Arizona and Pacific RR Current Projects



Arizona & Pacific RR Current Projects

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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...



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







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






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.




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.




12/14/16




A&P RR

Fall season at the A&P RR




          Most of our track has been in place between fifteen and twenty years and we are at the point where some of the tie plate lag screws have worked their way loose. Some can simply be tightened while others need new pilot holes drilled and the plate moved slightly so the lag screw can go in a new hole. Sometimes the ties needs replace or dug out and rolled 90 degrees. It isn’t rocket science, but we have almost 1800 feet of track on the A & P. We have 2 ties per foot so approximately 3600 ties and 4 tie plates and lag screws per tie. In the ten switches we have, there are 8 ties plates and lag screws per tie. I am still in the corporate world Monday through Friday, so I have Saturday and Sunday afternoons to work on the projects here. This winter, I hope to get through a full assessment and refurbishment of each tie and get at least 3 of the mainline switches gauged with flat bar.

          November was largely a month of ongoing track work and painting. We have 3 park style lamp posts in the back yard that illuminate our railroad displays and add some ambience to the setting. The sun is so harsh here that about every fourth year they are faded so badly that they need repainted. It is very difficult to paint things in the summer here as it is very tough on the painter and things get so hot that the paint doesn’t dry properly. Anyway, we have about 5 months in the winter to get all of the outdoor painting done. Things that you can move into the shade to paint and allow to dry we can paint all year. Anyway, I got some fresh paint on the three lamp posts and dirt and bird droppings off the 15 globes.




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Lamp post in need of fresh paint







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Several good coats of paint were applied







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A faded lamp post being prepared for painting







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Project completed




          We have four large gates on the property. Two of the gates roll open for the A & P equipment to move through the property. One of the gates is a large RV gate and the fourth gate is a smaller pedestrian gate. The metal frame and wood gates have been in place for several years, but again, every fourth or fifth year they need sanded, reprimed and painted. The gates really should have been refurbished last year, but I was busy on other projects. The wood really took a beating in the past year. I removed all the wood, sanded and filled the slats where needed. They each got two coats of primer and two coats of paint on the south facing surface and one on the north facing side. The frames got sanded, primed and repainted. I finished the three gates on the west side of the property this month. I still have about 8 hours of work left to finish the remaining gate, but at least I have it all apart. I would have had the fourth one completed too, but two Sundays during the month outdoor activities were rained out. It is embarrassing to admit that I have over 20 hours in the gates already and will have about 30 by the time the remaining one is back together. They look good, but Mother-nature will take her toll and four or five years from now, I’ll be back at it again.




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West gates







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West gates after refinishing







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The west railroad gate in need of refinishing







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The west railroad gate after




          One of the Sundays we started all of the equipment and let them all run for a few minutes. I didn’t actually have any of them out on the mainline as the weather looked as if the rain could hit at any minute. We got everything back inside or covered up just in time before the rainstorm hit. We did get the Tucson on the rails and made several laps at the end of the month and she ran great. It was fun to be running something and not on my knees tightening lag screws; Dave feels the same way.




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Taking the Tucson for a fall run







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Running through the front cut







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The Tucson got a little run time this month




          The big news in the neighborhood in November was the coyote issue. I have lived here for 25 years and we have always had the occasional coyote that we might see a few times a year looking for rabbits in the neighborhood. In the past few weeks, we have a very large male that has gotten very brazen and comfortable living somewhere near the neighborhood and appearing here every day. We have a natural “green belt” a quarter mile away that may be home. My dogs are 50 and 55 pounds and this coyote dwarfs them both. I have seen him several times in the front and back yard recently.

          In the past six weeks, my neighbor across the street had their long time pet dog killed (about 25 lbs) along with their six chickens. My next door neighbor had her pet dog mauled (died 2 weeks later) and her cat disappeared, the neighbor across the street and one door down had his two dogs attacked (1 died) and the neighbor 5 houses away had both of her little dogs killed and one dragged away by the coyote. One of my neighbors went out one morning to get in his truck and go to work and the coyote was standing in his driveway eating a rabbit. The coyote didn’t retreat at all just stared at him and went back to eating the rabbit.

          It was just a matter of time before I had an issue with the coyote as well. I am up early for work at about 4:00 AM and I put the two dogs out back. I sat down at my desk and was looking at news and emails from the night before when all hell broke loose. Out in my side yard it was one heck of a fight. It was a combination of barking, growling, yelping and things getting knocked over. It took me a few seconds to figure out what was going on and I ran outside both underdressed and underarmed for what I was going to encounter. Just as I got out into the yard and against the light of the light fixture on my neighbor’s garage, the coyote took one jump and was on top of my six foot tall block wall and then was gone. It looked effortless. Lodi had a bite and teeth marks on her leg and Lizzie was bleeding pretty good from the side of her jaw, her chest and above and below her right eye. Fortunately, everything missed her eye so I got them both cleaned up and settled down.

          Two days later it happened again, but was brief. Lizzie got bitten on the other side of her face and then the Coyote took off. The following week, I turned on my outside floodlights one morning in the backyard and there he was standing there looking like he owned the place.

          The County makes a big deal here about any unlicensed dogs or animals running free so I called them. They explained there is nothing they can do as coyotes are not an animal that requires licensing and to call Arizona Game and Fish. Arizona Game and Fish was equally helpful and stated that the coyotes were likely here before we were and that unless they bite a human, they won’t trap and relocate them. They explained that even if they do trap and relocate one that they often return. They state that the largest one ever trapped in Arizona was 42 lbs. The one roaming here is much larger framed than my dogs and is well-nourished, not the scrawny things you see occasionally out in the desert. He sure looks bigger than 42 lbs. It is illegal to kill them.

          There are ten houses on my street and with one exception, everyone has had a pet killed or attacked by this coyote recently and it is game on. Everyone in the neighborhood is united and committed to this effort like no politician could ever unite a group of people. You can mess with many things, but don’t mess with our pets. This coyote will not need relocated.




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Lodi and Lizzie




          Happy and safe railroading everybody.




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Good girls







11/14/16

          We spent most of our A & P work time in October on track maintenance which is a necessary part of safe railroad operation, but not very sexy or photogenic. We replaced a few ties, rolled a few over, tightened lag screws or drilled for new placement of lag screws, reset the gauge in a few troublesome areas, moved and tamped ballast, checked splice bars and generally did the behind the scenes grunt work that make run days go well. If you spend enough time on maintenance and upkeep on work days, you can make it look easy and effortless on run days. Most folks have no idea how much time went into their eight minute train ride and that’s the way I like it…




A&P RR

Work train in use for track maintenance at the A&P RR




          A few years ago we restored our Miniature Train Co. track gauge and we have it on display in our engine house. Our Chance Manufacturing Company track gauge is the one that we use in track maintenance. I think it was manufactured in about 1970 which means it will soon be fifty years old. I have seen more of the MTC model than I have of the one made by Chance. As you can tell, it is exactly the same as the MTC product just painted black and with the Chance name plate. We also had our track inspection car in service along with MW trailer No. 21 as we worked on the track during the month. We still have some track work to complete in November and then should be good for a little while.




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Minature Train Company track gauge







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Chance Manufacturing track gauge




          For the second year in a row I made it down to Marana, AZ, about 115 miles from here, to the Marana Pumpkin Patch and Farm Festival and for the second year in a row I had a great time. The festival is the creation of Jon Post who has grown the festival from a small get together to one that attracts 6000 visitors a day by featuring family and kid friendly activities. The event features two corn mazes, huge jumping pillows, a petting zoo, zip line, air cannons firing apples at various targets, the pumpkin patch and many other activities.




