid February for almost a month, imagine the possibilities. Matt Z has been working on the D&RGW 50 project for the last couple of months and he brought her out for a test run. Now, 50 has had a tough life of rejection and isolation. People would roll her out of the barn, attempt a run and after numerous rerailings roll her back into the barn for another spell. . Many have laid hands on her in attempts to cure her plight. She was taken away to have her problems possibly looked at and diagnosed. Only to return in a box, actually many boxes. First, she rested in a heap in the Shop Boxcar and this past fall she was returned yet again to the car barn. Matt took a liking to the girl and a kind hand and skillful eye to her ails has transformed her into a rolling wonder. 50 had always spent more time on the ties then upon the rails, Matt worked her journals so they would freely move within their travel, took a lot of her side sway and lateral away and taught her to travel down the track with grace instead of sashaying from side to side as she traveled. Saturday she was guided around the layout with no problems what so ever. She rode in the train with grace, even spent a little time out in front where she never liked to be before, usually in a crumple she would stop in the past. This time, her days at the Polack Car and Foundry attending Charm School paid off. She even posed for pictures on the Upper High Line Trestle for us.
Her next step is to have a power system installed so she can be our Green Engine. Therefore, she will have the power to assist other engines that come to visit by guiding them to the steaming bays. We were glad to have her get a few days to return home and show us how she has transpired, good job Matt. We did a little dirt hauling too over the weekend. We have a fill project where the Switchback siding will be. Bill Shepherd had finished to rock retaining wall, all that needed done was to backfill it to an acceptable level before laying the rails. Saturday we hauled quite a few buckets up the hill and even hauled up three track panels to add to the end of track. Monday we went to task and actually counted buckets going up the hill. We had 215 five-gallon buckets of fill make the trip to the dumpsite, 14 trips in roughly four and a half hours time. It was a good and productive day and by the time we finished the almost warm day had deteriorated to snow trying to fall from the sky. It tried to rain and for a while, it did, but by evening, it had cleared; leaving us a cold clear night again. The hourly trips around the track for New Years Eve were quick cool trips and back to the fire. I actually made it to the 10 o’clock trip before giving up yet again my chance to see the ball drop from down town Joshua Tree. It was a good weekend enjoyed be a few hearty souls with a lot of thing accomplished for the better. Hope to see you out in a few weeks for the Mid Winter Run January 18-20. See you there. If you click on the picture below you will access the slideshow, enjoy. New Years 2013 at Joshua Tree">