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Arizona & Pacific RR Projects 2017

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This page of the website follows projects taking place at the Arizona and Pacific Railroad and gives visitors a chance to see the progress that has been made throughout the years...





January



01/14/17

          It hardly ever rains in Peoria, Arizona, but we had five unusually wet weekends in December. It was pretty much dry during the work week and then wet on the weekends which isn’t real conducive for getting much done on the railroad or much railroad activity for that matter. We got a couple of hours of track work completed and I got some primer on some of the wood slats of the remaining railroad gate that I have been making slow progress on in between storms, but not much else. We have been in drought conditions here for some time so the rainfall is very much welcome – it would just been perfect if it rained during the week and was dry on the weekends…

          Dave and I met up mid-week at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale to attend an evening of its Festival of Lights. It seems like it grows larger each and every year and there was a really good crowd for a Wednesday. The Paradise and Pacific Railroad is a 15 inch gauge line that is approximately one mile in length. They were running two trains with their steam engines and it was a cool night for those of us in metro Phoenix. There is nothing like the smell and sounds of live steam on a cool night!!!




McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

Chistmas time at the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park







McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

Magma Arizona Railroad Engine #6 Decorated for Christmas







McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

The Scottsdale Charros Carousel with Christmas Lights







McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park Festival of Lights







McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

One of MANY trackside displays







McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

Passing through the snowshed tunnel







McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

Another trackside display




          The Scottsdale Live Steamers (7.5 inch gauge) were running a couple of trains for public rides and had a number of passengers waiting for seats on its trains. The Model Railroad building was open and there were a number of clubs running their equipment for the public. Santa Claus was on site for photographs and last minute Christmas gift requests. It seems like there are more light displays every year and it was a fun time for all.




McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

Scottsdale Live Steamers




          The following Friday night, I went out to the Maricopa Live Steamers (7.5 inch gauge) Festival of Lights at Adobe Mountain. This was the 10th Annual holiday light show and I am a bit embarrassed to admit that it was my first visit for this event. It was cold, but there was a huge crowd. The wait from getting in line to getting seated on a train was just under an hour, but worth every minute. They were running several trains on the outer loop which I am going to guess was maybe 2.5 miles. It is a little difficult to judge distance in the dark, but our ride took 22 minutes. There were lights along the entire ride with many areas of concentrated displays. Publicity stated there were over 500,000 lights and it actually seemed like more than that. I was very fortunate in that instead of a regular gon or a beam car, I scored a car with bass boat seating for the long ride – SWEET!




Maricopa Live Steamers

Maricopa Live Steamers at Adobe Mountain







Maricopa Live Steamers

Maricopa Live Steamers Festival of Lights







Maricopa Live Steamers

Approaching the station at Adobe City




          The crowd at Adobe Mountain had a little different feel than that at McCormick-Stillman. Maybe it was because it was a weekend or maybe it was other things. There were many more young children than at McCormick and many more large families; there was a palpable level of excitement and enthusiasm in the line that was contagious. The operation was very well-organized and well run.




Maricopa Live Steamers

Approaching a bridge lit for the holidays







Maricopa Live Steamers

The next passengers anxiously await our arrival




          The 15 inch gauge ride at McCormick-Stillman was $4.00 per ride; the 7.5 inch gauge ride at Adobe Mountain was free and asked for donations. On the train I was on, which was approximately 40 people, only two of us donated - but they received forty dollars. The gentlemen assigned to the donation jar told me that “very few people donate, but those that can afford to donate are very generous and it works out”. I also bought a couple of souvenirs to support everything they are doing out there. I am already looking forward to next year.

          I had hoped to make it down to Marana for the first Festival of Lights at the Marana Pumpkin Patch Railroad of Jon Post. With the weather being what it was on the weekends, I just didn’t risk the four hour roundtrip down there to potentially get rained out. Weather permitting, I hope to attend next year.

          I am looking for a MTC 14 inch gauge wheel for a display that I am working on for inside the engine house. They just sold about twenty of them as a lot on Discover Live Steam, but I only need one and I have so many pieces and parts here already it didn’t make sense to buy the lot and have all the extras that I can’t use taking up room here. Anyway, if anyone out there has a MTC 14 inch gauge wheel that is in reasonable shape that I can purchase please give me a shout out.

          We are always looking for additional items for our displays in our engine house. We have a display of builders plates from several park size railroads and would love to add to that collection. We also have signs from many defunct park train operations that we have preserved. Our MTC and Allan Hershell displays in our engine house include restored switch stands, track gauges, cross signals, block signals, catalogs, photographs, MT &RR torque wrenches, advertisements and more . If you have an item or come across an item that you think might be a fit with our efforts to preserve these items and the history of these trains, please contact us.




Arizona and Pacific Railroad

Miniature Train Company brochures







Arizona and Pacific Railroad

Miniature Train Company switch stands and crossing signals







Arizona and Pacific Railroad

Miniature Train Company torque wrenches







Arizona and Pacific Railroad

Miniature Train Company track gauge







Arizona and Pacific Railroad

Sign that once adorned the side of a passenger car at Old Tucson Studios







Arizona and Pacific Railroad

Well said




          If I get any cooperation from Mother Nature in January, I hope to get the last of the four gates painted and reassembled, a couple of benches repainted and the mainline rail polished… If it is another wet, sloppy month on the weekends, maybe I’ll get the 2016 Annual Report completed and up earlier than usual.

          Happy New Year and safe railroading everybody.








February, March & April



          There were no A&P monthly updates, they were all combined into May.








May



05/04/17

          Well, this wasn’t the way that I planned it, but this is a three month combined A & P update. The weekends in January and February were wet and sloppy, much like December had been. Seven of the first nine weekends of the year we were rained out. There really wasn’t anything to write about. March was beautiful and we had some equipment out and managed to get a few things done.




Desert Breeze

Dry weather finally arrived in March




          We have been in a drought in the Phoenix area and most of Arizona for several years. This was the wettest Arizona winter in seven years. We had a great deal of rain in Phoenix and heavy snow pack up north in the mountains. The reservoir system that supplies most of the water down here is 72 percent full and up from 57 percent full at this time last year. I am not complaining about the rain, just the timing. It would be awesome if it rained during the week and was dry on the weekends, but this is the desert and we will take it whenever it shows up…




Desert Breeze

Running the Tucson




          Pete and Char Robinson as well as Jerry Stinebrine were in town for a week in February, but activities at the A & P were rained out that weekend. Our annual pilgrimage to a local Mexican restaurant, however, was not deterred by the rain and we had a good time.

          With all the rain we had in the first part of the year, the Tucson sat in the same spot and wasn’t even uncovered in January and February. Anyone who has followed this site for any length of time knows I enjoy having several wild rabbits that come and go from my back yard at their pleasure. Not every year, but many years, I will have a nest of rabbits in the back yard. They are often in one of the pipes I have buried for them to protect them from the Coyotes and even my dogs. This year the nest was between the ties and under the Tucson. When we discovered it, we decided to let the Tucson sit for three more weeks and let them grow undisturbed. There were three little ones. When I looked under there again, they were gone from the nest so we started to remove the tarp. They were still under there and in the folds of the tarp. Two of the three high tailed it for bushes and pipes. The third stopped right next to me so I bent over and picked it up. After a gentle ear rub, I placed him in some nearby bushes. They are still much smaller than the adults that run around here, but are getting braver and I see them frequently. With two less Coyotes working the area, their chances of reaching adulthood are a little better than they would have been late last year.




