2017 Arizona and Pacific RR Annual Report

2017 Arizona & Pacific RR

Annual Report

A&P RR 2017

Arizona and Pacific Railroad 2017

          This is the fourteenth year I have written an annual report and every year as I look back on what we accomplished during the prior twelve months, I think it’s been one of the busiest years ever on the A & P. This year isn’t any different; it was a very busy year.

Maintenance Projects in 2017

          Most of our track has been on the ground for almost twenty years now and some of the lag screws are starting to work themselves loose, some ties have started to deteriorate and some splice bar bolts have loosened. We spent a great deal of time this year addressing our ties one at a time. We replaced some ties and lag screws, repositioned tie plates, trimmed rail junctions, serviced splice bars and gauged the rail. You might think well how long could that take. We have approximately 1950 regular ties in place and ten switches with 17 switch ties each. Each tie has a minimum of four tie plates with lag screws and the switch ties have at least twice that number. It is a time-consuming, but necessary, process crawling though the gravel and servicing them one tie at a time. It isn’t as easy on the back and knees as it once was and just takes longer. We have reworked the entire mainline and started on the spurs and sidings; this project won’t be finished until mid year 2018.

          In 2018, we will replace all twenty of the switch stand ties which are 4x6s and in 2019 we will start a five year program to replace all of our ties. Once completed, that should give the railroad another 20 years of life which will make me 89 and Dave 79; that is probably good enough.

Acquisitions in 2017

          The type of acquisition that we usually cover under this caption is that of equipment. We acquired parts, but no equipment this year. What we did acquire that made a big different here were some high quality tarps. Not all of our equipment fits into our current two engine houses. In the past we started with the blue 8 mill tarps. The sun destroys them in a month in this climate. We graduated to the 10 mill gray tarps available at the local big box “Do it Yourself” stores a few years ago; they last three to four months here. We have ten cars and engines under tarps at almost $40 each. This year Dave found a supplier for 14 mill white tarps through the internet. They are twice as expensive, but the first set has been in place for 10 months and is still in great shape. We are already ahead financially and haven’t had to pick up shredded tarp fabric scattered throughout the back yard this year.


14 mil white tarps in use at the A&P RR

S-16 Coconino


The Coconino

          The engine in the Coconino had been overheating for years. We finally found the time to pull the Wisconsin motor and replace it with one from our parts cache that was rebuilt a few years ago. While doing that, we redesigned the hood closure mechanism. The prior owner, Malcolm Mackey, shortened the distance between the engine and tender to make it easier to reach the engine mounted controls. As a result, the hood won’t clear the tender box when it is fully opened. He built a hood closure mechanism that limited the travel of the hood. It was a great idea, but conflicted with wiring and with the choke cable. We modified it slightly, rerouted some wiring and moved the choke knob location on the instrument panel. Everything clears and works great now. We also replaced the whistle valve which had been problematic for awhile. The Coconino should be in good shape for the foreseeable future.


The old engine has been pulled from the Coconino


Preparing to replace the engine in the Coconino


The new engine for the Coconino is on the hoist


The new engine has been installed in the Coconino


Running the Coconino with the new engine

S-16 Phoenix


The Phoenix

          The Phoenix ran great before our summer shutdown which lasted longer than usual this year as the heat held on a little longer than normal. It needs a carburetor rebuild which we will get to in January 2018.


Running the Phoenix

S-16 Red River


The Red River

          Much like the Phoenix, the Red River ran just fine before the several moth summer shutdown. It also needs a carburetor rebuild which we will complete in January 2018.

S-16 Sandusky


The Sandusky

          I think the Sandusky was one of our busiest power units this year as she led the Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas trains this year. As long as the batteries are charged, she is a great running train and pretty much problem free. We did fix a leaking vacuum gauge in the tender this year.


Sandusky sits on the turntable


Sandusky ran the majority of the passenger service this year

S-16 Tucson


The Tucson

          We replaced the plug wires on the Tucson as the prior ones were chewed on by varmints and rebuilt the carburetor. She is running very well.


Running the Tucson

G-16 No. 582


G-16 #582

          Our no. 582 saw very little action in 2017; we need to change that this year.

G-16 B Unit

          We acquired the material and started fabrication of the sub frame assy. It is an important component as it has the inner mounting tabs where the gas tanks mount and also supports the engine and transmission. We also continued work on the non-brake related plumbing. The brakes are already plumbed and operate from the A unit. When the “Limited” trains were originally produced, the operator ran the A & B units from the cockpit of the B unit. Our B unit is not powered, but provides a great ride and experience for junior engineers. The dash and hand valves will be complete, but all operations will take place from the cockpit of the A unit.