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Marana Pumpkin Patch and Farm Festival







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Jon Post




          It also features the Marana Pumpkin Patch and Farm Festival Railroad. They run two trains on 15 inch gauge, 12 pound track on a modified loop roughly 3/4th of a mile long that winds through corn fields and around the perimeter of the festival grounds. They have a tunnel and large loading platform. On my visit, every train was full and there was a waiting line. As I shared last year, some of the equipment is lettered for the New York Central and was previously seen at the ATT & NW of the John Woods Family. The engine that was painted in orange last year and named the Pumpkin Express had received a new paint job for this years’ event.




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Marana Pumpkin Patch and Farm Festival loading platform







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MPP & FF RR train leaving the loading platform




          The really exciting news from my perspective is the growth of the railroad operation. The beautiful Gulf Mobile and Ohio trainset of Don Guill’s Shandon & Okeana Railroad was recently acquired and was in use at the festival this year. In addition, five new aluminum gons have been built and five new coaches that were fabricated to match the GM&O equipment arrived a couple of days before my visit. The gons were receiving their finishing touches and the coaches were stored in the parking lot and headed to the paint shop the Monday after my visit. The coaches are quite roomy and comfortable and provided me plenty of room at 6’1”.




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Newly acquired Gulf, Mobile and Ohio train set







MPP&FR RR

5 new coaches will soon be in service




          With the recent additions of engines and rolling stock, the MPP & FF Railroad has five complete trains to operate on the railroad. You might be thinking that you don’t need five trains for a ¾ mile layout and you would be right. In 2018, the entire festival will be moving to another location on the 4000 acre farm about a mile away that will allow for even greater expansion of the event. The roadbed at the new location has already been graded and is just over 1.5 miles long. Much of it will eventually be double tracked. It is exciting to see the entire festival grow like it has over the past 6 years and especially exciting for me to see the growth of the festival railroad operation.




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Taking a ride through a cornfield




          This will be the inaugural year of a new event at the railroad dubbed Christmas on the Farm. It will feature night time train rides through many lighted Christmas displays and other holiday activities. The dates for this event are December 9 to December 23 AND ALL TICKETS MUST BE PURCHASED IN ADVANCE.




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MPP & FF Railroad




          One of my college roommates that I hadn’t seen in twenty years, Greg Bolen, was in town for a few days from Virginia and along with his sister Gina and mother Hazel visited the A & P. I wish I could share some of our college shenanigans here, but not so much…

          Another of my college and dorm friends of forty plus years, Rod Werner, was in Yuma, AZ visiting family down there recently and they visited the Yuma Live Steamers operation. The railroad is 7.5 inch gauge and runs on about 4000 feet of track. They had a pretty good crowd for rides on this Saturday and a good time was reportedly had by all.




Yuuma Live Steamers

Yuma Live Steamers







Yuuma Live Steamers

All aboard with the Yuma Live Steamers







Yuuma Live Steamers

Ready to ride!




          Ed Loesch is one of our railroad buddies that in the past few months relocated from Camp Verde to Clarkdale, AZ. When he lived in Camp Verde, he started building a static display that would capture the look and feel of Arizona’s mining and railroad past. Now that he has settled in to his new home, he has added a distinctive railroad theme to the yard and house.




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Ed Loesch's railroad themed property







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Ed's engine on display







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AT&SF Wig Wag




          For the first year in many, I had a scheduling conflict and was unable to attend Railfair at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. I was over there a couple of weeks before Railfair and a paint crew was placing the finishing touches on a new paint job for the full size baggage car. That crew did a great job in bringing the colors and lettering back to brilliant life.

          Happy and safe railroading everybody.




10/22/16

          Things are finally starting to cool down a little bit out here at least in the evenings. We still haven’t run any A & P equipment in the daytime yet other than to just start them or work on the carburetors as it is still around 100 degrees or a little above that number. Our friend Jerry Graves was over in September and we got all the carburetors cleaned, engines started and tuned up. We changed the plugs on the Tucson, but the plugs on the rest of the old girls were in pretty good shape.




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Jerry Graves working on the Phoenix







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Jerry runs the Tucson after changing out the spark plugs




          We have started our change of season rail maintenance. We can see a hundred degree temperature swing here between summer highs and winter lows and it causes the rails to grow and shrink with the changes in temperature and that can affect the gauge of our rails. A few years ago we welded flat straps on the ties in our curves which made those areas largely maintenance free – at least with respect to gauge. This coming spring we may do the same thing with our ten switches. When we acquired several of our switches, they were piled in a scrap heap. After we got them home and tried to match components, we realized they had threaded rod at several intervals through the switches. The threaded rods were mangled from just being tossed in a pile by a forklift and other rail and parts piled on top of them. Anyway, we removed all of the bent and mangled threaded rod. Over the years, I have come to realize how important those were to keep the switch gauge consistent throughout the switches as the weather changes.

          We have spent a great deal of time already this Fall on our switches and switch stands. We have lubricated and calibrated the moving components, tighten nuts, made sure all tie plates were secure, brushed ballast away from the switch points and wings and confirmed the correct gauge throughout. We will have to double check the gauge of all of it again in January when we will have several nights in the teens.

          Even though we have no plans to add a Wisconsin engine to our B unit at this time, we are plumbing it so that an engine could be added at a later time and it will be accurate and would be functional. We had the two hand valves for brake and throttle that mount through the instrument panel, but no mounting brackets or even photos of what the brackets look like as they are always hidden up under the cowl and behind the dash panel. After one design failure, we hit upon a design that works great and we have utilized the brackets we fabricated and mounted the valves. After we get all the plumbing completed we will remove the valves and clean and repaint them.




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Throttle and brake valves mounted in the G-16 B unit dash




          I got started on the plumbing for the two hand valves and the vacuum tank and made a list of all of the fittings that we didn’t have. I have tracked down most of the fittings at this point and except for part or two, we have all of it on site and ready to go.

          In last month’s update, I posted that we needed two additional step assemblies, a door step and back plate and additional spring clips for a door on B unit. We appreciate one of our G16 friends, Shaun Hardtke, contacting us and advising that he had the parts we needed. As it turns out, we had some truck parts and other things that he needed and we were able to help each other.




A&P RR

Newly acquired step assemblies




          When Jerry Graves was out, we put a game plan together for replacing the Wisconsin engine in the Coconino. Many years ago, between the time that Malcolm Mackey had it rebuilt and installed it in the chassis several months later, field mice got inside and nested in the air cooling system. The upshot is it always ran hot, very hot and we never figured out the cause. We added three separate fans over the years and it still ran hot. Anyway, years of running hot has caused some engine damage. It can be repaired, but needs removed to do so. I have another Wisconsin that has already been rebuilt albeit about ten or twelve years ago. We are going to service the rebuilt engine and inspect the cooling ducts. Then we’ll pull the current engine and start removing the bolt on parts to transfer to the second engine. Once complete, we will bench start and tune her and later this Winter see if we can her installed in the Coconino. Jerry had a pretty solid idea about the one that needs repaired. Once out, we’ll get it repaired and repainted and instead of having it in the way in one of the buildings or under a tarp outside, we could mount it in our B unit and basically store it in there. The added weight would do the B unit good and instead of an empty engine bay, you would see the engine through the portholes and cooling screens. Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a winning idea!




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Coconino engine




          When I pulled the tarp off of the Coconino and started looking inside the engine bay for accessibility and how the oil pump and reservoir might affect us pulling the engine, I noticed what at first looked like white paint chips or caulking chips all over the frame. I couldn’t imagine where they came from or how they got in there. Closer examination reviewed they were pieces of quail eggs from the month before. A couple of the shells were about half complete and the speckles gave the type of egg away.




