NELS Track At The Box Factory

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NP317
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Re: NELS Track At The Box Factory

Post by NP317 » Mon Dec 09, 2019 7:57 pm

Nostalgic treasures.
Thanks for sharing.
RussN

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LVRR2095
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Re: NELS Track At The Box Factory

Post by LVRR2095 » Mon Dec 09, 2019 8:13 pm

JBodenmann wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 11:44 am
Hello My Friends
Did the property change hands? Did the rise of 7-1/2" gauge cause it? Seems like a real shame that it's gone.
Jack
Jack it was not the rise of 7 - 1/2” gauge (actually it would have been 7 - 1/4” gauge here in the North East.)
In fact when the Eastern Live Steamers were building a new club track at Riverside Park in Lyndhurst, NJ they debated whether or not to include 4- 3/4” gauge rails as they weren’t sure anyone would build anything that big! In the late 1950’s there were very few 1 - 1/2” scale tracks in New England or the Middle Atlantic States. Most clubs had elevated tracks that accommodated 2 - 1/2”, 3 - 1/2” and possibly 4 - 3/4” gauges. It was only in the 1960’s that clubs began putting tracks down on the ground.

Keith

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JBodenmann
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Re: NELS Track At The Box Factory

Post by JBodenmann » Mon Dec 09, 2019 9:43 pm

Hello My Friends
How can you have nostalgia and a longing for something you never experienced. The movie made me wish I could crawl Into the screen to experience a wonderful long ago day. How could something so amazing just go away. We are poorer for it's loss.
Thank you Jim

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Re: NELS Track At The Box Factory

Post by tsph6500 » Tue Dec 10, 2019 6:29 am

Like most events in life, there were many aspects to "why?" did it happen. Timing and converging circumstances are the keys to history both big and small.

One of the reasons I have heard for the rise and fall of Danvers was the fast expansion to the big loop. The original track was a modest 600 or so feet long and was only on the "factory" side of the estuary. It proved to be very popular and over-crowded during the early meets. Engineers were assigned a 20 to 30-minute running time and that was displayed on a chalkboard. There was a "road foreman" who oversaw the schedule.

Mr. Friend was a man of means and soon the track was greatly expanded across the tidal river to form the "big loop". He had several employees work on the project, no doubt alongside some of the local live steamers of the NELS. Those employees of Friend's Box Company were skilled in making wooden boxes and were paid to work. Progress was quick with the large labor force, materials were on hand, and the track went up far faster than a club could have done on its own.

The positive results were apparent with bigger meets, more engineers attending, more engines running without time restrictions. Undoubtedly there were more customers at Friend's Models as well. The downside is that when construction of such size goes up all at once, the lifetime of the wood reaches its end all at once. After 10 years or so, the amount of maintenance required far outstripped the abilities of the local live steamers. Some people always felt that it was "Friends'" track so let him take care of it, there was no emotional connection to the commercially owned facilities, unlike a club where the track is built with sweat equity.

It doesn't take long before attendance drops off due to bad track conditions and why would anyone invest in a track that is not used plus it is owned by an individual (or company). It is a vicious circle and the track was doomed by its own success.
Best regards,
Jim Leggett

Montreal Live Steamers
www.montreallivesteamers.org

A Founding Member of the Tinkerbell Scale Society - Northern Division
I'm an A.R.S.E. (Association of Railroad Steam Engineers)
Toad Swamp & Punk Hollow Railroad - Head Tycoon
The Juvenile Traction Company - CEO & Apprentice Machinist 3rd Class
White Mountain Central RR - Engineer

FKreider
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Re: NELS Track At The Box Factory

Post by FKreider » Tue Dec 10, 2019 7:00 pm

To me the amazing part about it was the number of active running engines and builders there were at that time. It's very hard to imagine any high-line in the U.S. today having to assign people 20 to 30 minute time slots to run their engine.

I suppose back then hobbies were very different than today, not nearly as many distractions as we have now, I looked up the below statistics out of curiosity:

How many TV channels were there in 1953? .... Four.
How many TV channels today? .... Basic cable starts with 125+

How many internet websites were there in 1953? .... Zero.
How many active internet websites are there today? .... 400 Million+

How many people played video games in 1953? .... Zero.
How many people play video games today? .... 2.5 Billion (worldwide.)

How many new South Bend 9" Lathes were sold in 1953? .... Several thousand+
How many new South Bend 9" Lathes are sold today? .................
-Frank K.

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gwrdriver
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Re: NELS Track At The Box Factory

Post by gwrdriver » Wed Dec 11, 2019 11:59 am

I think another reason should be considered . . . the pervasive notion (about almost everything these days it seems) that "Bigger is Better."

(Like that 14" lathe and Bridgeport you MUST have to build a live steam locomotive, or a pickup truck that will pull a loaded 747, just in case the Farm & Home has a sale on 747s while you're there picking up 25lbs of dog chow.)

