Turnout Mechanism

Phillip Schram posted a a video of our turnouts on his youtube channel. Check it out. Dad built the two of the turnouts from scratch and they use the mechanism shown in the video. A construction sketch and two in progress photos are below.

A few key points about the turnouts

  • The points are milled angle iron
  • Plastic clevis components were used to connect the point together and to connect the throw rod to the points.
  • Angle braces under the ties keep everything in alignment.

Here is a diagram and two photos for clarity.

Dad’s construction notes
Completed turnout on the bench.
Underframe that keeps turnout square.

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Halloween Run 2021

The end of season run happened to occur on Halloween. The impetus was a final run of steam before moving the engine to the garage for the winter.

The regular crew came: Chris, Phil, Dad. Paul was there too. Additionally we had first time guests. Kevin, a friend of Phil. Denis and Philip, local live steamers. Jim and John friends of mine.

Here are a few photos, but the YouTube link at the end of the page tells the whole story.

The day started with a scare. #778 had a frozen piston. Denis guided us to resolving the problem.
Philip took the RS-3 around and checked out the quality of the track using measure on his iPhone. I think he was trying to tell me that my track leaned and dipped….check the video on his YouTube channel.
Jim gave the RS-3 a try
John was the first newbie to fire…John liked being pulled by the engine rather than chasing it…as he does with his garden steamer.
Jim fired a couple of laps. But seemed nervous like all first timers. Next time will be easier.

The day was great…Eight of ten people fired #778. Three of them newbies to live steam. #778 is the perfect training locomotive and the track is just right for it.

Click to see the full story with action video on YouTube.


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Shed has tracks

At the start of summer I installed the first track in the Shed. The one track can old the RS3, #778 and the #778 riding car. This week I completed a second track just to the right of the first track. Now I can store two 50′ freight/riding cars (maybe 3 forty footers). Having two cars that I can roll in and out of the check for easy operation will be great.

Setup for the second track. The 5′ long connecting track can be moved back between track. The cars and engines seem to make it through the angles. The connecting track is not supported in this picture. But usually, I put a couple of boards under it to bear the weight.

I use a 5′ connecting track supported by a few spare boards (4″x4″). I did not ballast right up to the shed as I’m trying not to encourage creatures (bugs, snakes, mice, lizards, …) to explore the shed. The rest of the shed is on 4″x6″ boards, so elevated off the ground. Seemed better to keep it that way.

Now that the tracks are secured in the shed, I’ll add protection and shelves above them. To hold more cars, chargers, water, oil, coal and all the stuff needed to run the railroad. In this way, the shed can resume dual purpose of trains and yard items.

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WCRR stars during the 2021 Labor Day party

Ever since we built the Woodlark Central it has been a goal to run the railroad during the annual Labor Day weekend part (end of summer party). Each year a bicycle parade lead by a Fire Truck kicks off the even. This year, I opened up the WC before the parade, since I’m only 6 houses from the start of the parade. Kids and Adults were invited to come 1 hour before the parade for rides and socializing.

Mom and Dad take in the shade while the first guests (adults) take a lap around the track. He was a history teacher and had great interest in the firing of the #778. I invited guest to come 1/2 hour earlier if they want to to see a steam loco fire.
In the background, I’m giving the first laps of the track behind the RS3.
Train is pulling away from the loading zone. More than 20 bodies can be seen in this photo. More than 20 kids and similar number of adults got exposed to ride on trains during the Labor Day run.
The big kids (maybe 8 and up) were given the opportunity to be engineer for two laps on the RS3
Phil and Chris came to help. Phil fired #778 for the crowd. When Chris was not assisting Phil he took photo and videos to augment photos. In some of his photos I see folks I do not remember being there, it all when so fast.
Phil pickup passengers. While some may not have liked the smoke, the #778 was a hit too. Many parents found it hard to believe we had a steam engine. I monitored the loading. The two trains chased each other around the track with the kids running the RS3 and Phil run the #778. Two laps and then reload both trains.
Two young boys running the train. Girls ran it too!
Kids even pulled dads.
Our oldest rider taking a spin. A very good sport, many other adults did not take an opportunity to ride.
The kids all left for the bicycle parade. Here’s the lead pack following the Fire Engine with sirens blaring
My crew did such a great job, I gave them what they wanted. No, not food….More time fire steam! We each took turns doing more laps for the next 30-45 minutes, testing our firing abilities before we packed it up for the day and went our way! Gotta love a crew that is easy to please. Thanks guys!
#778 ran great…We’ve been using a different bag of coal that fires better, but is dirtier.

