November 11 - Yard Work

Continuing the work from the November 4th work day, the next step was to re-level Conner Yard before the new yard tracks are installed. The roadbed for the yard needed to reduced in height by 3 inches so it will match the mainline on the left. Since the area has not been disturbed in 30+ years, a little heavy equipment was needed to move the compacted gravel. Huge thanks to Mike Bassham for getting us a Skid Steer to complete the job. 

Steam Engine Training Event

On Saturday, November 4th 2017, a small group of members met at the track for our first ever 'learning to run steam' day. There were 7 students, 3 instructors, and 2 coal-fired steam locomotives present for the event. We began at 9 AM. First the instructors went around introducing ourselves and giving some of our background. The three instructors were Bob Auchenbaugh, Alan Woodyard and Scott Reedy. The three instructors combined have over 100 years of experience with large-scale live steam. 

We then had about 45 minutes of 'classroom' type training. The design and the functions of the locomotive boiler were discussed, along with the nomenclature for some of the most important parts. Emphasis was placed on keeping the water level right to protect the boiler.   Some of the physics behind the boiler operations were explained. We then explained the order of importance when it comes to actually operating a steam locomotive. That order is (1) water level, (2) Track conditions/Traffic, (3) Fire, (4) Lubrication. A lot of emphasis was placed on safety first.   

The group of students then split up into two groups and accompanied the instructors to the steaming bays where the two locomotives were fired up from a cold-start. Students then took turns running the locomotives around the lower loop of the track for the next several hours.  Students typically got at least 4 or 5 laps on a locomotive to try to hone their throttle skills and learn to add coal and water while on the move. The day's lessons ended at about 3:30 PM when the last of the two steamers was blown down.   

November 4 Workday

During the November 4th workday, the track crew started on one of the larger track projects that were slated for this winter. The first project is a complete rebuild of Conner yard. This yard was the club's passenger station until the new one was completed in 1999. The track will all be replaced and the yard slightly redesigned. Once completed this spring, it will once again be an amazing yard and provide additional storage during the meets.

October 12 Workday

With the Winter Meet only a week away, track crews were hard at work today getting a few projects completed. First task was to reconnect all the track going to the high bridge. All that is left to in that area to complete is to ballast and level the track. The second task was to remove the decking from the smaller bridge located near the high bridge. Since there was extra time today, the crew removed all the old bolts and repainted the bridge. On Saturday, the goal will be to install the new decking and track.

Upper Loop Bridge Project

After 34 years, the Upper Loop Bridge supports needed to be replaced. John, Ted, and Kyle Norcross were in charge of the project and began work as soon as the Fall Meet was concluded. They fabricated new steel supports and transported them to the track for installation. With some heavy machinery, planning, and hard work, they were able to install the new supports within 2 days. Many other members came back to the track several times after the meet to assist in any way they could. 

September 28 Worday

During the Fall Meet, it was discovered that the track outside the tunnel had sustained some damage. While this damage did not cause too many issues during the meet, it needed to be repaired. After closer inspection by the track crew, the decision was made to replace all the track and ties in the tunnel, as this had not been done in a long time. The track crew worked very hard and the results look amazing.

September Workday Wrap-Up

It has been a few weeks since the club has posted about all the work going on at the track. First, a new gravel parking area has been installed and the loading areas got some work as well. This should make it much smoother and level while using the transfer tabels.


Lutz Braun has constructed a new bridge that was installed in the steaming bay area.


There have been a lot of little projects around the layout. From repairing track, replacing sidings, fixing lights, and other various things. All these have been needed to get ready for the upcoming fall meet. 

August 8 Workday

Over the summer, a number of heat kinks have developed around the track. It took about an hour, but three of the major ones have been repaired. On the next workday, final corrections will be made and areas will have more gravel added.

In the coming weeks, the club is going to re-gravel the area from the street to the unloading area. During this time, we will also replace two storage sidings. These sidings were in bad shape and the ground is very uneven.  Since there will be skid steer on site for the gravel installation, replacing these tracks seemed like a good idea.

Also, a switch was removed from the unloading track ramp to allow equipment access to the steaming bay area for a couple of weeks.

June 27 Workday

John Norcross has been at the club working on restoring the Full Size Steam Engine and Cars. Back on June 8th, a small group pressure washed the area and did some general cleaning of debris around the enclosure. John came out and has painted the cars and began work prepping the engine for paint. John will continue this project a couple of weeks before the Fall Meet so we will all get to admire his work during the meet.

From the club archives, here is a photo of the Engine and Cars in the early 1970s.

April 15 Workday

With the Spring Meet only three weeks away, everyone has been working hard to wrap up all the track work projects started this winter. With the triple bridge reinstalled two weeks ago, the first task was to gravel the area just after the high bridge that was completed on the February 25 Workday. The second task is to reinstall all the other tracks on the triple bridge as well as brand new bypass switches on the bridge. 

April 8 Workday

With beautiful weather and a crew ready to work, the first project of the day was to install the new decking on the triple bridge. The first half of the day, crews secured the decking to the bridge and back filled the area so track could be installed. The second half of the day, crews installed panels of track and the two new switches for the crossover. 

The main focus was to complete the inside track before the end of the day. This will allow a ballast train to begin work on the track from the high bridge down to this area. That track work was completed on the February 25 workday, but due to its location, could not be reached until this was completed. The next few work days (April 15 & 22) crews will continue the installation of the other two tracks on the bridges as well as complete the crossover track.

April 4 Workday

The first part of the workday was spent completing the track replacement project near the steaming bay. We have been working on this project for a few weeks as time permits and glad it is finally complete. It will be leveled and ballisted before the Spring Meet.

On February 11th, the triple bridge on the upper loop was removed so new footers could be installed. Last week the footers were poured and the bridge was reinstalled on Tuesday. The second part of the day was spent removing the old decking from the bridge. At the upcoming Saturday (April 8th) Workday, new decking will be installed and work will begin on reconnecting the track accross the bridge.

March 30 Workday

Continuing the work from the March 21th Workday, additional track was replaced near the steaming bays that lead to the unload & loading ramp. All three switches have now been rehabilitated and the layout of the switches has been altered slightly from their original configuration. Additionally, the track next to the diesel turntable has been reinforced, just like the track in the bottom photo on the opposite site of these switches, due to high amounts of foot traffic in that area. The final siding track will be reconnected with the last switch on the next workday. Sometime after the 2017 Spring Meet, more track in this yard will be replaced as time and weather permits.