Arizona and Pacific Railroad

Little bunny born at the A&P







Desert Breeze

Rabbit den




          I finally got the last of the four A & P gates (the one for the mainline on the east side of the property) painted and reassembled. The rain had wrecked havoc with that project weekend after weekend. I am so glad that is finally done.




Arizona and Pacific Railroad

The east gate has been refinished




          We acquired a handful of G12 parts in the first quarter of 2017. The items are trim pieces. The parts are window frames, a side marker, springs and grate panels. We still have a lot of pieces we are missing, but we gain on it a few parts at a time.




Arizona and Pacific Railroad

Acquired G12 parts




          I am still looking for a MTC 14 inch gauge wheel for a display that I am working on for inside the engine house. If anyone out there has a MTC 14 inch gauge wheel that is in reasonable shape that I can purchase please give me a shout out.

          For those of you longtime visitors to this site, you will remember we used to have “rail creep” issues with our tight curves. Rail creep is caused when the outer rail is significantly longer than the inner rail and thus it lengthens disproportionately when the rails get hot in the summer months. The result is the gauge is compromised. A few years ago we welded several pieces of flat bar in each curve. The rail still moves in the summer, but it moves as a track panel and the gauge stay consistent.

          In one of our backyard curves, we start into a tight curve which we have handled with flat bar then into a straightaway with a switch and the out of the switch we complete the curve and have flat bar in that area too. There is a short section of rail just out of the switch that doesn’t have any flat bar and seems to receive the panel rail growth from each of its ends. We had rail gap, but apparently not enough and the gauge would bulge to 16 1/2 inch when the rail would not have any more room to grow. The 16 1/2 inches isn’t good on a 16 inch gauge railroad…




Desert Breeze

Track gauge issue







Arizona and Pacific Railroad

The ties got scuffed a little bit




          Previously, I was convinced we had the summer gauge issue fixed with the rail panel technique. However, three Sundays in a row in March, I had the Tucson off the rails in pretty much the same spot. The engine always passed through just fine and it was always the lead axle on the lead tender truck that left the rail. I was convinced the issue was with that truck and I had either a wheel or axle problem. After the third event, we pulled the tender trucks. The wheels, axles and trucks checked out right on specs. We did have some mangled brake rigging to remove, straighten, reassemble and reinstall and got that accomplished. We also cleaned and lubricated the trucks before we rolled them back under the tender.




Arizona and Pacific Railroad

The trucks were pulled from under the tender and inspected







Arizona and Pacific Railroad

Bent brake rigging







Arizona and Pacific Railroad

We removed the brake rigging to straighten and repair it




          We realized the problem had to be in the rail and sure enough it was… The rail ends of the short section out of the switch were bound and the rail had nowhere to go but out. We pulled both rails in that short section and shortened both ends of both rails. We regauged the rails and got them back in place and now the rails of plenty of room to expand without any issue. I have made probably twenty-five uneventful trips through there since our work without any issues.




Arizona and Pacific Railroad

Lengthened gap on a ~95 degree day




          Track and tie work continues as we work our way all the way around the lay out and will continue through the summer.




Arizona and Pacific Railroad

Work train bringing supplies for track work







Arizona and Pacific Railroad

Moving track supplies through the front cut




          One of my college and dorm friends of forty plus years, Rod Werner, sent us some photos of the Yuma Live Steamers operation last October when he was down there and recently sent us some photos of the trains he photographed during visits to Old Tucson and Goldfield, AZ.




Arizona and Pacific Railroad

CP Huntington at Old Tucson Studios







Arizona and Pacific Railroad

Goldfield Ghost Town




          I made it out to Desert Breeze Railroad Park in Chandler, AZ on a dry Saturday in February to ride behind the new motive power they have acquired. I have to say I was disappointed and that doesn’t happen much with me and trains. The engine was loud and releasing diesel fumes at an alarming rate. At first I thought maybe it was just me, then I heard a father with three girls in the car with me complaining about the fumes and when I deboarded and was walking away I heard two mothers from the car in front of us also complaining about being on the verge of being sick from the diesel exhaust fumes. Hopefully, this issue will get taken care of sooner rather than later.




Desert Breeze

Desert Breeze Railroad







Desert Breeze

Desert Breeze Railroad




          Our friend from Clarkdale, Ed Loeshe, made a trip to Laughlin, Nevada recently and reminded me of the old Ramada Express. Laughlin is located in a tiny sliver of Nevada on the Colorado River bordering California and Arizona. I visited Laughlin many times in the 80s and 90s on business, but was always required to stay on the Arizona side of the river. When time permitted, I would fit in a trip to Laughlin to visit the Ramada hotel. The interior design theme of the hotel was railroad. There were signs, switch stands, lanterns, crates, baggage wagons, G scale trains running overhead, displays and a railroad themed gift shop etc. For a train nut like me, it was awesome. It also had a 36 inch gauge railroad that ran around the perimeter of the property.

          Finally, sometime in the summer of 1998 or 1999 my girlfriend at the time and I headed out there for a three day visit. I had already purchased my Phoenix S16, but it was a long way from running at this time. We stopped in Kingman and took a few photos in the city park with the steam engine there and a few photos of the Kingman railroad depot. Then we completed our trip to Laughlin. I thought the hotel/casino with its railroad theme was awesome; my girlfriend couldn’t have cared less. I had finished my roll of film in Kingman and placed a new roll in my camera. In Laughlin, I took a whole roll of film (36 photos) and was certain I had photos of most everything at the hotel.

          I only rode the train about three times in three days as it was hot, real hot. Even at night and early in the morning it was hot. Laughlin is always a few degrees hotter than Phoenix and it was June or July. The train engine was faux steam and pushed from the tender; the cars were open and huge. It looked great and was well maintained at that time. There were very few riders other than us. I remember the large timber trestle in the parking lot as the right-of-way climbed to the rear of the property. Unfortunately, I failed to install my roll of film properly and got zero photos in Laughlin – something young people today would have no concept of… For years, my pocket change went in a plastic coin cup that came home with me on that trip that featured the Ramada Express.




Desert Breeze

Ramada Express coin cup




          The hotel later became part of the Tropicana hotel system and the train became the Tropicana Express. Sometime 2010ish, the decision was made to get rid of the railroad theme. The train and rail were donated to the Las Vegas Railroad Society which has plans to build a large railroad park in Las Vegas. The interior contents were sold or warehoused for sale later. I don’t know how things are progressing with the LVRS and its park plans; I just miss the ability to head back to Laughlin and enjoy the ambiance of that bygone day.

          National Railroad Day is May 13. Many local RR museums and facilities will be offering special programs and exhibits. Please support your local railroad park or museum if you can.




Desert Breeze

Track inspection car running at the A&P RR




          Happy and safe railroading everybody.




05/13/17

          Things have been very busy out here with the work that actually pays the bills so between the weather and my schedule I have gotten way behind on these updates; thank you for your inquiries and your patience. I’m trying to get the updates back on track.




