NMRA Booth Support at the WA State History Museum Model Train Festival

Bob Rorabaugh, 4th Division Membership Chairman

The annual Model Train Exhibit at the Washington State History Museum, Tacoma, Dec 21 to Jan 1 (closed the 24h and Christmas Day), is a wonderful opportunity for all of us who love the hobby and want to grow our ranks. If you plan to attend, would you linger at our NMRA booth for some intentional time? “Each one win one (a new member).” Be the “face” of the hobby and the NMRA. Engage passers-by, perhaps prepared to tell parents with children why you love this hobby.

Reasons to attend:

  1. It’s the holidays, and your local Sears store doesn’t have a railroad layout on display, but at this show, there’ll be a bunch of modular layouts.
  2. You’ve got kids in your world. They may be grandchildren, neighbors, a Sunday school class, etc. You can go to the Museum’s website and download a poster. Make the call to a teacher or some parents. Invite them to add this event to their holiday schedule!
  3. Just because you’d like to grow the NMRA, and would come just to share the booth experience.

Our association is 20,000 strong. Let’s have that many “owner’s reps.” I’m appealing especially to you who live within an hour of the Museum in the ol’ train station, downtown Tacoma. That’s from Seattle to Olympia, and places like Bothell, Puyallup, Snoqualmie, Bremerton, Shoreline, etc. Of course you can come from Mt. Vernon, Centralia and Port Townsend. Don’t be shy. I’ll see if I can get you into the museum for free, so bring your NMRA membership card and mention at the door that you’re serving our NMRA educational exhibit. If you must pay, then be sure to see the rest of this wonderful museum. There’s more to see than trains for you and those you invite.

Thanks for considering this request. Just don’t all come at once.

By the way, here’s my e-mail: email hidden; JavaScript is required.

Eastside Get Together Report for November 2014

Ed Liesse, photos by Ed Liesse

JJ Johnston once again welcomed everyone to the Eastside Get Together and, following the script for our meetings, introduced the members of the 4th Division Board of Directors and the Master Model Railroaders (MMRs) in attendance. He then asked if we had any new attendees and Tom Keys from Seattle was welcomed to the group!

Announcements: Russ Segner, as chairman of the upcoming Sn3 Symposium, said they had 112 registration to date and that operating sessions are still available and, as 4th Division Superintendent, that the next Board of Directors meeting would be on Saturday, December 13 at Mitzel’s in Kent at 11:00 AM. 4D has a number of Fast Tracks turnout jigs available for loan to 4D members from the library and Russ is looking for someone to head the video library. David Yadock reminded us of the Pacific Science Center show, which is the 4D money-maker for the year. Volunteers are needed for the three days of the show and can get free parking and admission. Mike Kavanaugh said he has a small HO layout available, free, with trackwork and bridges but no scenery. Rick Jillard announced the availability of an 8’ x 24’ one piece layout in a garage with scenery and track plus car and engines.

The Model of the Month featured David Yadock and CJ Turner. David brought a 4-stall roundhouse where he started using linoleum blocks for walls but changed to Chooch stone walls. The front walls are still carved from the linoleum block, however. Paper shingles are glued to the roof to resemble slate. The interior will be finished later but the lighting is already in place.

David Yadock's Roundhouse

David Yadock’s Roundhouse

CJ Turner brought a DPM kit resembling a 1901 Nordstom store. The store is well detailed with window decorations and a warning from CJ to be careful of what was happening in the upper story front room! See CJ for the answer to that one!

CJ Turner's Original Nordstrom Store

CJ Turner’s Original Nordstrom Store

After our usual short break for refreshments JJ introduced John Morrison for a presentation on Swiss Rack Railroads. Because of the mountainous topography in Switzerland, most of the railroads traveling up in the higher elevations use a rack system to traverse steep grades. In addition, railroads in Switzerland are a mix of standard gauge and several different meter gauges. There are two main rack systems, the Riggenbach and the Strub, used mostly in the higher regions. The Strub rack is machined from rail. Various scenes in the presentation give a clear look at the differences between the two types. John also showed several charts of the different meter gauges in use.

John Morrison

John Morrison

CJ Turner was the winner of the Model of the Month.

The December Eastside Get Together will be on December 18. This will be a last opportunity to make our monetary contributions to help some needy members of the church have a merry Christmas! Instead of a presentation, we’ll celebrate with a “Dirty Santa gift exchange” (?). Come join us for some extra fun!

