Arizona and Pacific RR Current Projects

Arizona & Pacific RR Current Projects

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This page of the website follows projects taking place at the Arizona and Pacific Railroad and gives visitors a chance to see the progress that has been made throughout the years...


          The weather on the A & P has been fantastic this month ranging from the mid-seventies to mid-eighties almost every day. We did have the first major dust storm of the year which left everything a bit dirty, but there wasn't any damage and we sprayed everything off. All in all, it was a great month for railroading and we spent a great deal more time playing with the trains this month than working on them.

          We had a number of visitors this month. The cities represented were Richards, Texas, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, Rochester, Minnesota, Portland, Oregon and Anthem, Arizona. On many visitor's first trips to the A & P, they are surprised at just how crazy I am to have built all of this into my backyard - but in a good way.


Springtime visitors at the A&P RR


A&P RR visitors on the track inspection car

          We also had some unwelcome visitors this month. A large swarm of bees took up residence in a neighbor's tree right next to the property line fence and within about 20 feet of the A & P mainline. A bee exterminator was called and arrived within the hour. A swarm of Africanized bees was exterminated from a residence about a mile from here a couple of weeks earlier and we didn't want to take any chances. It turns out this swarm was not Africanized, but the bee wrangler stated it was not a situation where he could move these to a new home. He eliminated the bees from the tree and solved the problem. There were still plenty of angry bees around for a couple of hours before they moved on to find a new home.


Bee infested tree


Bee Keeper eliminating bees from tree


Some of the aftermath of the bee elimination

          Staying with the visitor theme, we had our 100,000 visitor to the website mid month. I have stated before that it amazes me that so many of you check in each month to see what projects we are working on out here in metro Phoenix. We don't advertise or sell anything, don't give anything away and don't have photos of naked women on here. Pretty amazing that we get so many visitors to the site!

Website hits

The A&P RR website passes the 100,000 visitor milestone

          We had the Tucson (No. 4), Coconino (No. 5), Sandusky (No. 2) and Red River (No. 37) as well as the track inspection car on the rails multiple times during the month. Everything ran great and there weren't any issues.

          As I shared last month, we have a dozen full size switch stands in different styles and from different railroads scattered around the back yard and its various patios. We have been cleaning, priming and repainting the switch stands a couple at a time to keep them operable and presentable. Between last month and this month, we finished cleaning and painting the last four of the switch stands.


New brick switchstand display.


Re-finished switchstands on one of the two new brick displays

          I wanted to create additional places to view and operate them in which they were out of the walking areas so no one was going to trip over anything or have to walk around anything. I decided on two places that met the criterion set forth and we set about building elevated brick display areas within two of my large planters. I purchased a couple pallets of bricks for this project and another project planned in the future. Getting the extra bricks from the front driveway to the far back corner of the property could have been done if a few different ways, but we used one of our flat cars. How cool is that!

Transporting Bricks

Transporting bricks

          When I made the decision three years ago to remove my beautiful green grass from the front yard and replace with desert xeriscape landscaping, I had plenty of second thoughts. The fact that I no longer had $500 monthly water bills helped convince me that I made the right decision and this is the desert and water should be conserved. The first year, the front yard just looked so barren with only small cactus and small patches of ground cover. Everyone told me it would take five years for the plants to grow large enough and spread wide enough to really look nice. It has been three years and I must say I am very pleased. The various plants still have a ways to go growth wise, but the spring flowers and color are really spectacular.

Cactus Flowers

Torch cactus blooming in Springtime

Springtime Flowers

Springtime flowers at the A&P RR

Springtime Flowers

Iceplant adds color to the desert xeriscape

Cactus Flowers

Cactus in bloom at the A&P RR

Springtime Flowers

Iceplant in the front cut

Cactus Flowers

Springtime cactus in bloom at the A&P RR

Springtime Flowers

Iceplant in the desert

Cactus Flowers

Strawberry hedgehog cactus blooming

Springtime Flowers

Springtime color at the A&P RR

Front Xeriscape

Desert Xeriscape at the A&P RR

Front Xeriscape

The front cut of the A&P RR

          We were gifted a black and white photo of the Tucson operating on the Flagstaff and Middle Verde Railroad on its "golden spike day" September 22, 1991. Everyone was dressed in period costumes for the event. It is on display in the engine house.


Golden spike day at the F&MV RR

          I purchased and installed a new battery in our rebuild rack. It operates the winch that allows us to slowly lower engines from the rack to the rail and vice versa. We needed the new battery in preparation of the lowering No. 582 onto the rail for her inaugural trip around the A & P in April. I'm sure we will have a number of bugs to work out since rebuild and reassembly; we will start that process next month.

          We have two axle sets to finish rebuilding next month and we will finally be done with that project. It seems like it has drug on for several years and actually has taken almost a year and a half to complete. The bearings and seals have been replaced on every journal box of our equipment. Several bad axles and numerous wheels have also been replaced. With respect to these last two axle sets, I had a few wheels that might have gotten us by. However, I elected to purchase two new wheels and go that route. The last axle set will have two new wheels and a new axle to go with new bearings and new seals.


Wheels for the final axle set

          We took some video this month of the Red River (No. 37) running on the A & P. There is a great deal of editing that still needs completed, but we hope to have a video up on the site in the next few weeks showing her polishing the rails. Check back in late April for an update on that project.

          Happy and safe railroading everybody.


          The transmission is back in No. 582. Jerry Graves found an oversize O ring that fit great and is serving its purpose - no leaks from that location. We did discover another leak from the front seal that is just a drip at this point. We'll see if it starts to bother me enough to change it out while the engine is still up on the rack. With the locomotive up on our service rack, we have the opportunity to drop the transmission out the bottom instead of lifting her out from the top and this is a real advantage. We wanted to make sure that the oversize O ring wouldn't cause any issues with the transmission shifting and there is only one way to test that.

          The shifter in No. 582 is vacuum operated so we started her up to build vacuum, then shut off the engine, turned the key to auxilliary and shifted gears. We shifted multiple times and it works great. The engine is wired so that the shifting mechanism is dead when the engine is running and is only hot when the key is in the auxilliary position. This is to keep someone from trying to shift gears while the engine is running and tearing teeth off the gears in the transmission.

          Since we had the battery hooked up, had some vacuum in the system and wanted to let the Wisconsin run a little bit, we took the opportunity to have Dave jump in the cockpit and operate her for 1st time since she has been assembled. She only went back and forth on the rack, but covered about 8 feet. We will have her on the ground for her maiden trip in the next month or so.

          We had one of our friends fabricate four more pairs of hinges and brackets for G16s. One set will be used on our B unit as we want to set it up as closely as possible to the way we set up No. 582. One set will go into the parts department just in case we tackle another G-16 some day and two pair of hinges will go to a home in the mid-west.

Hinge Brackets

Hood hinges for the G-16 B unit

          Keeping with the B unit theme, we painted the Velvac vacuum valves that will be mounted in the cockpit. The red is the brake and green is the throttle just as in the A unit. These valves will not be tied into the brake or throttle system, but will give "junior engineers" the opportunity to learn the operation of MTC equipment and learn that safety starts at an early age.

Vacuum Valves

Vacuum valves for the G-16 B unit

          As I shared last month, Dave and I also reached a decision on our trestle No. 4 which connects to where I initially envisioned a speeder building. A few years ago, we partially disassembled the trestle with the thought that we would curve it to align with our turntable. We planned to construct two diamonds one across the siding and one across the mainline and could run there directly from the turntable. Grade disparity, two diamonds in curves and two parallel track panels being tied together lead us to recently scrap the idea. This month we basically reassembled the trestle in its original configuration. We regauged and reattached the rail, replaced and rebolted the side walking planks and releveled and reattached the ties on the run out. For now, we'll use the trestle to display the bridge tie car.

Trestle No. 4

Trestle No. 4 has been reassembled

Trestle No. 4

Trackside view of the reassembled trestle No. 4

          I have talked for years about adding walking planks to the center of the transfer table. The table frequently gets used as a method of entry into the engine house when we are working on a project and planks make much easier walking than the 4 x 4 ties that are spaced for rail support, not for foot comfort. Dave and I got the planks cut and in place and securely bolted just as a major rain storm hit. It won't be long before the color of the planks will match the color of the original wood in the transfer table.

Transfer Table

Walking planks added to transfer table

Transfer Table

Transfer table walking planks viewed from the enginehouse

          In many of the photos of the old Colorado narrow gauge railroad yards, wheel and axle sets can be seen sitting on or near the repair facilities. We have several wheels and axles that we have taken out of service as the result of wear and condition. We assembled 6 sets of wheels and axles and tack welded the wheels into place. We have identified four more axles and eight more wheels that we will assemble and tack in place the next time we have the welder out. We will place the wheel and axle sets in a couple of places around the railroad to add to the ambience.

Wheel Sets

Wheel sets add to the railroad ambience

          We welded the bases onto the posts that we previously drilled and tapped for three signs that we can move into place when we are having large gatherings, but they can be moved and stored away when not needed. The one inch thick base plates weigh almost 25 pounds each and keep the wind or children from knocking the signs over.

Mobile Posts

Mobile sign posts

          We also spent quite a bit of time this month, sanding, priming and painting the white frames of our retro patio furniture. The wind catches the chairs and flips them during the summer dust storm season and scrapes the paint off so that rust can get started. We also cleaned and buffed the top layer of paint oxidation off the seats and backs. The furniture looks good, but not too good as I want it to look correct for the period.

Retro Patio Furniture

Refinishing the retro patio furniture

          We had visitors from Chicago and from north Phoenix this month.

          It was several weeks ago that we installed the trailer pin electrical connector on the rear of tender No. 37. We finally found the time to repaint the rear beam.

Rear beam before paint

The Red River's rear beam before paint

Rear beam after paint

The Red River's rear beam after paint

          We have a dozen full size switch stands in different styles and from different railroads scattered around the back yard and its various patios. We have been cleaning, priming and repainting the switch stands a couple at a time to keep them operable and presentable. The sun takes its toll on anything left outside here and every few years the switch stands need attention.

Switch Stands before

Switchstands in need of refinishing

Switch Stands after

Switchstands after refinishing

          The Friday-Saturday of Feb 28 - March 1 was crazy here. After almost 70 days without a drop of rain, the A & P received 2.2 inches of rain in less than 24 hours, we average 8.04 inches a year here. Things were a little soggy here on Sunday, but we got everything emptied of water and nothing was damaged.

Rain Water

Heavy rains left a lot of water at the A&P RR

          Happy and safe railroading everybody.

Red River

The Red River


          January was a busy month, but not for the usual reasons. We had visitors from all over the country stop by this month and made sure everyone got plenty of rides behind their equipment of choice. Seattle, Washington, Chatsworth, California, Waterman, Illinois and Surprise, Arizona were the home towns of this month's visitors.


