Abandoned at Kinzua Bridge: A True Story of The Wilderness

Kinzua

Every August, our Boy Scout troop spent a weekend at a camp in northern Pennsylvania, with other troops from all over the region. We’d do the usual Scout-type stuff: learn a little woodcraft, trade patches, play a few pranks on the new kids, play Uno by the light of a Coleman lantern. When an all-day hike to Kinzua Bridge was announced during the 1982 camp, I signed up immediately. Hey, Kinzua Bridge, right? One-time tallest railroad bridge in the world? You bet I’m going.

Getting back turned out to be a little complicated.

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Denazification

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The engine was peeking out of a box under Paul’s table at the Batavia show as I walked past. I stopped, and gently pulled it out for a closer look. Paul looked decidedly uncomfortable. It was easy to see why.

It’s an American Flyer 316, an S gauge model of a Pennsylvania Railroad K-5 Pacific. Manufactured about 1955, beautiful die-cast shell, smoke unit, knuckle coupler, even an air-chime whistle. Nice engine, or at least it started out that way. Then somebody came along and plastered swastikas all over it. Paul picked it up with a bunch of other AF items, some similarly decorated, at an estate sale. He could offer no explanation for why someone would do this, and neither can I.

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Complex Interactions of Wheel and Rail

Broadway_closeup_906Another fall show season has come and gone so quickly! After spearheading the 12-table T-Trak layout at the Syracuse show, I helped with smaller layouts at Batavia, The TTCS Eagle show, and the Rochester Mini Maker Faire, before coordinating a 4-table T-Trak layout at the RIT show. No two layouts were alike; modular layouts never are. Each had its challenges to be met. The Syracuse layout, in particular, presented several situations where mechanical issues required finessing, in order to keep trains on track, together, and rolling.

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Arrivals and Departures

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In the wake of last year’s Despatch Junction fire, I had my doubts that Stan would rebuild the shop. These are lean times for the hobby business, and Stan’s not as young as he used to be. To everyone’s surprise and delight, however, he did rebuild. My offer to assist with a new layout was accepted, and I’ve put some time in over the last two Saturdays, working on wiring. (more…)

So You Want To Be A Freight-Car Maven

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The big night is here: you’ve invited esteemed members of the local model-train community to operate your new Basement Empire for the very first time. You’ve printed out waybills and switch lists, set out snacks and beverages, even swept most of the junk off your workbench. As the guests filter in, you show them around the engine terminal, gesture towards the bare plywood where great mountains will arise, and hand out the throttles.

“So, what era are you modelling?” asks one of them.

“My railroad is set in the mid-Fifties,” you state proudly, as you survey the mixture of steam power and first-generation diesels in your yard.

“But the ICC banned billboard reefers in 1937,” he says, pointing to your wood-sided beer car. “This car doesn’t belong here.” (more…)