Subframe assembly for the G-16 B Unit

G-12 MTC Engine No. 377

          We acquired some additional parts for our G12 restoration. Specifically we found and purchased window frames, screens, a front marker light and spring clips.


G12 restoration parts

Maintentance of Way Equipment


The Track Inspection Car

          Our MOW equipment didn’t require much work this year. When towing the Coconino to the front yard to pull the Wisconsin engine, we discovered that our track inspection car needed a new chain and chain tensioner. It works fine under moderate load, but I purchased a new chain and tensioner that we will install next year so we can use the TIC in any application needed.


Inpecting the chain and gears

Engine House and Collections

          We acquired a couple of variations of the MT & RR Co. torque wrenches for our collection. I hope to expand our torque wrench display next year so that more of that collection will be displayed.


Miniature Train and Railroad Company torque wrench collection

          Dave found some early S16 photographs that are really cool of the first S16 built, no. 59-1865, that originally ran at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. We own the second one built, no. 59-1866, that originally operated in Rye, New York.

          I am still looking for a Miniature Train Co. 14 gauge wheel in decent shape and a MTC E10 wheel also in decent shape for a new display if anyone out there comes across one, please contact me.

Miscellaneous Projects

          Sometimes it gets a little difficult to separate the railroad related projects from those that are indirectly related. When I have groups of people over here, you can never have too much seating or things for people to walk around and look at while others are riding the train. Is rebuilding and repainting patio chairs and picnic tables related? I replaced seasonal grapes along 75 feet of the right-of-way with Catsclaw and the fencing to support it. The Catsclaw will bloom most of the year and provide green leaves and yellow flowers that will enhance the view both toward and from the trains. We look forward to it expanding and filling in over the next two summers.


Catsclaw and fencing


New sod and catsclaw


Restored picnic tables

          I cleaned five gallon bucket after five gallon bucket of silt out of rock creek and from under rock creek trestle. It doesn’t affect the operational of the trains, but sure is a better look. I painted the pedestrian bridge and three posts adjacent to the tracks. I added fifty rolls of grass sod and hand dug 200+ feet of trench for new sprinkler lines in the rear yard near the engine house.


Rock Creek


New sod in front of the engine house doors


The last trench is nearly grown over with grass

          I dug out three trees near the right-of-way, one in the rear yard and two in the front. In conjunction with the front yard project, I planted 30 new cactus, 20 lantana and 8 bouganvilla. I brought in 7 ½ tons of dirt, 7 tons of granite gravel and 5 tons of granite rip rap and built 50 additional feet of rip rap walls near the front right of way. In years past, I would have hired someone to move all the earth; now I enjoy doing most of that work myself while I still can. I added steps, a walking path and a terrace in the front yard adjacent to the right-of-way.


Seven tons of gravel


New cactus


New steps in the front yard


New cactus at the A&P RR


Five tons of granite rip rap


New rip rap wall


Sandusky approaches the new rip rap wall & bouganvilla

          I caulked and repainted our Santa Fe Railroad phone booth which everyone asks questions about on their way to the A & P engine house. We lubricated the bearings in the transfer table wheels and lubricated the turntable main bearing as well as replaced and lubricated the bridge wheel bearings.

          There were many other projects like these which aren’t directly related to the operation of the A & P, but are related to the A & P experience.


Re-painted windbell tree


New pool pump cover

Travels in 2017

          I didn’t have much time to visit other railroads this year as I was so busy here and with my real job, but I still managed to get out a little bit. The railroads Dave and I visited in Arizona were:

McCormick Railroad Park

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

Scottsdale Live Steamers

Scottsdale Live Steamers


Marana Pumpkin Patch and Farm Festival Railroad

Wildlife World Zoo

CP Huntington #380 at the Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium

Visitors in 2017

Visitors to the A&P RR in 2016

Vistors to the Arizona and Pacific Railroad in 2017

          We had the opportunity to host many friends and guests during the year and look forward to more of the same next year. Scheduling conflicts with my corporate world schedule, didn’t work out for a few potential visitors this year, but we hope to catch up in the near future. The majority of our visitors are local, or at least AZ and CA, and you know who you are, but we get guests from all over the country.

          Here is a sampling of the out of state visitors that traveled the farthest:

Plans for 2018

          We had a productive year in 2017 and have lots of plans for 2018 and beyond including:

          Longer range plans include

          Wish list

          Our A & P website has been on the web now for 15 1/2 years. As I sit here today finalizing the 2017 annual report, we have 131,308 hits since we established this site in June of 2002.