Santa Party at Eastside Get Together this Thursday

JJ Johnston

Reminder: Eastside Get Together meets this Thursday, December 18, 7:30 PM. Bring a wrapped gift for our annual “Dirty Santa Gift Exchange Party” and celebrate the Christmas season. There are free donuts along with free coffee. Yes, everyone can help themselves to free donuts compliments of the Eastside Get Together. Bring your Model of the Month and let us see what you’re doing.

Your Santa gift can be around $12 or so, and the rules will be reviewed at the beginning of the exchange. Please wrap your gift and put the scale or gauge on the outside so it can be seen easily.

Oh, by the way – congratulations to Jim Easley and his resident modelers at Emerald Heights in Redmond. They are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their garden railway which Jim started for them shortly after he became a resident. The work now includes 275 feet of track, a train barn, 6 bridges and trestles, 45 structures plus various flowers, trees and shrubs. Jim also has a railroad around his unit to show off his wonderful collection of Swiss (I think) locomotives and rolling stock.

Our annual collection for donations has gone extremely well this year. This collection assists a few church members in need as a way of paying back the church who gives us our space rent free and lets us use their coffee and condiments at no cost. Thanks to all of you who made a generous contribution. If you haven’t had a chance to donate yet, we will pass the hat around one more time at Thursday’s meeting.

See you on Thursday and hope you get a great treasure from Santa.

Skagit Valley and Whidbey Clinic, Making Windblown Trees, December 2014

Article and Photos by Rich Thom

December’s clinic featured an always-popular “Make-and-Take,” with Susan Gonzales leading the group through her process of making windblown trees. Susan’s technique is based on an article, “Windswept Trees from Natural Materials,” in the April 2013 issue of Model Railroader, but she shortened the process and used her own choices of materials, stains, etc.

To inspire everyone for the evening’s tree-making, Susan brought a completed tree:

Fig 1 Example Tree Made by Susan Pre Clinic

In this example, sagebrush collected in eastern Washington was used for the trunk, and caspia for the branches. Other twigs you can find in the woods can also be used, but sagebrush produces especially fine windblown trees. The trunk has been stained and also weathered with gray washes. Having examined Susan’s tree, everyone had a chance to try their hand at creating an equally-gnarled tree. Susan brought a large supply of sagebrush and caspia to the clinic — more than five times enough in fact for everyone!

Susan Leads Tree Clinic

Susan Leads Tree Clinic

The first step in the process Susan did before the meeting (after gathering a quantity of sagebrush): bleaching the wood. She uses four 5-gallon buckets. The first is filled with a strong solution of bleach, and the other three with rinse water. The twigs are soaked in the bleach solution for one hour, then moved to bucket #2. The wood is swished around in the bucket and soaked for 20 to 30 minutes. This is repeated again in bucket #3, and then #4. The rinse water is changed frequently. Rinsing continues until all bleach odor is gone. The twigs are dried on a tarp or plastic sheeting, preferably outside. A sunny day is even better (good luck with that in western Washington!).

The next step is to “mine” the brush, searching for gnarled and / or curved or otherwise interesting-looking segments for the trunk of your tree. Cut, then pinch off excess branches to get the look you want. The size will obviously depend on your scale and whether it is to be a foreground or background tree. If it’s sagebrush, pick off any thorns. Clean off loose pieces with a wire brush. For a polished, wind-worn look, use 220-grit sandpaper on the trunk.

Color the trunk (optional) with a brown stain, gray washes, or both. Susan uses Folk Art brand maple and cherry stains (hard to find) but your favorites will work, too. She uses Folk Art dove gray and steel gray acrylics for the washes.

The next step is to drill or punch holes in the trunk for the caspia branches. After forming the holes, Susan uses a trick of putting T-pins in them to keep them open (and visible!) until you are ready to glue in the caspia. She uses Aleene’s fast grab or tacky white glue. One of our tree-builders discovered that you shouldn’t squeeze the glue bottle too hard.

Results of Squeezing the Bottle Too Hard

Results of Squeezing the Bottle Too Hard

Ground foam may be added to the branches, also optional. As a final step, drill hole and glue in a planting pin at the bottom of the trunk

Everyone took home a windblown tree, such as these resulting from the evening’s labors:

John Mann's Tree

John Mann’s Tree

Tom Hawkins' Tree

Tom Hawkins’ Tree

Thanks Susan for a fine clinic and inspiring us all to enhance our layouts with these unique trees.