A&P RR

The Sandusky




          Easter afternoon I ran the A & P for about three hours for neighbors and their kids and grand kids. I think there were about forty riders total as folks came and went throughout the afternoon. At one point, there were about twenty folks either riding or waiting. I get 8 or 9 passengers in one of the big gons and make three loops and then stop and let another group ride. If the ride was longer I could attach the second large gon, but have only done that a few times




A&P RR

Easter Train Rides







A&P RR

Easter at the Arizona and Pacific Railroad




          Dave mentioned last week that we hadn’t had the Sandusky out for any photo opportunities lately, so I operated the Sandusky with gon no. 218 for the occasion. Everybody had a great time and it is always so great to see the big smiles. One of our riders was a special child and it was really rewarding for me to see how excited she was to get to ride the train and wave when it was her turn to watch. I stopped and took photos of the first three groups then just started giving the rides as a line had formed. It was close to ninety degrees, but it was still cool enough to be fun for all of us.




A&P RR

Sandusky pulling passengers on Easter







A&P RR

Bringing the Sandusky from the engine house to the main line







A&P RR

The Sandusky preparing for Easter rides




          I get in a rut sometimes of running the same piece of equipment over and over without realizing it and should mix it up a bit more for the photo opportunities. I guess that is a good problem to have, but will try and pay more attention.




A&P RR

Running the Sandusky







A&P RR

Sandusky through the grapes




          When I got into this hobby 25 years ago, I was in my thirties and my brother, Dave, in his twenties and we were much younger than most in our large scale railroad circle. Most were already well into their 60s or older. When we started building our A & P, for us it was all about switch location and trestle elevation. Now twenty five years later, it is increasingly about step elevation and handrail location… Funny how those things change in time. The three double doors on the western end of the engine house were never intended for pedestrian entry, just the trains entry and departure. As a practical matter, the tool boxes and some of the parts are just inside those doors and we end up using them to enter and leave the building on a fairly frequent basis. It was a big step up of twelve inches and then another ten inch step into the engine house. I built a grass step this month that makes the steps six inches, six inches and ten inches. It still isn’t meant for the public, but is a little easier getting in and out to grab tools when we are working on something. There is a patio that accesses door 1 and the transfer table can be moved to access doors 2 or 3, but now you can also use the grass step.




A&P RR

New grass mound at the transfer table




          Our friend Jerry Graves was over and cleaned and rebuilt the Tucson carburetor. We are going to replace the plug wires next month as a squirrel ate most of the way through one of the wires and they are all getting old. If we have time, we will also check the timing next month.




A&P RR

Tucson's spark plug wires have been chewed




          We have been talking about it for some time, but finally made the time to pull the engine out of the Coconino. It is one of those activities where you really need to have three or four full days set aside for the project and I just haven’t had the time. I just didn’t want to get it apart and have parts strewn around and not get back to it for several months. Jerry was here for the day and we got it removed. Like so many other projects, pulling the actual engine didn’t take all that long. Removing all the cab and hydraulic components to actually gain access to the Wisconsin engine so that we could remove it took most of the day. For now, will paint the original Coconino engine and place it in the 582 B unit where it will serve as a dummy. We still have some frame fabrication to complete so that we can mount it in there.




A&P RR

Pulling the Coconino to where we can remove the engine







A&P RR

Removing the engine from the Coconino




          You may recall, my friend Malcolm Mackey had the now removed Wisconsin engine professionally rebuilt and then it sat in his storage building for several months before it was ready to be installed in the Coconino many years ago. Dave and I were in the Verde with Malcolm the day the Coconino first ran up there. It ran hot for us right from the beginning. We installed a large fan to try and keep it cool and later Jerry, Dave and I installed two fans to cool the hydraulic pump. It just ran hot. As we know now, the issue was mice had gotten into the cooling ducts under the side panels when Malcolm had it in storage and built nests in there that kept air from circulating and cooling the engine. It is a little embarrassing now, but Malcolm and I never thought to look in there all those years ago. Anyway, after running hot all these years the engine needed a major overhaul. Instead of overhauling this engine right now, we have another engine that was rebuilt in 2003 and has been sitting ever since. We are moving the bolt on parts to that engine, will bench run it and will get it installed in the Coconino in May hopefully. Yes, we will remove and inspect under the side panels…




A&P RR

Coconino awaiting her engine rebuild







A&P RR

Coconino with the engine removed




          There is a large pine tree in the A & P back yard that was the live Christmas tree here in 1991. It has gotten huge over the years and I had tried to keep it trimmed and thinned, but at 60+ feet it was just getting too much for a desk jockey to handle and I had professional arborists in to clean it up. Much of the summer mechanical and paint work here takes place on saw horses under the tree and there will still be plenty of shade, the tree is just a little more under control.




A&P RR

Over grown former Christmas tree







A&P RR

Properly thinned out




          We continued our track work initiative of checking ties, tightening and replacing lag screws and checking gauge around the complete layout. We are making progress every week, but there is still a long way to go. When we run, I sometimes wish the layout was two or three times as long. When we are on our knees in the gravel doing track work, I am content with the length of the layout and we can take three laps… After two or three hours in the gravel at a time, the knees, back and hammies aren’t very happy.

          We had a couple of things to resolve with the track inspection car this month. She was placed in service for track work and to push and pull the Coconino from the spur where she sits onto the mainline and into the front yard where we could use the engine cherry picker to remove the bad engine. Being under load transporting the Coconino, the drive chain was loose and needed tightened. It was built with a chain adjustment, but over the years add on components conflicted with the ability to tighten the chain. We removed and ground the conflicting pieces and got the appropriate tension on the chain. We will find out if we resolved the problem or more work will be required when we move the Coconino back out front to install the rebuilt engine in May.




A&P RR

"Inspecting" the inspection car







A&P RR

Running the Track Inspection Car




          The other issue was the plastic piece of the knife style battery cut off cracked and then broke a couple months ago. We made another one out of wood that lasted a couple of months and then it gave up. I broke down and bought another one with a slightly different configuration that will have less conflict with the seat bracing and we got it mounted.

          The Sandusky had a slow vacuum leak from a failed gauge mounted to the vacuum storage tank in the tender. The tender was originally plumbed in about 1997 and I thought at that time that a vacuum gauge back there might have been helpful especially if we had a leak and were trying to diagnose the location. I realize all these years later that a gauge is just not needed back there and we replaced the leaking gauge with a brass plug and the leak disappeared.




A&P RR

Leaky vacuum gauge in the tender of the Sandusky







A&P RR

Problem solved




          Happy and safe railroading everybody.







A&P RR

The Phoenix saw a little track time in April







June





06/16/17

          The big project in May was getting the replacement engine in the Coconino. Our friend Jerry Graves, until his “retirement”, owned and operated one of the two Wisconsin engine franchises in the Phoenix area. No one knows the ins and outs of these engines better than Jerry. His company originally rebuilt the replacement engine for the Coconino in 2003 and it has sat in storage since then. Yes, we pulled the side panels and the cooling fins were packed with mice nests in this one too. Unfortunately, the transfer of engines wasn’t as easy as I had hoped. The crankshaft tail in the original engine had been modified significantly to match up with components in the Coconino. It is important to note that this wasn’t the original engine to this train from the Allan Herschell factory. When Malcolm bought this engine in boxes in 1991 it did not have an engine. My reference to original engine is original to when the Coconino was rehabilitated and placed back in service in May of 2000.




A&P RR
The replacement engine for the Coconino







A&P RR
The engine-less Coconino




          We decided the best route to take to ensure that everything would fit and match up as before was to swap out the crankshafts. The rebuilt engine was disassembled and the crankshaft removed. The crankshaft out of the overheated engine was removed and carefully examined and then polished and placed in the replacement engine.