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Quail eggs in the Coconino







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The A&P RR's Coconino engine




          This summer was especially bad here for high winds. Even though our 60s vintage Sundrella umbrellas are heavily weighted at the bottom and get sand bags when high winds are predicted, high wind gusts can still knock them over. We had two blown over this summer that sustained some damage. Fortunately, we have two donor umbrellas for replacement parts and we got the parts swapped out and they are good as new.

          When time and temperature permit this Winter, I need to paint the park style lamp posts and paint my four gates including the wood slats.

          Dave is a hobbyist photographer and brought over his tripod and camera for a few night shots of the A & P. I really like some of the photos.




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Night time at the A&P RR







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Moon over the water tank spout







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The Tucson's headlight gets a workout







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The A&P engine house at night




          Happy and safe railroading everybody.




A&P RR

The Arizona and Pacific Railroad











09/06/16

          We got all of the paint off the grab handles with a paint removal product named Klean-Strip Stripper and steel wool. Stripper is very strong acid product; make sure you keep it off of you as it will get your attention. We got all of the grab handles in place on both sides of the B unit.




A&P RR

Grab handles were cleaned and installed on the G-16 B Unit




          We mounted the 6 steps that we have; we are still seeking 2 more sets of steps. We mounted four of the six on the side that is most frequently seen and photographed and two on the other side. Getting under the B unit to mount the steps, we found that several of the mounting bolts were still in place, but sheared off where the original steps had been ripped from the frame. It has been pretty clear for quite some time that this B unit hadn’t received any TLC in many years.

          Long time visitors to the site will remember that one of the four bolster safety hooks was broken off and the skirts had been ripped off of each side of the B unit before we acquired her. We ground away the broken safety hook and welded a new one in place back in December of 2013. Only one of the bolster rollers remained. We had the three missing bolster rollers turned and ordered the pins and bronze bushings from McMaster-Carr. They were replaced at the same time. The skirts were fabricated and added in March of 2015.




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Broken safety hook







A&P RR

A new safety hook was welded in place




          The stirrup ladders were also torn free as evidenced by the sheared bolts and the damage to the mounting area. We got the bolts out and repaired and squared the mounting areas. The ladders look good in place.




A&P RR

Stirrup ladders have been added to the G-16 B Unit




          Originally, the grab handles were all attached using stainless steel fillister head machine screws (called cheese head machine screws in some parts of the country). We have used whatever machine screws that we had here or that were available at the local hardware in this first install. I was more interested in making sure that everything fit, cleaning and retapping the threads on the mounting holes and matching the sets of handles. I have the fillister head machine screws ordered and they are supposed to be here on the 9th. I’m not sure if we will swap them out right away or handle that project (pun intended) on a rainy day in the future.




A&P RR

Screws for the grab handles and stirrup ladders




          When we assembled our A unit a few years ago, we used reproduction grab handles that were perfect. Now that we have all of the grab handles in place on our B unit, we had four original medium size handles left over. We went ahead and swapped them out and put them on the A unit. It now has a mix of original and repro grab handles. I just love the history that goes with these trains and having the original grab handles in place means a lot to me even though they aren’t perfect.

          We still have a long way to go, but the B unit already looks a great deal different than when we acquired her in November of 2008. Next month we’ll get started on repairing and replacing some additional copper tubing plumbing that isn’t brake system related and fabricating brackets for mounting the throttle and brake valves. We’ll fabricate the single step missing from one of the front doors on the B unit and see what else we get into.




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G-16 B Unit body as we received it




          One of our California railroad friends, Mike Davis of Manteca, was in town for a brief visit. We had planned a night time run on the 24th as he was in town for a professional conference. Winds and heavy rain kept us from running any of the trains, but we swapped railroad stories for a couple of hours in the A & P engine house listening to the rain fall. Hopefully, we’ll get him back out here on a day with better weather.

          The Arizona and Pacific’s version of the Wild Kingdom was active in August. One Friday night this month, as I was returning home and turned onto my street at about 10:30 p.m. I saw a coyote in my headlights walking down the middle of my street with a domestic cat in its mouth. I scrambled to grab the cell phone camera, but was too slow and in an instant he was gone. It isn’t unusual to see a coyote in my neighborhood from time to time, but usually if they are carrying anything in their mouth it is a rabbit. Of course, there was the time a few years ago that one jumped my next door neighbors six foot block wall and grabbed her small dog and then jumped back over the fence with it… The coyote only dropped the dog after my neighbor chased it down the street screaming at it. The dog did not survive.

          The early evening with its cooler temperatures is when most of the activity takes place. I have five or six rabbits that can come and go under the gates, but they generally make the back yard of the A & P home. As the sun starts to go down, every evening they eat grass and nibble on the flowers, plants and fruit that falls on the ground. They even drink water out of the pool just like the dogs do. I enjoy seeing them run around. They are used to the dogs chasing and never catching them. I have installed two rabbit friendly steel pipes underground for the rabbits that the dogs can’t navigate and they have plenty of other favorite locations. A few minutes after being chased, the dogs are tired and the rabbits are back to munching on plants.




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A rabbit stops and takes a drink from the swimming pool




          This month I have had two sets of Gambel’s quail have their young in the backyard. I don’t know if any of you have ever tried to photograph a covey of quail – not easy as they are skitterish when you get within about 50 feet, are so fast moving and race in every direction non-stop. They are hatched in a nest on the ground and survival depends on being quick quickly. They emerge from their eggs covered in down, fully formed, about an inch tall and ready to run. They can't fly for their first three weeks or so. They get remarkably bigger almost every day. Anyway, I did manage to get a couple of photos showing mom and dad and some of the six remaining birds in one covey. I just couldn’t get them all in one shot as the chicks are headed in every possible direction. They are adolescent chicks at this point, but still “herded” by mom and dad. It took me a few days to figure out it was two sets of birds in the back yard and not one covey zipping back and forth from one side of the yard to the other… The second covey has five remaining chicks as of today. The coveys start with about twelve chicks; the attrition rate is pretty high during the first three weeks.




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Mother and Father quail with a rabbit photobombing in the background







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One of two coveys of quail currently calling the A&P RR home







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Juvenile quail at the A&P RR




          It is not unusual to have several rabbits and several quail out in the backyard at dusk this time of year eating what’s available out there. It is my little bit of country in the middle of the big city.




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Two of the rabbits that live at the A&P RR




          The last photo is of a scorpion on the ceiling in my bedroom above the bed. In the 24+ years I have lived here, this is the seventh one that has made it into the house. I am conscientious about tracking them down outside and keeping them under control, but new ones float in on the irrigation water every two weeks and it is impossible to completely eliminate them. I have been stung a couple of times over the years while working on projects out in the yard. The stings are very painful and it isn’t something that you want to have happen very often. I will admit that it creeped me out a bit waking up and having one above me on the ceiling. No caffeine was needed to be wide awake immediately. The scorpion did not survive.




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An unwelcome visitor on the ceiling




          Happy and safe railroading everybody.




08/17/16

          It is still pretty hot out here, but we are plugging away at smaller tasks on our B unit one at a time and looking forward to the next two months of heat passing quickly. We drilled four holes symmetrically in the six porthole window frames, drilled corresponding holes in the sheet metal and got all of them mounted. They look so much better than the random mounting holes that were in the sheet metal previously. As you will recall, they were originally mounted with rivets. We are using 4-40 stainless steel bolts with button heads which have a bit of a rivet feel to them. They tighten with a small allen wrench and are a clean look.




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Round port hole window frames leveled and installed







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Button head 4-40 bolt has a rivet look




          The rectangular sand box openings were 4’ x 3” on our No. 582 and those match those of the G12 rectangular frames. The sand box openings in our B unit were 3 ½ inches by 3 inches. Of course, the trim frames were long gone before we acquired the B unit. Those of you that are regulars checking in on this project know there are several reasons why I suspect this B unit was one of the very early production models – this is another one. We used a jig saw and metal files to enlarge the openings to match those of our A unit. We got the frames and the sand hole filler covers mounted and they look pretty good.