Was very pleased with how the Woodlark Central ran. Start and End were simplified because the locos and cars could be rolled out of the shed. No derailments…Kids have such a low center of gravity. Kids that respected the trains and ran them safely. One goal of the WCRR has been met, hopefully I can repeat it in the future. Everyone left with smiles…I know I did!

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Cicada Run 2021

On Sunday June 6, 2021 was the first ever Cicada run on the Woodlark Central.

Phil brief’s Al on the finer aspects of running a steam locomotive while my dad and Don watch

My Friend Al was in town from Atlanta, so I decided to make a run day out of it. The first ever Cicada Run! May we all return in 17 years for the second Cicada run in 2038.

An overview from the porch. This is the first time we had the passing track and the shed track. The collection of railroad equipment is impressive for such a small railroad.

Paul, a long time model railroading friend was glad to run the RS3. Battery powered, it is simple to operate. #91 made it’s first run since the 2017 when it powered the inaugural run of the Woodlark Central.

Al took a turn on the RS3 and took dad for a few laps around the track. Al was the guest of honor as it was his visit that initiated the whole event. Al is an On2 SR&RL modeler. We share ideas as I’m also building the Sn2 SR&RL

Al, Paul, Dad, Don, Phil (facing), Chris all enjoying the trains and glad for the nice weather

Phil and Chis side by side. Almost 50 years of friendship. Glad to have them as part of the Woodlark Central. They came over early to help me host Al in his visit. Actually they were on the job from 9:00a to 5p. Helping to get trains to the backyard, assemble the trains, fire the steam engine, put the equipment into the shed, and take everything else back to the garage.

Dad also was a big help. He came over on Friday to ensure the the Diesel and Steam loco were ready to go. He also tuned up the switches. A month or so ago, he had completed the 3rd switch, a refurbish of one of my grandfathers. I’d just finished installing it and running the track to the shed. That switch and track makes it possible to store the equipment on the track rather than up in the garage. Future runs will be must simpler to do. Dad guided Phil and Chris in the loco firing.

Chris made a video of the Cicada Run. Cicada Run 2021 – YouTube

Cicada running the rails….

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Travel and Firing #778

This post is to track the travel supplies and firing steps for #778.


    • Padded Seat
    • Foot rest bar (does not fit into any containers, nor in tender for travel)
  • COAL
    • 32-Cup cereal container
    • 5-gallon gray buckets
    • Various tools
    • Boiler inspection paper work
    • Grates
    • Pop valves (one is often removed for storage)
    • Shovel
    • Poker
    • Starter Fluid
    • Wood soaked in starter fluid (pre-soak)
    • Match light briquettes or similar
    • LSB800 water treatment
    • Valve Oil in pump oiler
    • ??? Oil
  • TORCH (make sure it has fuel)
  • DISTILLED WATER (preferred)
    • Roughly 3 gallons an hour
  • AIR COMPRESSOR with quick connect fittings
    • Not required if provided by track
  • CLEAR PLASTIC BIN (optional)
    • Cab panels and other old parts


  • Charge battery in tender car (It runs the pump)
  • Soak hardwood in lighter fluid


