15” ga live steam club feasibility

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Glenn Brooks
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Location: Woodinville, Washington

15” ga live steam club feasibility

Post by Glenn Brooks » Mon Sep 24, 2018 1:14 pm

Hello All,

I would sure like to hear your collective ideas on the feasibility of starting a large scale, 15” gauge live steam club in the Seattle area - based on the 7.5” gauge “business model”- non profit, volunteer built and run, community track, and/ but with a few Club owned locomotives. etc. .

I ask this because there is a possibility to build a 15” scenic railway with several miles of track, on some recently acquired state forest land. I am thinking that such a railway would initially be a scenic point to point route, with possibility of expanding to a 10 mile main line to a very scenic lookout point, over the coming years.

Aside from the organizational minutia and scope of buildout, I am primarily concerned about assessing the potential for volunteer member recrutment and participation where the size of the equipment would preclude many people from building or owning their own locomotives or rolling stock. So the big question is: “does a 15” gauge non profit, community railroad make sense from a volunteer perspective?”

In other words, would this concept sustain itself, if most members did not, or could not feasibly own and operate their own equipment?? If so, what aspect of the club would most attract people to join and participate?

A second side to this, is I know some folks here have participated in larger gauge club tracks. I would be most appreciative if you could possibly offer your observations, regarding membership engagement in the building and operating of park gauge railways,ideal scale of operation, and length of track. What would you do differently, if you had the opportunity?

Thanks much for any observations or comments you all might have.

Regards
Glenn
Moderator - Grand Scale Forum

Motive power : 1902 A.S.Campbell 4-4-0 American - 12 5/8" gauge, 1955 Ottaway 4-4-0 American 12" gauge

Ahaha, Retirement: the good life - drifting endlessly on a Sea of projects....

Pontiacguy1
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Re: 15” ga live steam club feasibility

Post by Pontiacguy1 » Mon Sep 24, 2018 3:33 pm

I would probably contact Wisconsin Dells. I believe that this is what they do.

Mike Walsh
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Re: 15” ga live steam club feasibility

Post by Mike Walsh » Tue Sep 25, 2018 5:30 am

I saw your PM yesterday Glenn, but haven't had time to respond and will do so later today as I get more time to think about it. But one thing that stood out to me in your posting in this thread is that you have "a possibility to build a 15” scenic railway with several miles of track, on some recently acquired state forest land". Do you/your entity now own this land -- free and clear? Are there any restrictions as to what you can do with this land? You need to check and make sure the T's are crossed and the I's are dotted (in lower case, that is). I've read in the past of a particular group that is in the northwest (Oregon? Washington? Not sure...) that built on their own privately owned land.... But if my memory serves me any good, I believe that some locals raised alarm and then the state came and punished them. What happened? They built bridges across natural creeks, etc... Or something to that extent and they got in a whole lot of trouble for it. I think they wound up folding their run? Not sure. I'd have to look around. Just because you own the land on which you want to play, doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Gotta love it.

Glenn Brooks
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Location: Woodinville, Washington

Re: 15” ga live steam club feasibility

Post by Glenn Brooks » Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:11 am

Thanks Mike, would be very interested in your experiences. The land is state forest land, and we would have a long term use permit. I remember the layout you describe - down in southern Oregon I believe. You are correct, the fellow built through and over wetlands, and destroyed several parts of riparian habitat - streams and vegetation buffers, with no permits. Might have been salmon bearing streams also, although I don’t remember. These are big deals on the west coast, which we would take pains to avoid at all costs.

Glenn
Moderator - Grand Scale Forum

Motive power : 1902 A.S.Campbell 4-4-0 American - 12 5/8" gauge, 1955 Ottaway 4-4-0 American 12" gauge

Ahaha, Retirement: the good life - drifting endlessly on a Sea of projects....

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cbrew
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Re: 15” ga live steam club feasibility

Post by cbrew » Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:56 am

Hi Glenn, I have thought about moving up in the past. but this size of equipment is beyond my check book and hauling capability.
i believe those reasons will be your number one obstacle keeping volunteers.
If it is not live steam. its not worth it.