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Preparing to enlarge the sand box cover holes







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Enlarging the rectangular sand box openings







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Mounted sand box filler cover




          I thought I had all of the step assemblies we would need for the B unit – it turns out I was wrong. The A units have six sets of steps (three on each side) and the B units have eight sets of steps (four on each side). I only have six. If anyone out there knows where I can buy or trade for two additional step assemblies, please give me a heads up. It turns out the springs that I have for mounting the sand box filler covers are very rusty and in pretty bad shape. If anyone knows where I can acquire 8 of the little springs that are in nice shape please let me know. They are the same as used on the G12 units. It looks like we have the balance of the bolt on trim parts for the B unit other than a back plate and top step for the bottom of one of the B unit doors that we will try and fabricate.




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We need two additional bottom door steps




          We were missing two door handles, but I had acquired two of them years ago and we got them mounted. Originally they were also mounted with rivets; we again went with the 4-40 button head bolts. We also got two of the short grab handles mounted. They were originally tapped at the bottom where there was enough sheet meal and reinforcement to allow tapping the hole. We cleaned the threads of the original mounting holes and the hardware went right in and tightened up. The upper mounting of the short grab handles was accomplished with lock washers and nuts. It looks like the upper locations of the longer grab handles are tapped at the top and at the bottom.




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Door handle was bolted on







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Original riveted door handle




          Over the years, I bought whatever grab handles I could find from whoever would sell them to me. They came from several different trains and the mounting plates bore the color of whatever color their original engines were repainted. We had handles with red, green (2 shades), blue, black and yellow paint on parts of the handles and the mounting plates. I had also acquired a few reproduction handles over the years. We will need to get all of that paint off before we mount the grab handles next month. We are going to use original handles wherever we can and the repro handles in the rest of the locations.




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Grab handles in need of some paint removal




          With the manufacture of the G16 spanning 24 years, four factories and two owners, tooling and jigs apparently changed at some point as some of the grab handles were a full ½ inch longer or shorter than the others. We mixed and matched the best we could so that sets of handles were the same length and matched the pre-existing holes. A couple of the mounting holes had to be moved a tiny bit to match the grab handles that we have, but you can’t tell which ones they were.

          We spent some time filling and sanding extra holes and dents on the B unit, but much work remains on this part of the project.

          Three of our four B unit doors have the top stair step mounted to the body and the back plate in place. It’s hard to imagine the fourth one being removed, but these things were stripped of virtually everything before we got them. We’ll have to figure out how to fabricate one. The three we had were covered in several layers of paint and we bead blasted them. We recently added a coat of aluminum paint and next week after the paint is good and hard we will soften the gloss finish with some fine steel wool.




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Preparing to re-paint a top door step







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Painted step







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Missing door step







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We'll need to fabricate one of these for the missing door step




          We straightened some of the air intake grille work in the sheet metal. I am not completely happy with it just yet. I have some brand new matching grille work, but it will be a major pain if we need to cut out the original and replace it. We’ll see in the next few weeks which way we go with that project.

          There are still about a zillion items on the punch list. Well maybe not a zillion, but almost a hundred items and some are very time-consuming projects. Mounting some of the trim pieces really dresses the B unit up and is motivational to get me after some of the other projects that are far less noticeable and will take considerably longer. It is great to see the AB together and both rolling again after both had been stripped and left for scrap so many years ago.

          I bought a new battery for No. 582. The last one was three years old and that is just as long as they last out here in the heat.

          I started the Red River, Phoenix, Sandusky and Tucson and moved them around during the month to keep the fluids and brake leathers active. It is a monthly activity in the summer to get them all started and moved back and forth a few feet. I also had the track inspection car out and we had the No. 582 running a couple of times during the month.




A&P RR

Red River and the inspection car were started and run this month







A&P RR

Phoenix was started and ran a short distance




          Happy and safe railroading everybody.




07/04/16




A&P RR

G16 A & B Units




          June was a very hot month out here and things slowed down a bit on the railroad and everywhere else. The all time heat record in metro Phoenix is 122 degrees, set on June 26, 1990. For years, I had a T shirt that said "I survived the heat" and it had the date. The Phoenix airport (Sky Harbor) had to close that day as because of the heat planes couldn't get enough lift to safely take off. Phoenix’s last recorded high of at least 120 degrees was back in July 1995. The official high on Sunday June 19 was 118 in Phoenix and 120 here in Peoria. Backyard thermometers are always a few degrees hotter than the official numbers. It was hot and as little got done as possible...

          Ten year ago, Dave and I would use the hottest summer months to lay rail and perform rail maintenance. Somehow we both got ten years older, I am 30 pounds heavier and we get considerably less done during the hot summer months than we once did. That being said, we did make some additional progress on our B unit during the month. We started on the wiring harness for the B unit. When Dave wired our A unit he ran six wires from the rear of the instrument panel to the right rear 6 pin connector. The instrument panel end was coiled and bundled together awaiting the anticipated work on the B unit. We pulled our six wires on the B unit from the right side 6 pin coupler and now have them coiled and bundled at the B unit instrument panel. We color matched each set of six wires so we should save some time on the work later.




A&P RR

G16 A unit wiring







A&P RR

G16 B unit wires




          There is still a great deal of wiring that will be completed including the multiple gauge lights in the instrument panel, the 2 cockpit lights, the two hood panel lights and a pass through to light the rear drum head on an observation coach.

          We moved No. 582 onto one of our trestles where were able touch up some of the paint of the trucks that we just couldn't access from underneath when they sitting on the mainline rail. There wasn't much to touch up, but it was be much easier access up on the trestle. We also got two more coats of primer on the exterior of the B unit. There are a half dozen areas that need unnecessary holes or dents repaired and we hope to get to those areas in July. Once we get those areas roughed in and some primer on them, we can start mounting some of the bolt on handles, steps, port holes etc. When we acquired our B unit, we didn't get anything but the body which was stripped of all parts including the trim.




A&P RR

G16 A & B units




          I have already started digging through the shelves and boxes and located some of the bolt on parts. Some are in much better shape and may fit better than some of the others. Over the years, I have collected all of the handles, steps, door handles etc. that I could find and in my mind I think I have all of the little trim parts needed for the B unit - if I can locate them in our boxes and on the shelves. They really add to the appearance of the A and B units.

          If I would have had room over the years to group parts and keep types of parts and assemblies together, this process would be much easier now. When I first started out with this equipment, everything was grouped and tagged and kept together in plastic containers on my main parts shelves. Over the years as room disappeared, items ended up in boxes scattered around three storage buildings, an attic, garage and spare bedroom... It is frustrating when I can't find a part that I know I have, but I also stumble across some cool parts that I had long ago forgot that I had acquired. Dave reminds me from time to time that having acquired so many parts over the years that you can't keep track of them is a good problem to have... I agree with him most of the time. We have both spent a great deal of time rooting through boxes over the years looking for specific parts.

          We spent a few hours removing the rivets that held the three porthole window frames on each side and the builders plate in place. The window frames and builders plate were long gone when we got her, but it appears that they were torn from the body instead of being removed properly. The rivets protruded from the inside through the outside of the sheet metal. You might think that the 28 rivets pretty much fell out when tapped with a hammer - you would be very wrong... We finally got them all out. After we finally got them all removed, it became obvious that there was no consistency in the rivet patterns of the window frames. It looks as if they freelanced where the four rivets were placed. On our A unit, they are all symmetrical and evenly spaced. This may be another indicator that our B unit is one of the earlier B units produced.