          There were numerous similar sites when we started this internet project and everyone updated their site on a monthly basis. There were so many sites that Discover Live Steam.com had an annual contest honoring the best related large-scale railroad website in several different categories. The first week of the month, I could always look forward to reading what several other railroads had been up to the month before… There were five magazines that focused on large-scale railroading and a couple of sites posting well-written and well-researched articles on the pioneers of this endeavor. It was a really exciting time in our hobby. Live Steam continues; the other magazines disappeared long ago. With a handful of exceptions, all of the railroad websites are gone too. The websites doing monthly updates has dwindled to … us. There is some activity in various groups on Facebook and in Yahoo groups, but very little at least in comparison to the sharing of projects, progress and ideas like was done a few years ago.

          There has been a changing of the guard. When I first became interested in MTC and AH equipment, I was in my late 30s; I owned my first train at 41. All of the other owners that I got to know and that helped and mentored me in my start and early years in this hobby were in their late sixties to eighties at the time and that was twenty-five plus years ago. They were excited with my enthusiasm and passion for the hobby and were unbelievable in their sharing and help. Of the dozen or so with whom I was really close, only two are still with us and their health is such that they aren’t owners or active in the hobby any longer. I look around and realize I have become one of the older guys in the hobby now.

          Recently, I had someone ask me if when we started this A & P website did we intend to become the face of the Miniature Train Co. and Allan Herschell Co. on the internet? I was somewhat stunned by the question as I certainly don’t consider us the face of those products and frankly that never crossed my mind until that question was posed. He seemed to think that we are the face of those products. Anyone who has followed our website for any length of time understands that we are big fans and advocates of the railroad products of those two classic companies, but I think we will leave it at that.


Miniature Train Company

          The interest in our website reached its high point in 2008 when we had almost 11,000 visitors. It decreased annually for five years after that until enjoying a minor resurgence in 2014 and 2015. We had almost 9400 visitors in 2015; it fell to 8146 in 2016 and even farther to 6421 this year. Some of that decrease is the result of routine maintenance projects not being as interesting to read about as major new construction projects and there was no update the first couple of months this year as I was super busy with the real job that pays the bills and I get that, but I think some of it is attributable to less interest in our hobby. All of the other websites and the magazines have disappeared for a reason.

          I write the blog and Dave is the webmaster who tries to make sense of the photos, write the captions and correct my mistakes. I raised the question in last year’s annual report that I wasn’t sure how much longer we would continue with the monthly updates and annual reports in light of the decreasing visits to the site. As mentioned above, our viewership dropped by another 1700 readers this year and I think the message is pretty clear. A few months ago, I was leaning toward this annual report being the last one and the last monthly update would be in January 2018 to capture the activities here through the end of 2017.

          A few events in the last several weeks have changed my mind. I just don’t have the manpower to decorate the A & P with lights for Christmas. The Maricopa Live Steamers is only a few miles away and they do a great job with their Holiday Lights festival. A friend of mine, Aria, just turned six and is a big railroad fan. She has been to the A & P three or four times “helping me run” engines here. I thought she would enjoy all he Christmas lights so I hosted her and her grandmother as my guests at the Maricopa Live Steamers. She had a great time and was so excited there. Afterward as we got in the car to leave, she told me that she really liked all the lights but can’t wait to get to ride my trains again as “they are more fun”.


Maricopa Live Steamers

          I hosted a non-speaking disabled child along with several of her relatives not long ago. She got several rides and was so happy. Afterwards her mother thanked me for bringing so much joy to her daughter’s life that afternoon.

          The elderly mother of my next door neighbor saw me running the train and preparing to give rides for other neighbors and their children one afternoon. She asked her daughter to see if I would give her a ride too or was she too old. She got her rides.

          And just a few days ago, some new neighbors were invited for rides. After the rides, their oldest son maybe about six years old and who had never met me before, came running over to me and hugged me and told me he loves my trains. All of these were spontaneous and special moments that you can’t manufacture. They say music is the universal language, but trains and trains rides may be a close second. Maybe if I host this site a little longer, I can convince more people to get into this hobby and share their trains as a vehicle to bring happiness to people of all ages…

          The website went live in June 2002; we will continue through 2018 and we’ll see if there is enough viewer interest to continue devoting the time and energy that it takes to keep the website updated monthly. If you know anyone that you think might be interested in what we are doing out here send them the link to our site. Even young people like seeing the roster screen and coming up with their own names for the engines and cars. Those of you that have been regular visitors to the site for almost 16 years and have lived this journey with us – thank you for watching and visiting our little railroad.

Visitors to the A&P RR in 2016

Arizona and Pacific Railroad

          Have a great 2018 and happy and safe railroading everybody!

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