Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Construction - Engine House Track and Engine House.

This past couple weekends saw the filling of the engine house track fill at Pine Hill. About 800 pounds of crushed rock was shipped (via rail of course) to the site and it was built up. This will be a (close-to) level track up to the engine house (upper two stalls, the engine storage tracks.) The first 10 feet of the engine house (ready) track was laid but not ballasted yet.

Rio Grande Southern Engine House / Car Barn

I am going to begin construction of the permanent engine house instead of building a temporary building since the elevation of the car barn (lower 3 stalls) is required so that the car barn turnout switch on the switchback is installed in the correct location.

Once the foundation location is laid out, I will begin on the lowest part (car barn) and dig out the foundation. The bottom of the foundation walls need to be at least 1' below the surface to be below the frost line. The wall will be stepped up the slope and the lowest section of the footing connected with rebar so it is more or less monolithic. The result will be the upper section of the building (the engine house) will be above grade about 4" which means all the area in front of the building will need to be filled in - a good use of all that driveway gravel that trucking company brought me instead of clean, washed, 6/7 size gravel...

The length of the building I want to be around 18' to 20' long. The doors are 30" wide and 36" high so I should be able to park any equipment in this building. The upper section will be heated by hot water from the water wood stove (which will be plumbed in from the back of the shed next to the bridge.) Power and water will also be placed in this same corridor. Power will feed over from the barn alongside the hot water lines to the barn's heater. Water comes from the house inside water lines already laid to the water wood stove and will continue to the engine house - that way the water lines are always in a warm zone and will not freeze. I could run the steam engine year 'round this way. The water line will also continue alongside the pipe towards the barn to a water tower to be built alongside the tracks near the north abutment of the Dogwood Bridge.

When completed, the building should hold up to 9 narrow gauge rail cars and up to 4 locomotives. (Some narrow gauge cars are over 30 scale feet in length...)

Numbering the stalls from left to right as #1 through #5, the #1 stall will be mainly for diesels. Stall #2 will be for the #20 steam locomotive since it leads out onto a raised "bridge" section which is handy for getting under the locomotive. Stalls #3 through #5 will hold various rail cars.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fall on the RGS



Work began on the retaining wall for the engine house track. This will be filled with the crusher run rock which I am going to use for base on the railroad (since the trucking company brought me the wrong stuff...)




The leaves blown off the railroad and the area where this wall is being built for the engine house track. It's in this area where the temporary engine house will be built.



Leaf fall. A couple cold rainy weeks and then a windy night and all the leaves fall. This is what the bridge looked like before I spent an hour blowing leaves around the house...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Track repairs

The tracks down near Pine Hill Siding were leaning too far to the inside of the curve. It was causing derailments almost every time a train passed over.


The rebuilt section of track - Oct 5th, 2009

It was discovered that the rock wall below it had began to collapse. This area was in a very wet area on some loamy ground. I decided to rebuild the wall a little farther from the tracks using the old wall rock, some additional rocks and concrete (whereas most of the rest of the wall towards Wood Spur Switch is dry-stacked.)


Once this wall with new heavier foundation stones buried a little deeper in the hillside was built, more ballast was brought in and the tracks were brought up to 1/2 bubble from level to allow for a slight superelevation in this curve.



The drainage was also concreted to prevent undercutting - Oct 5th, 2009

It is very obvious how much farther the wall was built from the drain culvert. The rock was was built across below it and the upper sections of walls wrapped inwards to hold the ballast in check.


Pine Hill - Oct 5th, 2009

The maintenance of way gons are back being stored at the end of the tracks at Pine Hill.


Pine Hill Siding and the stacked wood supply for Wood Station - Oct 5th, 2009

After the tracks were reopened, the log splitter, log loader and train got busy moving the wood to Pine Hill siding for stacking. (Of course I am the log splitter, log loader, train engineer, train conductor, log unloader and log stacker.) This is roughly half of the latest couple weeks haul of logs from up near Greensboro.

Friday, October 2, 2009


RGS #10 with new paint and working headlight.