A&P RR
The track inspection car towed the Coconino to the replacement engine







A&P RR
Installing the engine




          The electric fuel pump and a few of the bolt on components were transferred from the original to the replacement engine. Things went much faster pulling the engine out as we didn’t have to worry about lining anything up. Getting parts aligned so that all the bolts matched the holes took some time and patience, but we kept at it




A&P RR
Cooling fan, air pump and air filter waiting to be installed




          We made a couple of other changes once we got the replacement engine in place. During its rebuild in 1991 - 2000, Malcolm shortened the drawbar between engine and tender. The reason is that the controls are on the engine now and not on the tender as they are on a conventional S16. Sitting a few inches closer to the engine makes it much easier to reach the controls even for me with long arms. The result of less distance between the engine and tender means the cab can’t tip all the way back and rest on the footplate of the tender. Malcolm built a three piece folding mechanism that stops the cab before it hits the vertical edges of the tender. Mechanically it always worked great, but it always conflicted with the speedometer and the choke cable and would often hang up partially closed. We moved the speedometer cable and installed a new choke cable on the opposite side of the instrument panel. Now there are no conflicts when closing the cab. The bottom of the battery box was in really rough shape and we replaced it; the rest of the battery box was fine.




A&P RR
All the components have been installed and the cab re-attached







A&P RR
Ready for the replacement engine's maiden voyage







A&P RR
The Arizona and Pacific Railroad Engine Coconino




          I charged the battery and after a crank or two she started right up. We had some minor linkage adjustments to make with the throttle, but not much. In pretty short order she was on the mainline and under her own power again. I think we made maybe 15 laps or so. It is great to have her running again after several months. Gosh, she ran great and the amount of heat generated was minimal. What a change from the engine that always ran hot from the day she was placed in service at the F & MV RR on the Verde. We reinstalled the big cooling fan for the motor and the two fans to cool the hydraulic fluid, but the engine put out so little heat that I didn’t even turn them on.




A&P RR
Dave runs the Coconino




          Once we got her running, we realized we had a major air leak from the whistle valve. When Malcolm bought the Coconino there was no whistle. Malcolm bought a five chime whistle, I think from Schrader’s Catalog. He then creatively modified a blow gun valve for use as the whistle valve and crafted a new arm for use with his five chime whistle. We found out our current issue was a petrified “O” ring and rod in the blow gun valve. I was lucky and found the same blow gun valve through Ebay (bought 3). We removed the internal components from the new valve and placed them in the body that he had heavily modified and it works great again. A little black touch up paint and you can’t tell that it was ever apart.




A&P RR
Repaired whistle mechanism




          The Bell cord was several short pieces of cord tied together and over the years had gotten pretty dirty. I replaced it. The new cord looks pretty white right now, but that won’t last long as monsoon and haboob (dust storm) season is only a month away.




A&P RR
New bell cord




          We got new plug wires on the Tucson and got her timed. She is really running well now too. Unfortunately, our run season is over until October 1. We have four days next week with temperatures predicted at 115+ so it isn’t running weather right now.




A&P RR
The Coconino's replacement engine




          We were at the F&MV RR the day the Coconino arrived after being restored in the Mackey shops in Flagstaff. Here are a few photos from our archive:




A&P RR
The Coconino arriving at the F&MV RR from the Mackey shops







A&P RR
The Coconino preparing for her maiden run on the F&MV RR







A&P RR
Martha Mackey takes the first ride behind the newly restored Coconino




          The work we did on the inspection car last month really helped, but it still needs some more work. It is fine just running on its own or pulling a utility trailer, but under heavy load the chain jumps. It needs a new chain and the tensioner needs moved so that we have more chain on the sprocket at any given time. I need to get down to a local supplier and get the chain purchased. I had hoped to buy the chain last week or this week, but other things came up and it just hasn’t worked out yet. This will be a summer project as we can work on it under a couple of the shade trees that cover the sidetrack into the engine house.

          Our B unit was stripped of the subframe that supports the engine, transmission and fuel tanks before we obtained her. I bought the material to fabricate the subframe this month, but that is as far as I got. I need to cut it to length, drill a handful of holes and get it welded up in the next month or so. It will allow us to mount the damaged engine that was in the Coconino in the B unit so that when you look through the cooling screens you see that there is an engine in there. We had fabricated a different mounting system for the gas tanks, but this will be the proper way to mount them when we get to that. There is no end to the projects and things that need done.

          Happy and safe railroading everybody.




A&P RR

Torch Cactus Flower at the A&P RR







A&P RR

Summer Cactus Blooms







July



07/28/17

          June out here is very much our equivalent to January in other parts of the country. The weather just isn’t conducive to operating the railroad. The back half of June is almost always really hot. This year the week of June 18 -24 the official temperatures were 112, 118, 119, 117, 113, 112 and 116. Also understand that the unofficial temperatures in everyone’s backyard are two to three degrees higher than these numbers. Back on June 26, 1990, we officially hit 122 degrees in Phoenix and gained notoriety for the airport closing as the heat decreases lift and the runways became too short to safely take off.

          It is generally a dry heat which does make a difference. The average humidity for June is 19%. We do have about sixty days from Mid July to Mid September when the humidity increases and it gets uncomfortable. It is pretty normal to make two or three shirt changes if you are outside doing any kind of significant work.

          Most of us long-time residents are used to the heat and life certainly goes on. It is funny to hear new transplants to Phoenix and the local media complaining about the heat like it is a big surprise that June is hot. June has always been hot for the 51 years I have lived here. I’m pretty sure that next year June will be hot too. The nice thing about having three hot months is that is scares a lot of people away so that we can all afford to live here.

          The extreme heat doesn’t sit well with air-cooled equipment, however, and it doesn’t take long before our railroad equipment starts getting hot and blowing that super-heated air on the operator. That heated air feels great on cold December mornings or evenings, not so much in June, July and August.

          I didn’t get much railroad related work done this month. I started the Coconino a couple of times and moved her around a little bit to keep all the fluids moving around and the seals moist. And I still get a huge kick out of having her running again.




A&P RR
The Coconino saw some track time in June




          I shared last month that I had purchased the material for the B Unit subframe. This month I got it all cut to length. I still need to drill all the holes , mount the brackets for mounting the gas tanks and weld it all together. Hopefully, I will get to that next month.




A&P RR
Sub frame for mounting the B Unit engine




          I also got down to our local Bearing, Bolt and Chain and purchased the chain and supplies needed to rework the drive chain on the track inspection car. This will be another project for later in the summer.




A&P RR
New chain for the track inspection car drive chain




          I mentioned earlier that June is the hottest month out here; it is also the driest. It almost never rains in June and this year was no exception. Even though most of the plants our here are low water and full sun tolerant, June is still very tough on all of them and unless we take the extra effort to make sure that everything gets extra water they don’t make it. We added six additional sprinkler valves and an additional Irritrol control box last month so that several more areas will get watered automatically and will result in less time watering things with the hose to keep them going. That also means that six additional trenches were dug 10 inches deep for the pvc pipe and sprinkler heads. A couple of the runs were close to 100 feet long. The first four inches or so of soil out here is soft and loose; everything deeper than that requires the pickax. I try to get as much of that work done as early as possible in the morning, but it just doesn’t always work out that way as much of the work over the last three Saturdays got completed mid-afternoon.




