Sunday, January 31, 2016

Progress on the Conley Mansion

This past week great strides happened on the progress of the Gary Conley Building, the Conley Mansion will hold the displays from Gary's HO empire that was in one of the rooms of his house in Joshua Tree. It was quite a layout and the detail of the scenery was the real gem of the layout. The museum is building a structure to house the exhibit, the building will be behind the Moseley Station and below the 7 1/2" loop to the station. A western themed building in lines with the era of the station to blend in with the other buildings nearby. During the last two weeks the area was cleared, compacted and the foundation formed and concrete poured. Bill Shepherd is the lead on this project and he has had help from Bob Whitt on excavating the site, and I'm sure with other things as well. From the pictures we see that Tom Arnold was out to see the progress and John Griffin too. An other interesting addition to the Railroad and Museum.
As always with concrete project around here, Bill tries to make the most of the truck load if it is coming out. Bill excavated for a retaining wall on the South side of the 7 1/2" loading area also. This will allow us to put in another track for parking trains at busy times. Great work all of you. With the Standard Gauge Meet coming up in two weeks you too can come out and see the progress. Here is a link for a few pictures of the pour day.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Mid Winter Weekend 2016, January 15-18

It was time to get out of the damp cold Southern California lowlands and dry out. It might have been cold at night , but the days were enjoyable. Thursday evening Shelli and I made the run out. Allan and Lynn hadn't been there too long and the Industrious Bill Shepherd was back in town on top of that. A nice time around the fire and off to dreamland.
 Friday dawned beautiful and clear, with just a few high Cirrus, Horsetails telling us that the breeze might just be blowing elsewhere, but it was okay here.
Everybody seemed to have a project in mind and started into it early. Bill was exercising with his shovel at the loading area, the South wall is going in for the yard tracks; an erosion, aesthetics, accessibility, capacity project.
Enabling another track to be completed at the loading yard, a completed walkway to the raised area of the loading yard and a start to the two, close, steaming bays for short term visiting steamers. Allan was tackling a shrubbery issue that was soon to be gone, and continued the rearrangement of the wood pile. I hauled track panels up to the high line for installation over the weekend. Soon Bob Whitt arrived and the morning project evolved into the mid day projects, the area was cleared and leveled for the site of the new Conley Mansion; a building being erected between the south side of the station museum building and the 7 1/2" loop below the Car Barn to house the exhibits of Gary's HO scale railroad empire that was in his house in town.
A fitting tribute to the mini modeler, craftsman and tinkerer that he was. The dirt excavated was placed east of the station for easy removal by rail to any point on the 7 1/2" that needs good quality aggregate products. Another shipping point on our busy pike. A thirty bucket shipment to the end of the high line was squeezed into operations over the weekend for use in the last of the retaining wall that Bill is creating for us. Rumor has it that much of it will be used to complete the wall on the station curve too, a John Griffin project.
 There was time to run a railroad too, we unloaded Allan's trusty GE 47 tonner and train, the 4-4-0 was hauled to the steaming bays by the Davenport #7 as well as a string of utilitarian Westside 24' flats. A few circuits of railroading throughout the day to make the weekend as enjoyable as possible. Greg and Becky rolled in Friday night and that ended up to be the extent of faraway arrivals for the weekend.
Sixty feet of track panels were assembled and we are within 15 feet or so of the trestle abutment, it made for an easier route for that shipment of fill for the retaining wall/trestle abutment area.
The days got a little warmer all weekend as this time of year the days are mild if the breeze is low or non existent. The survey crew did a bit of trampling through the canyon above the trestle area, getting ideas and dreams aligned for the ascent of the mountain. Nothing is impossible, it promises to be interesting. A link for the pictures is here:
All in all a very nice and productive weekend. Next month is the Standard Gauge Meet. February 12-14. Bring that sweetheart of an engine out too.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A quick trip

Saturday, Greg, Matt and I made a quick trip up to The Tracks with a load of firewood for the picnic shelter. The winds of Christmas in the Southern California area blew a few branches off of Greg and Becky's problem tree. A plan to cut up the fallen wood, and split it and load directly into the dump trailer with a quick trip to dump it was hatched. Quite a pile it was before we split it and it filled the trailer to the top after with a full pickup load yet to go.
The rains we had in the low lands were much appreciated and after not having really any rain for two years a welcome sight. There was even snow on the mountains as we traveled out in the morning. The upper mountains had snow and the lower hills did as well. The upper elevations of the property had a dusting of snow but was gone by Saturday. A much deserved rain fell at the Club and it is hoped that we get more so it will be a very colorful Spring with wildflowers and shrubbery blooming. The weather was still on the lower numbers as we rolled into Yucca Valley, what water still around on the side of the road was covered in ice. After a stop for breakfast in town we drove up to The Tracks and unloaded the bounty.

