W.W.&F. Discussion Forum

Worldwide Narrow Gauges => Other Narrow Gauge => Topic started by: Paul Bennett on January 26, 2013, 06:19:04 PM

Title: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on January 26, 2013, 06:19:04 PM
As progress continues with the planning and development of Downeast Thunder Railroad in Milbridge, Maine, plans and drawings for just about everything are being made available to anyone wanting to look at them for free. Here is the latest release of plans in pdf format some of you may be interested in:

The complete plans package for the DTRR Train Depot is now available for free download in pdf format. The package contains 21 pages (8-1/2" x 11") of documents and drawings. If anyone would like a copy of the plans for personal use/perusal, simply hover your cursor over the "about" button on the Downeast Thunder Railroad home page ( http://www.downeastthunder.com (http://www.downeastthunder.com) ), and click on the "plans & drawings" button that drops down. Then select the DTRR Train Depot Plans hyperlink. That will take you to the Train Depot info page where you will have to click on just one more hyperlink to start the pdf download. Since the plans are now complete, the concept drawings for the train depot have been removed. I'm presently working on plans & drawing packages for other concept drawings, and working up concept drawings for other items needed for the farm and railroad. All will be made available free to anyone wanting to download them. This train depot can be used for other things such as a small house or cottage, or many other uses with a few modifications. Bear in mind I am not a licensed architect, so you should check your local building codes and perhaps hire a licensed architect to review the drawings and make changes as necessary if you decide to build this structure. The drawings you see here represent the building that will be erected on our farm/railroad site as progress continues.

As always, your comments and suggestions are welcomed.
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Richard "Steam" Symmes on January 26, 2013, 09:40:16 PM
This sounds familiar. Wasn't it the same idea Ellis Atwood had for a working railroad on his cranberry plantation?  Then it accidentally became a tourist attraction.  Will you be doing a Christmas Festival of Lights?
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on January 27, 2013, 12:58:18 PM
Yes Richard,

It sounds familiar because Ellis D. Atwoods story & Edaville Railroad are my inspiration for Downeast Thunder Railroad (only on a much smaller scale). I used to live in the town of Bourne, Massachusetts (Upper Cape Cod), only about 35 to 40 minutes drive from Edaville in South Carver, Massachusetts.

I made many visits to Edaville over the years and volunteered now and then in the mid/late 70's while majoring in engineering at Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

Our farm in Maine is in a very rural, and somewhat remote location in Maine, well beyond where most tourists care to venture. They seem to go about as far up the coast as Bar Harbor, but don't seem to travel any further (it seems southern and mid-coast Maine get's the majority of the tourist traffic). We're located a little over an hour's drive from Bar Harbor, further up the coast.

We have recognized the need to make our farm a destination by capitalizing on "agritourism" which has become quite popular lately, but it helps to also have attractions. The idea of a railroad isn't new - I had thought about it for work use on the farm (mainly logging), but remembered how Ellis D. Atwood's Edaville Railroad began.

The railroad is being developed such that the mainline will make stops at different areas about the farm such as the "sugar shack" during maple sugar season, Christmas tree area - choose your own live tree & we cut it for you, Pick your own apples, pumpkin patch, main train depot which also doubles as a farm store, plus many other places of interest (including livestock petting zoo). Various spurs will be in place for such things as logging and collecting maple syrup. I don't know about creating a "festival of lights" such as you might find at Edaville, but Christmas light displays on a smaller scale, along with Santa's Village is still on the planning board.

As of now, we have a  parking lot (approximately 400' x 500') cleared with about a third of it filled and leveled with gravel. We also have a 600' gravel access road completed from the town road to the parking lot. Quite a bit of land has been cleared for the right of way coming in and leaving the parking area (for the train tracks), and we have also made a clearing at the far end of the parking lot for the train depot/farm store.

The junk wood cut when clearing is used for firewood (we have an outdoor wood boiler) and the good timber is set aside for lumber (we have our own saw mill). All of our railroad ties will be milled and cut from the timber on our property.

We are a long ways away from opening the doors to the public, but we try to accomplish something each and every day. In fact, as soon as I finish lunch, I'll be out cutting and milling wood since the outside temperature is now above zero degrees.

Thanks for your interest in Downeast Thunder Railroad and Downeast Thunder Farm.
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Ira Schreiber on January 27, 2013, 05:18:18 PM
An ambitious project but what a concept.
Good luck on it.

Ira Schreiber
(Who has never been to Edaville)
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Richard "Steam" Symmes on January 27, 2013, 06:17:58 PM
Never having been to Edaville is like never having read "The Maine Two-Footers".  I can't imagine it.

You still can visit Edaville (USA) park, but it never will be the place we fondly remember.  They still offer a bit of the old atmosphere, but the Atwood / Blount / Richardson days were the best.

Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Hansel Gordon on January 27, 2013, 10:40:00 PM
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on January 28, 2013, 12:49:19 AM
Steam is most definitely in the works, but due to budgetary constraints as this project goes together, diesels will power the trains initially, and will be the workhorses for the farming operations. When steam can be added, it will be used as an attraction, just to haul passengers (it won't be used for day-to-day farm work).