Taking a ride at the A&P RR


Visitors enjoying the A&P RR


Riding the A&P RR


Visitors of all ages enjoy riding the A&P RR

          When we weren't hosting guests, we managed to get a few things accomplished. We sanded, stained and sealed our two park benches. Sanded, stained and sealed two of our barrels. Sanded and painted several of our full size switch stands. Painted our full size bell cradle and repainted the globe arms of our three park style lamp posts. The desert sun and dry climate takes a toll on everything that is exposed to the elements out here. Metal performs much better than wood long term, but metal items still need sanded and repainted every few years.


Preparing to paint the bell cradle

Lamp Post

One of three repainted lamp posts with refinished barrels in the background


Park bench in need of refinishing


Eddie applies stain to the park benches


Refinished park bench


Refinished barrel

          We obtained an old 6 volt starter for a Wisconsin VF engine. We had it rewound and rebuilt for a 12 volt system, wrapped it in plastic and placed it in inventory on our parts shelf. These are getting very hard to find and I wanted at least one on the shelf going forward.

          You will recall last month I mentioned a nagging oil leak from the transmission on No. 582 that I had hoped I had resolved. As it turns out, one leak was solved, but not what turned out to be the major one from around the shifting sleeve o ring. We pulled the transmission and will either machine a second o ring groove or find an oversize O ring to better seal the bottom of the sleeve. The sleeve slides back and forth as the gears are shifted from forward and reverse.


The transmission has been removed from the G-16

          We had the bases cut for the three portable signs we have slowly made progress on. Next month we will clean them up and get the posts welded in place. I still have to finish the signs that get mounted on the posts.

Sign Base

Base for portable sign

          We welded brackets on our 4 rollers that will serve as the rollers under the mini-turntable that we are slowly fabricating. A small step I know, but some progress was made.


Bracket attached to roller for mini-turntable

          We obtained an instruction book and parts list for the Wisconsin AENLD engine in our track inspection car. This was a big find for us and will go with the collection of Wisconsin manuals and parts lists we have acquired over the years


Wisconsin engine manual for the track inspection car

          As I mentioned earlier, we had the opportunity to do a great deal of train running this month. We put together several work trains and ran in both directions along the A & P mainline. Although we can run in either direction, it is a little less work getting everything on the main and set into trains if we run counter clockwise and we have fallen into that habit. This month, we took the opportunity to make numerous laps in the clock wise direction. In many ways it seems like a different railroad when we travel in the opposite direction as the throttle and brake points are so different. All of the engines operated this month as did the track inspection car. The track inspection car is ideal for moving and spotting cars at various locations.


Dave runs the Tucson in the less common clockwise direction


The Coconino posing clockwise in the front cut

Double Header

Panorama showing double header made up of former F&MV RR equipment


The Sandusky posing in the front cut


The Phoenix poses for a photo opportunity

Red River

Dave running the Red River counter clockwise on the A&P RR

          Dave and I also reached a decision on our trestle No. 4 which connects to where I initially envisioned a speeder building. A few years ago, we partially disassembled the trestle with the thought that we would curve it to align with our turntable. We planned to construct two diamonds one across the siding and one across the mainline and could run there directly from the turntable. Grade disparity, two diamonds in curves and two parallel track panels being tied together lead us to recently scrap the idea. Next month we will reassemble the trestle in its original configuration.

          Time permitting, it is always fun to have people over and share the railroad experience. It is especially fun when they are fellow large-scale railroad owners and operators as they have shared so many of the same experiences and 99.9% of them are great people. We were fortunate this month to have Pete Robinson of the Waterman & Western Railroad in Waterman, Illinois and Jerry Steibring of the P & JS RR, also in Illinois visit. They each have 15 inch gauge railroads and although most of the challenges are the same, they deal with a few issues foreign to the A & P like snow drifts and clearing ice from the switches. On the other side of the coin, they don't have the heat issues we have out here... They visited together and spent a whole day here as we operated equipment, traded stories and dreamed of future finds.


Pete Robinson and Jerry Steibring visit the A&P RR

          The visitor season here pretty much runs through April and then drops off dramatically after it starts getting over 100 degrees on a daily basis.

Three S-16's

The Phoenix, Tucson and Sandusky sit in the front cut

Sandusky and Tucson

The Sandusky (left) and Tucson (right) pose at the water tank


The Sandusky, Red River and Tucson

Three S-16's

The Sandusky, Tucson and Phoenix in the front cut

Three S-16's

Three of the A&P RR's S-16's

          Happy and Safe Railroading Everybody!


          We just recently released the 2013 Arizona and Pacific Annual Report. Click here to view it


          The big project this month was the restoration of the A & P water tank. Our water tank was completed in early 2005. The wood staves had received additional stain twice over the years, but the retaining rings and other bolt on detail made it difficult to get the stain everywhere it needed to go. The retaining rings also needed cleaned, lightly sanded and refinished.

          The retaining rings were originally mounted on the tank before the roof was attached. We didn't want to "spring" them by trying to simply spreading them around the staves as they would be distorted when replaced. We looked at unbolting them and lowering them to the ground and then lifting the tank supports over them, but the tank and supports weigh more than a thousand pounds and that would have been no easy task. After some thought and effort, we came up with a way to unbolt the rings, rotate them half way around the tank and out from behind the spout mounting arms, then drop them to the ground and work them out and around the support legs one set at a time.

Water tank

The retaining rings have been successfully removed

Water tank

The tank's hickory staves have been sanded and are ready for stain

          With the rings removed, we were able to sand the staves and get two good coats of stain and a coat of preservative on the wood which is hickory. We cleaned and sanded the rings and then had to figure out how to position them for painting. We ended up hanging them like ornaments from our large pine tree which made it look like the Christmas tree it was 23 years ago.

Water tank

A fresh coat of stain is being applied

Water tank retaining rings

Preparing to paint the retaining rings

Water tank retaining rings

Merry Christmas

          Getting the rings back in place without springing them and without scraping the paint off the rings or scraping up the water tank staves was an interesting challenge. We tried several approaches and eventually went with an approach where we taped a plastic sleeve around the ring. We feed the ring around the tank and through the narrow openings behind the spout arms and the water level float gauge. After the ring was close to its final position, we worked the plastic loose from one end and worked it off the other open end of the ring before we bolted it back in place. Five sets of hands held the ring tight level and in place while we secured each ring.

Water tank

Freshly painted rings awaiting re-installation

Water tank

Wrapping the rings in plastic for the re-installation

          The original plan was to refinish just the staves and the rings. After they were refinished and repainted, it made the metal components on the tank look pretty dingy. We repainted the metal components of the roof and also repainted the ladder with two coats of paint each. Just like with a home remodeling project, one thing led to another. All the work on the tank and metal components, made the legs and cross-bracing look like they needed repainted. We lightly sanded and then painted the tank support structure. It is unbelievable how much surface area there is in the legs and cross-bracing. This was very time-consuming as we taped off bolt heads and threaded rods as I didn't want paint on them - I wanted them to look just the way they looked originally.

Water tank

Painting the water tank's legs

          As had been the case with the other components that had been re-stained and resealed or repainted, the freshly painted legs and cross bracing made the frost box look pretty dingy. We refinished the frost box to match the wood staves of the tank and sealed it too. This project grew in scope tremendously after we got started and was a great deal of work, but she looks darn good and should look good for several more years. We had nearly fifty man hours in this project...

Water tank

Completely restored water tank

Water tank

Arizona and Pacific Railroad water tank

          The "No Trespassing" sign on the water tank needed a little extra work as the nut on one of the mounting bolts had worked itself free inside the tank. Those nuts had been tightened from inside the tank before the roof was attached. Interestingly, we couldn't get the nut on the other bolt to come loose. We drilled that bolt out and replaced both with new bolts and butterfly nuts.

No Trespassing

We re-mounted the no trespassing sign

          The rest of the projects during the month were much smaller in nature. We rebuilt one more axle set - only 2 more to go and this project will finally be completed.

          We added wiring to the Red River engine and tender. We wired a "coach light" circuit to light up lights in any car it might be called upon to lead. Previously, Dave had wired each of our other four engines for this purpose and we finally got to this one. The "coach light" circuit is hot with the front headlight. It was a lot more work than this paragraph seems to imply...


Wiring for coach lights was added to the rear connector of the Red River engine

          We had a nagging oil leak from the transmission on G16 No. 582. Oddly, two of the four bolts at the bottom of the transmission side plate aren't blind holes - they actually go all the way through. We had tried a couple of things without any real success. We finally went ahead and drained the transmission, cleaned all the gear oil from the bolt holes with carburetor cleaner and let it dry completely. We used a teflon based plumber thread sealer product by Rectorseal that seems to have solved our leaking problems short term. Hopefully, it will provide a long-term solution as well.

          As I shared a couple of months ago, we are starting to fabricate components for our mini-turntable for the speeders, handcar, track inspection car and mw trailers. It will be 84 inches long and 40 inches wide. We had the ring water jet cut out of sold one inch thick plate last Fall and it came out great and as one solid piece should be trouble-free. We received the 1500 pound each capacity rollers from McMaster-Carr last week and will fabricate the brackets that will hold them in place in the next few weeks. The next piece we will get cut is the 40 inch wide by 84 inch long 3/8 inch thick bottom plate.

          The Coconino and the Red River were out and about on December 15 as the bright red leaves of the pear trees provided a pretty back drop. It feels great on a chilly day having the warm air from the Wisconsin engine blowing on you as the operator.


The Fall season arrives at the Arizona and Pacific Railroad


The Coconino in the Fall


The Red River enjoys some Fall sunshine


Dave takes the Coconino for a run


It was cold enough to use the fireplace on the large observation platform


Removing ice from a tarp covering one of the cars

          Happy and Safe Railroading Everybody!


A large predatory bird visits the A&P RR


          While we're working on the December update Dave finished the complete rebuild of the interactive map. It's uses an aerial photo with 22 points of interest that you can click on. Each of the 22 spots has photos and a description of the sights along the Arizona and Pacific Railroad's right of way. Click here to see the Interactive Aerial Photo


          We spent two and a half weekends this month on track work. We have very tight curves on the A & P, the result is the length of the outside rail is significantly longer than the inside rail. As the rails grow in length in the summer due to heat and expansion the outer rail grows more in length than the inner rail does since there is more of it to expand. When the rails shrink in length in the winter the outer rail shrinks more than the inner rail.

          As the rails grow and shrink in length, the gauge is affected as each rail grows and shrinks independently from one another. We placed gauge bars throughout the five curves on our layout this month which for practical purposes makes our curves into track panels. We can't stop the seasonal rail creep, but the intention is to have the rail move as a panel so the gauge won't be impacted.

