How’d you get here?

This forum is dedicated to Riding Scale Railroading with propulsion using other than steam (Hydraulics, diesel engines, gas engines, electric motors, hybrid etc.)

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pat1027
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Re: How’d you get here?

Post by pat1027 » Fri Jul 29, 2022 7:34 pm

My dad picked up an interest in trains when he was young. He was an HO modeler from my earliest memories. Trips by car were planned to maximize the opportunities to see trains. When I was nine the Kalamazoo Model Railroad Club moved to property next to Harry Herder's track. As they worked on the new building dad saw his first live steam meet at Herder's. That was the beginning of the end for HO.

I was around a lot of great guys in 7-1/2" from then on. Val Bragg showed my brother and me how to ballast his track. We ran a gon back and forth to the ballast pile by hand following the adults laying track. When I was 14 we were at Clint Ensworth's. Lee Wright gave me a lesson on running his box cab electric and sent me on my way. Fred Hanson and Ted Young gave me lessons on their locomotives and under watchful eyes I was onto steam.

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BigDumbDinosaur
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Re: How’d you get here?

Post by BigDumbDinosaur » Sat Jul 30, 2022 6:10 pm

My family had a railroad “pedigree” going back to the 19th century, when my ancestors emigrated from Ireland to Canada. In stereotypical Irish fashion, my great-great-grandfather got a “yob” with the then-nascent Canadian Pacific Railway as a section hand. He eventually worked his way up to being a fireman on freight runs, an occupation that seemed for a time to be perpetuated from father to son. :D

My grandfather was the first in the family to work for the Canadian National, starting out as a freight fireman and then becoming an engineer, first on freight and then on passenger runs. I recall as a very young boy hearing him say that when he was a fireman he had shoveled his way across eastern Canada, since the stoker often couldn't keep up with the demands for steam—when the stoker was actually working. :twisted: I also remember him saying he would never run a Diesel. He was true to his word. When CN started retiring their steam and wanted to put him in a nice, shiny F7, he decided it was time to retire as well.

Fun fact: Grandma and Grandpa lived in a large, white, frame house in Kingston, Ontario, right next to the CN mainline. Kingston was not a passenger stop at the time, so trains highballed through town, rattling windows and blowing smoke everywhere. When Grandpa was coming through, he’d whistle in such a way that Grandma knew it was he at the throttle, echoing Casey Jones in a fashion.

Two of my uncles were hoggers for the CN as well, but didn’t have Grandpa’s aversion to Diesels—Uncle Bert thought F-units were the greatest thing since sliced bread. My mother worked for CN as a dispatcher at a time when few women held such a job. During World War II, my mother was transferred to the Grand Trunk Western and assigned to work at the Dearborn Street Station in Chicago to help make up for the shortage of men.

It was while she was on that assignment and on a pass to go home and visit Grandma that she met my father, who also worked for CN. They got married in Canada and he came back to Chicago with her. They planned to go back to Canada when she was due, but I arrived a few days ahead of schedule while they were still in Chicago. :wink:

Anyhow, now you know what got me mixed up with trains. 8) It’s been a life-long interest.
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Re: How’d you get here?

Post by 0351 » Sat Jul 30, 2022 10:35 pm

Was very fortunate to have grown up on the family farm, which had just under 1 mile of Frisco/BN/BNSF track running through the farm.
Back in the day we played on, or around the track and bridge. 1 mile to the north, and 1 mile to south was a public crossing where the trains always whistled. Never once were we surprised by a train, or got in trouble by the RR. Different times back then.

At a very young age my parents got me a Lionel figure 8 set. I can still remember the electrical burn smell when running that train. Later my grandparents got me an HO train set.
Who can forget the Midge die cast trains for the 5&10 store, had a few of them!

In town was a Frisco Station/Museum that had a very cool HO layout and a full size 1100 series Frisco Caboose. Every chance I got, I’d be in there checking out the layout, and caboose.
I’d have to say, that old station, and caboose had a big influence on my interest in trains.

One Christmas I got a subscription to Model Railroader. Then I for sure was a lost case!
In my teens I had the chance to ride on the Frisco Orange Blossom Special pulled by the Frisco#1522
Got into narrow gauge after riding the Durango and Chama trains.

Through model railroading, I met Scott Weatherford, who eventually started build 1/8 scale trains in his shop, which just a few minutes down the road, so I drop in a see what the latest build was. Went to a couple meets with Scott and road his personal layout.

For about 10 years I followed DLS hoping to find a reasonable way to get into rideable trains. Always thought 1/8 train were slightly small, 2.5” was better, but I wanted to ride in the train. While researching various Grand scale RRs, I came across the 9” gauge Mesa Grande Western and was inspired to build a 1/4” scale RR.
Currently building a DRGW theme narrow gauge RR in 3” scale.
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Greg_Lewis
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Re: How’d you get here?

Post by Greg_Lewis » Sun Jul 31, 2022 11:25 pm

Some interesting stories. I got cheated out of working steam, growing up in White Plains, New York, where the outside third rail from NYC ended. But I did get something close:
IMG_33812.jpg
I also saw Disney’s railroad on the TV show and thought that was The Best, but not something to even think about when you are still in grammar school. After moving to L.A. I rode my bike to LALS and rode behind Frank Mann, who ran the wheels off his engine giving kids rides.