A&P RR
We trenched and buried new sprinker pipes




          Hopefully, all of you in other parts of the country are enjoying your operating seasons. Ours is still two and a half months away on October 1, but I am already looking forward to it.

          Happy and safe railroading everybody!




August



08/14/17




A&P RR
Arizona and Pacific Railroad




          It is still plenty hot out here and 112 as I sit here in the air conditioning and write this update. Rain this summer has been very spotty around town with some areas getting flooding and other areas no rain at all. We have had a lot of high wind, but very little rain in my part of town. I got up one morning after a particularly violent wind storm and you can see what I found in my pool. At least I found it. A neighbor a couple of streets over had a trampoline in his yard – key word “had”. As of last weekend, it was still missing.




A&P RR
High winds caused problems at the A&P RR as this sunbrella went scuba diving




          Again, I didn’t get much work done on the railroad this month. Dave and I got the layout of the B unit sub frame pretty much completed. We got all of the holes drilled, straightened the rear mounting cross member and located some one inch tubing. I still need to bevel all the welding locations and clean a few things up, but it is tough to get motivated to grind and weld out in the summer heat.

          I still have plans for another garage that will allow all of our current and future equipment to be stored inside, but that is a few years away so I have been covering some of the equipment with tarps. Years ago, we started with the thin blue tarps. I don’t remember how many mils thick they are, but they last about two weeks out here in the hot sun and the UV. We would then spend weeks cleaning up the blue shredded mess that blows everywhere. We upgraded to the 10 mil gray tarps and they last much better as they remain in good shape for six to eight weeks out here in the summer before they start to degrade. At least they don’t just shred in the wind like the blue version. Dave found a source for a much thicker 14 mil tarp in white that theoretically will do better out here. They also come in 30 feet lengths which works much better for our needs. We currently have two of these tarps in place replacing four of the gray ones that were retired to the dumpster. I have ordered a total of four more and as the gray ones need replaced, I will use the white ones. The first pair of tarps has been in place three weeks and so far so good.




A&P RR
We're trying out a new type of tarp to cover equpiment at the A&P RR







A&P RR
One of the new 14 mil tarps we're using at the Arizona and Pacific Railroad




          I thought I was done with sprinkler lines last month, but I ended up splitting an additional line and rerouting another. It’s key to work on these projects in the summer when the grass grows 24 x 7 and will fill in really well in a few weeks. If you work on grass projects in the winter here, any work area remains dirt until the following summer. So in the most active part of the year, the dogs, I and visitors would be walking in and tracking around the mud and dirt.




A&P RR
The 2nd to last sprinkler trench is starting to fill in




          I also dug out about twenty grape plants. They strung about 40 feet on the east side of the yard parallel to the A & P tracks. They had been in place for about twenty years in various forms. The first few years I got a fair number of grapes, but as they have gotten older the volume of grapes produced decreased and the amount of work and spraying increased. It is much cheaper and easier to buy grapes in the produce section at Safeway...




A&P RR
We removed the grapes on the east side of the yard and planted cat's claw vines




          The primary reason I had the grapes along that side of the property was to provide a little green and block the view of some of the block wall on that side of the property. Getting the grapes out was shovel, pickaxe and axe work as the roots were entwined with tree roots. They have been removed and Dave and I are mounting fencing to the cabling that supported the grapes. I have added a number of vines that I am hoping will provide year round greenery after it gets going in a year or two. We also added some fencing for the vines to grow through on the pedestrian bridge. I still have some additional fencing to hang on the north side of the bridge and then the entire south side of the bridge. It might look cool having vines covering the sides of the bridge if they can handle the heat. I still have a few more vines to plant and also I started removing a tree from the area that just never really was in the right spot. I also need to clean up and repaint the posts that are now exposed.




A&P RR
Welded wire fencing has been added to the cables that supported the grapes







A&P RR
A pear tree is being removed to allow a little more sun to the area







A&P RR
The sides of the pedestrian bridge are also getting welded wire fencing and cat's claw vines




          I also got started (barely) on disassembling, sanding, filling and repainting a couple of patio chairs that have needed it for a couple of years at least. Next month I hope to get them back together with all new hardware and end caps and in good shape for another several years.




A&P RR
With operating season just a few months away we've begun restoring patio chairs at the A&P RR




          I have about six months of work to get done in the next two months, but I am already looking forward to October and our operating season.

          Happy and safe railroading everybody!




September



9/14/17

          It was five years ago, August 5, 2012, that we made the last run on the Flagstaff and Middle Verde Railroad of our great friend Malcolm Mackey. Here's a 3 1/2 minute video we took of the last run at Malcolm Mackey's Flagstaff and Middle Verde Railroad. We had just acquired the equipment of the railroad and wanted to make a last run there before we had to start disassembling and removing the track and equipment. I couldn’t afford the entire Verde property at the time and just acquired the railroad equipment and the rail. It was a huge undertaking moving everything down here even though it was less than a hundred miles, but well worth all of the effort. Malcolm and I spent many years working together on the railroad up there and sharing it with others through his open houses. He created a lot of smiles and anyone lucky enough to get an invite to one of his events will remember his one non-negotiable rule – “My railroad, my rules”. I am so thankful to Malcolm for introducing me to this hobby and then almost twenty years later giving me the opportunity to keep his railroad equipment together, operating and creating smiles in Arizona on the Arizona and Pacific Railroad.




F&MV RR
Malcom Mackey's Flagstaff and Middle Verde Railroad







F&MV RR
Malcolm and me double heading on the Flagstaff and Middle Verde Railroad







A&P RR
F&MV RR equipment relocated to the Arizona & Pacific Railroad







A&P RR
Malcolm Mackey runs his Bumble Bee engine at the A&P RR




          Again, we didn’t get much work done on the actual railroad this month. We did get some track work completed in about half of the front yard with checking gauge and tightening tie plates. I tracked down an additional chain tensioner for the chain modifications we intend to make on the track inspection car later this year. I obtained the new chain and links a few weeks ago. Most of the work was indirectly rather than directly related to the railroad. We are still a few weeks away from our operating season, but we stayed plenty busy with backyard and indirectly railroad related projects.

          We originally built the retaining walls and set the rocks in Rock Creek in March of 2007 – 10 ½ years ago. I had no idea how much dirt and silt came in with the irrigation water. I just never saw it when it came in over dirt and grass. It makes sense, as each year they drain the canals and feeder canals to clean debris and sediment from the bottom and to service the mechanical gates and moving components. Each year our layer of sediment had gotten deeper to the point that the rocks in the bottom were barely visible. Dave brought over his power washer twice and in between I used a hand shovel and hose to remove almost 12 five gallon buckets of sediment not counting what we flushed out into the yard. They still aren’t sparkly clean, but you can see all the rocks again and it looks more like Rock Creek than Sediment Creek…




A&P RR
Rock Creek before we started removing sediment







A&P RR
Rock Creek while we were removing sediment







A&P RR
Rock Creek after we finished removing sediment




          I cleaned, lightly sanded and repainted four posts along the east side of the yard where the grapes were located and now Cat’s Claw is getting started. So far the Cat’s claw is surviving the summer heat with a little extra TLC, it is a tough time to plant things here, but I wanted the little longer growing season to get them started. Hopefully, within a year or two they will fill in and provide some green along the side yard instead of the view of the wall. They stay green year round and have beautiful yellow flowers in the spring.