Gauge Bars

Gauge bars being staged for installation

          I have had several long-time large scale railroaders tell me it is a great idea and several others say it will just alter the problem and not solve it. I'm not sure who is right, but know I was getting tired of major rail reconstruction twice a year and gave it a shot. I'll find out how successful it is or isn't next June - stay tuned.

          I acquired a small used generator and we placed it on Gon 203 along with the welder and various tools as we worked the curves throughout the month. It was nice not dragging extension cords for as much as 125 feet to get to some of our work areas. We have a few more ties to replace and the track work will be completed - at least for awhile.

Installing Gauge Bars

Installing gauge bars and performing track maintenance

          We are starting to fabricate components for our mini-turntable for the speeders, handcar, track inspection car and mow trailers. It will be 84 inches long and 40 inches wide. We had the ring water jet cut out of solid one inch thick plate. It came out great and as one solid piece should be trouble-free. The next piece we will get cut is the 40 inch wide by 84 inch long 3/8 inch thick bottom plate.

          The Sandusky false drive wheels didn't have quite enough spring tension on them to operate properly so we replaced the springs with the same longer, bigger springs we used on our last three false drive assembly rebuilds. It is a great deal more work than that sounds as there just isn't any room to get a full sized hand in there with a wrench. Anyway, it is done and I am thankful it isn't part of the regular maintenance program as it is a pain in the tailpipe...

          There were approximately 252 G16s produced by the Miniature Train Company. Some of the records are incomplete, but it appears that there were 45 "Limited" model trains produced. Most of these were produced in the early years of MTC (1946 - 50) as 20 of the first 22 units produced were the "Limited" model. The "Limited" model included a second power unit. The Miniature Train Company "Limited" model train was available in two veersions. The AB version had one operator and he controlled the throttle, brakes and functions of both units and the AA version which required two operators to operate the two power units in unison. Of the 45 "Limited" train sets sold, it is unclear how many were the AB version. The last two "Limited" train sets produced were Nos. 890 and 892 for Brackenridge Park in San Antonio, Texas in June of 1957. We do not know the serial number of our "B" unit at this time, but are always trying to track down additional information on our equipment.

G-16 Limited

AA version of the G-16 "Limited" #662 at Cascade Park in New Castle Pennsylvania

G-16 Limited

AB version of the G-16 "Limited" #524 at Fun Fair in Skokie, Illinois

          Our No. 582 was originally a "Suburban" model which consisted of the "A" unit, two coaches and an observation car. Eventually, we hope to have the "A" unit, "B" unit, the three current coaches and an observation car. We may convert one of the current coaches into an observation car, we will have to see what we can eventually find.

G-16 Options

G-16 options

          I am not sure how many "B" units are still in use either as a functional power unit or as a dummy for looks, but from our spot out here in the southwest we only know of about a half dozen. I know there must be many more than that still out there and in use; any of you folks in other parts of the country that know the location of G16s with "B" units, please drop us a note.

          I spoke with my friends Ed and Ron at the Allan Herschell Company in North Tonawanda, NY this month and we compared notes and drawings on the "B" unit instrument panel. We think we figured out the locations of various gauges, buttons and knobs; stay tuned for more on that next month. There just aren't that many B units around to double check our theories.

          We purchased the hood release and hood cable for the "B" unit and will use the same part numbers we installed on the "A" unit. A friend of mine is fabricating the hinges and brackets, but we have been bumped by a couple of his bigger projects.

          Our G-16 B unit is missing three of the bolster wheels and pins and one of the safety hooks is broken off. We had seven bolster wheels fabricated and ordered the bronze bushings from McMaster-Carr. We ground away the broken safety hook and welded a new one in place. We removed the one roller and will clean it before it is reinstalled next year after the B unit is bead blasted. The extra four rollers are for another long range project.

Saftey Hook

Broken saftey hook on the G-16 B unit

Saftey Hook

New saftey hook welded in place

Bolster Wheel

New and old bolster wheels

          We are still trying to locate a few good photos of the Coconino when she operated at Rye Playland in New York. Jennifer Plick, Curator of the Rye Historical Society, continues to search its archives as time permits. Ed Loesche emailed and advised he may have some family movies from Rye Playland in the 60s; he will go through the 8 mm movies and let me know in a few weeks.

          We took the opportunity afforded by the nice weather early in the month and repainted our three park style lamp posts. The same color green goes on a couple of our chairs and our baggage cart, and hopefully they will see fresh paint soon too.

          We rebuilt another axle and wheel set - only three more sets to go!

Rebuilding Axles

Rebuilding axle and wheel sets

          We updated our roster shots of the two speeders.


New speeder photo showing the A&P lettering

Speeder 2

New photo of speeder 2 showing the A&P lettering

          Our water tank was completed in 2005. The wood staves need refinished as do the retaining rings. We removed the rings around tank will refinish the wood and sand and repaint the rings in December. It is a great deal of work, but after completed, she should look good for several more years.


Preparing to refinish the water tank


Retaining rings removed

          Happy and Safe Railroading Everybody!


          We completed fabricating and mounting the hood catch for our G-16. We made all the adjustments and also mounted the hood release cable and lever. When you pull the hood release handle the hood opens and rises at the appropriate speed by itself. When you close the hood, it sounds like closing the hood on your car, but you just close it without slamming it. It works very well and I am quite pleased with the design and functionality.

Hood Release

G-16 hood release and parking brake

Hood Catch

G-16 hood catch

          The hood is shorter on the B unit, but we are going to install the additional ribs required and hood hinges on it as well so it will work just like the hood assembly on the A unit. We have heard from a few of you that you like our design and would like a set of hood hinges and brackets like ours for your G-16 restoration projects. We are in the process of getting a few sets cut out and if anyone else is interested, let me know.

          Our instrument panel on the B unit has spots for 13 gauges. Dave has started to gather the push buttons, switches and gauges for the B unit panel, but we are stumped on what goes in a couple of the openings. Any of you out there with B units, we could use a little help on this one.

B Unit Dash

G-16 B unit instrument panel. Help us figure out which gauges go where...

          We updated several of our roster shot photographs for the website. In the initial roster shots we posted of the Coconino and the Tucson, they didn’t yet have their false drive wheels. The tank car and several others needed updated photos after paint and lettering. We didn’t have any photos of our B unit other than on the trailer returning from Reedley, CA a few years ago. She is pretty rough, but it will make a good “before” shot.


Updated Tucson roster photo


Updated Coconino roster photo

G-16 B Unit

Updated G-16 B unit roster photo

          We also got some roster shots of our G-16 coach cars No. 504 and 582.

G-16 Coach 504

Updated G-16 coach 504 roster photo

G-16 Coach 582

Updated G-16 coach 582 roster photo

          Last fall we took a primary photo for the website that had four of the five S16s visible. This year we wanted to get all five of the S16s in the same shot which isn’t that easy to do on our layout. We moved several other pieces of equipment so they appeared in the photograph as well. Dave did a great deal of work lightening the photo in certain areas and stitching the several segment panorama photograph together. It shows about 60% of our equipment.

S-16 Panorama

Original S-16 panorama photo with 4 S-16's

S-16 Panorama

Updated S-16 panorama photo with all 5 S-16's

          We have been talking about updating our Interactive map for a while as we have added some features and some of the photos are very outdated as is the text. We started on the project which is more complicated than it sounds and have several new photographs that will be appearing in the next few weeks along with updated text.

          The City of Scottsdale held its annual Railfair at McCormick – Stillman Park on Oct. 12. The crowd was huge. The just rebuilt engine No. 10 was on duty along with No. 11 and they both performed beautifully and look great. Long time friends, Tom and Frank gave us a tour of the not open to the public portions of the engine house and it was great to see and hear what they are working on. The Scottsdale Live Steamers were also running and offering rides to the public and yes we rode that equipment too.

Mccormick-Stillman Railroad Park

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park Railfair Flier

Mccormick-Stillman Railroad Park

Railfair 2013

Mccormick-Stillman Railroad Park

#10 Crossing a Trestle at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park Railfair

Mccormick-Stillman Railroad Park

#11 Running at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park's Railfair 2013

Scottsdale Live Steamers

Scottsdale Live Steamers

          Additional signage has been on our “to do” list for the last several years and I just haven’t got much done in that regard. We are finally making some progress on that project this year. We got the A & P logo signs mounted on the sides of turntable that better identify the A & P.

Turntable Sign

New signs on the turntable

          I did not finish the painting touch up work on two additional whistle signs and a round railroad crossing sign this month, but we did get the three posts drilled and tapped for mounting the signs. I need to get the bases welded in place next month; each of the three is portable and will get set in place on significant run days.

          On October 19, I attended the Schnepf Farms Pumpkin and Chili Party. Schnepf Farms is an operating Farm on rural acreage in the southeast valley. In October they attract thousands of visitors with various Halloween theme activities including the corn maze, pumpkin pick, amusement rides, etc. I was there for the train ride which was a very popular endeavor. The train winds its way through the peach orchard on one end of the dog bone layout and past the gift shop and some barbecue stands on the other end. It was a nice leisurely ride and packed with children excited for a train ride and parents excited to get to sit down for a few minutes…

Schnepf Farms

Schnepf Farms Pumpkin and Chili Pary flier

Schnepf Farms

Schnepf Farms engine

Schnepf Farms

Riding the Schnepf Farms train

          We took the opportunity afforded by the nicer weather and repainted our three park style lamp posts. The same color green goes on a couple of our chairs and our baggage cart and hopefully they will see fresh paint soon too.

          I made it out to the Fall Meet of the Maricopa Live Steamers where they have 18 miles of track on the ground. No, not 18 scale miles of track – 18 actual miles of track. The guys have done an amazing job at the park and every few months it seems they have added something significant to the layout. It is very impressive. There was a big crowd for the MLS meet, the railroad swap meet and the G and HO layouts as well. The Sahuaro Central Railroad Museum was open and many railroad and Arizona specific artifacts were on display. If you live in metro Phoenix, you need to plan a Sunday trip to the park when they offer free rides to the public – donations are very much appreciated and tour the entire facility.

Maricopa Live Steamer

Taking a ride with the Maricopa Live Steamers

Maricopa Live Steamer

Maricopa Live Steamers Fall Meet 2013

          One of the highlights of the Fall Meet for me was the emergence of the Sahuaro Central Hurlbut engine No. 1027 that has been apart and undergoing restoration for a number of years. She is a beautiful green color and, although not operating for the public, was on display. She is ready to run and one of the projects going forward is to get some track laid to connect the Sahuaro Central Museum with the main parking area for the MLS in another corner of the park. Long term plans call for rail additions in three phases that will eventually have more than two miles of 14 inch gauge track on the ground. Very cool and less than ten miles from the A & P!

Hurlbut engine No. 1027

Hurlbut engine No. 1027

Hurlbut engine No. 1027

Newly restored Sahuaro Central Hurlbut engine

          Happy and Safe Railroading Everybody!