          Dave worked on the gas tanks some this month and they are not too far away, but they just aren't ready to mount yet.

          There remain more than a hundred items on the punch list and some are very time-consuming projects, but it is great to see the AB together and the B rolling again after at least thirty years and likely much longer than that.

          I charged the battery in the No. 582 and started the Red River, Phoenix, Sandusky and Tucson and moved them around during the month to keep the fluids and brake leathers active. I also had the track inspection car out and we had the No. 582 running a couple of times in June to keep the batteries charged, carburetors and fuel pumps active and the brakes operated to keep everything happy.

          Happy and safe railroading everybody.




A&P RR

G16 B unit coupled to the A unit







06/08/16

          We made some additional progress on our B unit during May. We got three friends over to assist Dave and I and we carried the B unit about 30 feet from the saw horses where we have been working on her for a few months over to the mainline where its trucks were waiting. We got the chassis in place on the trucks and got the safety hook half moons aligned and bolted in place.

          We got the B unit coupled to the rear of the A unit. The B unit draw coupler took a little persuading, but with some WD-40 silicone lubricant and manipulating by the five of us, she finally lined up and moved into place.




A&P RR

G16 A & B unit coupled




          The vacuum hoses on each truck were united with their quick disconnect connections on the car chassis and were snapped into place.

          The vacuum hose connection that follows the couplers on the cars and connects their brake systems was slightly too long as someone (me) miscalculated the necessary length. We shortened the rear hose on the A unit about two inches and they aligned perfectly. We installed the two vacuum hoses that run between the bulkheads of the two cars and also installed the two electrical bundles that run between the same two bulkheads.

          The seat assembly is not the one original to this B unit, but it is the one that we have. The mounting holes in the seat assembly weren't even close to the ones in the frame. We utilized the holes in the seat and drilled and tapped all new holes in the frame. The seat is now securely bolted in place.

          We removed the mounting brackets and plate that we fabricated and installed for the incorrect vacuum hand valves. It was dirtier and more time consuming than that sounds, but could have been much worse.

          I attached back plates in areas where several "bonus" holes were located so that next month we can get some Bondo into several of the unnecessary holes.

          We started the No. 582 to test the brake systems of the two cars coupled together. The brakes activated simultaneously on all wheels which is what we hoped for and there were no leaks. Since we had her running anyway, Dave took several laps around the A & P and I rode in the B unit for a number of those laps. It is a nice ride back in the B unit. I think young folks will get a big kick out of it. Even some of us older folks will enjoy the ride back there.




A&P RR

Running the G16 A and B Units







A&P RR

Passing the watertank







A&P RR

Running through the front cut







A&P RR

G16 A and B Units on the turntable




          Not that I don't trust my math, but we did make sure that the AB unit fit on the turntable and in our original engine house. The closet fit is in the engine house where we only have about 18 inches to spare. There is plenty of room on the turntable; the transfer table is a different story. The AB fits fine on the transfer table for photographs or for the use of stall No. 1, but won't clear the doors to access stall Nos. 2 or 3. We have her stored in our original engine house.




A&P RR

G16 A and B Units on the transfer table




          We didn't receive a vacuum tank or any mounting brackets with the B unit. We headed to our parts shelves and located a correct vacuum tank, but no brackets. We took the measurements of the brackets mounting the vacuum tank in our A unit and fabricated a new set of brackets out of some flat strap iron and sheet metal strap that I had on hand. The brackets are almost identical to the original ones. We got the tank mounted in the B unit. Even though the tank won't be live in the B unit, we want it to be cosmetically complete and accurate. It is mounted just like the tank in the A unit and looks pretty good.




A&P RR

Vacuum tank mounting brackets







A&P RR

Vacuum tank







A&P RR

Vacuum tank mounted in the B Unit




          We continue to work on the gas tanks, but they aren't ready to mount yet. We still need another good coat of primer on her, get the gas tanks finished and mounted, start running electrical and start digging through the shelves hunting for the bolt on handles, steps, port holes etc. We need to move No. 582 onto one of our trestles so we can touch up some of the paint of the trucks that we just couldn't access from underneath when they sitting on the mainline rail. There isn't much to touch up, but it will be much easier access up on the trestle. There remain almost two hundred items on the punch list, but it is great to see her rolling again after at least thirty years and possibly much longer than that.

          I started the Red River, Phoenix, Sandusky and Tucson and moved them around during the month to keep the fluids and brake leathers active. I also had the track inspection car out and about in May. It was 105 degrees the weekend of the 14th and will be at least 10 degrees hotter than that next month, so running the equipment for guests is done until October. Hot or not, the equipment batteries still need charged, carburetors kept active and brakes operated frequently to keep everything happy. (As I sit and write this on June 4th, it is officially 115 degrees; unofficial backyard thermometers read 2 - 4 degrees warmer.)

          We received some additional history on the train currently operating at Freestone Park in Gilbert, AZ this month from a visitor to our website, Joey Klein. Joey learned from Ron Parrish outside Cincinnati that she ran at Fantasy Farms in Ohio during the 80's. Joey also forwarded a photo. Thank you so much. As you can probably tell, we love the background and history of these machines.




A&P RR

Freestone Park's #99 running at Fantasy Farm back in the 1980's




          My Dalmatians Lodi and Lizzie enjoy being out in the shop or in the engine house keeping me company in the evenings or on the weekends when I'm working on the trains. There are times though when they are just a little bit too much fun - wanting to kiss my ear while I'm working on the ground or walking off with a screwdriver that I am using... Lizzie is my fourth Dalmatian and until her, they all avoided the A & P trestles without exception. There is 4+ inches of space in between the individual ties and it is no fun if you miss a tie and step through - I know this first hand. Lizzie not only doesn't avoid the trestles, she seems to enjoy walking on them. She regularly walks across the trestles and each foot lands on a tie - every time. Last week, after receiving irrigation we were out back and I happened to have my phone with me and was able to get a photo of her walking across our longest trestle like it was no big deal. She walks across them as fast or faster than I do. Craziest thing I have ever seen.




A&P RR

Lodi and Lizzie in the Engine House







A&P RR

Lizzie walking on trestle number 5







A&P RR

Lizzie trestle walking




          Happy and safe railroading everybody.




A&P RR

AMT at use at the A&P RR







A&P RR

Lodi and Lizzie







05/16/16

          We made some additional progress on our B unit during April. We tested the brake line plumbing on the B unit which is a combination of the original plumbing and new copper line and fittings where we had to cut out and remove badly damaged original plumbing.

          Several years ago, I purchased a commercial Robinair vacuum pump that mostly sits around here and collects dust. However, it is invaluable when we are working with these trains looking for vacuum leaks. It allows me to complete specific system diagnostics without having to have the engine running. It eliminates noise, fumes and heat. If any of you guys do much of this stuff – it would be a great addition to your shop.




A&P RR

Vacuum Pump




          Initially during testing, we were bleeding off vacuum pretty quickly. One at a time, we located and repaired pin hole leaks. Eventually, we located and repaired three pin hole leaks in the B unit brake plumbing. After those repairs were made the system held vacuum great.

          The trucks that will go under our B unit have been part of a multi-phase, multi-year rebuild project. We had quite a number of trucks here in storage that were in bad shape. Either the wheels or the axles were badly worn - sometimes both. The seals and bearings were shot. Brake rigging was bent or missing, no life was left on the brake shoes and the vacuum canisters wouldn't function or hold vacuum. In many cases, the vacuum plumbing lines were badly damaged - often beyond repair. Plank bearings were missing and leaf springs were damaged - you get the idea. It was a huge challenge and undertaking to completely repair/rebuild a dozen MTC trucks from the axles up.