  1. Install the grate into the firebox
  2. Install Pop Valve(s)
  3. Connect compressed air to the locomotive
  4. Adjust so that draft of air goes out the stack
  5. Fill tank with 2 gallons of water – Preferably distilled, but can be tap water.
  6. Add a capful of LSB800 into the tank
  7. Connect the tender to the engine
  8. Connect both hoses
  9. Close the drain valve on boiler
  10. Use pump to fill boiler to 1/2 glass (not over 1/2)
  11. Fill coal box about 30%
  12. Get out shovel and poker
  13. Crush a few pieces of match light briquettes (1″ pieces)


  1. With boiler filled to 1/2 glass of water
  2. With Air running through blower
  3. Put two or three wood fire starters into smokebox
  4. Put 1/2″ to 1″ pieces of match light briquettes into the boiler
  5. Light fire with torch, holding torch in the box for 15-25 seconds
  6. When not doing something with fire, keep firebox door closed and prop open peep hole when needing to look at fire
  7. Once fire is going good on it’s own (2 minutes), add a 50/50 mix of crushed briquettes and coal
  8. after about 2 minutes, stir the fire a bit, distributing the fuel evenly
  9. add some coal (a light shovel load dumped at front and then one at back of firebox)
  10. Watch fire and make sure it continue burning well, if it drops off mix in briquettes with coal
  11. Continue repeating 8-9 again and again to make fire strong
  12. Blower might need to be adjusted, flow should not be so fast as to take all the heat out of the boiler.  The air above stack should be hot.
  13. When fuel is burning thoroughly, and is about 1″ deep through out the fire box fire is good and strong.
  14. Watch stack when adding coal.
    1. Within a few seconds, exhaust should get dark in color, than clear off (the dark color is the burning of the volitiles from the fresh coal on the fire).
    2. When the exhaust is clear again, the coal is starting to burn
    3. Let the coal burn before stiring the fire or adding fresh coal again.
    4. Caution, over stirring of the coal in the firebox may contribute to clinkers.  So if coal is distributed well when putting it into the firebox some stirring can be avoided which may help to avoid clinkers
  15. After 5-10 minutes the boiler pressure should start coming up.
  16. When boiler pressure is above 40lbs (or maybe 50), transition from compressed air to steam air.
    1. Put hand over stack to feel heat and air flow
    2. Simultaneously close the compressed air valve and open the steam valve to the blower
    3. Adjust the blower to get a similar air flow before changing
    4. Start watching the water glass and make sure it is between 1/3 and 2/3 full.
  17. Return to repeating steps 8-9 and additionally checking the water
  18. As pressure goes up, lower the steam flow through the blower
  19. Pop valve should go off around 95-100lbs (unless the older pop valves are installed and then it is 80lbs).  The engine can pull one person, just fine at 60-80lbs, but 75-95lbs is preferred when pulling more passengers (I think)
  20. Once the pop valve starts going off, really watch the water levels


The following can be done while waiting for boiler pressure to rise

  1. Fill lubricator with oil (kind?)
    1. Repeat every 30-60 minutes of running time
  2. Oil the rods, there are resevoirs on top of each rod too
  3. Lubricate valve gear
  4. Lubricate journal boxes on freight cars
    1. Repeat every 60 minutes of running time


  • Lower blower pressure, often not required when running
  • continue repeating 8-9 to keep the fire burning
  • If pop valves go off, tap them with the shovel (or else lots of pressure could be lost)
  • It’s easy to over fill the boiler with the pump.  Be save and keep water in the glass, but try to avoid over filling.  The glass goes from 2/3 to full very fast.  Over filling results in water in the cylinders which is not good for the cylinders

BLOW DOWN – Prep for ride home and storage between runs

More text to come….

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#778 makes the mandatory 2019 Woodlark Central Run

Dad ready to depart and head across the new bridge.

When I built the Woodlark Central I set the goal to run at least once a year.  It seemed to me that if I built the dammed thing I better run it!  It’s only fair to my wife who has given supported me in putting the railroad in our backyard.  Well, 2019 had not gone so well.  The Midwest was hit by torrential rains all spring and then in July I separated my shoulder and had to have reconstruction surgery putting on railroading and railroad maintenance on hold until the end of November.  Running out of time, I decided hat today would be the day, the weather was to be dry and in the 50’s, great for a run.