          We replaced the batteries in our 48 volt electric S16, the Sandusky, as they just wouldn’t hold a charge under load any more. They were the original batteries that we placed in the engine in March of 2008. They haven’t really held a charge properly for the past few months. We get three summers and about three years on our car batteries in Phoenix as a result of the extreme heat - after that you are on borrowed time. It looks like we might do a little better than that on the locomotive batteries, but after four years, it appears they are on borrowed time too. We cleaned the battery cables that didn’t look as good as they once did and cleaned and repainted the battery tray as well. I had forgotten how heavy eight of those 6 volt deep cycle batteries are… It is great to have the Sandusky back on the rails and in good shape.

Old Batteries

Old batteries in the Sandusky

Moving the Batteries

Using MOW 23 to transport the new batteries

New Batteries

New batteries installed in the Sandusky

          One of Dave’s friends at work does serious automobile detailing as a hobby. He posts regularly on the Meguiar’s detailing forum, writes reviews of their new products and is a regular visitor to their garage shop in Irvine, California where Meguiar’s holds detailing seminars. We asked him to see if he could help to revitalize the faded paint on our switch stand targets.

          After some experimentation Marc concluded Meguiar’s Ultimate Polish worked best with the red targets and Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound worked best with the yellow ones.

Experimenting with the Switch Stand Targets

Experimenting with polish on the right half of a red target

          In order to remove the oxidation and restore the paint’s shine he used an orange foam cutting pad with a 3” backing plate on a G110v2 dual action polisher set to a speed of 4.5. He applied 3 dime size spots of compound on the foam pad for the yellow targets (1 drop of polish for the red targets) then applied 10-15 pounds of pressure on the head of the polisher. He covered the entire area 6-8 times with 50% overlap per stroke then wiped off the residue. If there was any oxidation remaining he kept repeating the process until he was satisfied with the results. Afterwards he applied Detailer’s Paint Coating to help preserve the color and shine. He says Detailer’s Paint Coating will be more robust in the hot Arizona sun than traditional wax.

Revitalized Switch Stand Targets

Yellow targets before and after treatment

          If you want to see the type of amazing transformation a good detailer can achieve here are links to a couple of Marc’s detailing jobs:

2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser

2009 Cadillac CTS V Black Raven

          The buffed, polished and sealed targets looked so good that they made the faded and oxidized switch stands look awful. Much like a remodeling project in your house, one thing leads to another and soon we were cleaning, lubricating and repainting our switch stands. We also retapped the mounting hole threads of the targets and added new button head bolts as mounting hardware. The targets and switch stands look very much like they did when they were new several years ago.

Faded Switch Stand

Faded switch stand

Refinished Switch Stands

One of nine newly refinished switch stands

          As many of you know, our locomotive the Coconino, first operated at Rye Playland in Rye, NY. She ran there from April of 1959 until May of 1970. We have been in touch with Jennifer Plick the curator of the Rye Historical Society and her research team is assisting us in our quest for photographs of the Coconino in use at the park. I will keep you posted as this project progresses.

          We installed the choke cable on the G16.

          We started on the hood release for the No. 582. We are using Dodge technology and the hood latch and hood release from Dodge ½ ton pickup trucks 1994-2002. The catch was fabricated here and we still have some fine tuning to finish on fitting the catch. We moved the hood light over a few inches to accommodate the hood latch. We’ll finish the hood catch next month.

          We still have several axles and journal boxes to rebuild. Four of the ones we rebuilt last month got painted this month.

Axle Sets

Rebuiding Axle Sets

          I spent the first twelve days of the month in southern California on business. As anyone who knows me well will attest, I am not much of a lake or a beach person as there is just too much water and I am bored after 10 minutes of watching the water, but I had heard a great deal about Santa Barbara which was about an hour from where I was staying. On the Saturday between work weeks I headed up to Santa Barbara to check it out. I visited the marina, Leadbetter Beach and walked a couple of miles of the bike paths along the water front. The ocean was well the ocean, but the bikini volleyball was very interesting…

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara California

Santa Barbara

Marina in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

Paddle boarder

Leadbetter Beach

Leadbetter Beach

          I kept seeing bicycles with signs that read “Rent Me”. I finally asked a rider where she rented the bicycle and got directions. Within an hour, I had rented a Pedego electric assist bicycle and toured much of town enjoying the different styles of architecture and the interesting vibe of the community. I wasn’t dressed for four hours on the bicycle as I hadn’t started the day with any intention of a long bike ride and just intended to look around town and see what was interesting. With all the crowds and narrow streets, it was much easier touring on an electric bicycle than in a car. Later in the afternoon, I spent a few hours enjoying the State Street open air pedestrian mall and people watching. It turned out to be a very fun day.

Electric Assist Bicycle

Electric assist bicycle

Santa Barbara

Touring Santa Barbara by bicycle

          The following day, I headed up to Fillmore, CA where I visited the Fillmore and Western Railway. The railroad only operates on Saturdays, select Sundays and for specially scheduled events like “mystery” dinner trains; my visit wasn’t on one of those days, but I enjoyed walking the grounds and viewing the impressive collection of rolling stock, motive power, buildings and the turntable that they have on site. I also met and traded railroad stories with other railroad visitors from Boston, Cleveland and North Dakota that all happened to be there that day for the first time too. Then I was off to Santa Paula where I toured their impressive two story restored Southern Pacific Depot. The structure was built in 1887 and the detail work is spectacular. The upstairs is where the agent and his family lived. The Chamber of Commerce has half the building and they were closed on Sunday, but an art exhibit and art show manned by volunteers was in the other half and they were very willing to show me around. It was a great small group of people.

Fillmore and Western Railway Depot

Fillmore and Western Railway Depot

Fillmore and Western Railway Turntable

Turntable on the Fillmore and Western Railway

Fillmore and Western Railway Engine

Fillmore and Western Railway Engine

Santa Paula Depot

1887 Santa Paula Depot

Santa Paula Depot

Southern Pacific Depot in Santa Paula California

          I have been collecting 8 lb rail for a number of years and have just had it in a pile with metal cutoffs from my many projects up against one of my fences. I decided it was time to organize what is over there and get an accurate accounting of what is there. I have so much 12 lb rail and 16 pound rail that it is very unlikely I will ever use the 8 pound rail on any A & P projects. In any event, it all got moved twice and stacked in orderly fashion as it was moved and counted. I may look to sell or trade the 8 lb rail now that it is neatly stacked and I know how much of it is there.

          I mention moving the rail around and also a number of concrete blocks that were adjacent to the rail because all the activity and vibration stirred up three scorpions that were living in the area. One was a mother and still had about 20 babies clinging to her back when she and they met their demise. Female scorpions have litters of 25 or more babies that cling to their mother’s back for a month or so before striking out on their own. The bad news is a day or two earlier she would have had many more babies still on her back that are now part of the population here. One of the other adults also met a timely demise while the other escaped. My black light will be out this week (turns scorpions fluorescent green) as I look for the other adult and a number of additional babies. If you have ever been stung by a scorpion, you know just how painful their sting is and why we work diligently to keep their population in check.


An unwelcome visitor to the A&P Railroad


A mother scorpion and babies

          We have always limited our promotion of large scale Arizona railroads on this site to commercial 7 ½ inch gauge railroads and public or private 15 – 24 inch gauge railroads with park style equipment. A few years ago, I made an exception and added information on the 36 inch gauge Superstition Scenic Narrow Gauge Railroad because Dave and I think it is cool. A friend of ours, Ed Loesche of Camp Verde, Arizona is in the planning stages of a private 18 inch gauge railroad on an acre and a quarter utilizing original mining equipment. As he gets farther along, we may add photos of his progress on here too because once again, we think it’s cool.

          In the last few years, three large scale railroads have become defunct in Arizona. Every few months, I hear about some other large scale railroad that is going to be built and either nothing comes of it at all or only a couple hundred feet of track ever makes it to the ground before the realization of the financial and time commitment required sinks in. It is exciting to have another large scale Arizona railroad in the works.

          Next month, cooler weather returns to many of the park railroads in the west and southwest. Railfair and Railfest events, Pumpkin Festivals, railroad haunted houses and many similarly named events occur in October at railroad venues near you; get out and support those activities and venues. Your purchases or donations of money or your time is greatly appreciated.

          Happy and Safe Railroading Everybody!


          I finally finished the touch up on some signs and got them mounted. We mounted one yard limit sign, three slow signs and one whistle sign. I still have several additional signs to complete the touch up on, but have been busy with other non-railroad projects.


Newly installed Whistle and Slow signs along the right of way


We added a slow sign to this yard limit post


Newly installed yard limit and slow signs

S16 Tucson

          The original pilot beams on the S16s were thin-walled hollow tubing. This explains why you see so many of the original pilot beams bent and damaged from relatively minor impacts moving them into cramped engine houses or in some cases bumping other rail cars or cars of the rubber tire variety. The pilot beams on our Phoenix and the Sandusky had collision damage on their pilot beams when we acquired them. We fabricated three sets of pilot beams and front running board sections years ago when we needed the same components for the restoration of the Phoenix and the Sandusky. The pilot beams on our Phoenix and Sandusky are now solid steel. The only noticeable difference from the original is that the original pilot beams were 3 ½ inches tall and the new beams are 3 inches tall. This was a function of steel availability not choice. It seems the sizes available today without placing a special order (read expensive) are 3 inches and 4 inches tall in the 1 inch thick material. I thought the 3 inch material was a better look than the 4 inch material so we went that direction. I have never had anyone notice the difference and mention it to me.

Dented Pilot Beam

Dented Original Pilot Beam on the Tucson

Dented Pilot Beam

Closer view of the Tucson's dented pilot beam

Solild Pilot Beam

Newly Installed Solid Pilot Beam on the Tucson

Dented Pilot Beam

Dented Original Pilot Beam on the Phoenix

Solid Pilot Beam

Solid Pilot Beam on the Phoenix

Dented Pilot Beam

Dented Original Pilot Beam on the Sandusky

Solild Pilot Beam

Solid Pilot Beam on the Sandusky

          This month we cut out the damaged pilot beam and the front sections of the right and left running boards of the Tucson. This is far more involved than it sounds. We wanted to preserve the second section of the running boards on each side and the front frame transition sheet metal. After we succeeded in getting the pieces cut out (more hours than I will admit), there was a great deal of grinding of the old welds and cleaning up of the frame. The new front section of the right and left running boards were exactly the same size; the original ones as it turned out weren’t exactly the same size as each other. This meant additional cutting, grinding and fitting before the new pieces were tack welded in place.