Grabiron E-mail Notifications and Welcome to New Members

Cliff Green

cliff_greenWelcome, new 4th Division NMRA members! I’ve completed updating the Grabiron e-mail notification list with the new members from the last two months as well as members that have renewed and changed their e-mail addresses. Any time a Grabiron blog post is created and published you will receive an e-mail notification.

As always, if you do not wish to receive these notifications, let me (Cliff, email hidden; JavaScript is required) know and I’ll be happy to remove you.

Over the last few weeks minor updates have been made to the 4th Div web site (www.4dpnr.org, mostly updating contact and clinic info). In upcoming months more significant updates will happen, including web templates that are more “responsive”, which means it handles smart phones and tablets in a more intelligent manner. More details in future Grabiron posts.

There is a wealth of model railroading expertise available in this area, and a good place to encounter it is at one of the 4th Div clinics (see the 4D web site “Clinics” page for more info). I urge everyone to take advantage of it whenever possible. Most of the clinic organizers provide overviews and reports in the Grabiron, but reading blog posts can’t compare to attending in person.

Happy holidays to everyone, and I hope you have time to do a bit of model railroading in addition to (or in conjunction with!) family and friend time.

Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg, Germany

Al Lowe

Last year, I was lucky to spend a day at Miniatur Wunderland, one of the world’s great model railroads in Hamburg, Germany. This for-profit operation, which appears to be quite successful, was filled with people at €12 each (about $15). Unfortunate, I learned after I arrived that I could have taken a “backstage” tour. Remember that for when you visit!

I edited my hours of footage down to less than 20 minutes to make this brief video. (Be sure to click the “full screen” button in the lower-right corner to watch in high-definition.)

Tacoma Clinic

by Al Babinsky

MMR Gene Swanson opened the clinic on time as usual and dispensed with the usual announcements. The “Model of the Month” or “Bring and Brag” was held with several models being shown. We had 41 modelers attending this clinic, our “Dirty Santa” clinic.

Paul Vaughn brought two versions of molds, a hard rubber and a soft rubber mold. He explained the difference, which is the hard rubber mold is made to be used many times to create soft metal parts and the soft rubber is usually a one-time use.

Leo Scafturon brought a HO kit of Western Welding shop mounted on a corner module. The shop is complete with equipment welding hoses, shop personnel, forklifts, material, and a siding.

Chris Clancy brought some of his finds from antique shops including a gondola and an F7 A and B unit, all heavily weathered.

John Miller brought a Model Diecasting 0-6-0 with tender and a lengthy story of all the problems he addressed to make the model work properly. Very interesting.

Walt Huston brought a dual gauge track switch to show how the narrow gauge track diverged from the dual gauge track.

The “Model of the Month” winner was Leo Scafturon with his Western Welding module.

The next item on the agenda was our food, appreciated by all and attacked with great gusto. We then waited with anticipation for Dirty Santa to arrive which he did. As the program progressed many items switched hands and several modelers opened presents since someone had stolen theirs. Of special interest were a couple of power tools that seemed to change hands a number of times. The evening ended with the drawing of door prizes, enough for all attendees to receive one. The clinic was closed with the clinic committee singing “We Wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

Our next clinic will at 7:30 PM on January 8th in our usual place, the Pierce County Library Admin. Bldg on the corner of 112th Street and Waller Road. The presenter is Steve Cox on the subject of Model and Prototype Roadbed. Hope to see you there in 2015.

I don’t know how many of you know about an online publication called Trackside Model Rail Roading (TSMRR), their website is: www.tracksidemodelrailroading.com. It is run by a husband and wife team. The reason that I’m mentioning this is that three members of the Tacoma Clinic have been published in that publication: Dale Kraus and his layout are in the November issue and Walt Huston and Al Babinsky are in the December issue. Each layout article has an embedded video to give you a rail fan tour. In order to view you must purchase it, the cost is $1.89 per issue or $14.99 for a year. Check it out you may like what you see.