Dave (me) drifting down grade over the new bridge

Before I could run, I had to install a bridge, reinstall one track panel and stabilize the roadbed.  The track panel had been removed to get a new shed (engine house) into the backyard.  The shed was dragged in, so removing the track prevented damage.  The roadbed had to be stabilized because the rains had washed away the gravel and actually overflowed the track in one location.  That location was where I’d removed the track panel, so before reinstalling it I replaced the 3″ corrugated piping with a bridge to increase the flow of water.  More on the bridge and shed in future posts…Today is about a very successful run on #778.

#778 Off Roading it, as it rides to the backyard

Being as it had been one year since the last run, I was hesitant to get out on the track.  I’ve had a few less than successful run.  In 2017 I ran with my brother-n-law Eric and we really struggle to keep up steam.  Similar had happen while running with friends Phil and Chris on previous runs.  But today was different.  Steam was not a problem, we were able to run slow and steady and build steam easily.

#778 being transferred down the ramp from the cart to the tracks

We got a late start, Dad (86) arrived around 3:00, I already had most of the supplies in the back, we just had to bring #778 around to the back and put it on the tracks (no engines in the shed yet…did I tell you had shoulder surgery?)


  1. Clean flues (they had been cleaned last winter before storing away)
  2. Filled the boiler 40% up on the glass (not too high as to have too much water to heat)
  3. Started blower on the compressor.  Getting a good flow
  4. Put 2-3 small pine pieces in the bottom of the firebox.  These had been soaked in lighter fluid (I wish they had been hardwood for a cleaner burn).
  5. Broke up 2 Kingsford briquettes and put the pieces in the firebox
  6. Using a torch light it all on fire, holding the torch in the firebox for 30 seconds or more to ensure all was hot
  7. That stayed lite, so slowly add more briquette pieces to get a good fire
  8. After 5 minutes started transitioning to coal, putting coal on top
  9. Mixed between coal and briquettes for a few more fill ups
  10. Switched over to coal only as fire was rumbling front to the back
  11. Continued distributing coal, shovel full at front and shovel full at back, then wait then repeat
  12. Periodically adjusted blower, reducing it some to ensure heat would transfer in boiler
  13. When pressure got to 40-50lbs, switch blower over to steam.
  14. When the boiler got to 80lbs, the pop valve blew (I had installed the wrong pop valve, there is a newer 95-100lb pop that I should have used).
  15. Pressure dropped to 60lbs on next pop, tapped it, keeping pressure at 70lbs.  Tapping during the run became important to ensure #778 did not loose to much pressure
  16. Ready to run….Great fire up, only had to use the torch once!

#778 Rounds past the shed with Dad at the throttle. It was not as Dad makes it look. Over dressed for a 50 degree day.


Since it was just the two of us, we did not bother to pull any cars nor passenger, just the engineer on the tool car.  In the past, we’ve pulled people which may have consumed much more steam going up hill and having a load requires much higher pressures going up hill (2%) or else there simply is not enough power.  But the 80lb pop value ensured lower pressures.

Dad and #778 are making the grade

Here are a few thoughts about running

  1. If the boiler pressure is low, turn on the blower to get more fire
  2. If boiler pressure is high, put water into the boiler before the pop valve blows.  The cold water will lower the pressure
  3. Do not put too much water into the boiler at any one time, that will kill the pressure
  4. Keep the fire steady and well fueled.
  5. Keep the firebox door closed for better draft through the grates (even close the peep hole)
  6. Trying to keep the throttle steady can be a challenge as one fires too.
  7. The clean flues seem to making steaming easy

Dave putting on a show as he approaches the summit

In the past it has been hard to do 5 laps at a time.  Today I could have done 10-20 laps without stopping, I know I did 7-8 at once time without stopping.  Here is what I think contributed to the success

