Thursday, April 24, 2014

Easter 2014 on the Railroad.

April 18-21, 2014
Easter Weekend is normally a light weekend but usually one of the best weather wise. Warm days and nice nights make the patio at night just enough fire for ambiance. The whole desert was in bloom from the Cholla to the paddle Cacti and little flowers of varying colors and sizes. It was a family weekend; Mom and Dad, Greg and Becky with sister Colette, the other brother Matt and I. The Stites made it for the show as well. Saturday afternoon Brother in law and sister, Rex and Judy Bullock came out to see the family and enjoy the desert, it was nice to see them.
 Work on the high line has been steady with John Griffin plugging away at it many times a week as he gets in time. The early weekenders said he plugged at it all day Thursday and I saw and helped on Friday. Saturday the younger ones worked on the heavy stuff and we cleared thirty feet of roadbed in this rocky terrain. Rough grade was also completed that far so next time we can lay down a little track. Might even start on the switch so we can move the batch plant up the hill readying us for the next round of trestles. Of course we still have some heavy rock work to get through yet.
 The Stites brought out their GE and Mom and Dad had theirs out too. John had the freight motor rolling around on the bookend days and Matt had the PE juice jack hitting the rails. I actually ran the 4-4-0 most of the time but the Alco made a trip just to keep it freed up. Not a bad weekend; six different locomotives, lots of family and friends and plenty of progress. See you Memorial Day for a little track laying.
 Of course, a link to the pictures below. any questions you can find me at

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Volunteer of the Month

One of the neat perks of my position at the place of employment is 4-10's, the regular eight hour, five day work week never worked too well. Or should I put it like it really is, a three day weekend. Some of my hardest decisions during the week are what am I going to do come my day off? The decision for Friday actually depended on the weather and it got made Thursday afternoon.
 The oil change was started when I got home by pulling the plug on the pan of the Harley. It drained all evening. Friday morning I slept in, till 6:00, did the usual and hit the Garage for the finish up on that oil change. Spin on a new filter, replace the plug, pour in some overpriced Harley oil, fire it up, let it get all going inside, check the level, top it off. Put on my jacket and parts, put the Garage door down and head to breakfast. Traffic is a bit heavier at 7:00 than it is at 6:00, but I'm not going that way today. Up the hill to Pinon Hills is a great spot to get great food, and those extras that make one ride 45 miles for breakfast. After too many cups of coffee and a great Chicken Fried Steak it was time to head towards Joshua Tree.
  Now I just spent 45 miles not going exactly towards my destination so it was across the High Desert communities around Hesperia and towards Lucerne with that big swing around called Old Woman Springs Road towards Yucca Valley. Right after you drop down Bob's Economy Hill by Pipes Canyon Road one can turn left on Aberdeen and bypass all those signals on 62. A quick stop at the Convenience store for ample supplies it was up the hill and a right turn to go up Willow. That sandy little road is getting tricky on a motorcycle, especially fat heavy hogs. All the way across the high desert the flowers of different colors and sizes were evident. Miles of purple on one side of the road and yellow ones on the other. As one comes up Willow to the tracks it is the yellow ones that own the real estate around here. That picture above is just inside the front gate.
 I had sent John Griffin a note to see if he was going to be around as he keeps us posted on goings on in and around the place. He indicated that he would most likely be in the vicinity around the time I thought I would arrive. Luckily he left the gate unlocked, a thing he normally doesn't do so people don't walk up behind him when he's deep in work related things. Luckily I said because somewhere out halfway between nowhere and east of that I remembered I didn't pack my keys to the gate. I didn't have to hike in. As I pulled up to the picnic shelter John was coming down the high line in his work train.
Now John has been doing quite a bit of work around the place, if you don't think so you haven't seen the G scale layout and you haven't noticed we don't have to spend all our time on the weekends filling in squirrel holes that used to swallow the roadbed at spots. John found out that exercise doesn't have to be in a fancy fluorescent lighted high priced gym, it could be outside enjoying the surrounding outside, moving a bucket or twenty of dirt to fill in a low spot along the track. That's Johns style, make your exertion pay of in accomplishments. John was doing all his track improvements from a pedestrian standpoint and a wheelbarrow. We set him up with the Edward's Freight Motor, after he gave it a once over and some TLC that it needed, John has been zipping around with a shovel and a bucket or two seeing the roadbed from above it. Even he says it has helped him notice where things need attention. After a time running around he stated that he could get more done if he had a flat car to carry more buckets, a tool or two, an ice box, a wheelbarrow. So we hooked, coupled, him up with a flat car and as the freight motor doesn't play well with things coupled behind it he pushes it from in front. Now he can haul rocks and boulders and dirt anywhere along the track he needs to go.
  John and Allan Ratliff have been eyeing the curve before the Station as it needs some attention and the retaining way completed in some fashion. John has been eyeing this as a project that he can get into, and now he has the tools needed to get those pesky boulders up on the high line down to the Station for a wall. He might not move them all in a day but over the last couple of weeks he has moved plenty, with plenty more growing out of the hill side as he removes them. Rocks have a way of multiplying.
  So, that was one of my projects of the day off was to go see how John was doing. He is doing great!! He took me on a tour of what has transpired and we spent a few hours enjoying the morning as it slowly warmed up. It was really nice to see the things he had done since just three weeks ago. All the time apologizing for not getting more done. Everybody has a life and sometimes it gets in the way. This is our hobby, we do it because we like it. I call it playing trains but not one person that I have brought to this place finds out where the play is. This place is being built in sweat and toil, free sweat and toil, the most expensive sweat and toil there is because first you have to make the time to give it.
 Over the last few years it looks great what has evolved. it is all because of peoples commitment to make time to make something happen out here. Some days when we come out here it seems we didn't get anything done. No, we didn't get anything done on the list we had in our head; but other things made precedence.  Sometimes people think that we are there to do their work; Hey, I'll show you where we keep the shovels babe! A lot of things that do get done are because somebody wanted to do something extra. Burn's siding was an idea that grew out of thin air one afternoon and was in place soon after. The extension below the wye grew out of running off the end of the bridge and Thompson was started. We needed a better unloading/loading arrangement, the answer presented itself. and the yard around it is used quite well on busy weekends. People come out and want to move dirt up the hill with their train. Now we are in a position that we need to move dirt off of the hill for a few hundred feet. I'm looking forward to the next time out in two weeks. I saw some challenging loads that need to be moved and it will get done by train.
 Wow. Imagine that, I got off track. Sort of, I was talking about people coming out and doing things, things they want to do not have to. It is great that we have a core of members that see that it takes effort, exertion and exercise to get things accomplished. Over the years we have expanded this railroad much further than I ever imagined it would be in this length of time. I have also learned that to build this railroad it really isn't that hard either. One rock at a time, one track panel at a time, every bucket moved is just one of a lot of buckets. Friday I came out to see the work one person had done by himself and to thank him for doing it. He isn't a board member or in charge of anything out here. He does a lot of the work though and I found a way to thank him. John Griffin got a pat on the back, a hand shake and a big thank you. You are our Volunteer of the Month on the 7 1/2" Division.