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The Waybill

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The Waybill Archives
The Official Newsletter of the South Jersey S-Gaugers, Inc.

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These articles are archived from the Waybill from 1996 through 1999 and give some insight about our past history and activities. Many editors have had a hand producing the SJSG Waybill, including  Roy Hoffman, Al Schoenberg, Joe Sullivan, and Ed Claypool. To read more articles, click on the following:

Archive  1996-1999 Archive  2000-2001 Archive  2002-2003 Archive  2004-2005

Past Tracks

by Steve Politowski (published July/August 1996)

Here is a capsule summary of some of the things that have made the past year so interesting for the SJSG.

  • In 1995, a busy year for SJSG, papers of incorporation are signed and filed; tax exempt status is currently on hold;
  • Club Treasurer Pat Bigley opens an official "corporate account" for the Club at Commerce Bank;
  • Joe Sullivan steps down as WAYBILL editor after 2 1/2 years of dedicated service and passes the torch to Ed Claypool; Michael McConnell and Hank Worrell assist in the interim;
  • The Pacific Rail Shops 40' double door PRR Automobile Car arrives and sells out; SJSGS initiates a second Pacific Rail Shops project;
  • in April, 1995, SJSG members approve a motion to have a club-sponsored train and dollhouse show; a committee consisting of Chick Viggiano, Steve Cuccinotta, Joe Sullivan and Bill Moore is formed to oversee the show;
  • Also in April, the Club's first secret project contest is held, with John Kosick taking the honors for best project; a second secret project is held in August, and again John Kosick brings home the bacon;
  • SJSG layout committee members and others in the club combine their efforts to construct the clubs first portable layout;
  • Nov. 4, 1995: the clubs first train show, held at Cumberland County Voc-Tech, is declared a resounding success by club Prez Bill Moore;
  • The American Models GG-1 finally arrives and is well received by SJSG members;
  • It is reported that SJSG had 26 members in 1994, 30 members in 1995, and 40 members so far in 1996.

Trip Committee Report

by Ed Claypoole (published July/August 1996)

Hank Worrell reported on the trip to Russ Down's factory (Downs Model Railroad; DMR). Hank indicated that they saw the manufacturing of Russ's modern tank cars and his new chemical car project. Those in attendance had a real appreciation for what goes into the making of some of our rolling stock. Hank added that Russ's operation, while small in size, was extremely labor-intensive.

Dave Pierce indicated he could arrange a tour of a fabulous layout in Chadds Ford, PA. for any members who may be interested. Joe Sullivan brought up the Cape May Seashore Lines, Inc. tours which are now running from Cold Spring Historic Village and the Cape May County Zoo. Details will be available to anyone interested. This one looks like a winner! (Hey gang, this is the real thing. . .12 inches to the foot scale!)

Walt Mumie brought up the opening of the Flyertown Toy Train Museum on Rt. 9 in Claremont, N.J. The Matchbox Museum in Newfield, N.J. was also discussed as a possible trip destination.

SJSS Minutes

by Ed Claypoole (compilation of SJSG Minutes column from several newsletters)

The [the club meeting] attendance at Henry Mortimer's house did not set any club records, but was not far off. 29 persons, two of which were guests, invaded Mort's house. Not quite like the invasion of Attila the Hun, but it does point out how this club is exploding in members. Also, Mort is in the process of constructing a very fine layout, using code .148 track, his own home-made power source, and some of the superstars of American Models, such as the Alco ABA and GG-1. And from what this writer could see, the equipment ran flawlessly.

A new SJSG membership directory was created by Joe Sullivan and passed out at the business meeting. New SJSG membership cards, laminated by Jim Oliver, were also passed out. The possibility of hosting another Christmas clinic at Chick's Hobbies was mentioned. This will, once again, be a good will gesture by the club to provide lubrication and cleaning service to the general public on American Flyer locomotives.

Wayne Schneyer reported the layout committee has been meeting on Wednesday nights. Pat Tentarelli has built two new straight sections and the layout is now four feet longer. Some of the items donated to the club layout include a cattle loader, Talking Station, a 761 Semaphore, the Guilford Diner, track switches and roadbed. The club is looking to buy a Log Loader and Barrel Loader and is also seeking loans and donations. Six club members will be making the trip to Connecticut the weekend of August 23-25 in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of AC Gilbert Co. The club layout and trailer are expected to be ready for our first out-of-state presentation.