  1. Clean flues
  2. Clean startup (did not get flues dirty)
  3. Good fire
  4. Keeping the boiler at the 40-60% fill point at all times
  5. No pulling heavy loads
  6. Confidence – For some reason, was calm and confident


  1. Clean the flues (new pipe/gun cleaner helped there) and blow out with air.

Summit crested


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2018 Ballasting in progress

2017 was a great start to the Woodlark Central.  The core railroad was built and operated three times.  2018 on the other hand has been a disappointment.  As of Thanksgiving the railroad has not yet been run and most of the year the railroad was not even operable due to poor ballast conditions.  Why the railroad was so neglected is another story, but the ballast problems started in 2017.  Basically, when the railroad was built, I did not add sufficient ballast.  I have enough ballast for the track to lay on, but I did not put ballast between the ties nor built it up on the sides of the ties.  Then in 2018, the spring rains began to wash the ballast away and out from under the ties, making the railroad unstable for operations.

Last Friday, I order I had 2 cubic yards of 1/2″ chipped gravel with dust delivered to the house.  The idea being to refurbish the grade and possibly run trains the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Ballasting has begun and hopefully I can run trains on Sunday.


A fresh 20′ of ballast on the grade. The foreground track was refurbished this summer using left over ballast from last year. In the distance is track that requires refurbishing.


Looking the other direction, the foreground track is one of the worst sections. Notice how the rain washed away the gravel between the ties. The ballast is 8-10″ deep in this section, but did not have sufficient ballast on the sides to keep the rain from washing it away.

I knew I’d have to ballast from time to time, just like the real railroads.  But this year is significantly more than I think future years will require.  I’m hopeful that in future years I can pull 1-2 wheel barrow loads from a pile of ballast and keep the grade in good operating shape.

One things I’m wondering is how thick to make the ballast around the ties.  Should I fill it to the top or only go up 50% or so on the ties, so that the ties can try out?

Before I started ballasting, I was reminded of a story about the SR&RL 2-Foot gauge railroad in main (actually, the Franklin and Megantic one of it’s predecessors).  The story goes, that the roadbed got so bad, that superintendent invited the brass from Boston to come up and inspect the railroad.  The crews made the inspection train up with the worst caboose on the end, one with stiff trucks.  Then they gave the brass an accelerated trip up to Kingfield.  When they came to a stop, no one came out of the caboose.  When they opened the doors, the brass were lying on the floor white knuckled and still holding on with all they had.  The F&M soon got the money required to re-grade the line.  So while I may not have the story 100% correct, as the brass of the Woodlark Central, I’m sure glad I never had to ride the like with it in such bad shape.

Hopefully, I can complete the grading and get in a run for 2018.  I built it to run it!

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Success! Woodlark Central’s first run is a party…

On August 18th 2017, the Woodlark Central ran for the first time!  My 50th birthday reunion celebration was a success.  My son, nephew and others all ran the trains and made trips around the track on the hand car.  There were no trial runs, the engine had not even been down on the tracks.


Six months of work on the railroad has culminated in a successful lap around the track. Now time to Explain the throttle to Nick and Justin.

Obtaining success was not easy.  For the prior 4-6 weeks my 84 year old father worked 6-8 hour days refurbishing track and building the two turnouts.  In the last 1-2 weeks, he and I installed the remaining 120 (of 230) feet of track.  I took Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday off work to prepare for the celebrations and complete the track.  Here are some key activities in the final week (photos follow the list)

