Saturday, October 27, 2018

New County Bridge Erected Over Little John Creek

Stockton Daily Independent - July 2, 1895

The new steel bridge now spans the normally-dry Little John Creek. The abutments are what was left after cutting the Chooch ones used on the railroad bridge in the background.
Yesterday, the new bridge over Little John Creek was dedicated and opened to traffic. Residents of the area are overjoyed at the prospect of regaining their connection to Farmington after the collapse the wooden bridge 16 months ago. Winning contractors for the project were the Cotton Brothers of Oakland, a well-known construction firm.
Farmers can now get their produce to the packers in Farmington. You can barely make out the builder's plate on the arch at the center of  the bridge. The device at the far right is a scissors phone used by crews during operation to OS their trains.
 In other words, I finally finished my bridge project and got it mounted on the railroad. As mentioned in my  previous post here, the bridge has been a 30-year project (sort of) and I am pleased that it is finished. It is very delicate due to its almost-scale sized components and I will probably erect a clear plastic barrier so I don't get my shirt cuffs entangled in the bridge and a cause of collapse.
A farmer on his way to Farmington crosses the new bridge. Although it is satisfactory for normal wagon traffic, one wonders how it will fare if the new "horseless carriages" catch on.
 My method of lacing the girders using laser-cut pieces worked out well. Although you can't see it very well in photos, I placed a builder's plate on the arch over each end of the bridge. It is a photograph of the original Cotton Brothers plate found on the prototype. Most people will probably not notice it but I know it is there.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Railroad Traveling - Nevada to Georgia

Ex-Central Pacific car lettered for a motion picture now resides at the Nevada State Railroad Museum.
The last few weeks have been another hectic time of the year. The Virginia and Truckee Railroad Historical Society had its Annual Conference in Carson City during the first part of October. This is an event I have attended for about 25 years and it is one of the year's highlights for me. Presentations on the V&T's operations and history and made along with a modeling workshop and, usually, a field trip. The nice thing is that these presentations are often presented by professional railroad historians presenting researched facts about nineteenth century railroading in general. The modeling programs featured items on locomotive performance and using 3D modeling techniques.
     The field trip consisted of a closeup inspection of the V&T coach 17. This was the Directors' Car which conveyed Central Pacific dignitaries to the driving of the golden spike at promontory. Over the years, it saw changes as it went to a coach, then to the V&T and then a career in the movies and, finally, as a museum piece. The V&TRRHS has published a book about the history of this car which can be obtained from the Society website (
The diesel, having outlived its usefulness, is preserved in the local part.
Arriving home from the Conference, I had barely enough time to unpack and do my laundry before getting on another plane to Atlanta to participate in Dixie Rails. This is a model railroad event put on by the modeling community of the area. It consists of operating on four model railroads over a three-day period. It was great fun on great railroads with my favorite being Norm Stenzel's Brandywine and Benedictine Railroad. It represents a 1953 coal-hauling line in the Allegheny Mountains. There are many large steam locomotives plus some first-generation diesels plus great scenery. Norm has a good sense of humor with several small scenes around the railroad. My favorite was the late-model diesel in the park.
      If you are interested in early western mining railroading, consider joining the V&TRR Historical Society ( There is a quarterly magazine and a great conference.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

New Bridge for Little John Creek Under Construction

Deer Creek bridge in California shows its age. It was built in 1898 by the Cotton Brothers of Oakland, CA for the wagon trade. My first sight of the bridge came in 1972 when I crossed it in the back of a Model T Ford.
 The last couple of months have been rather enjoyable, hectic and disappointing, all at the same time. First, as most of you know, the NMRA National Convention was in Kansas City during the first part of August. It was enjoyable for me to see a number of old friends and to meet some new ones as well. I gave a clinic on tuning steam locomotive mechanisms and modeling the nineteenth century using modern methods. Both were well-attended and received.
     The hectic part running back and forth from home to the convention hotel because each clinic presentation was on a different day. One day, I had two busloads of conventioneers go through the layout followed by a number of Layout Design Sig folks on a special tour. On top of that, I hosted two operating sessions for the Operations Sig group. There were also dinners and then the National Train Show on the Weekend. All of great fun but I was glad to get back to a more restless pace of life.
     Disappointment reared  its head when I tried to get a couple of projects done. The first is an interlocking which will control the Central Pacific/S&C diamond at Stockton. I was on a roll, got the circuitry wired and came up one semaphore base short. That project went on hold pending arrival of a new part.
The girders were made from styrene channel held together with laser-cut lacing. Tension rods along the bottom of the bridge are more laser-cut pieces reinforced by brass strips. A wood deck roadway will cover the stringers after painting.
 Enjoyment, however returned when I started building a steel wagon bridge based on a prototype bridge I had measured about 30 years ago. It still stands outside of Grass Valley, California but the road no longer goes over it having been rerouted. I have been putting off modeling it because it is of very light construction and I wasn't quite sure how to model the laced girders to scale. This problem was finally solved with the arrival of my laser cutter which allowed me to cut the lacing I needed.
The intricate lacing which makes up the arch is all laser-cut. The reinforcements around the edges are of styrene. 
As the photos show, it's mostly styrene with some brass strips and rod. It's turning out so delicate that I think I should put a clear plastic box around it to protect it from injury. It's ready for paint in the next couple of days and then I'm off to the annual Virginia and Truckee Railroad Historical Society meeting in Carson City, Nevada. It's always a fun few days. The weekend after that will find me in Atlanta for an  operating weekend called Dixie Rails. I've never been and am looking forward to it.