Monday, August 15, 2005

Weekend of track work

I dove into the rebuild of the switch knowing that it needs to be operational for Thomas' birthday party. Well I still don't have it done! And of course in the middle of all this the Steam engine arrives Sat. So Figuring out how to get it onto the track from the back of a Suburban took precedent over the switch. I wish I had the switch done by then it would have made the unload a bit easier.
I will have the switch operable tonight. Though a new switch machine is in order I will get to that later.
Thomas has been sitting on the steam engine in the back yard imagining himself running it. Sunday I hooked up the air compressor to it and showed him how to run it back and forth on the spur. I think he realizes its far more complicated to run than he imagined, and we did not even cover boiler operations.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


I have to get the railroad ready for Thomas' party along with all the other lawn maintenance. Only being able to work on it in the evenings, Saturdays or Sunday afternoon that really does not leave me a whole lot of time to correct some track items.
Before we get into the gory details Somebody is going to ask " What is Gandydancing?".
Gandydancing is a railroad slang term referring to track work. In the early days everything was done by hand and to do the work the track gangs would work to the rhythm of a song so there efforts would be in unison. That's where the "Dancing" comes from. Gandy comes from the fact that all the tools that were used, the tamping bars, wrenches and so forth, were made by the GANDY Tool Company. As far as I know the Gandy Tool Co. is no more and the old timey track gangs have gone by the wayside as well, but the term stuck and is still in use today.
Now for the gory details.
The reason for this is that I have arranged for a Steam Engine to be on the track for this party. No I have a glaring problem that has only been an annoyance till now. I have a Turnout that goes up to the driveway for loading and unloading. That turnout was the first one I had ever built in this scale and it was quite obvious I had no idea as to what I was doing. Yea it works but equipment does not like to go through it. All my stuff has short wheel bases so its been bearable to use. Now I have a Mogul coming. It has a long wheel base approx 4' and it will not go thru a switch that has a sharp 45 degree turn in it. So a rebuild is in order and I have to get it done before the steam engine arrives!
So every day I have made some parts for it to get ready. Well I think I am at the point where I just need to dive in and do it. So barring any other disasters I will be ripping rail up tomorrow night. I hope it goes well!

Saturday, August 06, 2005


Tamping ballast is a regular maintaining item that is done all the time on our railroad. After a while the track becomes uneven or develops a twist and I will notice this when I am running the train. The heat we have been having and the NO RAIN with it the ground has shrunk and cracked. When it happens under the track it can droop and cause things like the engine to uncouple or cause derailments. So out with the crow bars and we tamp!
The other night I was running with Thomas and the engine kept uncoupling in a certain spot. So the next time around we took the track tools with us and checked out the problem area. Thomas felt real important because I let him use the level to check the track to find the dip. When he found it the crowbars came out and we lifted the track to remove the dip. We then swept the ballast down inbetween the ties and then used the flats on the crowbars to push the ballast under the ties to make up the space that had disappeared from the ground shrinking. Thomas has a ball when we do this. He feels real important when we do maintenance on the track.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Upcomming Events

Upcomming events where the railroad plays a part.
Thomas' birthday party will come Aug 21st. Since he has requested a "THOMAS" party that would be Thomas the Tank Engine. The railroad will be in operation so he can operate his TOBY and I will operate my train. He got his Toby when he turned 3 and has been more and more comfortable with it over the past 2 years. See details in the web site. He wants a Steam engine now, but dreaming is free, dad has to finish his first!
Labor Day weekend we will be off to a new track that is under construction. We will not be taking any equipment other than the M.O.W. (maintainence of way) equipment. This will be a work weekend. This track was in the Austin Tx area but due to health concerns of the owner the property was sold and the track fell to his son who is rebuilding in the Sherman TX area.

Opening Remarks

With my DW talking about railroad activities on her blogs,
The Thomas Institute , or The Thomas Institute daily Record. I decided to start this one to help explain the railroad refrences that go on around our home.
So this will be a log of what goes on around our railroad.