Tucson Pilot Work

Replacing the Tucson's Pilot Beam and Running Boards

          We finally got the new running boards straight, square, level and welded in place. At that point, I realized I wasn’t 100% happy with the way the pilot (cow catcher) sat against the new pilot beam. We cut the mounting brackets off the pilot and reworked them completely. It all looks very good now and I am happy with the outcome. The running boards are straight and the pilot beam is square and solid steel. This was one of those jobs that doesn’t look like we did much, but was very time-consuming. I am glad we only have to do this one time; we spent 2.5 man days (not man hours) to get this project completed.

Tucson Pilot Work

New Running Boards Installed on the Tucson

          We also painted the tire side walls on the Tucson white. It is tedious as there is just very little room as a result of the brake rigging and they have to be painted in sections. Both the engine and tender wheels were painted. I think it dresses up the appearance of the little engines. I’ll get a better photo of the entire engine with the white sidewalls next month.

Painted Wheels

We Painted the Tire Side Walls on the Tucson's Tender

G16 Car No. 582

          We have already completely rebuilt the trucks that will be under our three G16 coaches and are starting to take a look at the sheet metal work that needs done. Coach 582 had two body bolster safety hooks that were damaged or missing. The safety hooks can be damaged in accidents or by wear, but are generally damaged when the cars are in storage and not sitting on the trucks and in transporting cars when not on trucks. The safety hooks are the lowest piece on the car body and forklifts, jacks etc. always seem to find these components.

Saftey Hook

Missing Safety Hook

          These are significant safety components to safe operation and keep the car body firmly attached to the trucks at all times even if there is a minor derailment. The safety of the passengers is dependent on these components being present and in good shape. We removed the pin and roller of the bolster assembly with the sheared off safety hook, ground off the weld at the shear point, welded a new hook in place greased and replaced the roller and pin. The process was repeated on the badly worn safety hook as it was replaced with a new safety hook that I knew was in good shape and would perform well if needed. We replaced a badly worn bronze bushing in one of the rollers and carefully inspected the others before lubricating and reinstalling each of the four rollers.

Saftey Hook

Newly Installed Safety Hook

          All the safety hooks are present and in good shape on coaches 504 and 506.


          We are still rebuilding and matching axle sets and journal boxes. It is labor intensive getting the trucks out from under the cars, turning the trucks upside down without damaging vacuum cylinders or copper plumbing, removing enough of the brake rigging to get the axles out of the trucks, rebuilding the journal boxes and replacing worn wheels. Then the process is reversed. With all the other things going on, we are getting about two trucks a month rebuilt. We will still be at this for awhile… This month we rebuilt two wheel and axles sets that are in trucks and under a car and four additional axle sets (2 G16 and 2 S16) that will be painted and go on our parts shelf. Two new wheels, one new axle, all new journal box seals, bearings, races and gaskets were part of the process

Axle Sets

Continuing to Rebuild Axle Sets

          I picked up our newly powder coated 5/12 target and switch stand this month. The powder coating just holds up so much better out here in our heat than paint does that when I have the opportunity I choose powder coating over paint. I only get about three good years out of paint before it needs freshened up… I think the finished version looks great and is a significant improvement over what I dropped off at the powder coater after we finished the welding last month. It is on display in the corner of the engine house for now.

Switch Stand Target

Target Before Powder Coating

Switch Stand Target

Target After Powder Coating

          When speaking with the powder coater, I mentioned that several of my powder coated items that have been outside in the sun for about seven years or so are starting to oxidize a bit and lose some of their pop. He advised to polish them with a Mothers product available at any auto supply store. The product is Mothers Brazilian Carnuba cleaner wax. It does involve a little elbow grease, but it does seem to help. It was reasonably effective with the red, cream and black colors and not so much on yellow. Dave was over today and had some interesting information and ideas on how to address our faded yellow switch targets – check back next month for an update on this project.

A and P Sign

Recently Polished A&P Sign

          I have literally thousands of S16 and G16 parts spread among the new engine house, original engine house, two storage buildings and the shop. Years ago, there were less of them and they were all grouped by function and assembly such as electrical or transmission or false drive wheel assembly. The good news is I have been fortunate enough to acquire a great number of parts over the years. The bad news is that as shelf space has become scarce, I have resorted to storing them wherever I could find the room. The result is I spend a great deal of time looking for parts that I know I have and can’t find – which drives me crazy. On the positive side, Dave has made some great finds of parts in the buildings that I didn’t even remember that I had… As we rebuild parts and restock our parts shelves this fall, I am also going to reorganize some of the shelves and try to get similar parts and assemblies grouped back together. Many of them will be stored in plastic containers to keep them clean and together. We will see how far I get with this, but I will at least get started.

          We have another month or so of hot weather out here, but by mid-October it is usually nice enough to start getting the equipment out and running a little bit. I am looking forward to it!

          Happy and Safe Railroading Everybody!


          We had a very brief, but interesting storm blow through northwest metro Phoenix late on July 19. Within about an hour, the A & P received 1.1 inches of rain and winds that the weather bureau said gusted to 65 mph. The A & P was fortunate not to have any damage, but there were leaves, small to medium branches from the neighbor’s property and debris of all sorts scattered on the tracks and throughout the A & P grounds. Some of my neighbors weren’t as lucky and the sounds of chainsaws and chipper/shredders dominated the weekend. We lost most of that weekend to cleanup. We still managed to get a few railroad things accomplished during the month.

Storm Debris

Storm debris on the right of way

Storm Debris

Debris from the storm litters the A&P track

G16 No. 582

          It had been quite some time since we had completed anything substantive on our G16 No. 582 and I was anxious to finally complete the R & D on the hood brackets and the pressurized shocks to lift and support the hood. From our previous experiments with pairs of surplus discount hood struts, we knew the maximum and minimum overall length of the struts for the maximum angle of hood opening and for clearance in the engine compartment, knew the required amount of internal strut travel and knew the approximate amount of pressure needed to open the hood at the optimum speed and then support the hood in the open position.

          We were off to O’Reilley Auto Parts with a measuring tape to check out the dozens of hood and deck lid struts on display. Many were quickly eliminated from our search as their overall length was too long, too short, or the amount of travel didn’t meet our parameters. The remaining candidates were compressed by hand several times until we found something that we thought was very close to what we needed. Thanks to the employees that allowed me to spend half an hour sorting through struts and only asking me once what type of car the struts were for… As it turns out, the struts that are ideal for our purpose are hood struts for a 96-99 Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable.

          Back in the shop, my good friend Jerry Graves improved upon my original idea for the upper and lower mounting points and the strut angle. I am smart enough to know a better idea when I see it. We cut the brackets from the hood that we had installed in the 2.0 version of this project and also cut the original side brackets to clean up the overall look of the hood assembly. Soon, Jerry was fabricating new brackets and I was searching for hardware. The upper brackets are welded to the hood while the lower brackets are bolted through the firewall.

Hood Lifts

Newly installed hood struts

          A trip to NAPA and we obtained four metal ball sockets instead of the plastic variety frequently used with these components and began to install the struts. We installed the lower brackets first and held the upper brackets to the hood with vice grips while we fine-tuned the exact point of attachment to maximize the performance. After a few adjustments, we were very pleased and welded the brackets in place. It is a very clean look and they work beautifully. Every once in a while a blind squirrel finds a nut!!!

Hood Lifts

Metal ball sockets added to the hood struts

          In the next few weeks, we will decide on either an electronic or cable hood release and will get that component installed.


          We lubricated the four large wheels of the transfer table. Each of the wheels has a zerk fitting; two of which are readily accessible and two which require some flexibility… About once a year we service the transfer table.

          I started and moved the Phoenix, Red River, Coconino and Tucson back and forth a few times on the 20th. It was too hot to actually run the road bed, but I wanted all of the fluids to get circulated and wanted the brakes to get activated a few times on everything to keep the cylinder leathers from drying out or taking a set. They all started after a little encouragement and ran well… I also started the track inspection car and moved it back and forth several times to keep her happy. She is an electric start and really an easy starter as long as she gets started every week or two.

          I obtained a 20 foot stick of 2 x 2 tubing that we cut into five 48 inch tall posts and welded caps on the top that match our 4 x 4 post caps. Eventually, the posts will have railroad signage attached


2x2 posts for railroad signage

          We continue to rebuild wheel and axle sets and swap among cars to get the proper journal boxes under the correct cars. Once completed, the original G16 journal boxes will be under all the G16 equipment and the later MTC caps are on the Allan Herschell S16 equipment and the period freight cars.

Journal Box covers

Mixed journal box covers (Herchell and MTC)

          I had the two color target for the full-size harp switch stand powder coated and got it mounted. I took the time to do the little things like mounting the target with square headed bolts and square nuts as they did in the ninties. I also found a period Wilson Bohannon brass lock that was functional with a key and located about 15 inches of period chain. I cut and welded the chain and taped off the lock while I painted the chain. I think the target, brass lock and the chain really complete and accent the turn-of-the-century look.

Harp Switch Stand

Completed full size harp switch stand

          We completed the welding on and assembly of two 5/12 scale switch stands that had been sitting here partially completed for several years. One of them had been sitting around here for more than 10 years and moved so many times over the years that I misplaced the handle and had to fabricate a second one. I quickly sold it instead of having it start collecting dust again. I exchanged one of my original targets on the other stand for one of the unique switch stand targets off of a F & MV switch stand. The stand got get bead blasted and powder coated as did the target. I went with red and white on the target instead of its original black and white. It is still at the powder coating company so the “before and after“ photo comparison will have to wait until next month.

F&MV Switch Stand

Unique F&MV switch stand target

          Several of the F & MV coach trucks have a mismatched assortment of truck pedestal tie bars that are not original to the Miniature Train Company or Allan Herschell. We fabricated 28 in the original style and drilled the holes and painted them. Next month we will swap out the mismatched ones for the new retro ones.

Truck Pedestal Tie Bars

Fabricating new truck pedestal tie bars

Truck Pedestal Tie Bars

Painting tie bars for the truck pedestals


          It has now been a year since we dismantled the Flagstaff and Middle Verde Railroad in Camp Verde, Arizona and moved it piece by piece to the Arizona and Pacific Railroad in Peoria. It has been a busy year and the time has really flown by. All of the F & MV equipment has been cleaned, lubricated and tuned. Any significant problems have been identified and those problem parts repaired or replaced

Moving the F&MV RR Equipment

Loading the F&MV RR engines for their move to the A&P RR

          The Tucson received a new battery and the carburetor was rebuilt. The Tucson and its tender were rewired and also received a full tune up that included a new distributor cap, points, rotor, condenser, wires and plugs. The complete Allan Herschell false drive wheel assembly was fabricated and installed along with all the brackets, side, push and cylinder rods. A new pilot beam and running boards have been fabricated and soon will replace the original damaged ones.

