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Hi guys,

I am part of the RR Museum of PA's Garden Railroad tour as a part of their Model Railroad Days on Columbus Day weekend. The garden railroad tour is on Sunday from 1-5 PM.
http://www.rrmuseumpa.org/visitors/seasonal/modelrrday/GardenRailwaysTours2008.pdf

Last year, we had a huge turnout (for me) and it was a really busy day. (RR museum reports 600 tickets sold. I estimated 350) I will have guest engineers operating my railroad, and a separate loop (or possibly two loops) thrown down in the grass for kids to operate. It is too many people for me to operate a train and talk to folks!! After all, Garden Railroading is really a social event.

If you are interested in coming to just my house, send me an email, and I'll get you the details. If you're interested in making a day of it, go buy the RR Museum ticket (it goes to a good cause), and do the big tour. My layout is about half way between the other 7 or 8 open houses. I haven't been to any of the others, but the descriptions I read last year make them sound a lot better than mine!! In addition to all the other things to attract train-folk like us to Strasburg, PA, the museum has smaller scale operating layouts (in addition to their regular Stewart Junction education center layouts).

Like last year, we're always willing to host 'guest power'. I think Jim Miller is planning to bring his 11 car streamliner pulled by E8s and maybe a Mallet to pull some freight. I am reconfiguring the layout yard storage tracks to accomodate the longer trains expected on that day.

Mark
 

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A little less than 3 weeks to go, and I am well on the way to having the railroad rebuilt. I got 2 tons of stone dust on Friday. Moved it to the 'quarry' site. Saturday, I was able to get the base of the yard leveled and covered with stone. No pictures, yet, but I was able to rebuild the railroad with care to avoid tight S curves. Hoping that based on this rebuild, I will have a workable yard for a few years.

I would have gotten the passing track and sidings fully assembled yesterday, but MB was motivated and was trimming the bushes, raking out the leaves and weeding the beds around the house. Rather than having us both working on separate projects, I helped her rake leaves and clean out the beds. I hate that part of home owning!! But, I also hate doing that work by myself. So tedious!! She worked on it for a steady 4 hours. I helped where I could, but Luke woke up from his nap. Now the rest of the property is looking great, and all I need to do is haul away some more leaves and brush and then I can completely focus on railroad details.

To that end, has anyone else ever 'cleaned' their bridges? One of the scenic highlights of my railroad is the bridge I built with my dad and grandfather. That bridge is the reason I have an 'up and over' type railroad. When I reinstalled it in 2005, I repainted it. 3 years of being underneath a hemlock tree, it has gone from the nice Hunter Green I painted it to a "pale" green of lichen growing.
Here's the bridge 'as built' in 1995. The truss bridge appears black, but that is actually Rustoleum Hunter Green:


Installed on my railroad in 2005:

These are the most recent pictures


Since I take pride in this bridge, and don't want the whole thing to be green, I took a solution of water and Chlorox and using a sponge, I was able to essentially wipe the lichen off the steel bridge. The redwood trestle and deck presented difficulties. I think using my 'roundup' spray container will be the best way to essentially 'power wash' that part. If you notice, the bridge deck and trestle section has turned green. I also want to replace the guard rail, if I get time.

I am better prepared for the coming open house this year. I found a NYO&W rubber stamp (which is my RR logo, upside down) that I am planning to use to 'cancel' tour tickets. The 11 car streamliner might become a 16 car streamliner. I should have two heavyweights repainted and lettered for the Millersvillanova as well as the brand new BS RR track in place.
 

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Jerry,

I typically do as well, but I always liked how the trestle and truss sections of this particular structure off set each other. Now, they are blending!! I never stained the redwood, just treated it with Thompsons water seal.
 

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All the track is ballasted, the painting projects are in their final stages, guest engineers have been arranged and the weather looks like it is going to cooperate for Sunday's open house event!!

There was even a clip on the local news last night and again this morning showcasing a local garden railroad. Have to say that all I saw in the clip were Aristocraft locomotives (a FA-FB and streamliner and a pair of Dash 9s working a local freight. Also, the operators were using TE remotes, too.). No idea who the guy was but I guess I have his name and address somewhere. Have to try and meet these local garden railroaders.

In addition to our normal lineup of freight trains, the mainline will play host to two visiting passenger trains:
The California Zephyr (Burlington Route)
The Merchants Limited (New Haven)

Jim Miller has also indicated that he's bringing a pair of mallets for double heading. I know I don't have enough freight cars or track to come close to maxing those out! Should be cool, though.

Russ Swinnerton will have his Conrail OCS E8A with him.

Also, I have plans for the 'kid's' layout. Probably it will be just like last years, laid out in the grass for anyone to run. Thinking of running it partly under the bushes, with tunnel portals on either end.

My irregularly run equipment, including the Wedding Train, will be on display and or running. I'm planning to add the temporary tracks to the ends of my yard tracks to accomodate the expected surge in rolling stock.

If you stop by, please be sure to introduce yourself!!

I might have a few pictures to post early next week. Maybe even some video..

Mark
 

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Hope it went well Mark...sorry I couldnt be there...AGAIN! One of these years I'll make it to one of your Open Houses. Today was good here though since we got my fence entirely installed so construction will start this week or this coming weekend on the layout!
 

