Saturday, September 15, 2018


Today I worked the grade crossing.  I dug out a trench for each side of the C-channel.  I hit once spot of waste concrete, broke it apart with a sledge.  It has a bit of grade so that I don't have to have as much grade on the curves before and after. 

I worked on the track, at the start of the day the train with derail about 7 times per loop around.  At the end of the day Loco 2 and two flats make it around at speed step 4 the whole way except at one spot.  The goal is to have the coal car, my worst running car run both directions at least at speed step 8. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Full Circle

There is now a full circle of track in the backyard.
Gauge is 7.5 to 7.625.   Minimum radius of 20 feet.

 Two turnouts, one for parking trains in front of the shed, the second for parking in the shed.
Celebrations will commences after track is leveled.  
We bought 3 yards of dirt to help with the leveling.  It may be that we use bad dirt from the yard to level and use the purchased dirt as grass substrate. 

Monday, September 10, 2018


Tonight I worked on track laying.  About ten more feet screwed together.  Now I am about 20 feet short of a full circle. 

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Shed Electric, Learning from Bill, Fall Ops, Ties, Fall Ops, Track

August 24th I turned the wires in the ground into a giant extension cord to the shed.  I wire nutted a plug to the basement end and a GFI outlet to the shed end.

 It is temporary until I can get an electrician to wire it up properly.

 I did learn that it is easier to remove the insulation if it has been warmed up. 

August 25th
I delivered my boy on the fence, as highlighted in the last post.  Then I stopped at MCRR.  Learned a lot from Bill about track maintenance.  
 He has all his track leveling tools on one car.  Air compressor to run a air hammer, shovels, tampers, rail bender, levels, brooms, etc...
 He has an electric ballast broom and a ballast car to complete the suite.
 The track leveler is impressive.
 At least until he used the kink remover.
 Ok so the track level has flat wheels, no taper, pivots at one end has two levels and has brakes that hold the position.  Run it about a foot in front of the tamper to help with leveling.  There is a rail prybar that I need to make also, it grabs the railhead and allows lifting to the left or right or straight up if desired.  That prybar will be the first tool I replicate.
The kink remover will be desired as soon as a tree falls on my track.  It grabs the rail and pulls out where tree limbs etc have caused a severe downward divot. 

I thanked Bill profusely for letting me learn from a master.  He has had is railroad 35 plus years.

Aug 28th I bought a set of rollers and sold them on facebook, profit of $17 dollars.

Wednesday I bought metal for a crossing into the back yard.
I knocked on all the neighbors doors and 9 of us lifted the 500lb chunk of steel out of the truck and set it in place.  It was still heavy and one of the neighbor teens did not get his hand out and was pinned to the ground.  I lifted enough so he could get it out I will say I felt soar for a few days, he said he was fine.

With a neighbors help we loaded up the trains in the truck after dark.

Thursday Ops started! Ten days of trains.
I brought my trains to MCRR and ran around the railroad once, they were not ready for ops yet so I asked Bob to put me on a freight crew tomorrow and I went home to make better use of my time.
 I borrowed Bills rail bender and made a whole loop of rail in my backyard.  The handle was well worn and almost broken, so I made a new one.  Thicker steel so it should last a while.
I figured it would be easier to make a new one while the 4 holes were hold not notches.

 Friday to Sunday I played trains at MCRR.  Most of the time I ran with others equipment.  Sunday evening, into the dark I ran my own switch by myself, the only other team out on the railroad was Adam and Olin.  They spent most of the time exchanging a propane tank and reheating the water in the steamer.
Friday night I got home about 8pm.  I was itching for my own railroad to be finished.  300 ties were needed.  So with Nancy and Jon's help I cut enough stock to length, getting done at 9:15 with cutting and 10 with stacking.  Saturday I continued by making ties, Lilli and Jon helped me by sending the half cut two by sixes back to the saw.  
Jon then helped me load the wagon.
Sunday night I packed the trains back on the truck after about 9:30 pm and took them home.  Monday morning I packed for white creek.  Monday I unloaded the truck and started doing switching with Robb.  The next day I switched with Robb, the next Jerry, the next Jerry, then Robb, and Robb on the last day.  I ran the locomotive on that last day, I was tired, and really had enough of running trains.  It was all fun and Robb's GP35 is awesome, it works quite well.