A&P RR

Original MTC Truck







A&P RR

Many trucks waiting to be rebuilt




          In 2008, we started with phase one which was new seals and bearings for each journal box and new wheels and axles if needed. In 2009, we started on phase 2 which was rebuilding 48 sets of brake rigging, replacing all the brake shoes, rebuilding 48 vacuum canisters with new leather cups, felts and springs, building new 1/4 inch vacuum lines for each of the twelve trucks and preparing new vacuum hoses and fittings. In late 2009, we started repainting the truck frames and reassembling the trucks and completed reassembling all the trucks in 2010. The trucks were all stored inside until 2014, when we needed that space for No. 582.




A&P RR

Brake assemblies being rebuilt







A&P RR

Completed brake rigging and vacuum canisters




          Since 2014, they have been store outside under tarps which just isn't the same thing as being stored inside. We get so many dust storms here, it is hard to keep things inside the house clean in the summer. Items stored outside, forget it. We pulled the two trucks off the rack that we had prepared for under the B unit and found they were very dusty, the wheel treads and a couple of spots on the brake linkage had some surface rust and two of the eight vacuum canisters were not functioning. We washed and wiped everything off, sanded and repainted where needed and got some life back into the leather cups that were the issue with the vacuum canisters. As helpful as the Robinair vacuum pump is for testing the vacuum system for an entire car or a whole truck at a time, the small hand vacuum pump is perfect when working on one vacuum canister at a time.




A&P RR

Completed trucks in storage







A&P RR

Hand vacuum pump




          The trucks are now ready to go. Much of what we do here is accomplished by manual labor. Hopefully, I can get a few folks over here next month and we can get the B unit carried over to the main line and get her on her trucks and maybe get her coupled to the rear of No. 582.




A&P RR

Restored truck







A&P RR

Completed trucks ready for service under the G-16 B Unit




          There are still several dozen "bonus" holes and a couple of large dents in the sheet metal from prior owners that we need to fill, screen mesh to repair and rust areas that need attention. Then we will get another good coat of primer on her. The cowl and two hood panels also need some additional body work and two good coats of primer.

          We need to polish or sand and paint the aluminum gas tanks and get them mounted after we have her on the trucks. The electrical and all the lighting will also go in after that.

          I still need to remove the brackets that we fabricated and installed for the incorrect vacuum hand valves. There are literally hundreds of items on the "needs completed" list, but we will keep plugging away at it.

          Our S16s (engine and tender) are 19 feet 6 inches long. Our G16 AB lashup is 20 feet long. The bigger difference is in front axle (front truck) to rear axle (rear truck) dimension which is almost two feet longer with the AB set than the S16 and I don't mind telling you that I was a little nervous. After several measurements, I am confident that our AB unit will fit in our original engine house, will fit on the transfer table and will turn on the turntable as a unit just as the S16s do.

          Next month should be an exciting month as other than for a photo opportunity several months ago, the B unit hasn't been on trucks or had couplers on her in who knows how many years. Seeing her on the rail again, even in her current state of incompletion will be very rewarding for me. I'm not sure if we will get her coupled to No. 582 next month or if that will be the month after - we'll just have to see how it goes.

          Our friend Ed Loesche has recently moved from Camp Verde, AZ to Clarkdale, AZ a town rich in mining and railroad history. He has built an 18 inch gauge engine for display in his yard that is patterned after a Rogers 0-4-0 that operated locally many years ago. He has a section of rail and beefy ties that complete the look. Very nice!




Ed Loesche

Ed Loesche's 18 inch gauge engine







Ed Loesche

Ed Loesche's engine display




          Happy and safe railroading everybody.




04/13/16

          We are generally able to operate and work on the equipment out here until Memorial day which pretty much signals the end of our season until October 1. March last year set all kinds of records for heat in the metro Phoenix area, but this year we were very fortunate with moderate weather and we were able to get a few things accomplished.

          We made some additional progress during the month on our B unit. We got a decent coat of primer on her to protect the bare metal, but she will still need another coat down the road. We repaired or replaced several sections of the brake vacuum plumbing that had been crushed or torn free over the years. We will still need to test the system with our commercial vacuum pump and make sure we don't have any pin hole leaks, but from casual observation, all the soldier joints look pretty good. The active vacuum production/storage and throttle systems will all be in the A unit.

          We got the draw bars mounted both front and rear with new shock absorber halves and felts. Driving the drawbar swivel pins into place and getting the cotter key holes to align can be an adventure, but both of these went remarkably well.




G-16 B Unit

The draw bars, shock absorber halves and felts have been mounted to the G-16 B Unit




          Several months ago, we replaced the two broken safety hooks under the B unit. This month we the replaced the brass bushings in the safety hook rollers and mounted the rollers with new mounting pins.




G-16 B Unit

The safety hook rollers have been installed




          We replaced all six quick connect vacuum fittings. Two are under the chassis and for the quick connect and disconnect of the trucks. Two more are on the outside of the front bulkhead and connect the throttle and vacuum production and storage systems of the A and the B units. We also fabricated the hoses that will run between the rear bulkhead on the A unit and front bulkhead on the B unit. The hoses may be a little long and if so I will shorten them once we get the cars together. The last two quick disconnect fittings run with the drawbars and have a short intermediate connection to connect the brake system between the cars.




G-16 B Unit

Front bulkhead quick disconnect fittings







G-16 B Unit

Short vacuum hose







G-16 B Unit

Long vacuum hoses




          Several months ago, Dave fabricated the two electrical cables that will connect the two sets of 6 pin connectors that are mounted adjacent to the vacuum connections on the A and B unit bulkheads. We got the two 6 pin connectors mounted on the B unit front bulkhead and the one mounted on the rear bulkhead that provides electrical to the coaches and rear drumhead.




G-16 B Unit

Electrical cables







G-16 B Unit

6 pin connector and draw bar in place on the G-16 B Unit




          The original engine screen in the B unit was cut out for some reason. We located another and got it mounted. We also got the hood latch mounted. Dave identified where he wanted to establish the chassis ground and we prepared that area and got a clean bolt of the right diameter in place.




G-16 B Unit

We replaced the missing engine screen




          There are still hundreds of items on the "to do" list some far more time-consuming than others. After we confirm that the vacuum system is either leak-free or we make it that way, we can get her on her trucks. There are still several dozen "bonus" holes in the sheet metal from prior owners that we will fill, screen mesh to repair and rust areas that need attention. Then we will get another good coat of primer on her. The cowl and two hood panels also need some additional body work and two good coats of primer.

          We need to polish the aluminum gas tanks and get them mounted after we have her on the trucks. The electrical and all the lighting will also go in after that.

          I still need to remove the brackets that we fabricated and installed for the incorrect vacuum hand valves. That will be a dirty job and I will do that before we get her on her trucks.

          The list goes on and on, but the items I just mentioned are probably the next items that we will handle as well as anything else that comes up. Over the next few months we will get her back together and I hope we will have her completed and on the rails behind No. 582 sometime this fall.

          Our good friend Dan Richins stopped in from Salt Lake, Utah for an A & P visit. Dan was a long-time engineer on the DRGW and Union Pacific railroads and has visited the A & P every year since I got started building out back. Dan was also the person responsible for scoring us all but two of our 1960s vintage Sunderella awnings scattered around the various patio areas in the back yard. Once it starts to get warmer in the Midwest and hot out here the number of visitors drops off dramatically. Dan is pretty hard core and a little thing like heat isn't much of a deterrent to him. It is always fun to have Dan stop by.