The wood pile was given a lot of attention the past trip out, we sorted, stacked and burned a bit of it. Knowing we had a big load coming this weekend we made room for it. Even took some away to be split as the big pieces get neglected with so much easier pickings around. This load is already split so it will dry quicker and just needs loaded on the cart come next season. We did a quick trip around the railroad to see and show Matt the progress as he did not get to come out New Years and this years real job schedule will not allow him to be out for a while. We took the forms off of the new abutment and gave it an approval.
Next weekend at the Mid Winter Weekend we should be able to do a little back filling and our rock wall builder should be around so track can be laid right up to the precipice. Surveying and forming of the trestle piers is on tap for the weekend too, so plenty of opportunity for getting one with the railroad can be had.
Always something to see out in the desert, even a puddle of water can grab ones attention if one so desires.

The ice upon the puddle tells of the chill about, the water itself tells of the much needed rain fell in a quantity that will do well for the plants and animals as well. And the reflection of the sun gives us promise that it will warm as the days continue. Hope to see you next weekend, have a safe trip. Brian

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

New Years, 2016, at the Tracks

I've written one check and screwed up on the date already. Happy New Year from us at Joshua Tree & Southern Railroad and Museum. 2016 might have started with a big, but it wasn't big enough to wake me as I went to bed earlier then that. Thursday night was cold enough to crack a few hose bibs in the steaming area. And the popsicles from the repair stayed there in the shade for a day more. It was okay in the Sun and the skies were clear and bright on Friday.
Steve Nelson came out with Sydnie for the weekend and brought along the C-21 and a string of cars. Chris Burns rolled down from the North and had the Navajo Construction Cab for something to ride around on. Allan and Lynn Ratliff were out before us kids and Dad had the GE and enough flats to make his WSL #4 caboose look good. Greg and Becky brought out the Skeletons so his load of empties looked even better. Sydnie and Caleb even were spotted all weekend, and Colette and the pups had the Curve staked out. Shelli and I made it out after work on Thursday, a whole pickup load of goodies for the railroad, concrete and firewood.
Around the railroad John Griffin finished off the rock breaking project on the High Line and the grade is almost to the abutment of the next trestle, sans rockwork for a path up the spine of the mountain from the end of the curved trestle up to the Pauline siding area. So one does not have to walk the whole High Line to get up to the top. Bill Shepherd did the path work and this weekend it got a lot of foot traffic, so a well placed path it is. Even saw a few people up on Bill's path to the top of the mountain that heads off from the firebreak road too. The view is getting better the higher we go, and from the top you can see quite a panorama.
 Thursday and Friday the Tolan's were out, Jeff put in a few miles on his Chloe, he spent the summer doing a lot of bearing work and even painted her up, sure is looking and sounding good. It was good to see the whole lot of Tolan's Kevin and Lori, Jeff and Tiphani...and the dog.
Jerry McPheeters has taken over the repair, maintenance and operation of the Edwards Motor Car and 'Trailer', his first project was to get it back into good running condition with a going over of the drive system including the chain drive and idlers. It really has just been sitting in the back of the Car Barn for a number of years waiting for the right time. Jerry has done wonders with the girl and it is good to see it out and about. Having one person in charge of it and responsible for it keeps it from being neglected and not maintained. Enjoy Jerry, it looks good. John Griffin has been using the Freight Motor for a work engine for a few years now and of course he keeps that one in top shape as well. Bill Shepherd helped him with a nagging fuel leak on it over the last month or so.
Saturday was a bit warmer that Friday and we had quite a few visitors too. It is amazing how many find out about the place from the internet and drop on by. A few genuinely interested folks too, we just might see them back again, The 4-4-0 ran around on Saturday, The Nelson C-21, Burn's Construction cab, the Edwards and the GE 47 tonner; we had a track full of operations for a while. Over the weekend there was plenty to see at times, and sometimes nothing, that's just the way it goes.
Saturday afternoon Jerry offered a hay ride to those interested for a trip around his neighborhood in Landers, of course everyone made it back in time for Steak Night.
Sunday we spent some time up on the High Line and made the forms for the first abutment and even poured the concrete for it. The new location of the Batch Plant makes the distance the mixed concrete has to travel significantly shorter than it was getting to be, hence the move from down at Tedder. The raw material still makes the trip up the hill and we have enough room to move around the plant when we are a mixing. Right now water comes up in buckets, but the plan is a water line, and eventually a water plug for the steam engines. Wouldn't an old tank car like Tank Creek on the Silverton branch look okay?
The trestle piers will be located and formed and filled  in the next couple of sessions, and soon we will have another trestle to get us further up the mountain. Come on out and enjoy the scenery, the railroad and the high desert. See you in two weeks for the Mid Winter Weekend January 15-18.
A Picasa link for pictures of the weekend at,  any questions the usual E-mail is