Moving the F&MV RR Equipment

The Tucson and Coconino ready to move to the A&P RR

          The Coconino also received a new battery and a carburetor rebuild. The hydraulic drive system was entirely replumbed and two bad motors were replaced. It was also completely rewired along with its tender. We also fabricated and installed a false drive wheel assembly under the Coconino along with all the brackets, side, push and cylinder rods. The tender trucks were rebuilt and two axles and four wheels were replaced with new ones.

Moving the F&MV RR Equipment

Coconino prepares for her move to the A&P RR

          The track inspection car received a new battery, throttle and choke cables. We also removed the engine shroud to remove a mouse nest and other debris. It also received a complete tune up.

Track Inspection Car

2008 photo of Malcolm Mackey on his track inspection car at the F&MV RR

Track Inspection Car

2013 photo of the track inspection car at the A&P RR

          The trucks under each of the cars were inspected. Several wheels and axles were replaced and numerous journal boxes were rebuilt. The trucks were all painted and lubricated. Each of the cars were examined for loose parts or non-functioning parts. The parts were tightened, adjusted, lubricated or replaced as needed. Each of the cars were painted, lettered and numbered.

          It has been a great deal of work and a lot of expense, but a year later and I am happy with and proud of the condition of all of the former F & MV equipment. Maintenance is a never ending process on any railroad and with this equipment being 50+ years old, there is some additional work required to keep everything running and in good shape. Think 1959 Chevy compared with a 2013 model… There are still many items on the “to do” list with this equipment, but the biggest items have all been covered and the equipment should be in good operating condition for the immediate future.

          The property that housed the F & MV Railroad in the Verde Valley was sold only a few weeks after the railroad was removed last year. I drove by the property this month; the F & MV sheep pens and bridge maintenance building are still visible from the public road and a few sun-bleached ties can still be seen stacked in places. Eden Station sits worn and weathered along the right-of-way. She continues to provide a place to sit and shade from the summer sun, but appears forlorn with no railroad activity. It looks like a bumper crop of Silverleaf Nightshade this year…


Reminders of the F&MV RR

          The rails of the F & MV Railroad no longer wind their way through the prickly Mesquite of the Verde Valley and some would say the railroad is gone and forgotten; they would be wrong. The equipment survives and remains active and the F & MV RR lives on in photographs, video tapes and in the hearts and fond memories of many of us who spent so many hours there over the years. Malcolm Mackey, the founder of the F & MV, stays abreast of the progress and activities at the A & P via photographs, my visits to his room and in telephone calls. We continue to appreciate each other’s enthusiasm for these trains.


Remembering the Flagstaff and Middle Verde RR

          Happy and Safe Railroading Everybody!


          We finished numbering and lettering our Maintenance of Way car No. MW 23 this month. We also finished numbering and lettering our two A & P motor cars MC 1 and MC 2. We have had the motor cars for several years, just finally got around to devoting the time and energy to getting the work done. I like the way they came out.


Maintenance of Way car number 3


Motor cars one and two sporting new lettering


Sideview of new motor car lettering

          I have had a second full size harp switch stand rusting away out back for some time now. I found a great place for it in the pool table room so we spent a couple of days bead blasting, sanding, priming and painting the harp and the target arm. It is looks pretty good in its new spot and won’t just be rusting away any longer. I am still working on the two color target and trying to track down a period brass lock with key and chain to set it off. Hopefully, I will have some photos of those to show next month.

Harp Switch

Harp style switch stand with rust pitina

Harp Switch

Painting the second full size harp switch stand

Harp Switch

Harp switch stand's new home in the pool room awaiting its target

          We rebuilt four more axle and wheel sets and are still trading out wheel and axle sets to have everything match the appropriate style and timeframe. Eventually, all of the Allan Herschell engines, tenders and period freight cars will have the later style MTC journal boxes. All of the MTC G-16 equipment will have the older style F7 type journal boxes. As we make the changes, I am replacing wheels, bearings and seals so it is a time consuming process that will be another two or three months before this project is finished. There just isn’t much to look at with this project.

          Dave and I spent the better part of two Sundays this month installing a 12 volt lighting system under the soffit that runs the length of my house. The fixtures provide some very nice soft light on the blocks and make the house much more appealing after dark. We have about a third of the lights completed and operational. The fixtures are mounted and wiring is almost complete on the second third and the last third of the project is a weekend or two away from being completed. I know this project isn’t railroad related, but it ate up quite a bit of railroad time…

New Lights

New lighting installed under the soffit of the Superintendent's house

          I was in Las Vegas for three days this month and had enough free-time to check out Rick’s Restorations. I enjoy their show on the History Channel and can relate to dragging in items in pretty rough shape and restoring them to near their original condition. I waited and took the free tour that allows you to view various parts of the operation through large windows. If you follow the show, we saw cast members Tyler and Kowboy working on projects in the back. The tour guide stated they now have 30 employees. From my observation, it appears about a third of them are dedicated to parking, crowd control, the gift shop and tours. Everyone from the guys out front directing traffic to the tour guides could not have been friendlier or more enthusiastic about what they were doing. It was great to see that level of excitement.

Rick's Restorations

Rick's Restorations from the History Channel's "American Restoration"

          I also made it over to the Las Vegas Monorail which is about four miles long and connects several of the casinos on the east side of the strip. I am not a monorail expert, but the equipment looks very much like the Disneyland equipment. They have several train sets and a train arrives every 6 minutes. It was air conditioned, fast and convenient.

Las Vegas Monorail

Las Vegas Monorail

          This is the summer in Phoenix and we expect it to be hot. June is the month when we rarely get any rain and is the month when temperatures can approach 120 if we get much of a heat spell. When it is 106 here, it is pretty much business as usual with people working in the yard, jogging etc. After it reaches 110, there is much less activity during the day and everyone heads outside after the sun goes down at night. It’s why we don’t have daylight savings time in Arizona; we want the sun to go down as soon as possible in the summer. The last weekend of the month was pretty hot even for us with official temperatures of 117, 119 and 116 degrees over the Friday to Sunday period. As you can understand, our activities were somewhat reduced.


The thermometer in Dave's truck read 122 degrees


It read 23 degrees in January but warmed up to 27 before he stopped and took this photo

          Dave spent one of June's weeks in Manhattan Beach California and took a few photos.


Manhattan Beach California


Manhattan Beach

          Happy and Safe Railroading Everybody!


Can you spot all 5 rabbits in this photo?


          It was a five weekend month and we also had a three day weekend in the mix which allowed us to get a few things accomplished in May.

          Saturday May 11 was National Railroad Day and celebrated the 143rd anniversary of driving the golden spike. Our local railroad clubs, museums and facilities never get enough support from the public and this was a great day to get out, visit and leave a donation to help show our support and keep the gates open, trains operating and projects moving forward. I spent the morning at the Arizona Railway Museum in Chandler. They have a nice full-size collection of nearly forty diverse cars and engines. Several speeders, signals, signs and artifacts add to the experience. On the occasion of NRD, they had a group of appropriately dressed “Harvey Girls” on site displaying china and answering questions and also afforded all of us the opportunity to activate an engine air horn. They also had most of the railroad cars open for tours – it was a fun morning.

Arizona Railway Museum

National Railroad Day at the Arizona Railway Museum

Arizona Railway Museum

Arizona Railway Museum

Arizona Railway Museum

Signs and a baggage cart at the Arizona Railway Museum

          In the afternoon, I traveled to the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale and spent a couple of hours riding and photographing their train and equipment. They had Paradise and Pacific steam engine No. 11 pulling the train which was a special treat as I suspected with the recent heat in the southwest that the diesel might have been in use. I love that smell of hot metal, steam and grease. I know…

McCormick Railroad Park

National Railroad Day at McCormick Railroad Park

McCormick Railroad Park

Paradise and Pacific Railroad Number 11

McCormick Railroad Park

Taking a Ride Behind #11 at McCormick Railroad Park

          Both locations had large turnouts and it was great to see so many people enjoying and supporting local railroad activities no matter the gauge.

S16 Coconino

          We completed installing the false drive wheel assembly under the Coconino this month. The two sets of side rods, the cylinder rods, pull rods and tension rods were assembled and are in place. We modified the cylinder pipes slightly and made several adjustments on all of the new parts until we got everything fitting and working properly. The false drive wheel assembly works great and I think it adds to the overall appearance of the locomotive. She still retains the look of a logging locomotive with the heavy timber front pilot and the similar timber beam on the rear of the tender.


Completed false drive wheel assembly under the Coconino

          One of our S16s is an original 1962 model (No. 37). The others are 1959 (2) and 1960 (2). As we rebuilt the Tucson and the Coconino we modified the main frame to the 1962 configuration. We also took the time to torch cut modify the main frame of our other two S16s (Phoenix and Sandusky) and convert them into 1962 style frames. The small, but important, change allows the false drive wheel assembly to float farther without conflict on sharp curves. This was one of the major issues on the pre-1962 false drive wheel assemblies and one of the reasons that so few of the pre-1962 S16s retained their false drive wheels. All five of our S16s now have complete and fully functional false drive wheel assemblies patterned after the 1962 Allan Herschell configuration.

          We also completed needed electrical work on the Coconino. We drilled the 1 ¼ inch holes for the six pin trailer connectors in the engine and the front and rear of the tender and got those components mounted. Dave fabricated the pigtail connection between the two. Dave rewired the tender completely for the backup light and the pass through to any cars behind the tender. He also rewired portions of the engine instrument panel. It all works great!


Six pin trailer connector installed on the Coconino's tender

          We touched up with satin paint the push pockets and other non-wood components of the front pilot beam and the rear tender beam. We rebuilt four axle and wheel sets for the tender and repainted them complete with a white tire stripe. We swapped out the axle sets that were under the tender for the newly rebuilt and repainted ones. The ones we removed will get rebuilt and swapped out under the next piece of equipment. The tender trucks under the Coconino do not have vacuum brakes as all braking is done through the four hydraulic motors under the engine.


Some paint touch up was performed on the front pilot beam


Preparing to replace the axles under the Coconino's tender


Rebuilt and freshly painted axle sets


New axles installed under the Coconino


Coconino with false drive wheels and new tender axle sets

S16 Tucson

          The Tucson had started running rough under load. We couldn’t determine for sure if the problem was electrical or fuel related. Instead of replacing a part at a time until we figured out with certainty what the problem was, we took a global approach. We rebuilt the distributor, added a new rotor, points, condenser, distributor cap, plugs and wires. We also rebuilt the carburetor. It had been several years since she had received a comprehensive tune up. She is running so sweet!!!


A rebuilt carburetor and distributor were installed on the Tucson

Lettering and Numbering

          I have changed my mind more than once in trying to chart a course for integrating the lettering and numbering on the former F & MV equipment into that of the A & P. My position on the lettering and numbering is currently that the rolling stock will remain lettered for the F & MV, although some of the numbering will be changed to be more consistent with that of the A & P. The Maintenance of Way equipment and the engines will eventually be lettered and numbered for the A & P.