From all of us to all of you Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Mt. Vernon NMRA Clinic November Report

Roger Johnson / Photos by Roger Johnson

The November Mount Vernon clinic of the local Fourth Division, PNR, NMRA was attended by 22 folks, one of which was the 4th Division Superintendent, Russ Segner. Thank you, Russ, for taking the time and effort to battle the traffic from Newcastle to attend our clinic. You will always be welcome here.


Our distinguished visitor Russ Segner, 4th Div Superintendent

Our distinguished visitor Russ Segner, 4th Div Superintendent

The Mt Vernon Model Railroad Clinic is a NMRA sanctioned event with the 4th Division of NMRA providing a modest sum of seed money to help us get started. While NMRA membership is not required to attend the clinics, it was once again heartily encouraged. Please let Al Carter or Roger Johnson know if you wish to join the NMRA.

There were several announcements of upcoming events (editor added a couple):

  • The next Skagit Valley & Whidbey clinic December 10, 2014 will feature Susan Gonzales presenting “Make & Take Windswept Trees.” Email email hidden; JavaScript is required.
  • 15th Annual Model Train Festival at the Washington State History Museum, December 26, 2014 – January 1, 2015. Info at www.washingtonhistory.org/visit/wshm/eventsprograms/festivals/trainfest/
  • 4th Division’s 41st Annual Train Show at Pacific Science Center January 17-19, 2015. This is the divisions principal source of income for the year so support of the show will be appreciated. Contact: Jeff Moorman, 206-367-2377 or email hidden; JavaScript is required
  • 24th Annual Model Train Show and Marketplace at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe February 28 & March 1, 2015.
  • 30th Annual Sn3 Symposium in Bellevue April 16-18, 2015. Info at sn3symposium-2015.com/
  • 2015 NMRA National Convention “Portland Daylight Express” in Portland, OR August 23 – 29, 2015. Info at www.nmra2015portland.org

Other announcements included:

  • Marv Hall brought to our attention a paint chart by Microscale cross referencing most of the lost Floquil railroad colors to paints of several other manufacturers.
  • Mike Pettruzzelli brought several old Model Railroader magazines available for the taking.
  • Tom Buckingham brought newspapers for our perusal from the Grand Canyon Railway, brought back from his recent trip thereon.
  • Russ Segner reminded us of the restorations taking place at the Northwest Railway Museum in Snoqualmie. He also brought several railroad paintings recently donated to the 4th Division that are for sale (prices negotiable) to benefit the Division.

Our Show & Tell (or Bring & Brag) segment featured:

  • A disassembled Santa Fe passenger car in the process of being super detailed by Nick Muff. Included are carpeting, table Formica and seat back headrests all pattered after the real car, lower level constant lighting and a Tsunami rolling stock sound decoder to replicate the sound of the two diesel generators with which these cars were equipped
  • A scratch built gas station in progress by Al Carter, with excellent detailing in the office/waiting room. This building has special significance for Al as it was started for him by a fellow who has since died. When complete it will bear his name.
Nick Muff's passenger car detailing in process

Nick Muff’s passenger car detailing in process

Al Carter's service station interior detail

Al Carter’s service station interior detail








The Tool of the Month was silent this month. Hopefully it will have found its voice at the next clinic.

The evening’s presentation was a demonstration of casting rocks in geodesic foam by our own MMR (mistakenly noted as MRR in the earlier clinic reminder notice) Nick Muff. Over the course of an hour or so we watched as he prepared a mold, mixed the two part resin material, poured it into the mold, made sure it was evenly covered and eventually removed from the mold. The result is highly detailed rock castings that are very light weight and can be cut with scissors and, with some heat, can be reshaped to fit the specific intended space.

In addition to showing how to make the castings, he also demonstrated coloring techniques, starting with white artists’ gesso and then black tempera paint powder. When he first applied the dry powder to the casting it took on a somewhat uniform dark grey color. Next he misted the casting with water then washed much of the tempera from the high spots leaving the cracks and crevices in deep shadow. To this writer’s eye it was like magic—in seconds the casting had been changed from a pure white casting into what looked very much like a real rock cliff side. Further coloring with acrylic artists’ tube paints and a random dusting of greenery completes the look.

Nick uses and recommends the products of Bragdon Enterprises because, as he says “If you buy from Bragdon you not only get the materials—you also get Joel Bragdon” to answer questions and provide hints along the way, if needed. This writer would be remiss to not mention how entertaining Nick can be while educating us to new techniques and modeling tips. It is no wonder he has been designated as a Master Model Railroader! We are very lucky to have him as an active participant in our group.