The end of September was not too busy but the locomotive #10 continues to be worked on. New paint. working lights, motor work, etc. The light has a low and high beam setting. The horn is still not working and will need to be replaced.


RGS #10 with new paint.

The locomotive broke the link to the control arm and a new one had to be manufactured. The locomotive continues to have minor motor related issues. Mostly these are trying to get the accelerator to work in conjunction with the transmission so it will rev up the motor before engaging the transmission.


RGS blower "car"

Also added to the roster of equipment is a special rack which fits in the gondola which allows me to put the new leaf blower in the car to blow debris off the track. This car comes in handy when the debris is not larger sticks, chickens or dogs who do not get out of the way...

This coming weekend the RGS will be busy hauling around 10 carloads of wood from Telluride to Pine Hill. But before any trains can enter Pine Hill, the retaining wall near the oak needs to be replaced with a wooden wall and new ballast applied to repair where this area is "sliding." Eventually the engine house track will pass under this area and will shore up this sag even more.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rebuilt tracks in Wood Spur



The trackage near Wood Station on Wood Spur was a problem area since it was built. Locomotive #10 would derail here frequently. When built, since this was a siding I decided to use older, worn rail.



The uphill rail was slightly kinked upwards as well as outwards and the locomotive would climb the rail here due to it's longer wheelbase and because the way the cars before it and behind it would pull it to the side.



The rail was replaced with another straighter rail from the upper joint to a location which had to be cut in the rail below. Also, a second drain was added he due to the amount of water which comes down the hill here. All the ballast and ties in the section were replaced with new to ensure the best alignment through this section.



Later in the day, after this trackage had been put back in service, the flat car with a load of wood derailed on the section just beyond the tree. This past spring and summer two heavy rain storms had washed out some ballast in the location and it needed to be reballasted. At this time I also decided to use another old rail to act as a gaurd rail near the tree to prevent any derailments from going down the hill or into the tree especially, since most loads are pushed ahead of the locomotive to Wood Station.

Parts donated for new locomotives


On 11-Sept-2009. Fred Wood graciously donated to the Rio Grande Southern in order from left to right, a hydraulic pump, 48 volt electric motor, 2 hydraulic motors, hydraulic control valve, a large Eaton transmission (fits on an 8HP motor) and two hydraulic distributors.
Ideally, the electric motor will be used first to create an electric "box-cab" locomotive to use on the RGS to move heavy train-loads of wood in place of the #10. The Eaton transmission can power another gasoline-powered locomotive. Or a snowblower / leaf blower which people have suggested I needed for my railroad - mainly for leaves.
The hydraulics I am thinking can be used to control a Jordon Spreader which would be handy to keep the ditches clean (Wood Spur is proof of how fast they fill in.)

#10 returns to service


RGS #10, 302, 300 and 301 in Telluride Yard, 10-Sep-2009.

After getting a good cleaning by some professionals, the prime mover of #10 was once again functioning. She will be well covered from now on to protect her and a temporary engine house built down on the engine house track from Pine Hill until the bigger building is built.



#10 ties up for the night in Telluride.

She struggles with one of the large flat cars up the 5% but she will make it. Unfortunately it was found that a section of Wood Spur needed work and so she could not push all the way to Wood Station without derailing.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Carbarn Switch rebuild started

I started to rebuild the carebarn switch this past weekend. This is another of the switches from the KAO Kampground south of Durango which I purchased about 10 years ago along with most of the railroad. This one must have been used in some obscure location on that railroad as it was not complete (missing a guard rail - no signs of ever having it) and the other guard rail was not installed correctly. Where this switch will be located on a built up section of the switchback, it HAS to be correct. This switch was also badly bent sometime in it life before getting here and so it had to be straightened. There are still subtile signs of where these bends were but I figure when it is installed all these bends will straighten out.


Carbarn Switch being rebuilt

First task was to remove the old ties and straighten the rails. Once straightened, I began to cut the ties and install them using galvanized sheet steel between the rails and switch points and the ties. Away from the points I can use regular tie plates. Along the frog and guard rails I have to use more sheet steel as barriers. This is because the modern wood preservatives eat aluminum if they stay in contact.