          We finished lettering and numbering gon No. 712 and got a good photo or two.


Gondola No. 712 freshly lettered and numbered

          Next month we will try and get some updated roster photos of Nos. 501, 712, and MW 23 as well as the Tucson and the Coconino with their false drive wheels.

          We also cleaned, lubricated and painted maintenance trailer MW 23. She still needs lettered and numbered.


          We serviced our 9 switch stands. We lubricated where needed, adjusted the springs, cleaned debris out of the frogs, wings and points and cleared gravel ballast as necessary. We tightened, and in some cases replaced with longer ones, the four mounting lag screws on the foot plate of all the switches.

          We tightened and also replaced some of the lag screws in one of our pedestrian walkways that had worked their way loose. All wood products shrink significantly out here in the dry heat and tightening lag screws and bolts is a never ending process.

          We rebuilt a total of six axle sets this month in preparation for a major summer project of reassigning the older style G16 trucks and journal boxes to our G16 equipment and the newer style MTC journal boxes to our S16 equipment and cars. The rebuilt sets include all new axles, new wheels on two of the four, new bearings, races, seals, gaskets and all hardware.

          We lubricated the turntable.

          I finally found some time to get back to painting some signs that I started on months ago. I am close to being finished (some minor touch up remains) on the remaining Yard Limit sign, six Whistle signs, four Slow signs and a round RR Crossing sign. I need to work on posts and getting the signs mounted in the next few weeks.

          A few months ago, I gifted a rectangular double-sided Railroad Crossing sign to a good friend of mine. It was painted all white and needed the black letters and the border painted; he suggested in all seriousness that it might take an hour or two to paint the detail – I just smiled. He was over last month and told me he has a new and much greater appreciation of the time that goes into painting all the signs around the railroad. I asked him if it took the full hour or two he suggested it was going to take to letter and border the sign – he just smiled…


Painting signs for the A&P RR

          Happy and Safe Railroading Everybody!

Baby Quail

Baby quail at the A&P RR


S16 Coconino

          It was another huge job getting the false drive wheels under the Coconino this month. We now have the basic assembly mounted and in place. It was a major undertaking as one of the original mounting brackets on the main frame had been cut out years ago and the second mounting bracket was not usable due to a conflict with the hydraulic reservoir and pump. We had to design and fabricate brackets from scratch. We also had to remove the pilot, pilot beam, front truck assembly, several hydraulic hoses and then lift the frame several inches to get the false drive wheel sub-assembly in place. Jerry Graves brought his cutting torch and we modified this 1959 main frame to match the Allan Herschell 1962 style main frame. This configuration in the frame transition area allows the false drive wheel frame to float smoothly on tight curves. This was a significant advancement on the 1962 model and later S16s.


Preparing the Coconino for her false drive wheel assembly


Pilot and pilot beam removed


Front truck and hydraulic hoses removed

          Jerry, Eddie, Dave and I were involved and it was a very long day for all of us. Cutting, drilling, threading, tapping, welding, more grinding, cleaning up hydraulic oil, designing brackets, redesigning brackets, modifying redesigned brackets – you get the idea. We finally got the false drive wheel assembly installed and everything that we had to remove to get it in place reassembled and reinstalled. She looks pretty good and operates well, but is obviously still incomplete.


Lifting the Coconino to install the false drive wheels

          There is still a great deal of additional work that needs completed with the short and long side rods. Several more bushings and spacers need purchased. The four knuckle joints need work and we will need to fabricate the two cylinder rods as they are missing entirely. We hope to have the false drive wheel assembly fully operational under the Coconino by the end of May. We aren’t sure when she last operated with the false drive wheels under her, but it was several years prior to 1991. As I stated when we first saw the Tucson run again with the false drive wheels under her, there is just something about the look of the big drive wheels with the pair of side rods and cylinder rods that make her look like a turn of the century locomotive – I love that look. I look forward to getting the side rods completed and installed!


The false drive wheel assembly being installed

          We repaired the badly bent left cylinder pipe on the Coconino and reattached it. It was damaged pre-1991 and had bothered me off and on for years – just not enough to take the time to fix it properly with all the other projects Malcolm and I had going on at the Verde and Dave and I have going on down here. It is officially crossed off the “To Do” list now.

S16 Tucson

          We completed the electrical work on the Tucson this month. We installed six pin trailer connections on both the engine and tender. Dave fabricated a pig tail to connect the two. We also installed a six pin connector on the rear of the tender. We painted it black so it will not be as noticeable or eye catching in the future. The paint is still fresh and it stands out a little bit, but it won’t stay that bright and clean for very long out here. Dave completely rewired the entire tender and rewired parts of the engine accessory package – headlight, dash lights, tender light, running lights and the related switches. Everything works great!!!

Trailer Connector

6 pin trailer connectors installed on the Tucson engine and tender

          We primed and painted the replacement pilot beam and running boards for the Tucson, we just didn’t have the time to get the damaged ones cut out and the new ones welded into place – maybe we’ll have time for that project in May…

Running Boards

New running boards and pilot beam for the Tucson

Tank Car

          We finally finished the lettering on the tank car. It took a while to get back to this project, but we had quite a number of things going on out here and it just wasn’t a priority. I know the lettering isn’t prototypical, but it is the way we wanted it. We will take the official roster photo of the tank car and add it to the web page next month.

Tank Car

Completed tank car lettering

S16 Phoenix

          We have been so busy the past few months trying to beat the heat and get all of the former F & MV equipment cleaned, lubricated, painted, assembled and working properly that we haven’t had much time to spend with the original A & P equipment. We did get No. 1 out during the month and made several runs and blew a little dust off of her. She ran very well. The Tucson was also out and running with her recently installed false drive wheels and we had to get a couple of photos.


Dave runs the Phoenix

Phoenix and Tucson

Tucson and Phoenix

Gondola 712

          We took gondola 712 apart and cleaned, lubricated, sanded and painted everything. Mechanically, she was in pretty good shape as Malcolm had rebuilt the trucks in 2009 and she has seen very little service since then. We still need to number and letter her. We decided to retain her original car number which was 712 instead of renumbering her 201.

Gondola 712

Gondola 712 being taken apart and serviced

Gondola 712

Rebuilt Gondola 712 awaits lettering

G16 No. 582

          We got the cowl of No. 582 cut, fit and tacked together. You will recall, this isn’t the cowl that originally belonged with this G16 frame and it was ½ inch+ too wide. After we narrowed it, we welded and ground many of the original holes and drilled and tapped new ones spaced properly. We still need to get the center divider strip and the new grill panels welded into place. Hopefully we’ll get that accomplished in May and can focus on the hood.

G16 cowl

Working on the G16 cowl

G16 cowl

G16 cowl fitted and tacked together


          We hosted a family friend Dan McCarthy and his 3 year old grandson Grayson this month. It is fun to get train fans converted to S16 fans early...


Dan McCarthy and grandson Grayson visit the A&P RR


          We repainted the harp switch stand that stands next to our engine house. It had faded so badly over the past 5 and one-half years that it had started to appear light gray instead of black.

Harp Switch Stand

Repainted harp switch stand

          Saturday May 11 is National Railroad Day – the 143rd anniversary of driving the golden spike; please remember to support your local railroad clubs, museums, facilities and websites.


Three of the A&P RR's more frequent visitors make an inspection

          Happy and Safe Railroading Everybody!


          The false drive wheel assemblies on the early S-16s (pre-1962) were problematic in several ways including the single pull rod, main frame and sub frame conflict on tight curves and lubrication of the cylinder rods. The Allan Herschell Company had solved all of the false drive wheel issues by the time the 1962 model was produced, but many of the owners of the pre-1962 models had already removed the assemblies from under their trains rather than deal with the problems they created. Many of these parts and components were lost, misplaced or discarded over the years. As a result, many of the existing pre-1962 S-16s are lacking the false drive wheel assemblies. Over the years when we acquired our various S-16s, one of the false drive wheel assemblies was semi-complete, two were missing entirely and two had some of the components.

False Drive Wheels

S-16 False drivewheel assembly

          There is just something about the look of the false drive wheels and side rods that has always appealed to me. I wanted all of our engines to be complete with the false drive wheels and all of the side rods. For several years, I had been acquiring whatever bits and pieces of S-16 false drive wheel assemblies I could find and whenever I had parts fabricated I had several extra parts cast or machined. This particular false drive wheel assembly project started in earnest in August 2010 when I started taking inventory of all the parts I had assembled over the years and the parts Malcolm Mackey had collected. Collectively, we were well short all having all the components needed to complete the missing false drive wheel assemblies under the Tucson and the Coconino.

          I took inventory and started a part at a time making or having made the parts that we were lacking. Some of the parts were fabricated here, some in the shop of Jerry Graves, some in the shop of Russ Robinson, some in a commercial shop downtown and I was lucky enough to locate a few additional OEM parts. Last month, we started assembly of the false drive wheel assembly for under the Tucson and got the basic assembly installed.

          This month, we finished the fabrication, assembly and adjustments on the side rods and cylinder rods of the Tucson. I am always a bit nervous when we complete a major assembly rebuild with parts from multiple original trains and numerous fabricated and shelf parts. You just never know how well everything will work together and more than once on these type projects we have had to make significant modifications to make everything happy. Everything came together beautifully in this instance. We had a few minor adjustments and will have a few more after everything is fully seated, but it is together and operating well.


We completed the installation of the false drivewheels on the Tucson


Running without false drivewheels at the Del Webb Hiway House in the late 1960's


The false drivewheels were removed from the Tucson long before this photo was taken in 1974

          She sure has a different look with the false drive wheels under her. As I shared last month, it was sometime prior to 1970 when she last ran with the false drive wheels. It has been a multi-year process replacing stub axles, fabricating tensioners, buying and boring gears, fabricating dozen of missing or damaged parts and getting the various subassemblies ready for final assembly and installed on the Tucson. It has been a time-consuming and not inexpensive endeavor, but I am very pleased with the way she looks and operates and she is complete. It is very rewarding to see her run with the false drive wheels.


Tucson sporting her new false drivewheel assembly

          We also started the pre-assembly of the Coconino false drive wheel assembly. I still have quite a number of parts to fabricate, modify and rebuild. Hopefully, sometime this summer I will have everything we need and will get false drive wheels under the Coconino too. I’m not sure when she last operated with drive wheels, but it was well prior to 1991.

False Drive Wheels

False drivewheel frame

False Drive Wheels

False drivewheel assembly for the Coconino taking shape

          We started fabrication of a new pilot beam for the Tucson. We are also going to replace the front section of the running board on each side. At some point prior to 1975, it hit something pretty hard. The pilot beam is twisted and back and there is also damage to the running board on the left side. I think it will be easier and cleaner to replace the front section of both running boards than just the left side. The original pilot beam was hollow – this one is solid steel. I hope to get the original beam cut out and the new one installed in April.