Nick Muff's foam rock molding presentation materials laid out and ready

Nick Muff’s foam rock molding presentation materials laid out and ready

Nick Muff demonstrating foam rock molding

Nick Muff demonstrating foam rock molding







Nick Muff answers questions following his foam rock molding presentation

Nick Muff answers questions following his foam rock molding presentation

Jim Tartas explains his rock casting technique to Jon Wilbert

Jim Tartas explains his rock casting technique to Jon Wilbert











For future clinics, if the front door of the Senior Canter is locked, entry will be through the rear door on the south (erroneously stated in an earlier report as west) side of the building which is kept open in the evening. This passes through a kitchen, then into the hallway. A sign will be posted at the correct door.

It was decided last month to not have a December Clinic (two days before the Christmas holiday). Therefore, our next clinic will be January 27, 2015 (fourth Tuesday) at 7:00 PM at the Mount Vernon Senior Canter. Roger Johnson will demonstrate how to put “Structures on a Diet,” reducing the footprint (and sometimes mass) of plastic building kits.

Seattle-North – Washington and Idaho at Next Meeting on December 4, 2014

By Jeff Moorman, photos by Jeff Moorman

Next Clinic:

Thursday (December 4) is our next clinic meeting. Mike Bjork will present a PowerPoint on the Washington and Idaho Railway (WIR), from the perspective of both a former employee and a consulting engineer providing design and construction services. This railroad is a contemporary shortline and you can probably guess in which two states it operates.

Prior Clinic:

Our clinician last time was our own Dennis T who showed us how to use a smart phone as a wireless DDC throttle. But, it is not as simple as just whipping out your phone and taking over control of someone’s locomotive.

First you need some trains to run and a place to run them. Dennis provided this by setting up a little 6½’ by 2½’ T-TRAK oval in N scale.

Second you need the layout to be operated by DCC. Dennis uses a Digitrax system, but others would work provided they can be interfaced to a PC running JMRI software. I know this can also be done with NCE systems and there may be others.

That computer interface to your DCC system is the next requirement. This is not the simple interface needed to program decoders, but rather a connection to the Digitrax LocalNet. Dennis used the Digitrax PR3 USB interface which also has a LocalNet connection.

Fourth that interface needs to be connected to a PC running JMRI software. Next that computer needs to be connected to a Wi-Fi network as does your smartphone.

And, finally, your smartphone needs to be running a JMRI compatible throttle app. Dennis used the WiThrottle Lite app. This is the free version of WiThrottle, and it runs on iPhones and iPods. There is a similar app called Engine Driver for Android devices.

Note that the wireless capability for this set-up utilizes a Wi-Fi network, not the phone’s Bluetooth or cell connection.

WiThrottle Lite has the basic controls, but you’ll need its commercial version for complex consisting. In some respects for new operators sliding your finger on the screen to change the throttle settings is more intuitive than a thumbwheel or speed buttons found on many DCC throttles.

Let’s face it – buying a smartphone in order to have a wireless throttle might be an expensive proposition. But if you already have the phone, and may only occasionally need a wireless throttle or throttles (like when the gang comes over for a little switching every other month) this may be just the ticket. Plus, there are ‘cool factor’ points to be won by pulling out your phone and running a train.

So, let’s review. In order to control a model railroad locomotive from your smartphone you need:

  • A smartphone with a JMRI-compatible throttle app
  • A wireless computer network, which supports a connection to both your smartphone and your computer
  • JMRI software running on the computer
  • An interface between the computer and your DCC system
  • A DCC system connected to a model RR layout
  • A DCC-equipped locomotive on the layout


It sounds complex, but you probably already have most of the components. It is mostly just a matter of hooking them all together.

Several attendees had previously downloaded a throttle app (or did so during the clinic) and all were all able to run locos via the infrastructure Dennis had set up.


T-TRAK Layout 1 of 2

T-TRAK Layout 1 of 2

T-TRAK Layout 2 of 2

T-TRAK Layout 2 of 2

DCC Control Unit and PC Interface

DCC Control Unit and PC Interface

More of the PC to DCC set up

More of the PC to DCC set up


Show and tell started with a follow-on discussion about DCC in general and then about T-TRAK modules. Plus, Chris F had some more of his ongoing HO passenger car project to show us.