Headblocks and points, where the rail was so badly bent.

I managed to rebuild the switch and get everything secured. I began to fix the one guard rail by grinding the foot off and started to manufacture the other one. But grinding makes the metal get hot and so I stopped after halfway. It was time to go to supper by then anyway.


Frog and guard rail plates - made of galvanized steel and shaped over the ties.
The next steps are to complete and install the guard rails, build another rotary switchstand and install the switch throw rod with its spring rigging. Once completed, the switch will head to Pine Hill siding to await installation on the switchback as the track proceeds down the hill.
This switch will be a cousin of the engine house (house track) switch at Pine Hill. It will not be powered like the switchback main switches since this siding track is a storage track.
RGS #10, 302, 300 and 301 parked on the bridge to make room.
At the same time the switchback is being built, a new switch will be built for the bottom of the switchback which will be another powered switch. Underground wiring will connect the upper and lower switches, the battery up near the chicken coop at the wind turbine and all the controller boxes.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Small Update

Well, nothing much has been happening on the RGS over the past few weeks. It has gotten quite hot here again and I have been helping friends get ready to move some rail to Illinios. I also took a week and went fishing in Alaska. I had some luck and had some nice fish for good eat'n for a while.

This coming weekend will be cooler and will be a good time for me to begin work on rebuilding the turnout switch for the carbarn which will be in the middle of the switchback. I also need to place an order for more ballast and will try to do that for next week. It might be a good time to take the #10 locomotive in to get the engine fixed by someone who does it professionally. I'll need a good locomotive like that to help.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pine Hill (mostly) done.

Pine Hill siding has been raised almost 6" near the trees and lengthened another 5 feet. A new bumper is in place, one that is anchored to the cribbing and not the tracks so the rails should not seperated when hit by a railcar. This siding is mostly level but I want to let it settle a little more before I add any more ballast to it.


The culvert (next to the tree) was raised up as well. A little water might pool up behind but not much. There is no drain between the mainline and this siding so the water will be absorbed by the ballast and run off towards the end of the siding if there is enough water.



Looking up from the end of the switchback's upper tail track. This track will someday be extended using a section of bridge. The track is purposely towards the right so there will be room to walk alongside the stopped train once the railings are in place.


Looking south. The dogs were having fun moving the landscape fabric around. The switchback on the far left will be the next section built (in addition to a section of the engine house track.)



Here's the signal head for the switch. I will probably add another "repeater" which will stick up above the railing near the north switch controller box so the aspect can be read from the far side of the tail since the railing might block the view.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Construction this past weekend

Not much to report (and no pictures yet) other than I began to build the retaining walls for the siding at Pine Hill. I built up the last 8 feet or so of it but still need more landscape timbers to complete the work. I need to then back-fill the end of the siding with some more dirt and then I can ballast the track to be level.

I could have done more work except it was in the 90s and VERY humid and I had to get a tire on my truck repaired that morning.

I am about out of ballast so I need to place an order. I might wait until August to do that but when I will begin work on the switchback track and the engine house track.

This coming weekend I'll be up in Farmington in the morning moving another ton of 12 pound steel rail. My truck is the only one that can get back in there and have enough power to pull those rails out. These are the rails that my friend Fred is swapping with some folks in Illinois for aluminum rail. He's going to give me the 3-way switch for the car barn section which connects to the tracks on the switchback track. I do have the switch to go in the switchback track and it will be rebuilt next. Then a new switch will be built for use at the bottom, one with another motor like the top of the switchback and I will then wire these all together (so the power and control wires will be in a conduit buried alongside the tracks.) The power source will be the vertical windmill which I have decided to locate next to the chicken coop since it is a little windier there... Plenty to do so laying track does not need to happen right away (which is easier on me during the hottest parts of the summer. Eventually I hope to spend the summer months working on the locomotives and cars in the barn and the cooler months working on the tracks. We'll see how that goes.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The July 4th weekend allowed me the time to complete the ballasting to the end of the upper Pine Hill Switchback track.