Pilot Beam

The Tucson's pilot beam hit something hard prior to 1975

Pilot Beam

Front view of the Tucson

Pilot Beam

New pilot beam and running boards for the Tucson

          We still have some electrical work to complete on both the Tucson and the Coconino. Each of our other engines and tenders has a 6 pin trailer connection and a pig tail connection between the two cars. There is also a six pin connecter at the rear of the tender. This creates solid trouble-free connections and disconnecting/reconnecting the electrical between the cars is easy and quick if necessary. We have acquired the various components and will be starting this process on both the Tucson and Coconino in April.

          The headlight on the Tucson was a little low in the front. It actually made night time running a little easier as the light was more like a car’s low beam than the high beam, but aesthetically I wanted it level. We leveled the headlight by fabricating new front mounting spacers. It might not be quite as convenient for night time running, but looks better for daytime operation which is what we are doing most of the time.


The Tucson's headlight has been leveled

          Last week we developed a vacuum applied problem on the Tucson. We were still producing plenty of vacuum and maintaining it well in the tank, but as soon as it was applied it bled off rapidly. We traced the problem to a malfunctioning vacuum brake cylinder on one of the tender axles. We replaced the vacuum cylinder with an already rebuilt one off of our parts shelf and that solved the problem. We need to rebuild a few more of these this summer to replace the stock on the shelf...

          Dave was able to locate new light switches for the dash of the Coconino through the internet. One operates the headlight and the dash lights and the other operates the tender backup light. Both of the original switches were shot. Dave got the new switches installed and they work great! We also replaced the ground battery cable.


We removed the worn out switches from the dash


Two new switches were installed

          We hosted Dan Richins and friends from SLC and the East Valley with train rides and general railroad BS two Sundays ago. Dan, an ex UPRR engineer, has been a railroad buddy for a long time and was responsible for getting us the 60s era aluminum umbrella covers that we utilize in several places in the back yard. Thanks again Dan!

Dan Richins

Dan Richins visits the A&P RR

          Saturday May 11 is National Railroad Day; please remember to support your local railroad clubs, museums, facilities and websites.

          Happy and Safe Railroading Everybody!


Cactus flowers at the A&P RR signal the arrival of Easter


Springtime flowers in bloom at the A&P RR


It's springtime in Arizona


More springtime flowers


          I was on the road in New Mexico for extended trips twice in the last month. The first trip took me to Albuquerque for five days. I found myself with some free time mid-week and headed over to the Rio Grande Zoo where I had heard they had an operating railroad. They have a 36 inch gauge railroad called the Thunderbird Express that transports passengers throughout the zoo.

Rio Grande Zoo

Rio Grande Zoo Thunderbird Express

          They have a second 36 inch gauge railroad that carries passengers among the four venues they call the Albuquerque BioPark. The venues include the Rio Grande Zoo, Rio Grande Botanical Garden, Tingley Beach and the Albuquerque Aquarium. They have about two and a half miles of rail and operate two of their four engines on days of operation. I thought both trips were great rides. There are some days the trains don’t run, I just got lucky. Check ahead of time if you plan to visit and see what days the trains are in service.

Rio Grande Zoo

Albuquerque BioPark

Rio Grande Zoo

Albuquerque BioPark

          My second trip took me to Lovington in southeastern New Mexico (almost Texas). On the way I stopped at the Toy Train Depot in Alamogordo. The TTD has a S16, multiple G16s and a G12. It also has one of the longest 16 inch gauge layouts currently operating. They are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Unfortunately, I was through there on Monday going over and after dark on the way back. I stopped on the way over and took a few photographs.

Toy Train Depot

Toy Train Depot

Toy Train Depot

Toy Train Depot Caboose

          I also stopped in Cloudcroft which is in between Alamogordo and Artesia to see the Mexican Canyon Trestle. The curved trestle was built in 1899 and is 323 feet long and 60 feet high. It was restored in 2009 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The afternoon I was there, it was bitterly cold and very windy. I walked out onto the observation platform that hangs out over the canyon to provide better views of the trestle and I thought the wind was going to blow me off and into the canyon…

Cloud Croft

Cloudcroft's Mexican Canyon Trestle

Cloud Croft

Mexican Canyon Trestle Observation Platform

          The strange winter weather continued in Phoenix in February. We had snow, yes snow, on February 20. We also had several more days of rain. The last two months are the wettest I can remember in the 47 years I have lived here. Spring is finally here this week. Spring training is underway 2 ½ miles up the road for the Padres and Mariners, car shows are an every weekend occurrence and dandelions are the most prevalent local flower…

          We got started on the lettering on the tank car. We still need to add the Built 12/99, Lt Wt 1225 lbs and Capy 80 Gal lettering. If we get a couple of dry weekends in March, we will get the lettering finished.

Tank Car

We've begun letting the tank car

          We performed switch maintenance on one of our most used switches and switch stands; it needed cleaned, adjusted and its pin cap replaced. It is back in good operating condition and travels as smoothly as when it was brand new!

          The other big project we started on this month is rebuilding a set of false drive wheels and getting them installed on the Tucson. We got four of the wheels cleaned and painted. We fabricated the counterweights. I went with black spokes and hub, but decided to paint the tire sidewall white in the classic style. We replaced the bearings, races and seals. We used all new chain, bushings and bolts. We fabricated the mounting brackets, pull rods and spring tension assemblies.

False Drive Wheels

False Drive Wheels Prior to Paint

False Drive Wheels

False Drive Wheels After Painting

False Drive Wheels

Painted False Drive Wheels

False Drive Wheels

False Drive Wheel Brackets

False Drive Wheels

False Drive Wheel Bearings

False Drive Wheels

False Drive Wheel Counterweights

False Drive Wheels

Parts for the False Drive Wheel Assemblies

          Getting a set of false drive wheels under a S16 that is otherwise completed and operating is no easy task. You should plan on a full day with two of your best friends to just get the basic assembly in place. We have the basic assembly mounted and in place. There is still a great deal of additional work that needs completed with the short and long side rods. Several more bushings and spacers will be replaced. The four knuckle joints need work and we will need to fabricate the two cylinder rods as the ones we have are bent and mangled. If the weather cooperates on the weekends, we may have the false drive wheel assembly fully operational under the Tucson by the end of March. She hasn’t operated with the false drive wheels since some time prior to 1970 so it will be a kick to see her running with them again.

Tucson False Drive Wheels

Prepairing the Tucson for Her False Drive Wheel Assembly

Tucson False Drive Wheels

Lifting the Tucson

Tucson False Drive Wheels

Partially Completed False Drive Wheel Assembly Under the Tucson

          Happy and Safe Railroading Everybody!


Two of the A&P RR's More Frequent Visitors


          For all practical purposes, we lost two of the four weekends as far as work was concerned this month as we had some pretty unusual weather here. We had one stretch that was the coldest weather here since 1978. We had several very cold days for Peoria with five of the days having temperatures in the low 20s and the highs 40 to 45. During the coldest stretch, it was warmer in Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland that it was here… The next weekend, we set record highs two days in a row as it was in the 80s and I was able to get some painting done and a few outdoor projects completed. The following weekend, we received 1.6 inches of rain in 12 hours at the A & P and 2.1 for the Saturday – Monday time frame. Dave lives about twenty miles away in the northeast valley and received 3.5 inches of rain in the same three day period. We only average 8.29 inches of rain for the entire year here. Needless to say, everything was extremely wet and soggy and we weren’t working outside on anything.

          Despite all the weather issues, we did manage to get a few things accomplished.

          We finished the lettering on the Jordan Spreader. Everything on her was cleaned, lubricated and adjusted. Although she likely won’t be used as a spreader on the A & P, I wanted all the components in good operable condition. She has now been officially returned to service.

Jordan Spreader

Completed lettering on the Jordan Spreader

Jordan Spreader

The Jordan Spreader back in service

          We got a good start on the tank car this month. We got a couple of good coats of paint on the entire car and some extra paint on the wood components. The trucks were in worse shape than I had originally thought. One of the axles was bad and each of the other three axles had a bad wheel. I always have a supply of at least four axles with good wheels and new bearings rebuilt and on our parts shelf. I pulled all four axles and replaced them with ones that I had rebuilt previously. We cleaned and painted the bolsters and truck frames and they don’t look too bad. It is nice having good wheels and axles under everything for obvious reasons. After we get a few more of the front burner items taken care of with the ex-F & MV equipment, we will rebuild several more wheel and axle sets. We have the tank and frame back on the trucks, but still need to finish all of the numbering and lettering - hopefully in February.

Tank Car

The tank car before restoration

Tank Car

Trucks removed from under the tank car


Eddie working on restoring the tank car

Tank Car

The old axles were replaced

Tank Car

The restored tank car prior to lettering

          In between weekends of trying to stay warm and then trying to stay dry, we had a nice weekend of painting quality days and managed to get a fresh coat of green paint on our three park theme light poles. They were getting pretty faded and look much better now.

Light Pole

Freshly painted light pole

          It isn’t as much fun as operating or restoring the equipment, but keeping the grade clean and neat is a time consuming task this time of year. We have more than a dozen trees adjacent to the railroad and my neighbor has five massive cottonwood trees that overhang the railroad grade. I think the rest of you guys all finished raking your leaves in October; we are just finishing that project out here now and it has been a lot of work. The good news is almost all of the leaves are down and we should be finished raking leaves in the next week. In mid to late February most of the trees out here will be out in bud and will be back in leaf in March. It is a very short winter out here.


Cottonwood trees in mid-January

          The work on former F & MV engine No. 2 the “Coconino” continues to progress. As I shared last month, overheating of the hydraulic pump has been an issue with this locomotive for some time. We added a hydraulic oil cooler this month. We plumbed the hydraulic oil cooler on the input side (lower pressure) and mounted and wired two 3000 rpm fans to move air through the cooler. The fans are four inch computer box fans that are designed for continuous use at low amperage. They move a great deal of air and should make a huge difference in the operating temperature of the hydraulic system. As the weather heats up out here, we’ll find out how effective the new cooler and fans will be.


High RPM fans for hydraulic cooler


Installed fans


Freshly painted reservoir and a new coat of high temp paint on the exhaust

          We also added a fluid filter to the hydraulic system as it did not have one in its original configuration.

          With all the new hydraulic plumbing in place, we cleaned all the old hydraulic fluid that had leaked out over the years as well as some smaller messes we made in the course of this project. We also got some fresh paint on the new plumbing and on the reservoir and exhaust.

          Dave started trouble shooting a handful of electrical problems on the Coconino. Two of the four problems he was able to fix and he identified the cause of the remaining two as faulty switches. If I get the new switches in here, we’ll have all the gremlins in the electrical system resolved before the end of the month.

          Happy and Safe Railroading Everybody!

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