The start of the week at WC it was very hot, then it was rain.  The first rain day I slept in the cab of the truck, (I removed the back seat, Nancy made bug and rain screens for the two big windows)  The bug screens worked well but lots of water came in.  The second night it rained I went an slept at the parents house.  Same with the next night as they were home and I figured it would be good to see them.

Then it got cold, at least it was dry.  I slept two more nights in the truck.  Thursday Robb went to a robotics meeting and he let me drive his GP around.  I picked up 5 coal cars from the yard and ran most of the railroad after dark.  I did make a whole string of empties (it was 3 and 2) and ran the train from the 8th car back.  You have the trust the turnout position from that far back.  Sitting 4 cars back would have the same effect of seeing only a loco and freight cars.  Seeing Robb's loco, a string of cars and his caboose with flashing red taillight is awesome.  To think 5 years ago all the three of us had was my SBT two flat cars and a wood gondola.

Sleeping in the truck was not bad when it was cold, thought the bed is 5 foot 6 and I am 5-11.  Even though I did take pipsqueek and loco 2 they were not used.  I did sent out the red wagon as a freight car, it quickly came back as it did not play well.  I fixed it by bungeeing it to the pink flat and sending it out again.  From Wednesday to Saturday it only made 3 turns.  That might be average for most of the cars, 3 to for 4 moves for the week.  Pretty amazing.

We did have issues with the Military train on Friday.  We choose not to cooperate with them and ran instead.  We were successful in evading them by running backwards 2 blocks, wyeing our train, and running away.  We also talked about other funny things we could do.  The best we thought of was to switch two towns on the railroad, so everyone's map would be wrong.  Other wise be the military train and give people new paperwork when they passed.

Loaded up and drove home early afternoon on Saturday.  Nancy helped me unload the trains, the kids helped unload the truck.

Sunday the 9th brought a day in the yard.  I started installing ties.  about half done with the mainline.  Only 30 feet to go, completed 30 feet today, slow and steady as to not cause back or hand pain so it was over the course of 7 hours.  About 3 hours of work the rest was resting etc... 
 The downfall is I missed on placing the road crossing by a couple feet.  I have a plan to use boards and roll it into place later.
After I get the track in a circle I will need to level it.  My goal is to have the loop done by the end of October.  I have the option of picking up my coal car kit in late October in PA.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

A small project

I wanted a small project to work on while it was too hot outside, or rainy or for productive procrastination.

A friend and model railroader has an On30 railroad in his basement with different businesses named after those that visit, help etc.
I am lucky enough to be one of those people, though I have only known Larry for a few months.
There is a gas station next to the tracks of the Laurium, Mohawk and Brockway Railway in the town of Laurium.
Larry takes daily pictures of the railroad and posts on facebook.  Frequently telling a simple story about the old men.

That got me wondering where are all the young men?  It is the summer of 1935 there should be children around.  As it is a cold summer morning in the UP they may be inside, but all of them?  There has to be at least one exuberant 5 year old boy waving at the passing trains.  Or does he see giants in the clouds?
Inspired by norman rockwells boyhood dreams with the boy and dog looking at a train and Winslow homer children on a fence.  I decided to create my own version.
Everything is made of styrene, I took new styrene warmed it with a candle flame and stretched and twisted into the shape I needed.  I would find the part I wanted, like what looked like and arm or leg in the length of chain, leaving the excess on as a handle glue to the body, then after the glue was dry cut off the excess.  There may be some carving with a very sharp knife or a very hot metal object.  Whatever I thought would work.  
The dogs fur and the boys sweater was made by making a slurry of sytrene shavings and model glue and pushing it onto the frame with my fingers, the combination of fingerprints, uneven dissolving etc made a nice texture.  I will say that it is not perfect, the level of detail is average for 1:48, it is possible with 3d printers to get better precision, a more skilled person would do the work better but I had reached a point where I was not making the figures any better and had to stop.  The work progressed over several evenings of the entire summer maybe 20 hours total from research to making the gift box.
Everything is painted with acrylics.  Washes, and drybrushing over the course of several evenings of a week or two.  The dog is a model of our dog Maple. the boy after my 5 year old Jon.  The fence after the one that I grew up with in my yard.  It was a cousin of my Mom that owned a gas station.
Thank you Larry for the honor of adding my humble work to your beautiful model railroad. 