Looking north at the end of the track.



The heavier stop-block at the end of the tracks. The tracks from the switch to the end there are level now. Eventually the track will extend another 20 feet on a bridge section to allow for the full length trains to go through the switchback.



Damage to the Pine Hill Siding stop block was caused when the 4686 flat car, 300 and 302 gondolas fully loaded with ballast could not be stopped in time and pushed the parked 301 up and over this. It will be rebuilt after the retaining wall is built and these tracks are leveled.



The location of the retaining wall for Pine Hill Siding. The plans for this upcoming week and weekend is to build Pine Hill Siding's retaining wall which will actually extend the other retaining wall in the background up along the siding and the siding can be lengthened another 5 feet. Eventually wood storage racks will be added along this spur track so cut and uncut wood can be stored ready for use at Wood Station. This is also the access point for the gardens for deliveries from the barn of mulch, etc. A true multi-purpose siding.



Upper Pine Hill; the 3 turnout switches are shown here. Once the siding is done, the mainline down the switchback will be started as well as the retaining wall and fill required for the engine house track (middle) which will be used as extra storage as well as a temporary building built to house the #10 switcher once it's operational again. I'll use the metal pieces from an old "shanty" that used to occupy this site and had collapsed for the walls.



After it was found that the weight of the fully loaded flat was too much to be moved by hand safely, the flat was loaded with freshly split oak on Sunday and is now parked at Wood Station. This car holds a LOT of wood and was difficult to push up here on the 4 percent at Wood Spur switch around the huge oak tree. The bearings are in great shape and this car rolls very well, unlike the old gondolas which are truely worn out, hince, the need for the new narrow gauge cars to handle all the day to day work as the old gons are used for maintenance of the track.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Railroad Dogs

The dogs decided to help me move the #4686 to Wood Spur


"Okay Casey! I aligned the switch. Let's go!"



"Okay. Uncouple us and climb aboard!"



"Yep. We're on our way."




"Hold on. Got to go line the switch back to the mainline."



#4686 on the bridge.



"Hey! Wait for me!"



"Ha ha! I stopped at Wood Spur Switch and Casey had to chase me."


#4686 at Wood Spur Switch


#4686 at Wood Station

That's one big car!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Flatcar #4686 arrives on the RGS

D&RGW #4686 has arrived in Telluride after its 500+ mile journey from Tennessee. Here it is with RGS #10 and the two gons.



Since it is narrow gauge car, it is almost double the capacity of the standard gauge cars.



The decking and side boards (which slide out of the stake pockets) are stained and varnished oak which should last a very long time. This car also weighs around 250 pounds
(I guessed 150 but as Pat pointed out, the sides themselves weigh around 50 pounds... So 250 sounds right to me!)



Its first duty was supposed to be assigned to hauling wood but I finally got my wife's cold and was out of service on Sunday. Perhaps next weekend.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rip rap the bridge

One chore I did this past weekend was put the old hardened bags of concrete down near the footing of bent #2 to protect it from any erosion due to the large floods we have been getting lately. Twice in June we got storms that dumped 2" of rain in short amounts of time.



The pipe outlet under the bridge needed a little rip rap around it as well to protect the footings of the shed as well as to try to steer more of the water out from under the bridge.

Telluride yard was fairly busy. The power turbine for Pine Hill is sitting there waiting for the tower to be completed. RGS #300 and 302 are on ballast duty. The #10 locomotive is still sitting in front of the barn waiting for its motor to be repaired so it can go back to work. This crossing deck is a nice place to work on stuff out in front of the barn.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

New rolling stock




I am purchasing the #4686 idler flat from Pat this coming weekend. This car is a larger narrow gauge car, 8' long and 22" wide (overall.) It's a nice heavy duty car which will be put into service as a wood hauling car. I will install plywood decking and interior side boards to protect the nicer finish of the car. A larger tarp cover will also be purchased to help.




Eventually all these cars will be stored in the carbarn under cover.