A&P RR
Cat's claw growing on the new fence







A&P RR
Irrigation time at the A&P RR




          I completed hanging the additional fencing on the north side of the bridge and then the entire south side of the bridge. I repainted the entire pedestrian bridge except for the walking area. It remains a work in progress for the walking area and touch up.




A&P RR
Cat's claw grows on the fencing we added to the newly painted pedestrian bridge




          Also on the east side of the rear yard, I removed a pear tree that was never in the right spot from the time I planted it. It took a few hours work a night, several nights after work getting it dug free and the roots cut off with an axe. Then it was too heavy for me to get it out of the hole until I had help on the weekend. With it gone, I will be able to grow grass and Dichondra in a significantly larger area as the pear tree kept a large area too shaded to provide a thick lawn. I also added about 35 feet of additional sprinkler pipe after hand trenching the area and added three new sprinkler heads.

          Another area that is now able to grow grass is near the steps that lead to Verde Junction. Previously, our 1991 Christmas tree was so thick it blocked any sunlight from reaching that area. I added a total of 41 rolls of sod to this area and the east rear yard I discussed above. I fell into three sweet deals at Home Depot. The first week, I stopped in to buy seven rolls of sod. It looked terrible. It was dried out and really brown. I sought out the Garden Department Manager and asked if based on condition she would give me a discount. She stated that she was going to have one of the employees discard it all later in the day as it looked terrible. She asked how many rolls I needed and I said seven. She said if I would take twenty right then and get them out from in front of the store I could have them for free. Done deal. I got them home and started watering them immediately and over the next two weekends got them in the ground. Over the following three weekends, I picked up twenty-one more rolls of sod at discounted prices. I watered them three times a day for over three weeks, but every roll made it and today is lush.




A&P RR
Distressed sod







A&P RR
Rejuvenated sod




          I planted Bermuda grass seed and Dichondra seed in some of the shady areas and covering the hand trenching and other work. I also added three new grass steps in the back yard




A&P RR
One of 3 new grass steps that were created







A&P RR
Dichondra planted near Rock Creek




          I rebuilt and repainted our two picnic tables. Dave and I built upper and lower collars that keep the wind and rain from damaging the center wood plank when it torques the umbrella poles during our summer storms here. I also added feet to the picnic tables which elevates them above the bricks and helps keep the bottom tube from getting surface rust and they also allow me to easily level them as the brick surface isn’t uniform.




A&P RR
First we repaired damage to the center plank







A&P RR
Then we installed a collar to protect wood planking on the picnic tables







A&P RR
Then we painted the picnic tables







A&P RR
Finally we re-installed the sunbrellas




          One patio chair frame got sanded, primed and painted and all new end caps installed. The wood has all been filled and awaits final sanding and painting.




A&P RR
Repainted chair frame




          I just barely got started on repainting the wind bell tree.




A&P RR
Wind Bell Tree




          In October, things start to get more active out here – McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park Railfair takes place on October 7 and 8 and Marana Pumpkin and Farm Festival runs from October 7 – 29. I plan to be at both.

          Happy and safe railroading everybody.







October



10/11/17




A&P RR
Sandusky and Phoenix




          August and September were both super busy months working on projects in the yard and some were more directly related to the A & P railroad than others. Planting grass and installing sprinklers in key areas isn’t going to change the operation of the railroad, but aesthetically it will look better for me and for visitors.

          I got some additional paint on the pedestrian bridge, but I am still not quite finished. The amount of surface area is really deceiving until you start painting it and you realize all the sides, angles and surface area. I am getting close to have it done – next month it will be finished – I hope.

          My patio chair is taking forever to get finished. I got the frame got sanded, primed and painted and all new end caps installed last month. I got a few of the wood pieces sanded this month, but it isn’t a chair yet. I am hoping that next month it will finally be finished.

          I just barely got started on repainting the wind bell tree last month as I repainted the vertical pole and got a base coat on the four targets. This month I got all sides of the four targets painted. It is a little more colorful than it was and we’ll see if it appeals to me long term.




A&P RR
The original wind bell tree colors







A&P RR
The wind bell tree sports a new paint scheme




          I dug out two pine trees in the front yard that were infested with wood bores and bark beetles. The larger of the two took me three days to get all the roots cut and loose in the hole. Then it was way too heavy to lift out of the hole. I tried leveraging it with some railroad track bars I have – no chance. I looked for my neighbor with his tractor, but he was out of town for the weekend, I had to figure out how to get it out by myself which I eventually did. I cut all the roots so they formed a round ball shape and I filled the hole with gravel a few inches at a time and kept rolling the root ball up on the added gravel in the hole. I eventually got the root ball up to ground level and rolled it out of the hole and to the curb.




A&P RR
Troublesome pine tree stump







A&P RR
Pine tree stump out at the curb




          The two trees that were removed were maybe twenty feet apart and I wanted to do something to replace them. I cut through a hill to create a continuation of a Madison gold granite rip rap wall that was behind the trees. I added a couple of flagstone steps in the middle of the rip rap wall and a flagstone landing area below. I added two more bouganvilla and sixteen yellow lantanas in the lower section where the two trees had been. I plumbed all for drip sprinklers. In all, I added five tons of dirt to the property and five tons of rip rap that went into forty feet of rip rap walls. You can see the walls as the trains go by.




A&P RR
Five tons of rip rap rock







A&P RR
Extended rip rap wall and flagstone steps







A&P RR
Newly planted lantana




          I removed three concrete tree rings. They really looked nice for a few years when the trees were young, but as they got older the roots displaced parts of the rings and the look became a bit haggard. I still have three more rings to remove, but need to figure out where that concrete is going before they get removed.




          A couple of years ago one of my co-workers wanted to get rid of larger gray gravel in her back yard. I thought the color contrast might look good inside the tree rings so I loaded up five tons of it and brought it home. Within a couple of weeks of getting it in the tree rings, I realized it wasn’t the look I wanted, but I had no place else to put it so it stayed there for a couple years. This month, I removed all of it.




A&P RR
Concrete ring sections have been removed from where the tree was

          The broken up concrete rings, the larger gray gravel and two of the tons of dirt I purchased went into the backyard where one of my berms on the west side of the yard had settled over the years and was insufficient when I receive a full irrigation to keep the water from getting up against and soaking under the block wall to the neighbor’s property thus compromising the footer. I utilized the ballast car built by Mackey Mackey to assist in the material moving as rolling a fully loaded wheel barrow over ties and through ballast just doesn’t work.




A&P RR
Once they are buried these will shore up the irrigation berm

          When we built the turntable 12 years ago, the grass around it was lush. Over the years, the 1991 Christmas tree became so tall and thick that along with the Kiefer Pear nearby, much of the turntable area is in the shade most of the day. The Bermuda grass out here loves full sun and doesn’t do well in full or nearly full shade. Dichondra although not nearly as durable, does well in the shade. I prepared the area and got quite a bit of Dichondra planted around the east side of the turntable pit. It is a fight against time now as grass and the Dichondra get started best out here when the daytime weather is still in the 90s. By mid-October we start to have a number of days cooler than that so I am trying to get it all in and started before the weather cools off as otherwise I will have bald spots all winter.

          Last month, I completed the new top cover for the pool pump and got it painted and the handles installed. This month, I got the second part completed. It matches the top and hangs from hooks on the side and partially blocks the view of the pump and pipes and also knocks down the pump and motor noise somewhat. Anyway, it looks a little more finished now.