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Fender
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Re: 15” ga live steam club feasibility

Post by Fender » Tue Sep 25, 2018 2:05 pm

I assume that (because of the cost and logistics) the locomotives would be club-owned. I think the individual members should be prepared to make a significant contribution to fund the operation, since it would have appeal to a smaller group, not “hundreds” of members. Another concern is that rigorous training of engineers and accountability of who runs the equipment is needed. My club has had issues making sure engineers (who run club-owned locomotives) are properly trained and qualified, and with keeping up with who has operated club locomotives, especially when they turn up damaged or defective after a previous use.
With larger equipment, insurance may be harder to get or more expensive to purchase.
Dan Watson

Glenn Brooks
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Re: 15” ga live steam club feasibility

Post by Glenn Brooks » Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:12 pm

Cbrew and Dan, yep, thanks! I have thought the same thing you mention. Although have not thought about hauling these big engines around. :shock:

Clearly, the genius of 7.5” gauge is everyone can find a way to own their own motive power, if they wish. Hence the viability and great success of club tracks and the member owned trains business model. So maybe, the club model may not translate well into the larger scales. (Which is why one should test the water before jumping into the pond!) :D

Glenn
Moderator - Grand Scale Forum

Motive power : 1902 A.S.Campbell 4-4-0 American - 12 5/8" gauge, 1955 Ottaway 4-4-0 American 12" gauge

Ahaha, Retirement: the good life - drifting endlessly on a Sea of projects....

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Fender
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Location: Chattanooga TN

Re: 15” ga live steam club feasibility

Post by Fender » Tue Sep 25, 2018 8:09 pm

Another successful “business model” for such an operation would be to have an individual “benefactor” who would drive the building of (and provide the bulk of funding for) the railroad, along with a loyal cadre of members/contributors to do much of the work. If ownership of the land is not an issue, then the transistion to an autonomous club would not be difficult.
Dan Watson

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NP317
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Re: 15” ga live steam club feasibility

Post by NP317 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:55 pm

Glenn:
Consider a smaller gauge. You've got 12" equipment.
What is the most common gauge of equipment larger than 7.5" gauge?
Start there.
~Russ

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Dick_Morris
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Re: 15” ga live steam club feasibility

Post by Dick_Morris » Wed Sep 26, 2018 2:21 am

Eric Thompson who built the 15" track in the Oakland, CA area started with 12" gauge. Anyone wanting to compare the two gauges should track down an article he wrote in Live Steam about 40 years ago giving his rationale for the change.

Jim Schulz
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Re: 15” ga live steam club feasibility

Post by Jim Schulz » Wed Sep 26, 2018 6:49 am

Hi Glenn, I'm a member on the board of directors of the 15-inch gauge Riverside & Great Northern Railway in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. The R&GN is a non profit preservation society that took over the Sandley Light Railway Equipment Works when the business closed in the early 1980s. Most locomotives and rolling stock were built by the Sandleys, so the society's main goal is not to build new, but to preserve and "bring home" the locomotives and rolling stock the Sandleys built for amusement parks, zoos, etc. The society has @ 200 members, but a core group of about 20 volunteers show up regularly to help maintain the railway. There are membership dues, but most income comes from charging the public a fare for a train trip. The route is a 1.5 mile point-to-point with turn tables on each end through a right-of-way that is uniquely Wisconsin Dells. Trains leave the station on the hour 10a-5p Memorial Day through Labor Day and on weekends through October. October "pumpkin trains" are very popular (free pumpkin with the price of the trip). The draw of the R&GN for volunteers is the Sandley legacy and emphasis on steam operations. The Wisconsin Dells is a tourist destination so the R&GN has a large source of potential passengers. We're always looking for ways to get the word out, however, to bring in passengers and new members. We have "regulars" who visit every year and others who find us on the internet through a "things to do with kids in the Dells" or "trains for kids in the Dells" Google search.

Most recently the R&GN had a major set back when on August 28th so much rain fell that the 164-year-old right-of-way washed away in three places (the La Crosse & Milwaukee Railroad built the right-of-way in 1854, the Milwaukee Road abandoned it in 1902, and the Sandleys re-established it in the early 1950s). Visit the gofundme page for details: https://www.gofundme.com/disaster-at-the-rampgn-railway.

The R&GN is unique in many ways, not sure it is easily duplicated.

Regards,

Jim Schulz

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Fred_V
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Re: 15” ga live steam club feasibility

Post by Fred_V » Wed Sep 26, 2018 7:30 am

i rode the R&GN a number of years ago. It was when the bridge was still washed out. Really neat place and friendly people who showed me through the shops.
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Fred V
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