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A Message From Your President

by Bill Moore (published July/August 1995)

I want to thank all the members who participated in the SECRET PROJECT contest that was held in April at the home of Ken Davis. Special congratulations to John Kosick, who won first place for his Frank Titman "Square Signal Tower" kit. John beautifully customized it with his own interior details. A job well done by a fine craftsman. [Second place went to Bill Moore for his kit-bashed American Models hopper car converted to a ballast car, Ed.] Congratulations also to Joe Sullivan with his third place award, garnered for his well constructed 4 foot single-track Warren truss bridge, made for his hi-rail Flyer layout. Plus, a big round of applause for 7-year old Dori Bigley, who won honorable mention for his custom-built Gilbert Erector Set bridge. Many thanks to the 14 members who submitted entries to the SECRET PROJECT contest. Finally a plaudit for the club members who judged our contest; I could not have been more pleased with their fairness of judgement.

Chick TV debuts, Deal with FOX Eminent

by Joe Sullivan (published January/February 1995)

On a recent visit to Chick's Hobby Center last week, besides being treated to the usual great service and great product selection, I witnessed the latest career move for our illustrious Chick Viggiano; Television! Recently, Chick participated in a local cable TV series of programs that highlighted various Gloucester County businesses. Chick's interview was terrific and he displayed remarkable poise as he extolled the virtues of S Gauge model railroading. Chick shared the spotlight with several beautiful pieces of American Models and American Flyer equipment. I hope Chick brings a copy of his TV debut with him at our January meeting! It was truly swell!

SJSS Breaks In With A Bang

by Ed Claypoole (published May/June 1996)

Some thoughts on the recently completed Greenberg Train and Dollhouse Show of March 2-3. The March minutes have already touched upon the success our club had at the Greenberg Show. I think it is necessary to add a few things regarding that weekend, since it marked a real milestone with our club.

Make no mistake about it, the weekend was a smashing success on many levels. First and foremost was the simple fact that we took first prize out of the seven layouts that were in operation during the show. When I ask myself what merited our ribbon, I have to think it was a number of things. The trains ran beautifully all weekend, even to the point of double-heading 080's and GG-1's, which is not a common sight at train shows, especially in S! And then there was the constant variety our club was able to put on display, everything from Gilbert AF to Lionel AF to American Models. The club members donated their accessories, buildings and other scenery materials to give the layout a surprisingly finished look, despite the fact that only half the layout has any scenery at all.

One idea that certainly was a factor was the supplying of footstools to allow children to see the layout better. This was extremely popular with both the show crowd and the Greenberg Staff. Kudos to our own Wayne Schneyer for that one.

I would be amiss if I failed to mention the teamwork that went into this effort. When it got down to crunch time, everyone was there to get involved and offer their time and expertise. It took the club a good two years to bring this whole thing to fruition, but it was not something that was going to be done by the seat of our pants. We owe a tremendous thanks to Pat Tentarelli, whose Sn3 sectional layout became the foundation for what we brought to the Greenberg Show. It was Pat's remarkable workmanship on the original Sn3 modules that gave us such a good head start on our club layout.

Chick Viggiano unselfishly spent considerable time constructing the fine turnouts we used on the layout; Hank Worrell was just always there, driving us and providing us with the kind of leadership that was invaluable in getting everything accomplished; Henry Mortimer was gracious always in allowing us the use of his basement during the nascent stages of the layout; Steve Cuccinotta worked hard to supply us with the stanchions we employed at the show.

Now that the first really big show is behind us, our club can look to a great future for the SJSS in terms of train shows and valuable exposure. To all of those who made this possible, go ahead and pat yourselves on the back. You've earned it!

Some Tips on How To Do It. . .Scratch-building

by Ed Claypoole (published May/June 1996)

(This article is based on an article posted on America Online by "CWRailMan")

The first scale models were scratchbuilt, since no kits existed. Think of how good we have it today, with the likes of Lehigh Valley, Scenery Unlimited and other companies that supply us. When modelers in earlier eras modeled, they sometimes made extra parts and sold them to other modelers. Entrepreneurs arose and began manufacturing parts in quantities, then sold them to other modelers through hobby magazines.[...] Sometimes these early kits required much shaping and cutting of the materials included. Today's kits may require some tweaking, but the instructions are much better.

When buying materials for a scratchbuilding project, purchase about 50% more than is necessary. What is not used will be used later in subsequent projects. Stock up on a few packages of door and window castings, and organize them carefully according to size. What else do you need? An X-Acto knife with a No. 11 blade, some sandpaper, rubber bands, glue, paint and a lot of patience!

