26 April 2009

The Milwaukee Road Passenger Consist Runs

So far I have test-run the Milwaukee Road doodlebug; the Great Northern mallet with a load of short coaches including three Jack Daniels, two Milwaukee Roads, two LGB D&RG plus two Aristo D&RG followed by four REA freight cars and REA caboose; the AKRR 40-2 with a long load of beer cars and other Alaska or northern-theme box cars and reefers; the ATSF Dash-9 with a group of USA Trains Santa Fe coaches; and a shiny Burlington E-8 with a long load of Great Northern USA coaches. Now it was finally time for the
Milwaukee Road Aristocraft FA-FB-FA units to go out on the tracks today. These latter were controlled by a Locolinc. All three were run as one with the B-unit being a powered slave to the front FA unit.

The Milwaukee Road is one of my all-time favorite stateside rail lines. This Milwaukee Road consist will be prominently featured this summer. A special depot will be constructed for the Milwaukee Road closely based on the one that has been restored in South Cle Elum, Washington.

Click any image for a larger one:

Here you see a complete consist of Milwaukee Road coaches in front of Cicely. As you can also see, I have an obvious frost heave problem out there. But it is not enough to affect smooth running of the trains.

This is the full passenger consist. I can possibly run one more coach, but this is close to the practical limit of length of consist for this particular line.

The consist (below) has reached the east loop and negotiates it quite smoothly.

Latest Accuweather Predictions for the Valley

The trend is looking highly favorable as we work our way into the 60s as early as Monday:

Currently it is 39 and high overcast with cloud breaks. Below is the view of Mt Drum from my office window as of 11:45. Click image for larger one.

25 April 2009

Snow and Ice Largely Gone

The parking lot this afternoon: Down to a few snow berms. And the driveway is largely dried out already. (click)

I have been monitoring the river. The ice is eroding through, but it is taking quite some time. I will provide pictures when it all starts moving.

The Milwaukee Road FA-FB units

Meanwhile I am now charging up the batteries on the three Milwaukee Road FA-FB-FA units:

Click either image for a larger one

Two of these will work together while the third one will pull a separate smaller consist. Both consists will be Milwaukee Road passenger cars. Like all the other locomotives on the line, these are run by remote control batteries that are built into the engines. Some combinations can be run together as you will see.

E-8 locomotive unit back in business

The defective electronics on the E-8 seen below are finally back to normal. It took several tries. I was in that unit probably a half dozen times tracing down wires and connections before I found the last problem and made the necessary repairs. This unit successfully made the track rounds and is now parked in place in the CRD

Click either image to view a larger one.

What ABOUT those trains ?

I have written on this subject before, but it is worth bringing up from time to time.

I often write about my extensive and growing large scale (~1:24 = G-gauge) model railroad.
It all started with my early attempts to model certain significant elements of the Copper River & Northwestern Railway (CRNW Ry) back in 1994.

In those days I was in the midst of a historic research project that initially revolved around the interior Kennecott copper mines and soon widened to include the CRNW Ry and the other towns and whistle stops associated with the CRNW.

At that time I was not exactly a model train enthusiast. In fact I was not a rail fan (as they are called) at all in those days. It is true that I once had a small Lionel train set, but it is long-gone and probably would have been all but forgotten had it not been for that research project I began in 1989.

I will probably write about this subject in more detail, but in short, it was the historic project that set the direction. At some point I decided to attempt to build models of some of those significant structures. And it was the CRNW Ry which tied it all together.

Ron in 1997 in his father's garage at West Linn, Oregon, where the Kennecott mill model was built.
Needless to say, the model-building project quickly became a model railroad project that started in 1994 and was still underway with no end in sight as of 2009.

--more to follow on this subject--

24 April 2009

The Schrader Railroad Wall Art Piece

Years ago when I was still running my old business--Yukon Amusement (juke boxes, pool tables, video games, pinball machines and cigarette machines) one of my accounts had one of these as wall art. It was at a place called Angel Creek Lodge which is near the end of the Chena Hot Springs Road to the northeast of Fairbanks.