I knew three local live steamers (one my first mentor), all now deceased, who had begun building or had operating locomotives in 3.5" gauge by 1964 and had plans for a communal track, only to be encouraged (strong-armed) by one individual to switch to 7.5" ga. His primary talking point was "that small stuff is worthless because won't pull nothin'." That was because big engines and "pullin' stuff" was his personal objective. He wouldn't allow that a smaller scale might also "pull stuff" and there might be other advantages and objectives to those scales which were as important and justifiable as his own.

The Mid-South Live Steamers was founded on that gauge shift and remains 7.5"ga-only, with no plans to expand to a smaller gauge. So far as I know it's not discussed, for the reason that it would divert badly needed human and financial resources away from maintaining the existing club track complex, which it would. It's a "Chicken vs. Egg" situation. There may be a smaller scale population in the South, but there's not enough of it visible to justify a "Build it and they will come" track effort.
GWRdriver
Nashville TN

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JBodenmann
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Re: NELS Track At The Box Factory

Post by JBodenmann » Wed Dec 11, 2019 12:19 pm

Hello My Friends
GWR driver is correct in that many feel that bigger is better. Be careful what you wish for. A friend of mine had a 7-1/2" railroad around his house and a beautiful RR Supply American. Both his wife and he really enjoyed running the little engine. Then a huge 4-8-4 came up for sale. They sold the American and bought the Northern. It wasn't long before they tried to buy back the American, fat chance! They didn't run much after that. Every scale has it's pros and con's. I could build just about anything I want. I choose 3/4" scale. Just my personal preference. Build what you like.
Jack

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LVRR2095
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Re: NELS Track At The Box Factory

Post by LVRR2095 » Wed Dec 11, 2019 12:43 pm

3/4” scale, 3 - 1/2” gauge is the ONLY live steam size that is universal in common use. And aside from being the same gauge all over North America....it is easy to throw a 3/4” scale locomotive into your car and still have room for luggage, tools, fuel and a riding car or two.
My wife and I and our dog can fit in the car with luggage and all of the things I need to steam. Within an easy day’s drive are tracks in Maine, two in Massachusetts, one in New Jersey, one in Pennsylvania, one in New York on Long Island and a little farther away one in Maryland. No trailer needed, no hydraulic lifts.....just fun.
Keith Taylor

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Re: NELS Track At The Box Factory

Post by jcbrock » Wed Dec 11, 2019 12:57 pm

gwrdriver wrote:
Wed Dec 11, 2019 11:59 am
The Mid-South Live Steamers was founded on that gauge shift and remains 7.5"ga-only, with no plans to expand to a smaller gauge. So far as I know it's not discussed, for the reason that it would divert badly needed human and financial resources away from maintaining the existing club track complex, which it would. It's a "Chicken vs. Egg" situation. There may be a smaller scale population in the South, but there's not enough of it visible to justify a "Build it and they will come" track effort.
Our experience at the St Croix has been different in our restoration. We had one dedicated 3/4" guy and several cross-over willing to do it because it was something to do and needed doing. Once people saw it was a 'go' they were willing to help even though they were not highliners. Now that it's done interest in having highline equipment is growing. There hasn't been a dropoff on the ground-level tracks, as it's basically a different set of folks (you know the drill, same 5-10 people do all the work but it's different sets for the three tracks). The set of folks for the highline can be smaller because once it's done you don't have the ongoing ballasting and leveling, and since we did steel and concrete it should last. Tweak things in the spring and good to go. It's a leap of faith to start a track, but if you're on the fence I say jump!

The NELS box factory track looks like it was fantastic. Imagine the permitting hassle to go across that wetland today.
John Brock

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Re: NELS Track At The Box Factory

Post by JohnK » Wed Dec 11, 2019 1:00 pm

The former Yankee Shop/Friends Models on the left; Friend Box Co. on the right. December 11, 2019.
1211191253_HDR.jpg
It's a winter wonderland out back so no photo of the remaining roadbed, etc. would have shown anything. I'll see what photos I can take in the springtime.

If any of you want to see this place in person, I'd be happy to show it to you. The Box company and liquor store are only two or three miles from where Friends Models is now located in Beverly.

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LVRR2095
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Re: NELS Track At The Box Factory

Post by LVRR2095 » Wed Dec 11, 2019 1:03 pm

John, is the Friend Box Co. still owned by the family? It is amazing it hasn’t been consumed by some multi-national concern!

Keith

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Re: NELS Track At The Box Factory

Post by Steam Engine Dan » Wed Dec 11, 2019 4:44 pm

jack, here is a video that also talks about lester friends and a lot related to early highline live steam. you might of seen it, but I will share it just for the heck of it. happy steaming. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5rhjtoP7y4

Daniel

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