Vistor

Dan Richins stopped by the A&P RR




          Long time visitors to this site will remember that when I initially built the A & P through the front yard that I had four large pads of grass - two on each side of the tracks that were separated by the sidewalk. In the fall of 2011, I removed the grass and replaced it with a xeriscape (cactus and low water usage ground cover) front yard. I do live in the middle of the desert and thought going to xeriscape in the front yard was water responsible. The first two or three years the front yard looked pretty bland I have to admit. With the maturing of the cactus and plants the last couple of years, the Spring flowers have really been spectacular. It is amazing how much color and variety the desert has to offer.




Cactus

A stunning torch cactus in bloom at the A&P RR this month







Cactus

Multi-colored cactus blooms







Cactus

Just a few of many cactus that are in bloom at the A&P RR this month







Cactus

There's barely enough room on this cactus for all these flowers







Cactus

Who says nature doesn't have a sense of humor?







Cactus

Cactus in bloom at the A&P RR







Cactus

One of several varieties of torch cactus in bloom at the A&P RR







Cactus

Beaver tail cactus in bloom




          Saturday, May 14 is National Train Day. Please remember to support your local railroad museum, large scale railroad or railroad club. Visitors and donations help keep everything running and are the life blood of many of these organizations.



          Happy and safe railroading everybody.





Cactus

Strawberry hedgehog cactus in bloom at the A&P RR







03/25/16

          February was a busy month on the A & P both with projects and with visitors. I have well chronicled the challenges we have out here with our gasoline with its many emission control additives. It wreaks havoc on the fuel pumps and the carburetors of these older engines not designed to run on modern fuel. I have tried various Stabil products without success. I will be exploring some additives my street rod buddies have recommended during the coming months.

          We cleaned the fuel jets and the choke assembly and replaced the electric fuel pump on the Red River this month. She started right up and ran great after all the attention.




Red River

Dave running the Red River




          I think we finally solved the great Coconino mystery. Malcolm had the Wisconsin engine in the Coconino completely rebuilt as part of the restoration process. It then sat in one of his storage buildings for several months until the frame and the plumbing was complete and ready for the installation of the engine. From the first day we fired her up, she ran really hot. Malcolm installed a large exhaust fan that blew cooler air onto the engine. When we rebuilt and replaced the two bad hydraulic motors here a couple of years ago, we added two additional fans to help cool the hydraulic oil.

          The Coconino always ran hot, really hot. We both always assumed the problem had to do with the hydraulic pump and the amount of additional heat that it generated. We ran her for many years dealing with the overheating issues. Our friend Jerry Graves was over last month and decided he wanted to pull the side covers off of the Wisconsin and see if something was blocking the cooling fins.




Coconino

Jerry Graves running the Coconino




          Sure enough, there were mouse nests, carcasses and debris just filling the entire space under the side covers; there was no air movement at all. The mice had to have gotten into his storage building and under the side covers in the time between when the engine was rebuilt and when it was later placed in the Coconino. We never thought to check under the side panels until now.




Coconino

A mouse nest and debris clogged the Coconino's cooling fins




          After operating her so hot for all these years, we have some engine issues that will require us to pull the engine and determine what all has been damaged. We have a rebuilt engine already sitting in our parts room and sometime this summer or fall, we will swap out the rebuilt for the one currently in the Coconino and when time and energy permits will tinker with the overheating engine. You can bet I will look under the engine side covers once we complete the engine swap...




Coconino

The reason the Coconino was running hot




          Richard "Dick" Knoebel of Knoebel's Amusement Resort spent an afternoon here with some of his friends. His park in Elysburg, PA first opened in 1926 is always rated among the top family friendly parks in the country. Dick has two operating S-16's and one non-operating S-16 at his park. He has lived so much of the history of the older rides that it was a fun afternoon talking trains, roller coasters, whip and dark rides, bumper cars and skeeball lanes. What an amazing wealth of knowledge.




vistors

Dick Knoebel visited the A&P RR




          February is a big month for visitors on the A & P. We had several other guests this month as well. Aria and her family were back and she helped me operate both the Tucson with gon 202 and the Sandusky with gon 218.




vistors

Aria helping to run the A&P's Tucson engine




          Ed Loesche from Clarkdale and his parents from Prescott visited. Ed's father was the gentlemen that took the 8 mm film of the Coconino operating at Rye Amusement Park almost 60 year ago.




vistors

Ed Loesche runs the Tucson







vistors

Ed Loesche's parents visit the A&P RR




          Marge Linderman, daughter Aubrey and grandson Austin visited and we operated the Tucson and the track inspection car.




vistors

The Lindermans enjoying a ride at the A&P RR




          Candy Worley and her daughter and two grandchildren from PA visited and everyone had fun with the Tucson providing the motive power.

          My next door neighbor was having a birthday party for his granddaughter; I made sure she received her wish of a train ride.




vistors

Happy Birthday!




          Pete and Char Robinson of the Watermann and Western Railroad in Watermann, IL and Jerry Steibring of the P and JS railroad nearby visited this month. We got the hand pump car out of storage and all took a turn or two around the A & P layout. It was great having her in action again and we all burnt off enough calories to not feel too guilty about having some great Mexican food.




vistors

Char and Pete Robinson work the A&P hand pump car







vistors

Jerry Steibring, Pete Robinson and John Sayre




          We got started on repairing and replacing sections of the brake vacuum plumbing on the B unit. We also got most of it in primer. Over the next few months we will get it back together and I hope we will have her on the rails behind No. 582 sometime this fall.

          It is not unusual for me to have one of the single doors open on the engine house if I am working on something and frequently heading to the parts shelves or the garage to grab parts or specialty tools. I had a bird fly in and just didn't want to leave. The more I tried to coax it out, the more frantic it became. I finally opened all the doors and left for about 20 minutes - it flew out on its own - finally.




Enginehouse Bird

A bird decided to hang out in the enginehouse







Enginehouse Bird

A visiting bird enjoys the view from the A&P enginehouse




          Happy and safe railroading everybody.




02/08/16

          A few long time loose ends got tied up this month. I finally finished painting and mounted three of the signs on portable posts that I started months ago and just never got around to getting them finished. A series of cold and rainy days provided the impetus to finally get them finished.




Signs

Portable signs (RR Crossing, Whistle and Slow)




          Dave has been conducting internet research on single pin bulbs brighter than the old style J97 bulbs for use in our coach lights. He located a LED light bulb version that consists of a series of LED lights that is much brighter than the original bulb, but uses the same socket. They look a little different, but you don't see them anyway. We will be ordering more of these for this application.




Bulbs

LED bulb (left) and old incandescent bulb




          Over the years, we have owned five S16 coach cars. Two from the Phoenix Hiway House, one from the Tucson Hiway House and two from Cedar Point. We still have the Verde Vista from the Tucson Hiway House. The other four cars were traded or sold over the years for various parts we needed to complete our S16 engines and tenders. I retained the coach lights off the coaches. Over the years, I acquired the correct faceted lenses in white, red and green for the four plus sets of Allan Herschell coach lights. The month, we located seventeen of the twenty that we have and added all of the correct lenses in the right locations and bagged them into sets of 4. At this point, I wish I had kept another one of the S16 coaches, but was more interested at the time in acquiring all the other parts we were missing.




S-16 Marker Lamps

S-16 Marker Lamps




          Hopefully, somewhere down the road, we will track down another S16 that needs a great deal of TLC and a couple of coaches.

          Ed Lecuyer and wife Michelle from Hampstead, New Hampshire visited. Ed is a very active member with the WW and F Railway Museum. The Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington Railway is a 2 ft narrow gauge railway located in Maine that operated from 1895 until 1933. Ed and other active members of the museum are working to preserve and restore equipment and the right of way. Ed had visited the A & P a few times previously.