A&P RR
Expanded pool pump cover

          The lower end of Rock Creek is mostly shaded by the neighbor’s Cottonwood trees and the engine house itself. Removing the one Keifer Pear tree last month does now allow some morning sun in that area. I have planted sod and grass in the area before without success. I planted a couple of rolls of sod where they get some daylight and planted Dichondra last week in two phases where it gets less sun. It is starting to come up and we will see how it does long term in that area.




A&P RR
The dichondra planted in front of rock creek is starting to fill in

          Our rail in the front yard is tied to concrete in three areas: the driveway, sidewalk and the east gate entry to the back yard. This means it can’t grow or shrink past those areas. A couple of years ago, we cut the rail at the joints in the east side of the front yard to allow additional room for movement. Those joints still look pretty good. We only had two rail joints in the west side of the front yard and we cut them this month and replaced the splice bar hardware in an effort to allow that portion of the rail to grow and shrink more easily with our changes in temperature out here.

          Next month I hope to have railroad equipment rolling.

          Happy and safe railroading everybody.







November



11/20/17

          It was still 99 degrees out here through the 25th, so not much railroad activity on the Arizona & Pacific yet. The summer weather just kept hanging in. Let me be clear, it wasn’t 116, but 99 is still a bit warm under the sun running metal trains.

          Dave and I made it out to Railfair at Scottsdale McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. Steam engines Nos. 10 and 11 were in operation and pulling cars loaded with happy passengers. The lines were pretty long, but moved right along with both trains running. The engine house was open to visitors and I got a good look at combination coach No. 1. Engine No. 12 is still in pieces; I’m not sure if the plan is still to complete a cosmetic restoration or if that has changed.




Railfair
#10 loading passengers at Railfair







Railfair
#11 pulling loaded passenger cars







Railfair
Combination coach number 1







Railfair
Engine #12's boiler







Railfair
Engine #12's tender




          The Scottsdale Live Steamers had a few pieces of equipment running and were offering free rides and a few members were working on and running their own equipment as well. Marshall Trimble, the official state historian of Arizona, shared cowboy/railroad music and stories for an hour. He had much of the room singing along when he did Steve Goodman’s City of New Orleans and did a nice job with it. It was a fun afternoon.




Railfair
Scottsdale Live Steamers gave rides







Railfair
Scottsdale Live Steamers







Railfair
Arizona's Official State Historian Marshall Trimble







Railfair
Good morning America how are you?







Railfair
It's great seeing kids in the hobby







Railfair
Scottsdale Live Steamers




          I visited the Marana Pumpkin Patch and Farm Festival in Marana, Arizona hosted by Jon Post. As every year, there was a great turnout on the Saturday I was there. It was still hot, but that didn’t deter many people. Two trains were running almost non-stop. The UP 3410 was pulling a string of aluminum gons while the F unit was pulling the set of New York Central coaches. Gulf, Mobile & Ohio engines 804 and 805 were parked on the sidetrack with a string of aluminum gons. I noticed a new piece of equipment of the sidetrack, an orange track inspection and maintenance vehicle which I think I recognize as previously owned by Don Guill. The lines were long, but the wait was in the shade and with both trains running the wait was only about five minutes. I always enjoy watching people operate the air cannons and root for their favorite at the baby pig races as both seem to generate instant excitement. It was a 225 mile or so round trip for me, but always worth the trip. It was another very enjoyable afternoon.




MPP&FF RR
Marana Pumpkin Patch and Farm Festival







MPP&FF RR
MPP&FF RR Train Depot







MPP&FF RR
Marana Pumpkin Patch and Farm Festival Railroad







MPP&FF RR
Engine #3410 of the MPP&FF RR







MPP&FF RR
Speeder with the 3rd engine in the background







MPP&FF RR
Returning to the depot




          Bill and Jo Ann Koster visited the A & P Railroad and we had a great afternoon. Bill autographed one of his most recent books, The Riverside and Great Northern Railway”, for us. It is being sold as a fundraiser for the Riverside and Great Northern Preservation Society. Bill is a legend in this hobby and was one of the first to produce kits and affordable complete locomotives and trains which opened the hobby to more than just highly skilled machinists and the very wealthy. It was such an honor actually having Bill here and so much fun to share stories.




A&P RR RR
Bill and Jo Ann Koster in the A&P RR Engine House







A&P RR RR
John Sayre and Bill Koster




          I brought in another 2 ½ tons of dirt this month and got it where I wanted it and I also got the last of the five tons of rip rap and seven tons of “¾ minus” gravel moved to where it belonged this month. I built another 30 feet of rip rap retaining wall and added to several walls that were pre-existing. Most of the rip rap was moved in five gallon buckets as was much of the gravel as there are many areas that aren’t accessible by wheelbarrow. I got a lot of dirt, rock and gravel moved this summer and although it was great for my conditioning and weight loss efforts, I must admit I am a bit burned out on shovel, bucket and wheelbarrow work for a while. I’m glad this phase of that work is completed.

          I got the tree trunks of the fruit trees in the rear yard repainted white which is an annual October task. Growth and the sun take their toll on the paint every year. We pruned the trees around the railroad in the back yard for height clearance of the turntable and visitors. This is also an October task as it is too hard on the trees to prune them during the summer.




A&P RR RR
Freshly painted fruit tree trunks




          We obtained our Santa Fe telephone booth in 1992 after it had been condemned by the ATSF and placed in its burn pile in Winslow, Az. One of my friends in the Superintendent’s office managed to stop the burn for a day while Dave and I raced to Winslow to save it. It was in pretty rough shape, but I was happy to have her. We got help getting it into the bed of my pickup truck and it leaned forward over the cab like some sort of a missile about to be launched. We got lots of looks and many thumbs up on the trip back to Phoenix.




A&P RR RR
Santa Fe telephone booth




          These small hexagonal wooden phone booths used to be common in Arizona and throughout the west. They were placed near telegraph lines in remote locations where train crews needed to contact the dispatcher for orders and updates. They provided some shelter for the train crew as they made entries in the log book and obtained their train orders. Train radios and CTC systems rendered them obsolete, but many remained in Arizona until the late 1980s and early 1990s. Ours came from Bellemont, Arizona which is west of Flagstaff.

          I’m not sure if it dates to 1883, but it might. The inside was never painted, but the outside has layer over layer over layer of paint. It appears that it was originally red, then colonial yellow and then back to red. The trim has had a few different colors as well. The phone booth was red and white when we got her and so that is the color that we have always painted her. The various colors of the door are displayed on the ceiling as over the years the weather has caused the top of the door to scrape on the ceiling. It looks like it has been colonial yellow, white and red. The ceiling also has some names and dates written in pencil that were added over the years. Depending on the angle of the sun, different names are visible. The earliest one that is clearly readable is from 1952.

          Anyway, she was recently at the point where she needed some TLC. Nails needed reset and five tubes of caulking were used to fill some of the bigger cracks. I don’t want her to look like a kitchen cabinet, but want to preserve her for at least another twenty-five years and needed to make her a little more weather proof at this point. I also got two good coats of red paint on her. I will get two coats of paint on the white trim next month. I cleaned the dust and dirt from the interior that had accumulated over the summer with our dust storms out here. She looks much better for now, but in about five years I will need to do it again. The climate is pretty harsh on painted wood out here.