The pictures of the fence installed on the layout are all taken by Larry.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018


It has been slow on the railroad after filling in the dirt.  My hand was hurt and I am forcing myself to not overuse it.  

After a week my hand felt better so I tied the newest turnout to the end of the line.

Another week and I added a length of track to each direction.  

I have decided to have the mainline be the route closer to the lot line, then curve around to the deck.  The inboard track will be the siding, with an eventual diamond and track leading to the garage for loading and unloading of trains.  

I am now out of ties, I need to cut down my boards to make more.  

I am trying to decide if I need a heavy duty crossing for a vehicle to pass over.  

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Fill it all in

Today we started the morning gluing up the PVC conduit to the shed, and putting it into the trench, then we backfilled, everyone but Anna.  We put a red tape "electrical below" tape six inches below the surfaces.

Now I need an electrician to help me connect the wires properly. 

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Illegal in California

Tonight I continued trenching for the electrical.  I used a method frowned upon in California. 

I used a pressure washer to blast through the problem areas that the ditch witch had.  For over an hour that was the hardpan around the well head.  I think it was the stuff from the well hardened up, once I was able to get through that it was easy going at the other few area.  I sure got muddy though.

Now the whole route is at least 18 inches deep.

While I "dug" nancy rolled out the wire and cut it into four equal sections.  It is long enough to get from the shed to the shop electrical box.  I will have to find out if I can tie in there or I will have to have a junction and tie in at the main.

I plan to run four #6 aluminum wires.  I would also like to run a 14/2 to have the ability to turn on and off a light or such at the shed.

Carbarn Upgrades

The last few weeks I have been working on the shed / carbarn.  I added two windows to the east side.  I used pallet wood to add two 3/4" layers to the floor, the top layer was all 1x12 pine.  We then raised the grey shelf so the wood scrap trash cans would still fit underneath.  Then I added a single 5/8" floor over the ties, just the first 5 feet by the doors and the remainder of the inside track.  Maybe later I will get more wood to do the rest, or just leave it.

Yesterday I started digging for electric to the barn with a pickax.  It was not that difficult, The first 2 feet took a half hour.

But a doctors visit is $120, rental of a ditch digger is $150.

So Nancy rented the digger tonight.  She got it about six, we ate some chicken nuggets then about 7pm I started.

The first time it balked was a tree root about 1 inch in diameter.

The second time was a baseball sized rock

The third time was a softball sized rock

Then a football sized one

Then a beach ball

I have no idea why there are rocks the size of small cars buried in our yard, but rather than break the machine I stopped with the trench.  About 80 feet to an average depth of 18 inches.  A two foot length is only 12 inches deep, it is near the wellhead, maybe it is waste mud from that drilling that cemented.  Most is 18 to 24 inches.

I found that the machine works better when the arm is down all the way and the two largest rocks at each end was not letting me get deeper.  I might try using the pressure washer to blast down.

I did try using the shop vac to pull the loose dirt out of the trench, that worked well, a good task for children to work on tomorrow.

The last thing I did before putting the tool back on the trailer is use it to start a hole for a bush that needs to move for the siding that will be going up the hill.  I have a plan to use the #8 switch to the east of the shed with a parking track to the west that I can add temporary track to the end up the hill into the garage.