  • Wednesday Aug 16th – Installed all the track and got all rail connections completed.  The loop was in.
  • Thursday Aug 17 – Dad came over again,
    • We put the screws in for all the rails (He did most of this work)
    • Completed the cart to a level of completeness
    • Got the cart stands started and tested, identified a few problems
    • 1am – Hung the hoist in the ceiling of the garage.  Family was sleeping had I fallen off the ladder it’s quite likely no one would have found me.  This was no small achievement, holding 6′ long steel tube over my head and screwing it in within lag bolts.  I did go to bed happy that was over.
  • Friday Aug 18th
    • Honey do list – My wife was planning the “party” and she had a honey do list for me.  She is a planner and not a procrastinator.  No having something done stresses her out, where as it motivates me.  We are opposites.  Needless to say in her frustration, on Thursday she set the following mandate “You can not play with trains until all of your part tasks are complete”.  It was this mandate that motivated me to hang the hoist on Thursday night.  Here is my party list
      • Edge Driveway and all side walks (normally she would help by sweeping, but do to my procrastination, I had to do it myself)
      • Mow the lawn (I rushed through the back yard on Thursday evening…).  I helped my son do the front yard
      • Setup and ice the coolers
      • Setup the tables in the backyard
      • Setup the tent (Dad helped with this)
      • Put table cloths on the tables (Dad did this too)
      • Mulch the mound – This was my idea, I wanted the back yard to look good and the mound behind the sitting wall was weed covered and terrible.  I went to home depot at 8am to get the mulch (and to get a few things required to complete the locomotive cart/stands
      • Setup concrete bench – This request had been dropped, but my wife had asked for month or two before.  The bench was from the house she grew up in and reminded her of her mom (passed).  So, wanting to gain back a few bonus points, I decided to set it up.  It is in front of the mound, another reason to mulch the mound.  The top of the bench weighs over 150lb’s.  It was a good 20 minute struggle between the bench, me, and the wheelbarrow.  In the end, I won the wheelbarrow survived, the bench was setup, and my back only hurt a bit more.
      • Added two flower pots (purchased during the Home Depot run) to spruce
    • Whiffle Ball Field – Months prior, I promised my son we’d have a home run contest during the party.  Both he and Nick like baseball, so it seemed like a good part activity.  Add to that my Bothers and Cousins always play sports when were younger, we all like hard healthy competition.  So a home run derby seemed like a good idea.
      • My son mowed the lawn
      • I then mowed base paths and infield even lower
      • We put up/built the fence (orange construction fence from Lowes, garden stakes and zip ties).  Charlie had drilled the holes in the garden stakes two days earlier.  I good way for a 12 year old to learn how to use a drill press.
      • FYI:  The fence was about 70 feet from the home plate and in our neighbors yard (I have good neighbors)
    • Trains
      • Dad arrived around 2:00 (one hour before the guests were due)
      • He helped with table cloth and such
      • He enlarged the holes in the stand from 1/2″ to 3/4″ using a drill I’d purchased while making the morning mulch run to Home Depot (the bit was the real reason I had to go to home depot.  Mulch and other things were just a decoy)
      • People started arriving at 3pm as we worked on the stands
      • 4:30pm raised the cart into the stand
      • Rolled the #91 from it’s stand to the cart (smiles from my dad an I)
      • Lowered the cart with #91 on it to the ground (smiling bigger)
      • Rolled cart with #91 out of the garage (big smiles…this is going to work)
      • Maneuvered cart into the side yard and down to the back yard
      • Maneuvered the cart over the track
      • Propped up one end and connected the spanner track from the cart to the rails
      • 5pm  rolled #91 down the spanner track and forcibly onto the rails
      • 5:30pm I took the first ride around the track
      • Dad took the second ride around the track
      • Success!
      • Time to take my shower….It was 90 degrees I had been working hard all day, time to clean up as I was the one being honored.
      • For the next few hours the kids rode the trains around the track.
      • 8:30pm #91 made back onto the cart and into the garage!  Complete success!


Charlie and Nick looped the railroad on the handcar until #91 made its appearance


Close up of Charlie and Nick.  The lack of a second track shows we did not complete the passing siding for the event.


