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">