Chris' Passenger Cars 2 of 2

Chris’ Passenger Cars 2 of 2

Chris' Passenger Cars 1 of 2

Chris’ Passenger Cars 1 of 2


Directions: We meet at the Ronald United Methodist Church, 17839 Aurora Avenue North, Shoreline, WA. That is on the west side of Aurora (State Route 99) between 175th and 185th Streets and more specifically, between the Cadillac dealer on the south and Deseret Industries to the north. Going southbound on Aurora, make a right-hand turn into the church driveway immediately after passing the Deseret location. The parking lot is at the rear of the church. For regular meetings go up the steps to the main entrance. We meet in the Fireside Room which is immediately to the left inside the door.

Meetings are the first Thursday of each month, usually September – June. However in June we often do something different, so there may be no “regular” meeting. Doors open at 7:00 PM and the program starts at 7:30.

Remember the next regular evening meeting is December 4. Hope to see you there or at least sometime on down the line.

Model Railroad Equipment Sale, December 14

Myles G. Schneider

On December 14, 2014, 10 AM to 4 PM I am selling my model railroad equipment as well as both hard and soft bound railroad books. Reasonable offers and cash only.

This is a downsizing sale due to selling my home and moving to an apartment.

My address is 6810 Opal Lane S. W. Lakewood, WA 98498. My phone numbers are 253-584-1071 (home) or 253-905-7576 (cell), and my email is email hidden; JavaScript is required.

Mt Vernon Clinic Reminder

Roger Johnson

Next  Tuesday’s clinic will feature Nick Muff, MD and MRR, showing Bragdon Enterprises geodesic foam scenery materials. You never want to miss one of Nick’s presentations.

For those wishing a little extra camaraderie (and food) meet at the College Way Round Table Pizza around 5:00 to 5:15 for a no host dinner gathering.

Skagit Valley and Whidbey Clinic’s Dr. Nick Muff Night

by Rich Thom, photos by Al Frasch and from Nick Muff Collection

Chairperson Rich Blake welcomed 33 attendees to the Skagit Valley and Whidbey Clinic’s third meeting of the season on Wednesday, November 12th. Rich was pleased to point out that several folks from the mainland, who are now regulars of the new Mt. Vernon Clinic, were in the audience tonight. Our two clinics are scheduled about two weeks apart each month, giving area modelers the opportunity to attend both if they wish. That idea seems to be a good one!

Also making the trip to the island were Jack Hamilton and Di Voss, devoting their entire day prior to the clinic to evaluating layouts, rolling stock, scenery, buildings, and even volunteer data, resulting in several NMRA AP awards being earned by SV & W modelers. Thanks, gentlemen, for taking the time and driving the distance year after year; it has really vitalized the AP program in our area. Jack described the AP program and how rewarding — and relatively easy — it is to accumulate points for your modeling, authoring, volunteering, and operations efforts. He noted that working towards the “car” award seemed to be a particularly common roadblock for some of our SV&W modelers, who otherwise were within shouting distance of earning their MMR (Master Model Railroader). As just one result of the day’s judging, Jack called Tom Hawkins to the front and presented him with his Golden Spike Award. Tom was one of the winners of a layout design competition run by Model Railroader magazine, and his layout was featured in the magazine.

Next, as Rich Blake pointed out, it really was Dr. Nick Muff Night. Jack presented Nick with his MMR certificate and plaque, remarking that whenever he visited Nick’s layout, he returned home and contemplated taking a sledgehammer to his own. (Your reporter has had the same emotion!). If ever you are able to visit Nick’s world-class layout, simply look at the chandeliers in the Kansas City station and you will understand that sledgehammer urge.

Nick Muff Receives MMR from Jack Hamilton

Nick Muff Receives MMR from Jack Hamilton

Nick was also the presenter of the evening’s program, an historic collection of his still photographs and 8mm film of the West Side Lumber Company. Just as remarkable as the photos were the “vehicles” that Nick and two friends used to travel over the railroad, the entertaining stories about how they were built, and the adventures they shared on the rides. The vehicles? Homemade handcars — a series of three of them no less — each one significantly better than the last.