#91 the RS3 is on the cart and in the stand. It is fastened to the board and ready to be lowered. Hoist is overhead and needs to be moved into position. A 1/2″ rod goes through the stand and the cart (the hoisting is inspired by what Jim Sabin did. Search youtube for his name to see video of his hoist setup)


The hoist is being used to lower the front end of the loco from 30″ to 15″. The hoist cable is tight as I have yet to slip in the 1/2″ rod that will hold the front end at 15″. It’s a 3 step process to lower the loco all the way to the ground.


A side view of the engine being lowered. As a short cut, we clamped #91’s travel board to the cart as it has tie downs. In the future I hope to add rails and tie downs to the cart so that clamps will not be required.  But as it is now, anyone that has a locomotive board with tie downs could probably visit.


#91 rolling out into the sun. At this point, I was all smiles as I new we had succeeded, we were going to run trains for my birthday party.


A parade! that’s what the first trip around the track seemed to be, what fun.


Dad made the second trip around. It was festive to have so many spectators.


We missed the tightening of 10 feet of screws. A pause for maintenance was required. Paul spectating, has an honorable mention in the Woodlark Central’s history. Some 30 years earlier he helped dad bring all of the track and railroad equipment from California to Cincinnati when my dad salvaged his fathers live steam equipment, shop, and track. Without uncle Paul there might not be a Woodlark Central.


Andrew speeding up the 2% grade behind #91


Andrew Charlie and the twins parade around the backyard. Dad with a watchful eye.


The parade continues


Josh and Justin at the controls

I must confess, the railroad was not flawless.  We have a few derailments and had to walk around the track.  But for a trial run infront of a crowd it was a great success.  Nothing like completing a significant accomplishment to make one 50th birthday.  Who is over the hill.

SPECIAL THANKS:  Clearly this railroad does not exist without my dad.  But my wife gets a “Big thanks honey”.   She took a leap of faith in letting me build the railroad in the backyard of our home.  I do not think she had any idea what it would be like.  Also, I know there were times this summer when she thought she’d lost me to the railroad.  At times I thought I’d lost myself….was I becoming Harrison Ford’s character in the Mosquito Coast?  Obsessed by a railroad that may never run?  Thankfully, I do not think that is me.  Instead I have a railroad that will cause me to do more Gardening (something my wife loves) and do more socialization (something my wife believes in).  So rather than become isolated I’d like to think I’m becoming more engaged.  Thanks!

My wife also gets credit for putting on a wonderful party.  Food, drink, music and great socializing for my family.  Thanks again…

If anyone cares, Pete won the home run derby.  He smashed all of us by creaming home runs high into the trees….We each got 10 outs to hit as many hope runs as we good.  The fence was 75 feet from the plate.  Sorry, no pictures.  Here are the participants and winners….

  • Pete – 7 (The champion)
  • Dave, Bill – 5
  • Mike V, Hank – 4
  • Rob, Tim, Charlie, Mitch – 2
  • Mike, Nick – 1
  • Kathy, Justin, Josh, Andrew, Sophie – 0
  • Thanks to all who participated.


A parting shot…The smiles tell it all. This is why we built the railroad in a suburban home setting, so that we could enjoy and so that kids could enjoy.

FYI:  Some photos were taken by me using my smart phone, but the best photos were taken by Terri.  Thanks Terri!

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WCRR – Ballast Complete

In July we completed the basic ballast on the Woodlark Central


A small fill is seen on entering the backyard.


Turning right, the grade is 1.5% up in this direction, until the second tree where it heads down again


The bricks in the in the roadbed are every 10 feet. The railroad is graded brick to brick. The 2% down grade starts at the first brick.


Heading down grade, toward the great fill and past the vegetable garden.

Approaching the yard, on the fill, an passing the garden

The double track railroad yard. Full size railroad ties on right are being placed to hold the ballast.

Exiting the yard. The 1.5% grad starts here. The wall at left is for sitting on while watching the trains in the yard.

The 1.5 % grade out of the yard.

Completed the loop. The 1.5% grade heads toward the house and the loop is completed on the small fill. Stacks of track wait to be installed.

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