More about the glues. . . I suggest not using water-based products on wood, since it raises the grain. Also, water-soluble glues do not provide good joints in humid conditions. I suggest Ambroid, which permeates the wood and shrinks it, creating a tight bond. For wood to metal, I suggest a quick-drying two-part epoxy, which must be used sparingly since it does not shrink. For smaller wood to metal, metal to metal, or plastic to wood, I suggest using one of the "super-glues". The thinner super glues work great on non-porous materials, but the thicker glues are better for wood.

You can never have enough X-Acto knives. Each should have a different blade. It's pretty easy to find a good arsenal of these. A 6-8 inch T-square is good to have around for exact angle cuts. Or, if you like, a small miter box, with a fine-tooth hand saw that fits in the miter grooves. And, oh, don't forget the C-clamps. You never know how much they help until you are futilely trying to hold something together, waiting for the glue to dry!

The next time you go to a train show, check out the tables that have tools. You can never have too many small modeling tools!

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American Railroad Standard Gauge

Typed by Michael McConnell (published February/March 1997)

The US Standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet 8 1/2 inches. That is an exceedingly odd number. Why was that distance used as the standard railroad gauge? Because the American rail system was built by English ex-patriots, and that was the way they built them in England.

Great... so why did the English use that particular gauge? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people that built the pre-railroad tramways, and that was the gauge they used.

OK, so why did 'they' use that gauge for the tramways then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that were used for building wagons, which used the same distance between the wagon wheels.

Uh huh, right... so why did the wagons use that same particular odd wheel spacing? Because if they tried to use any other wheel spacing, a lot of the wheels would soon break on some of the old long-distance roads because of the well-worn ruts already in the roads.

I'm almost afraid to ask... so who built old rutted roads with that odd spacing? Well, the first long distance roads in Europe were built by Imperial Rome for the benefit of their legions. The roads have been used ever since by travelers of every nationality. And the ruts? The initial ruts (which everyone else had to match for fear of breaking their wagon wheels) were first made by the multitude of Roman war chariots. Since the chariots were made for or by Imperial Rome they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

Ahaa... We have arrived at the answer to the original question. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet 8 1/2 inches derives from the original military specification for an Imperial Roman Army War Chariot (which just goes to prove how much specifications and bureaucracies can live forever!)

So, the next time you are handed a specification and wonder just what horse's ass came up with it, you may be more right than you know, because...

The Imperial Roman War Chariots were made to be just wide enough to accommodate the back-ends of two Roman war horses hitched side-by-side.

(For an interesting discussion on this topic, visit:  Urban Legends Reference Pages)

The August '97 Greenberg Show
by Ed Claypool (published Sept/Oct 1997)

The South Jersey 'S' Gaugers won first prize at the Greenberg Show in Pennsauken, NJ the weekend of August 16-17. That makes four in four shows! We're batting 1.000. The layout featured some additions; a 1:1 scale signal light, an elevated city scene by Wayne Schneyer and Walt Mumie, and a mail car. There were 17 club members in attendance on Saturday and 13 on Sunday.

Our sincere thanks to Don Thompson for allowing our club to use many of the S Helper Service releases on the layout. These included the bulkhead flat cars with load, steel rebuilt box cars, stock cars, USRA SS wooden box cars and PS-2 covered hoppers. Don, You're an ace!

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Hank's How To... Pantograph Hold Down for the GG-1
by Hank Worrell (published Sept/Oct 1997)

Did you ever see the horror of a GG-1 slamming to a dead halt because its panagraph was open too far to fit under a tunnel or overpass? Not a pretty sight or a welcome sound when it happens. Here's how you can prevent that problem from occurring...

Materials needed:

-small flat needle nose pliers
-tape measure
-flat black paint, or Blackn-it
-thin stiff wire

Steps to follow (see detail #1):

  1. From one end of wire, measure in 1/8 inch and make a 90 degree bend with pliers at A (make all bends in wire on the same plane)
  2. Measure 1/16 inch from same end of wire (half-way to bend A) and make 90 degree bend at B. This forms top of Hold Down.
  3. Measure 1 inch from bend A to point C; this will make the top of the panagraph 3 7/8 inches from top of rail (this length can be adjusted to suit).
  4. Measure 3/16 inch from bend C and make a 90 degree bend at D.
  5. Measure 1/8 inch from bend D and cut wire.
  6. File any sharp edges.
  7. Clean hold down, and paint flat black or Blackn-it.


Installing Hold Down (see detail #2):

  1. Place bottom of Hold Down under panagraph bar A to inside of bar B.
  2. Holding Hold Down, bring panagrah down and place top of Hold Down into hole at top of brass panagraph and release.

