Five Days of
Laying track to the enginehouse May 6 through 13, 2001
Click on any photo below for a larger view, the larger pics were downloading as you were reading this!
Railroading is hard work. Rollie and I have been planning the railroad for years, but it has been mostly up to him and his family to do the work. The second week of May, 2001 was a good example of HARD WORK.
Our first switch was installed a few days before, a feat that could consume a web page in itself. The switch was one salvaged from an abandoned mine and quite corroded. It also was designed solely for use by push cars: Though a number 4 frog, there was no curve in the closure rails (the rails between the frog or crossing of the rails and the movable points of the switch) so the points contacted the stock (outside) rails at this same #4 angle (WAY too sharp for a loco to cross). The frog itself also needed work as it was designed for small mine car flanges, not the cut down standard gauge wheels we use. I didn't take pictures of it, but here is a basic synopsis:
The frog point was cut loose from the closure/guard rails and moved back several inches to open the flangeways up
4' closure rails (one curved to fit, one straight) were added between the frog and points
The stock rails were replaced with longer straighter pieces
All was reassembled to new ties
For temporary, a spike in an enlarged hole in the tie holds the point in place for the direction of travel (that's right, no point gauge bar yet, this is minimum standards railroading!)
It was tested with a full train, with just a couple adjustments for derailments
Though it is far from perfect, it works well for us and our yard is beginning to take shape.
The next thing we had to do is make the transition from 20 to 35 pound rail right after the switch and right before a curve! Going between these two sizes is a little difficult in the smoothest of tangent track, so we had fun with this! We didn't want to go to the work of the fancy 'perfect' joint, so opted to just 'cut and grind' to get it to fit. It works pretty well for a low speed joint and will be replaced with a better joint later.
Of course, you can't have all work and no play, so we take regular 'train ride breaks'. In this little movie, most of the gang is riding the train up to the corral in the hazy evening of a late spring. The movie will play when page is finished loading.
Monday night, May 7th, the points are done and the transition joint is progressing for the straight track. Because of the stiffness of the 35 pound rail, we realized we would have to install all the ties NOW, we couldn't just install a few now and come back and fill in later (like we do on the straights) or we would have kinks.
Rollie is pre-drilling spikeholes in the 4x4 ties. We use old standard gauge spikes. Though they stick about 2" out the bottom of the ties, they are cheap and once driven over with the loco,stay in place exceptionally well (you have to lift the track to move it a couple of inches, trust us, we know about this!)
Work is progressing well by Tuesday the 8th and here Della, Zayne (next to her) and RJ take a break on the tie car while Rolly is digging out the engine house floor for the temporary 4x4 ties (later to be replaced with steel channel ties when the concrete floor is poured). Sparky is keeping a wary eye for errant cats that need to be chased....
A nice smooth 75' radius curve after a lot of work! We had to dig out the embankment some (Sparky the earth mover pushed a lot of the gravel back into the cut after Rollie dug it last fall!) The track was built straight over the top of the embankment to the right. We all got together with bars and Della on one of the four-wheelers chained to the rail and pulled it into place (sorry no photos, I was actually working then...), then Rollie drove the train over it which set the spikes into the ground.
Now everyone can see why we put two small doors on our building instead of a single 16' wide rollup, it really looks like the two track engine house it is! To the left is some of the heavily corroded 20 pound mine rail from the original 'roller coaster' we will probably use on a siding somewhere.
Back at it on Saturday night the 12th of May. The compromise joint on the #2 engine house track is progressing. Notice how interweaved our ties are near the switch. At 4' long they are longer than 'scale', reduce the need for switch length ties and stabilize the track well on our sometimes soggy ground. We only need four longer ones for each switch. Also note that we had to build all the 35 pound track in straight sections, attach it with heavy joints and curve it after it was attached.
Sunday RJ and Eric had better things to do besides work on train track!
It's 9:20 pm sunday May 13th and the second engine house track, just a siding so far, is completed enough to move the two cars from in front of the loco onto it and bring the engine into it's house for the first time!
9:22pm. After a minor derail, we decided it would be good to spike the points in place. Floating points are not a good idea!
pushes the train into the siding. Here you can see how sharp 75
foot radius looks with 35 pound rail. JoAnna, my wife in the
background is eight months pregnant here, and little Molly was
born almost exactly a month and a day after this picture was
(June 14, 9:35 pm)
9:26pm. Here she comes, heading for home!
9:27pm. Rollie and little Zayne take the maiden voyage as Randi looks on. A tighter fit than we thought! Notice the horns on the right side of the cab roof, they barely make it through the 8 ' tall doorway.
9:37pm. Trouble in the form of stubborn nature. A locust tree (a little sucker actually) that had been removed decided to try and make it's presence felt by not fitting under the very stout steel footboards on #102. Rollie bumped it a couple of times with the loco, hacked it with the ax, and I cut it with my chainsaw, which immediately lost it's edge. Locust when dry cannot be cut with anything but a carbide blade, so I got out my skill saw and tried to help, but bent the blade!
9:39pm. After a couple of minutes the job was done, #102 was inside, my camera lens was covered with dust and Rollie tried to get the last parts of the stump out of the way (with Sparky's help).
Through a herculean effort by Rollie and his family this project was completed. About all I did was take pictures, but chroniclers are needed too I guess. It was a long week and a long day and of course all had to get up and get to work the next day, but it was worth it. This was a major step in making it a real operating railroad!
We really have not had time to do any more as a couple weeks later we all started on the big 'mobile home move' for our parents and now the former corral railroad yard is chest high in weeds, waiting for the next major push: Finishing engine house track #2, moving the station into place and completing it and installing the station track. We will probably extend the main to the creek trestle #1 before doing the station track as that's where we want to go first.