Nick visited the West Side many times between 1961-66; his earliest explorations in 1961-62, when he was 16, were the subject of tonight’s talk. The West Side’s 3-ft gauge railroad operations had been in gradual decline and finally were abandoned altogether in midyear 1961; only a single steamer, standard-gauge Heisler #3, continued working the mill in Tuolumne. After that, gyppo truck loggers brought timber down to the mill. However Pickering, who owned the West Side, stored the locos rather than scrapping them, and kept the track in place, too, just in case relying on the gyppos didn’t work out. The entire line was ripe for exploring by three keen teenagers.

Nick opened with slides shot in Tuolumne: the large mill operation; Heisler #3; some of the charming home-built cabeese; the gauntlet track at the log dump; and several of the Shays. The Shays were kept in immaculate condition, mechanically and in appearance, too; paint gleamed on most of them in Nick’s photos.

The boys hiked much of the line on their first forays, and soon realized that this was one long railroad! Camp 45 — the last camp built for railroad logging — was 56 miles from Tuolumne, and the main line at one time was 70 miles long. To speed things up, they built their first handcar — their “Car # 1.” It had no pump mechanism and was simply a platform, rope-pulled or sometimes “poled.” Its wheels had rubber tires, and those wheels were the biggest problem. The tread just wasn’t wide enough and the car constantly derailed. Nick said that the variations in gauge of the West Side’s rail, as light as 35-pound in places, were so large that any successful car needed 5-inch wide treads!

Camp 8, Car no. 1, Nov. 1961; Nick on right

Camp 8, Car no. 1, Nov. 1961; Nick on right

In 1962, Nick and his friends were at Clavey River bridge when they spotted a wheelset (it appeared to be from some sort of handcar) discarded near the track, and then another nearby. The axles weren’t quite true and wheel flanges had pieces missing but (as Nick put it) there was just enough of the flanges left to keep the wheels on the track. They found a steel frame that fit, and using some 2 x 12’s among the scrap they built a floor and other wood parts for their new Car #2, built entirely in the woods! With wider treads and sturdier all around, it was a clear improvement over #1. Intending to return to Tuolumne on their new creation, things went awry. A severe rainstorm came up quickly, necessitating a night spent on soaked bedrolls and, eventually, their rescue by the county Sheriff, who was not pleased.

Deadwood Camp, June 1962, Car no. 2; Nick on right

Deadwood Camp, June 1962, Car no. 2; Nick on right

Undeterred, Car #2 was improved yet again with the addition of a 5 hp engine, and proudly lettered West Side #3. On it Nick and the others could now make the trip out to Camp 45 in style. But not without more adventure. Returning to Tuolumne, #3 had an unfortunate encounter with some 2 x 12’s which a farmer had used to “enhance” his cattle guards, the boys jumped off, and off went Car #3 too, picking up speed and outpacing its pursuers on the downhill grade into Tuolumne. Would the handcar (possibly on fire) crash into Tuolumne yard and get Nick and friends into some really serious trouble this time?

If you’d heard Nick’s talk, you’d know. If Nick ever gives this talk again at another clinic, a regional convention, or other gathering, make every effort to get there. You’ll enjoy it.

Tacoma Clinic

Al Babinsky

The Tacoma Clinic report is back after a couple month absences due to the writer having a hip replacement. It went well and now it is like the old days — it works like a champ. This report has information from last month’s clinic and this month’s clinic.

Last month’s clinic was attended by 42 modelers. The model of the month was won by Ken Levine with his Great Northern gondola, weathered, KD couplers and sprung trucks. The clinic was given by Paul Rising on removable loads. If these are the same type of loads as he built for PSMRE, they have magnet imbedded in the load which is used to remove the load.

This month’s clinic started on time as always and MMR Gene Swanson gave recognition to all the veterans. November is also the month where the clinic makes a donation to the Emergency Food Network with Helen McGovern accepting a check for $1250.00 from money collected during this year’s clinics. Jim Sabol read an email he received from Bob Edwards, a modeler in the Olympia area looking for contacts, and he replied telling him about the Olympia clinic.

The “What’s new at the Hobby Shop” segment was given by Bill Sandstorm from Tacoma Trains. Athearn had passenger cars and reefers, Wheel of Time with a Piggy pack stacker, Walthers had several buildings, MicroTrains an N scale freight train, Broadway Limited with NP coal hoppers.