A Visit by the Baltimore Area Flyers Club 
by Michael McConnell (published July/August 1997)

Early on May 3rd, a rainy overcast Saturday, the South Jersey S' Gaugers were paid a visit by eleven members of the Baltimore Area American Flyer Club. The visit was arranged through David Avedesian, who is also a member of our club. The other Baltimore members were: Ed Slicher, Bob Davison, Rod Charlton, Barry Berson, Joe Schmidt, Lee Scott, Ron Kolb, Bill Carder, George Glover and Ron Oktanec.

The day's itinerary included tours of the layouts of six SJSG members. The Baltimore Club joined up with tour guides Hank Worrell and Wayne Schneyer, who led them from one members home to another. The caravan of six cars made their first stop in Northeast Philadelphia at the home of Joe Wagner about 9:45 a.m.

Joe's layout, a work-in-progress, had some special features that caught the eye of the Baltimore group. In addition to the working Bascale bridge that raises and lowers over a waterway (complete with lighted tug), the upper level included a 27 car Illinois Central unit train. The lower level was no less impressive with some samples of Joe's painting and weathering expertise, including a four-bay engine house with multiple GG1's, two repainted in Penn Central colors. The addition of two 'S' welders with electronic welding effects give the engine house a look of bustling activity. A completed upper-level town also features a new Heritage trolley.

After a liberal dose of coffee and donuts, the traveling crew took a quick walk a few blocks away to visit Great Traditions. Proprietor Jim Paulie features plenty of 'S' products, including many top-notch Flyer collectibles. Handy-wipes were passed around to keep drooling to a minimum.

The next stop brought the group into New Jersey where they stopped at the home of Rick Wark about 12:30. Rick, with the help of SJSG member Tom McDonald, put out a nice spread for lunch and everyone enjoyed the fact the weather was clearing up nicely. Rick's attic layout is an active one, with seven trains running on six loops spread out over three levels. One track is a point-to-point that features the stop-and-go action of Dallee Electronic controls. Another feature is the pneumatically controlled switches, which are silent and move realistically slow. Rick's running gear is equally impressive and features a re-painted Challenger in UP colors, with "elephant ear" smoke deflectors, and an articulated 4-6-6-4 steam engine made up from modified Flyer parts. That really caught the eye of some of the Baltimore members.

Hank and Wayne had to work at getting the caravan back on the road to the next host, Henry 'Mort' Mortimer. Joining the group was SJSG members Neil Bishop, Steve Cuccinotta, and President Bill Moore. Mort's layout is growing nicely, now that the obstructing wall is out of the way. Mort's American models code 148 track is coming along, and his helix to the soon-to-be-started second level is ready to begin construction. Mort's almost-scale DC powered layout is smooth running and promises to be a real eye-catcher.

The fifth stop of the day was at Chicks Hobby Center, the local watering hole for members hopelessly addicted to railroading in 'S'. To prove the point, several SJSG members joined the crowd. Chick's layout is unique, more of a test track for testing his "Flyer can motor" modifications and custom trackwork. The layout's "work areas" have several experiments and mechanical creations-in-progress on display. Chick also modifies Flyer engines with Digitrax and SoundTrax modules, of which a few conversions were demonstrated to the Baltimore Club members.

Bill Moore took the opportunity to show off his SoundTrax converted 0-8-0 running on DC. The digital control includes working directional lights, a firebox, and even the sound effects of a coal-shoveling fireman. Bill's favorite toy was also demonstrated, a radio-controlled rail traveling crane made up from a Flyer Brownhoist and a box car turned into a maintenance-of-way car. The three-channel radio-controlled crane can swivel left or right, raise and lower the boom and/or the hook. It can really mess with your mind to see the work train pull into a siding, then reach out and lift a de-railed car. . . and no five-fingered crane in sight! The Baltimore members took the time to present our club with a custom painted Flyer caboose featuring their club colors and roadname and a build date of 05/03/97. A nice gesture by the Baltimore Area Flyer Club.

The last stop brought the car caravan to the home of Michael McConnell. Dinner for the Baltimore Club members proudly exhibited the local cuisine. Pizza, chips, crackers and other snacks were quickly dispatched with, then on to the center of attention. Michael's basement "Christmas" layout was still in operation despite the fact the Holiday ended months ago (see, it pays to procrastinate!) The traditional American Flyer toy train layout with two loops of Flyer track and roadbed on an 11x17 'L' shaped table had lots of Plasticville buildings forming a town, rural area, suburbs and industrial area. A background mountain had two additional loops of really far away Flyer trains (surprisingly close to 'N' scale!). Plenty of operating Flyer accessories including; sawmill, oil drum loader, seaboard coal loader, log loader, Gabe the Lamplighter and Mystic station were all demonstrated. A unique item was the twin overhead rail trolley that ran through the downtown area.