A&P RR RR
Putting a fresh coat of paint on the turn of the century phone booth




          My neighbor across the street has been watching me over the years plant seasonal flowers in my large concrete bowls near my front entryway. We have spring flowers, fall flowers, summer and winter flowers if covered. So every three months or so I would dig out the expired flowers and plant the variety for the next season. He has some very nice cactus in his front yard and some amazing ones in his back yard. He offered to supply me with enough Anastasia cactus (Echinopsis oxygona) to get a great start in filling the front bowls. I changed out the dirt from plant soil to cactus soil and transplanted some large plants he gave me as well as dozens of pups. This variety of cactus is from the mountains of South America and not from the desert of the southwest. Literature states they need covered for at least a few weeks after transplanting and during June to avoid sunburn and distress. I built a couple of mini sun covers that sit right on the concrete bowls to protect them. In about two years, if all goes well these will look amazing.




A&P RR RR
Anastasia cactus







A&P RR RR
We built a sun screen for the Anastasia cactus




          Dave and I finished the rail and tie work in front yard and completed another 100 feet or so of mainline in the rear yard. We still have about 100 more feet of mainline in the rear to cover and then will start on the siding and spurs.

          I removed the three remaining concrete tree rings in the front yard. I removed the first three a few weeks ago. They looked great the first few years after they were installed, but tree roots over the years had raised sections and they just didn’t look good any longer. I have them all stacked up and need to get them loaded and to the landfill.




A&P RR RR
Concrete tree rings




          I got some additional paint on the pedestrian bridge, but it isn’t finished. Next month it will be finished – I hope.

          No, my patio chair did not get finished this month, but I did make some progress. It’s a good thing it isn’t my only chair…




A&P RR RR
Restoring the patio chair




          I had the Sandusky out for a couple of brief excursions. It was a busy month; I hope to have a bit more railroad activity here this coming month.

          Happy and safe railroading everybody!




Railfair
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park Railfair 2017







Railfair
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park flowers







Railfair
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park's 10,000 square foot Model Railroad Exhibit Building







Railfair
Fanciful decoration at the model railroad exhibit building







December



12/16/17

          I got two good coats of paint on the white trim areas and threshold of the ATSF phone booth and she looks pretty good for her age.




A&P RR
We completed painting the AT&SF Phone Booth




          I finished the patio chair that I have been working on for a few months off and on. Once I finished it, Dave and I took the matching chair apart. It will get the same treatment, but hopefully it won’t take as long to get it back in service. I got the frame sanded and painted and new end caps in place on the second chair frame. I got several of the chair slats glued and filled; sanding and painting will get started in December.




A&P RR
Before and After




          I finally finished painting the pedestrian bridge with the application of fifteen more spray cans of paint. It turned out to be a much bigger and tedious job than I had initially envisioned. I’m thankful it’s done.

          We added another Miniature Train and Railroad Co. torque wrench to our collection in the engine house. I am going to have to come up with a way to expand our torque wrench display. We probably have close to twenty of the wrenches and the display only holds seven. It is a great problem to have, but I need to get more of them on display. Although a couple of the wrenches are the same, most are variations. I remember a few years ago, someone in the MTC community had an original MT & RR Co. torque wrench cardboard box. The box for one of these wrenches would be the holy grail to add to our torque wrench collection; if anyone of you folks comes across one call me.




A&P RR
Miniature Train and Railroad Co.Torque Wrench Display and Collection




          My neighbor diagonally across the street is building a major expansion on his house. He had a construction dumpster on the property and came across the street with his tractor and took all my tree rings and dumped them in his construction dumpster for me. Awesome, thank you!

          Dave and I finished our track work on the mainline. Next we will start on the siding and then the engine house spurs.

          Early in the month, I was in Prescott, AZ for a business meeting. Traffic wasn’t as bad as I anticipated and I rolled into town about an hour early. I headed over to the Sharlot Hall Museum and viewed their 1887 H.K. Porter locomotive that once operated at the Congress Gold Mine north of Wickenburg. The locomotive which sat outside for decades, was restored by museum staff in 2014 and is now stored under cover. She looks beautiful. The rose gardens at the museum are always pretty, but were spectacular this time as nearly every bush was in bloom. The photos just don’t fully capture the colors and the smell.




Sharlot Hall Museum
H.K. Porter Locomotive at Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott Arizona







Sharlot Hall Museum
Roses at the Sharlot Hall Museum







Sharlot Hall Museum
One of the Sharlot Hall Rose Gardens




          My next door neighbor’s granddaughter saw me working out the yard on Saturday the 18th and came over to talk to me. Isabelle is 12 and about the sweetest kid ever. She loves trains and has been coming over and getting train rides since she was about four. She said the whole family was celebrating Thanksgiving next door the next day on Sunday the 19 and could I maybe give some train rides. I just couldn’t say no. The next afternoon I had everything ready to go. I think 7 or 8 of the kids and their grandmother came over and got rides, then four more kids and a couple of adults came over for rides and then my neighbor on the other side and her elderly mother came over for rides… I lost track, maybe 15 or 16 people came for rides and several others just came to watch and visit. Everyone got multiple rides until it was close to getting dark. It was the Sandusky and gon 218 that were placed in service and performed flawlessly. Everyone had a great time including me.




A&P RR
Taking the Sandusky for a few laps prior to visitors arriving







A&P RR
Thanksgiving Riders







A&P RR
Another train of Thanksgiving riders







A&P RR
Enjoying a ride at the A&P RR




          Along with the Sandusky, we had the Coconino out on the mainline and running this month. She ran great and the refurbished Wisconsin engine continues to impress. We should have swapped the previous engine in her out years ago. Next month, I hope to have several other engines and pieces of equipment out and polishing the rail of the mainline.




A&P RR
Dave runs the Coconino




          We lubricated the zerk fitting on each of the four wheels of the transfer table. What a difference it makes. It slides very easily for its weight when freshly lubricated.




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One of the zerk fittings on the transfer table




          We lubricated the three zerk fittings on the turn table main bearing plate and also lubricated the center pin and bearing assembly. We originally built the turn table in 2005. Each year since then we just shot grease in from the zerk fitting on the four bridge wheels. There was beginning to be have more lateral play of those bearings than I remembered or desired. I wanted to pull them apart this time rather than just adding more grease. When we got them apart, the light weight bearing shims were shot and a couple of the bearings were twisted from the lateral movement. We repacked the wheel bearings and put them back together temporarily. Thanks to Rick Prewitt at Bearing, Bolt and Chain for helping me spec out some wider and heavier duty bearings that we special ordered from the manufacturer. Along with some spacer washers ordered from McMaster-Carr, we now have each of the wheels nice and tight again and spinning loose and free. I still have some clean up to complete on both the transfer table and the turntable, but there is plenty of grease in the right spots.




A&P RR
The three zerk fittings on the turntable and access point to the center pin




          In December, there are some great railroad venues featuring light displays. The Maricopa Live Steamers operates its Holiday Lights display and train rides every Friday and Saturday in December. McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park has its Holiday Lights display with train rides from December 1 to January 7. Jon Post hosts the Marana Christmas Festival train rides from December 8 through 23rd. As always, check their websites or call them for times and ticket prices. Also remember that no one operates in rainy weather. I hope to make it out to at least two of the three this year. You should check out and support your local venues and remember to donate to their operation if you can.

          Happy and safe railroading everybody!




A&P RR
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