Try as I might I was unable to talk the owner out of that piece. I really wanted it badly too. That was about 16 years ago. Then a few months ago one of them came up on Ebay. I bid on it using Bidnapper, but the bid was too low. Nobody got that piece because no one made the minimum required for it. Then, less than a month ago it came up again--same piece. THIS time it was offered as a "Buy It Now." And THIS time, I bought it! Here it is, displayed proudly in my bar at the CRD. You can click this image for a larger one.

This evening I found the Angel Creek website. Sure enough, it was STILL the same--all these years later: Same on the OUTSIDE and . . .

SAME on the inside right down to that SAME piece of railroad wall art--STILL there with the SAME owner/bartender standing in front ! Can you believe that !

Floyd Demoski Returns to Complete Work on Structure

Floyd built the Cicely model structure in 2007: Here are two progress shots from back then:

Now he is returning to complete some upgrades to the model housing structure including the replacing of the fiberglass roof with a steel one and the addition of a canopy on the front to protect the model from the harmful UV effects of the sun on the south-facing side (right). Both images are clickable to a larger size.

Testing the Outdoor Track with the Doodlebug

The doodlebug was a "heavyweight" (1920s-era) coach converted by some railroad lines for use as a kind of self-propelled bus on tracks. Seen here is an Aristocraft (that's a "toy train" manufacturer) Milwaukee Road combine (combination baggage and coach car) doodlebug that I use to test the track. It was the first one on the outdoor rails this spring.

Above: Leaving the CRD through the portal (click for larger view).
Below: The doodlebug emerging on the outside of the CRD (click for larger view).

Here is a close-up view of it parked in the model town of Cicely, Alaska:

It made a successful run about two weeks ago in advance of the sending of the first large train consist down the tracks yesterday. Currently the bug is parked in Cicely.

The CRD backbar Phase II parking lane

Two Views of the Line Above the CRD Backbar: (click either photo for larger view):

This was where the Phase II line started. I hung supports above the back bar and then set 1 X 6 or 1 X 8 painted boards on them for the track. At first I set up just one track. Then I concluded there was sufficient room to set up a parallel track for enhanced parking. Photo taken early 2009.

The two consists (series of freight or passenger cars attached to at least one locomotive) are backed in from the wye outside so that that are ready to be pulled forward out of the bar onto the mainline.

Map showing location of parking area relative to the GN (Great Northern) Wye:

ALCANEX layout--the beginnings

Here is the existing layout for my LS model, aka ALCANEX (Alaska-Canada Northern Expo Consolidated Railways System, which includes elements of the Copper River & Northwestern Railway, the Alaska Railroad, the Atcheson, Topeka and the Santa Fe, the Great Northern Railway, the Northern Pacific Railway, the Canadian Pacific Railway, the Milwaukee Road Railway and AmTrak.
I anticipate that operations this year will be particularly intense because of tourist activity that will likely be directed this way from the local Copper River Princess Wilderness Hotel.

The original layout was overhead and inside the CRD (upper left, green track). Work on that section began in 1997. By 2000 I was beginning plans for an extended outdoor layout that would include a 36-foot-long building that would be designed to house my Kennecott model that was then under construction--mostly 1:24 scale structures. That track was in place and operational by May 27, 2001 when we had a dedication ceremony for the historic model railroad. In attendance were an estimated 400 people for the event.
By 2006 I was beginning constructed on an entirely new segment, then known as the "Phase II" section. It was built at a lower level than the original Phase I CRNW Railway. This began as a railway parking area above the backbar. By 2007 the new section, then renamed the Great Northern Phase II segment was operational. In that year a new model town was created based on the fictional Alaskan town of Cicely from the television series "Northern Exposure."

--to be continued--

The large scale model railroad layout at the CRD:

click image for larger one

Copper Center Community

Over the last two years the local neighbors have been meeting, sometimes over at the CC Lodge, but mostly at the CRD in the early evenings to begin forming a community organization. Early in the year I filed articles of incorporation with the State of Alaska for the Copper Center Community. We are now awaiting official word from the state. Meanwhile our organizational meeting is coming up June 4th, again at the CRD when we elect our official officers for the new non-profit. The Bayless family has already donated an acre of land across Loop Road from the CRD for use as a community hall. More developments to follow.

--Ron Simpson,
interim chairman, CCC