About 8:00 p.m. the Baltimore gang announced they had a very enjoyable day, and thanks were passed both ways. The visiting club faced a two-hour trip home to bring the long day to a close. The South Jersey 'S' Gaugers would like to express their thanks to the Baltimore Club members to taking the time to visit our member layouts, and giving us a chance to show off our hobby efforts. We look forward to seeing all the Baltimore members again.

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Layout Display at A.I. Du Pont Childrens Hospital
by Michael McConnell (published March/April 1998)

Our club President, Bill Moore, first proposed the idea of putting our clubs layout on display at the Childrens Hospital in Wilmington DE around Thanksgiving of last year. Bill, who was a patient at the hospital in his youth, had a special interest in doing something for the kids at the hospital. Since then, the club has been organizing and putting together the two day display for the "outpatient" lobby of the hospital.

Sunday, March 1st was the day the layout was setup and prepared for the two day showing. We made several major changes to the layout to accommodate our special visitors. The biggest was accomplished by our resident carpenter, Tom McDonald, who made a complete set of new legs for the display. Our normal layout height of 42 inches was way too tall for a lot of the kids, especially those confined to a wheelchair. Tom’s new legs brought the layout down to a much more viewable 24" (I must admit, that height sure adds a new perspective to the layout!)

A small army of club members was on hand to setup the display. Hank Worrell, Tom McDonald, Rick Wark, Bill Moore, Dave Pierce, Tom WIlliams, myself and a few others whose names I did not record, were on hand to tackle setting up the new configuration. While Hank worked on shortening the layout side curtains so they would hang properly, everyone else pitched in and carted in materials from the trailer and started setting up the layout. Except for the new challenge of crawling under the layout, everything went smoothly. I won’t mention the number of times I heard someone shout "earthquake!" whenever I tried to stand up too soon and smacked my head under the layout. I know quite a few trees were replanted more than once.

The logistical problem of getting members to work the display during Monday and Tuesday of a normal work week was never an issue, since as many as seven club members were present at times. I was unable to make it on Monday (March 2nd) but I understand Bill Moore, Ed Savage, Walt Mumie, Ray Jones and Tom Williams were on hand, and several others as well. The lobby is quite large and full of large and small stuffed animals (Rick became quite friendly with a certain seven foot giraffe). The kids were instantly drawn to the layout when they entered the lobby (I suppose the train whistle and smell of American Flyer smoke may have had something to do with it!). The faces around the layout would come and go as the day progressed, but we always had an audience. As usual, the mail car was a big attraction getter, especially whenever the mailbag would get tossed over the layout edge and go bouncing into the hallway. A small race between several kids to be the first to retrieve the mailbag was the usual result.

On Tuesday, Steve Cucinatto, Jerry Mackey, Hank Worrell, Tom Williams, Bill Moore, Ray Ferrall, Joe Balcer and I were indoctrinated to the early morning crowd. I arrived about 8:00 a.m. and had to stand in line at the main door to get inside the lobby. What a crowd! I understand an average of three to four hundred children and their parents go through the lobby in the course of a day.

Once inside, I was curious why the layout seemed so quiet, until I was informed the steam trains and whistles and other layout items made enough noise to interfere with the signing in process of the patients. After about 10:00 or so, we had a free hand to run trains the way we normally do. Dave brought his home-grown circus train with the Franklin engine and modified circus coach. The coach has a Ott sound unit that plays calliope music, and it sure grabs the kids attention. Another little accessory that brought the kids around was the American Flyer Rocket car. Even though it wouldn’t navigate our tunnel (it’s too tall) the sight of the Rocket popping up five feet or so above the crowd makes you take notice.

I was really impressed with the kids though, mostly well mannered and polite, they were curious and seemed quite pleased that our layout was in the lobby. Many times I saw a family standing and watching, and comments like "see they’re just like ours" would just catch your ear. Some of the kids who were spending time in the hospital came down on Tuesday, on foot or in wheelchairs, and just spent time watching the trains run ‘round. Even the nurses and other hospital staff would stop by, some with cameras, and chat with us for a few minutes.

I was very glad I was able to participate in our club’s display, and want to thank Bill Moore for working so hard to organize the event, and all the other club members for making everything work so smoothly. I hope we will have the opportunity to try other events like this in the future.

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