Ed Lecuyer

Ed Lecuyer runs the Tucson







Michelle Lecuyer

Michelle Lecuyer visits the A&P RR




          The B unit was bead blasted the last weekend of the month. It is nice to have all of the rust and multiple layers of paint off so that we can see what we actually have in terms of sheet metal. We will roll the car upside down and get a good thick coat of primer underneath. We replaced a couple of broken safety hooks a couple of years ago before we started this project in earnest so all four of them are in great shape. We need to get the car couplers assembled and in place, the bolster rollers and pins installed, repair and replace several sections of the brake lines and replace the original quick release couplers with the new ones as our first scheduled projects. After those projects are complete, we will roll it back over and everything else can be done once it is back right side up. There is a tremendous amount of work that needs completed mechanically on this car, but it should be fun.




B-Unit

B-Unit prior to bead blasting







B-Unit

Bead blasting the B-Unit







B-Unit

B-Unit after bead blasting







B-Unit

B-Unit on her side for plumbing and mechanical repair




          As you may remember, when we acquired our B unit, she was an orphan, stripped of all parts usable on other projects and without a builder's tag. She had been owned by several different folks and stored for many years. There are a handful of clues that seem to indicate she was one of the earlier B units produced and the original paint scheme was the green and yellow of the Chicago and Northwestern. Maybe one day, those things will help us figure out her original production number.




B-Unit

Spot where the builder's tag once adorned the B-Unit




          One of our friends, Neil Boreczky who is very active mechanically with the House of David Railroad in Eden, Mich. has been a big help sending us a B unit instrument panel photo and information about the early style Bendix vacuum valves. Each A & B that Dave and I had seen (other than the No. 501) was No. 580 or above had the "new style" Bendix valves that mounted to brackets on the left side of the body. Neil pointed out that the early units had the older style valves that mounted to the instrument panel. It is unclear exactly what year the transition from the older to newer style valve occurred. No. 580 has the new style and Neil reports that No. 560 has the older style. Any of you readers that own, operate or have access to MTC units in between Nos. 560 and No. 580, please snap us a photo of the hand valves and forward to us with the engine number. It will be very much appreciated. Just a reminder our e-mail address is: sayrejohn@hotmail.com.




Bendix Valves

New style (body mount) Bendix valves




          You may recall that a few months ago, we fabricated brackets and mounted them to the left side of the body to mount 2 of the "newer style" Bendix valves and weren't sure what went in the two largest holes in the instrument panel. Thanks to Neil, we have cleared all of that up. We will be cutting out the brackets that we installed for the new style valves in the next couple of weeks. We just need to find a couple of the older style valves and will have an awesome looking original instrument panel.

          Here is the amazing part of this story. I have been buying old G16 and S16 parts for years; a box here and a box there whenever folks had extra parts for sale and I had the money. After I got Neil's photos, I thought those old style valves looked familiar. This morning, I started going through some old boxes of stuff that I had accumulated over the years and I found two of the old style Bendix valves. One appears in good shape and one will need some tlc, but we have two of them! They look very different from the newer style and I had no idea they actually were G16 parts - just thought they were throw ins with other stuff I wanted and bought years ago... Sometimes you just get lucky!




Bendix Valves

Old style (dash mount) Bendix valves




          The Phoenix and the Sandusky both had their batteries charged and are ready to go next month; kind of like me after finding the older style Bendix valves!




          Happy and safe railroading everybody.




          Dave's job had him traveling to the Philippines again in January. He visited the Festival Mall in Alabang and took a couple photos of the electric train that runs inside the mall.




Festival Mall

Festival Mall Train in Alabang, Philippines







Festival Mall

The electric train in the Festival Mall in Alabang, Philippines







01/11/16

          The first weekend in December was great Fall weather here with the highs in the low 70s. We managed to get a little railroading in between raking several large bags of leaves. The Coconino, Red River and Tucson all saw some action on the mainline.

          As long as I can remember, the headlight on the track inspection car has always been a problem. It only had one mounting point and with the vibration of the one cylinder engine it was always vibrating loose and was frequently pointing down instead of forward. You could only tighten it so tight. We created a second mounting point at the rear of the lamp bowl. We have lost some of the flexibility in aiming the lamp, but it won't be pointing down at the ground any more.




Inspection Car Light

The headlight on the inspection car was prone to vibrating loose and pointing down







Inspection Car Light

We added a second mounting point to the inspection car's headlight




          I attended the Holiday Lights event at Scottsdale McCormick-Stillman Railroad park. This year the event was December 11 to January 2 and ran daily from 6:30 - 9:00 pm. The days and hours are subject to change each year. I attended on Saturday the 19th. It was a huge turnout and, as usual, Tom Opperman and his team did a great job preparing the equipment and displays for the event. The park was filled with dozens and dozens of light displays and hundreds of thousands of lights. The Scottsdale Live Steamers were running for the public, the model railroad building was open and Santa Claus was on site for last minute visits and wishes. It really is a great event and if you haven't ever attended you should seriously consider going next year. Insider tip - arrive early to get a reasonably close parking spot. You're welcome!




McCormick-Stillman Holiday Lights

Visitors lining up to board the train at the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park holiday lights event







McCormick-Stillman Holiday Lights

Steam engine #11 waits at the station







McCormick-Stillman Holiday Lights

Festive holiday lights at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park




          Long time visitors to the park will remember that for many years the train traveled the back loop of the park in the opposite direction than it does now; during Holiday Lights, the trains travel the loop in the original direction which is a little nostalgic for some of us that have been frequent visitors to the park for 30+ years. Engine No. 11 was providing the steam power on the evening that I attended. There is just something different about running steam after dark in December when you can see the fire in the firebox, when you can smell the hot metal and lubricants in the cold night air and when the sound of the engine seems to carry for miles... I love that stuff.




McCormick-Stillman Holiday Lights

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park's holiday lights







McCormick-Stillman Holiday Lights

McCormick-Stillman Holiday Lights







McCormick-Stillman Holiday Lights

Lights along the right of way




          I found a set of horns for the cab roof of our G12.




G-12 Horns

Horns for the G-12




          We had a run day on December 27 with the Tucson and gon no. 202 in service. It was chilly, but not as cold and windy as the day before. The warm air from the Wisconsin engine still felt good. We had friends in town from Moor Park, California and once we made a few laps, several neighbors and their children and grandchildren appeared and everyone got rides. Some of the California visitors began working toward their engineer certification and some operated the track inspection car. Everyone seemed to have a good time.




Visitors

Friends from Moor Park, operated the track inspection car







Visitors

Running the Tucson







Visitors

Operating the Tucson engine at the A&P RR




          Dave found us another Hiway House Hotel menu and a summer of 1959 photo of the hotel and its train tracks. The original G16 (No. 870) that operated there from December of 1956 through October of 1959 is seen in the background of the photo. No. 870 was replaced in October of 1959 by the S16 that later became our Phoenix engine.

          The windows on the Red River were previously modified so that they could slide open and closed to more closely resemble those of the real "Bumble Bee" locomotive. The practical issue was a great deal of vibration rattle and a great chance of getting your fingers or hand pinched when the cab was tilted back for engine serving. A few months ago we pinned the front window frame on each side and conceded to one sliding window on each side of the cab. This approach cut the vibration rattle in half and didn't save any fingers when servicing the engine so this month we pinned the back window on each side. Having the sliding windows seemed like a great idea at one time, it just turned out to be impractical here.




Red River

We pinned the sliding windows on the Red River







Red River

Red River




          I am working on the 2015 Arizona and Pacific Annual Report and hope to have it completed in the next few days. It will be posted either prior to January 20 or at the end of the month as business commitments fall in between.




Trinity Alps

Russ Robinson sent us a photo from his Trinity Alps Mountain Railroad




          We hope everyone has a great 2016. Happy and safe railroading everybody.






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