The “Model of the Month” had Ken Levine with a couple of cars obtained at a swap meet, a Western Pacific box car and a gondola, which he weathered and upgraded. Chris Clancy with a find at an antique shop, a three-truck Heisler, a depot kit and three 4-wheel high-side coal gondolas. Dale Kraus with what he called cheap Maerklin Banana cars which he reworked and weathered. Chip showed a drawing of an N scale NW-2 with was manufactured on a 3D printer. Paul Vaughn with an On30 Y module with a station and store built from paper. Bob Ayer with a model of the First Lutheran Church which he scratchbuilt; the roof is made with Plastruct tile. Bob Ayer was the winner of the model of the month.

The clinic for this month was given by Gene Swanson and Brian Liesse and titled “ The making of a book”. The book was on Gene’s layout and what it took to do the photography. Brian demonstrated the equipment he used such as light sources, lenses and the cameras he used. It was a very interesting clinic and informative.

Next month clinic is of course “Dirty Santa” along with refreshments and other goodies. Please don’t forget to bring a wrapped present and mark it as to what scale it is. The clinic will be held at our usual place in the Pierce County Library Admin. Bldg. at the corner of 112th Street and Waller Road and the time is 7:30 PM. Hope to see you there and bring a friend, modeler or significant other.

Eastside Get-Together Reminder, John Morrison is Speaker

JJ Johnston

The Eastside Get-Together is this Thursday, November 20, 7:30 pm at the Bellevue Foursquare Church in Bellevue. Please remember this is the month we do our collection to raise funds to help a member of the church. These donations are our way of paying back the church for letting us use the room and kitchen at no charge to us throughout the year. The church even provides us coffee and supplies as well as a person to set up all the chairs and tables for us and put them back when we’re finished. In the past these donations have averaged about $25 per person so it is our hope those of us who can give will be generous in our support.

Internationally recognized modeler John Morrison will be our speaker for the evening. John’s title is “The Jungfraubahnen-Top Of Europe” about a group of rack railways climbing into the Bernese Alps. With grades of 25%, there are two different gauges, two types of rack systems and three electrical systems reaching the highest railway station in Europe. The station is in a cavern at the end of a tunnel. This unique information includes lots of photographs from John’s trip. He will also bring some of his large scale European locomotives which he builds and runs on his local large garden railroad.

Bring something to sell, have some coffee and fresh donuts, win a door prize and enter our Model of the Month to show us what you have been working on lately. There will be lots of fun and conversation. See you there, JJ.

Santa Train is Almost Here!

Peggy Barchi

Trains are selling out, but there’s still time to join the fun of this special holiday tradition in Snoqualmie at the Northwest Railway Museum, www.trainmuseum.org. If you would like more information about this year’s Santa Train or about the museum’s new steam program, please feel free to contact me, Peggy Barchi at 425-888-3030 Ext. 7203 or at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

Looking for a special way to meet Santa? Create special memories with a Santa Train excursion! Santa Train, at the Northwest Railway Museum in Snoqualmie, has been a holiday highlight for over 40 years. Beginning November 29, families can choose from eight dates and multiple trains to ride to a special visit with Santa Claus at the historic Snoqualmie Depot. During each two-hour holiday excursion, families will enjoy music, fresh-baked cookies from the coal-fired ovens of the museum’s historic Kitchen Car, hot cocoa and fresh coffee, a small gift for each child and of course a visit with jolly old Saint Nick. Santa Train excursions are available on November 29-30, December 6-7, December 13-14 and December 19, 20. There are seven hourly departures to choose from 9am to 3pm.

Santa Train tickets sell out, so don’t miss out. Tickets may be purchased online, in person at the Snoqualmie Depot (38625 SE King Street, Snoqualmie, WA 98065), or via telephone at 425-888-3030 x7202. Tickets are $20 per person for ages 2 and older. Purchasing tickets early is recommended to help assure that guests can get their preferred choice of date and time.

Visiting with Santa at Santa Train, Northwest Railway Museum

Visiting with Santa at Santa Train, Northwest Railway Museum

Roger Nulton published in NMRA Magazine

Robert L. Grove

The November 2014 NMRA Magazine has a beautifully-done article on “Modeling an Autumn Forest Background” on Roger Nulton’s exceptionally well-detailed S scale Monon Railroad. Pages 28–35 show the development of an Indiana fall scene.  Roger also practices 1:1 scale detail work on the DuPont Railroad restoration at the Snoqualmie Museum, led by Russ Segner.


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