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Kevin,

One of these times, we'll get you down!!

It was a lot of fun. We ran everything on hand for at least a few laps. We did have an electrical problem right at the beginning which was quickly sorted out. As backup, Pete Eggink left us his budd car just in case (its battery powered). The 11 car California Zephyr was beautiful to see. The RS-3 and Merchants limited was also excellent, as was the Conrail E8 Business train loco. Double headed Mallets were spectacular on the steep grades with the long freight train. I think they could have pulled more cars, but 30 was enough.

Overall, I think about 400 came through the yard. My grass is completely flattened!! The kids layout was a big hit again this year, too. Next year, I will probably make it a little more robust.

Pics here soon or over on the aristo board now.

Mark
 

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Stan,

You're right! Having people turn up, and get excited about the railroad makes all the hard work and head scratching worth it. I really enjoyed talking to everyone who came on the tour. I like sharing what I have done with my trains with others. Everyone who came to my house was very friendly and those with kids were grateful I had a train the kids could run. I even had one of the neighbors grandkids come back with a nice picture he had drawn and a short thank you note on the back (It ever read " I like trains. Do you?" ;D). Of course, there were a few meltdowns when it was time to go, but that happens.

Mark
 

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Sounds like you all had a great time. It's even better when you take the time to work with the kids. Good job. Later RJD
 

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Sunday was a beautiful day!! Somehow, someone managed to take a few pictures of the day. Here are some of the best:

The California Zephyr on the main line:


This train was 11 cars long and had a pair of Burlington E8s as power. Speeds were probably in the 30-35 sMPH range due to the heavy grades on the Southern approach to the bridge.

Another passenger train that ran was the New Haven's Merchants Limited. While usually an all 1st class train, this one has a few heavyweight coaches added, probably due to increased passengers. In this shot, the Merchants, headed by a single RS-3, is seen crossing over the yard area. Note the Zephyr parked on the passing siding. I definetly didn't take this shot, since I can be seen in the upper left talking to a guest.


Lots of folks sat right down on the grass with their kids to get up and close with the trains. Here, a neighbor and his son enjoy the passing of the Merchants Limited (Chris, Russ and Jim can be seen in the crowd on the left):


I spent a lot of time on the patio, talking to my guests and showing them the wedding train.


One of my favorite trains of the day was the long freight train made up of all my rolling stock with metal wheels!! On the previous day's trials, I needed an RS-3, an F3A, and a FB-1 to haul this train up and down my grades. Jim brought a pair of mallets but only one was really necessary. The Great Northern was represented on our rails for the first time since the old Lionel 4-4-2 was sent to the scrap heap in 1991.
Climbing the grade:

Crossing the bridge over the yard. Note, the parked Zephyr and Merchants trains.

Passing the new station area. The E8s are parked just East of the spur that leads down to the old terminal.


Late in the day, we decided to double head the mallets, just for the fun of it. The B&O Mallet was coupled ahead of the GN Mallet, smoke units were topped off, and off they went. These were a real crowd pleaser! Apparently, the other houses were only running diesels.
Coming through the station area.

Ground level shot:

Climbing the grade to the bridge:

And the final shot, as they came steaming up the hill:
 

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I'd love to be able to hit some of these open houses.

Travel by TARDIS ;)
 

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Great photos.. tks for the posting ...
Add more if you have them.. Like to see more of the layout..
 

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Thanks for the comments!

Noel,

Maybe I will have my own personal open house day for me and then do some more 'railfan' pictures. You can pretty well see most of the railroad in these shots, at least the most interesting parts. I think I even posted a video on Youtube of a ride around the line in a hopper car, but of course, the railroad has now been reconfigured!!
Mark's rebuild thread
 

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Mark
I thought I had replied to this before now.
Very good looking RR.
I have not forgotten the decal Q either.
 

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Marty and John,

Thanks!! We did have a lot of fun. While the trains were the hook to get people to come, most people stuck around for the conversations. In fact, we had a near miss at one point. The covered hopper and the caboose on the back of the freight train decided they needed a break. So they disconnected themselves, to cool their wheels. Meanwhile, my nameless engineer, ( let's just call him C. France. Nah, too obvious. Chris F. That's better) was having deep in conversation. In fact, everyone was so involved conversations, no one was watching as the mallet and her 27 or so cars made their way around the layout. I had to yell across the crowd to the engineer who stopped the train about three car lengths away from the back of the caboose!! Maybe that's what happened all those times when Stan and JJ wrecked!

Jim,

Thanks for putting that video together. Luke and I watched it on Saturday morning. If you guys watch the video, there's so much conversation, it almost drowns out the sound systems (which were cranked). I think this is a true testament to the hobby of large scale trains. All I really needed was some better seating and maybe some good hoppy beer, and the folks trying to see all 9 layouts might have only seen this one!!

Nick,
Wasn't that an awesome video clip show that Jim put together? As I predicted, I was too busy to take any video, but not Jim, who trucked down his huge streamliner, mallets, and freight train. (we didn't use any of his freight cars, except the hoppers with the sound units mounted in them.) How cool was it to see double headed mallets on a steep nasty grade?! I think my mainline has anywhere from a 3-5% grades. Those mallets didn't seem to break a sweat and we only doubled them 'becasue we could'!!
 
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