As the cold weather starts to become more frequent, workdays have to be completed when weather permits. Bill Gardei & Michael Haywood were at the track Thursday completing work on Conner Siding. The area is now ready for ballast and final adjustments this spring. The next step is replacing the track on the other side of the bridge as well as installing new decking on the bridge. This will be completed in the next month as the weather allows.
The track crew was hard a work today rebuilding Conner Siding. The rebuild went very smoothly as the area had already been leveled and the switches were ready to be installed. Most of the panels for this section had also been pre-built during the previous months in anticipation of this project. The crew was able to get all the tracks connected and all that is left to do is secure some remaining ties to the rail.
Bill Gardei, Jon Sproat, & Michael Haywood were hard at work today rebuilding switches. Over the next few weeks, additional switches and track panels will be built, in preparation for the Conner Yard rebuild that will take place in the coming weeks.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The track crew was hard at work on Saturday getting the new decking installed on the Upper Loop bridge. The final task will be getting the track back in place before the Winter Meet in a few weeks. There is always more to do at the track so any help is always welcome at work days.
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.
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.
Pardon our dust ... After months of discussion and fund raising, the steaming bay cover has finally started to become a reality. With all the storms during the last few weeks, the start of construction was delayed several times but now we are back on schedule.
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.
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.
This years night run was a huge success. The beautiful weather made conditions perfect for running in the afternoon and into the evening. With 8 Steamers and 6 Diesel Engines running, this was a new record for the Night Run Event. Some members started arriving at noon and some members keep running past 10 pm!!
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.
We want to give a huge thank you to club member Mike Bassham for getting a new roof put on the club buildings. The new metal roof should last a long time and makes the buildings look really good! The orignal roofs were 20/30+ years old and were starting to show their age.
Over the next few weeks, club members will be working on the Steam Engine display located at our facility. The engine is in need of some cleaning and the pavilion supports need repair. Today's work was pressure washing the engine, cars, and removing debris around the area.
The annual backwards run day was held on Saturday. The weather was nice and everyone had a great time running the track. Running the track in the reverse direction from normal operations presents some unique challenges for engineers and makes for a unique experience.
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.
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.