But looking at the Little Engines catalog was as far as I could go. By the time I was in junior high I’d made friends with a classmate who had the same ferroequinitis I did and we made friends with the second trick operator at Burbank Junction, just up the line from Taylor Yard in L.A. As time went by and we moved on to high school, instead of going out with girls we’d spend Friday evenings at the tower where the operator was too glad to let us pull the levers.

Once we managed to get a ride from North Hollywood to Van Nuys in the caboose of the Burbank local. Another time we were turned down so we hopped in an open box car, only to be caught by the trainmaster, which resulted in a visit to my house by the RR police.

During that time I was hanging around Kit Kraft hobby shop in Studio City after school looking into the showcase at the HO trains I couldn’t afford, and instead of throwing me out they offered me a job sweeping floors and stocking shelves. I learned more there than I did in school, and worked there off and on all the way through the first couple years of my marriage.

Kids and a career put hobbies on hold for several decades until I was settled enough to get back to flanged wheel pursuits. Liking Sn3 but not having the budget for the locomotives, I figured I’d make them. To do that I needed a lathe, so I wandered over to the industrial technology department at the university where I taught and was invited to use their foundry and machine shop.

After finishing the lathe, I realized its limits and bought a 12-inch Atlas, which I still have. Then figuring that if I had this lathe I might as well make the live steamer I’ve always wanted. And several decades into that, I have to explain that since it’s a hobby, it has to wait until everything else is done, and sometimes a year will go by when I don’t have time to work on it.

While I’ve enjoyed the voyage of making a locomotive, the knowledge and skills I’ve gained and the friends I’ve made have been the biggest reward.
Greg Lewis, Prop.
Eyeball Engineering — Home of the dull toolbit.
Our motto: "That looks about right."
Celebrating 35 years of turning perfectly good metal into bits of useless scrap.

Andy R
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starting the long road to Live Steam

Post by Andy R » Mon Aug 01, 2022 6:54 pm

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Gra2472
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Re: How’d you get here?

Post by Gra2472 » Mon Aug 01, 2022 10:21 pm

Oh the railroad police. When I was a kid, my aunt had a pistachio farm in Wasco (outside of Bakersfield Ca.) that was bisected by the Santa Fe. Most of the family gathered there in her huge valley style farm house for the holidays. I swear that house was an acre in size. One story, but went on for miles. Being an incorrigible train nut I usually escaped for a few hours to go watch trains. The railroad was about a mile and a half away through the fields, but I enjoyed the walk. On Thanksgiving day in 1986 I was out watching trains, and much to my chagrin, my older cousin tagged along. Well, I saw some great freight trains, and I remember and Amtrak flying by. By the third or fourth train, I had wandered down the tracks about half a mile and was sitting on a flat car in a siding, waiting for the next one when a white car came barreling down the farm road by the tracks. Well, within moments I was off the flat car and under the stern gaze of a tough looking guy with a badge. I was summarily cuffed and tossed in the back of his car, where I found my cousin. He was also cuffed, and looking like be had a lot to answer for. Come to find out, he had been at a crossing about a mile from where I was. He had been putting bottles and sticks in the crossing, and causing a ruckus. The Santa Fe cop, hauled out sheepish butts back to my aunts house to the delight and horror of our entire family. We have never yet lived that down. I will say though that the cop did tell my father that I was just watching trains and didn’t really give him a hard time. My cousin didn’t get away so lightly. But I am still reminded of that incident during every thanksgiving almost 40 years later.
7.5" Allen Mogul
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The railroad is almost done.
G. Augustus
Monte Rio, Ca.

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Greg_Lewis
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Re: How’d you get here?

Post by Greg_Lewis » Tue Aug 02, 2022 9:30 pm

Good story, Gra. We had a few other adventures that weren't quite that extreme. We discovered that if we stuck an employee timetable (easy to get) in our rear pockets we could walk past the guard and up the passenger exit at LAUPT (Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal) and hang around the front ends of the trains. We'd ask the engineers if we could come up and usually got an OK. But one Friday night there was a San Taffy engineer who was mad at the world and hated kids as well and he voiced an emphatic no (but it was more than one word...). OK. No biggie. We'd previously made friends with a car knocker and were watching him several tracks away when, just as Mr. Grumpy Engineer was a few minutes from pulling out, someone pulled the air on his train. We heard it from where we were and shortly after that a cop came along and hauled us to the station security office. The guard we'd passed on the way in said he saw us but thought we were hostlers. It seems that Mr. Grumpy Engineer decided we were the ones who pulled his air. We told the security chief we would never do that. "We LIKE trains...." Little came of it but a scolding from the chief and instructions not to go up there again. I think after that we just resumed our visits to Burbank Junction.
Greg Lewis, Prop.
Eyeball Engineering — Home of the dull toolbit.
Our motto: "That looks about right."
Celebrating 35 years of turning perfectly good metal into bits of useless scrap.

Gra2472
Posts: 191
Joined: Sat Jan 25, 2020 8:02 pm
Location: Monte Rio California

Re: How’d you get here?

Post by Gra2472 » Sun Aug 07, 2022 8:37 pm

Good evening live steamers. So many of you have such unique stories about how you got into live steam. It brings a little more humanity to the people behind the computers. Thank you so much for sharing.
7.5" Allen Mogul
3 x 7.5" West Valley Baldwin Westinghouse Electrics
The railroad is almost done.
G. Augustus
Monte Rio, Ca.

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