Studies have shown the use of steam locomotives over diesels can increase attendance to an excursion train/theme park by upwards of 80% to 100% so just from a financial standpoint, steam is a very serious consideration.
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Dylan Lambert on January 28, 2013, 08:22:10 AM
Hey Paul, do you remember by any chance where you found those studies? I'm just curious to the prospect for a project proposal I'm working on, and having some solid numbers would be nice.
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on January 28, 2013, 08:59:35 AM
Hi Dylan,

I just went through all my bookmarks but couldn't find the page (I'm sure I bookmarked it). During some research on theme parks and park trains, I came across a site that discussed studies that had been completed regarding theme park and train attractions (this took place months ago). It included quite a few attractions beyond trains, and what seemed to attract the most visitors. Unfortunately, I can't recall the name of the site. I'm now checking a few other sources and files to see if I can dig up that info for you. If successful, I'll PM you with the details.

Maybe some of the members on this site might be familiar with this and have the URL handy.

Since finding that info, I've corresponded with several individuals involved with the management of various train museum/theme parks throughout the country, and asked their opinions about the addition of steam and how it increases visitor attendance. While none of them cited any exact numbers, all agreed with the results of the studies on theme park/train attractions.

Steam locomotives are of course quite expensive, require constant maintenance and attention, and are labor intensive - all adding to an exorbitant overhead, yet everyone I corresponded with agreed the expense was well worth it, and paid off in dividends with the increase in visitor traffic.

Above all else, I'm an old steamboat engineer and steam is in my blood. That's not a very good reason to employ a steam locomotive in terms of making business decisions, so I need to find that data myself so I can have all my ducks in a row before meeting with investors.

Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on January 30, 2013, 06:28:39 PM
DTRR Workshop Fixtures (Free Download)

This plans package for DTRR Workshop Fixtures is now available for free download in pdf format. The package contains 28 pages (8-1/2" x 11") of documents and drawings with 7 Workshop Fixtures featured. These workshop fixtures are quite handy to have in any shop. The designs are simple, fast, and easy to build. They are also relatively inexpensive. With a few minor modifications, you can easily change the dimensions to better suit your needs.

These fixtures are handy for use (almost) anywhere, not just working on your railroad. Just about everyone can use another pair or two of sawhorses, or storage racks, tool benches, work benches, and so forth.

My boat plans  business customers have been building and using these items from my drawings for years. They were redrawn and updated in 2012 after ten years without revisions or updates. The new drawings are less cluttered, easier to read, and follow.

Just like all of the other plans I've offered for free download, simply go to the Downeast Thunder Railroad web site: http://www.downeastthunder.com (http://www.downeastthunder.com) hover your cursor over the "about" button and click on the drop-down menu; "RR Plans & Drawings."

If you build anything from any of the plans I've made available for free on my website, I hope you'll send me a picture or two. That's all I ask in return.

Paul Bennett - Downeast Thunder Railroad & Downeast Thunder Farm
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on February 01, 2013, 09:42:21 AM
DTRR 2T 0-4-0 Switcher Locomotive REVISION-A Concept Drawing

The original concept drawing for the DTRR 0-4-0 switcher has been revised. The revisions reflect the need for a larger machinery space such that there will be sufficient room to house a larger engine, air compressor, and generator. This is still a concept drawing. Construction drawings are still pending further research. You can view this concept drawing by downloading the pdf file posted on the Downeast Thunder Railroad web site as per instructions in previous posts above for accessing and downloading DTRR drawing files.
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on February 01, 2013, 08:23:28 PM
Progress and Equipment Photos now Posted

Photos of progress thus far on the Downeast Thunder Railroad, and of our equipment are now posted on the Downeast Thunder Railroad website http://www.downeastthunder.com

Just hover your cursor over the "about" button and click on the appropriate page title displayed in the drop-down menu.

Paul B.
Milbridge, Maine
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on February 02, 2013, 11:33:56 AM
Need Help with Turntable Design

Greetings all,

I'm presently researching and gathering information on turntable design for the 18" narrow gauge, DTRR turntable. I'd appreciate receiving any photos, info, data, comments, and suggestions any of you may have on this subject. As always, the drawings will be posted in pdf format for anyone to download once they are completed.

Does anyone have comments about good features to incorporate? Perhaps you might share your insight with respect to design flaws in existing turntables and other details to avoid?

Has anyone been involved in the construction of a turntable? I'd really appreciate everyone's input on this subject. Thanks!

Paul Bennett
Milbridge, Maine

BTW - We're presently experiencing DSL issues, so I'm posting this from my laptop at the local public library, using their wi-fi connection. It might be a couple of days before I respond to your input. Thanks again - PJB
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: John Kokas on February 02, 2013, 04:48:00 PM
Hey Paul,

After looking at your pictures I think you should consider a wood-burning steam engine as it appears you have "plenty" of free fuel.
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Keith Taylor on February 02, 2013, 07:20:25 PM
There used to be a Christmas tree farm in southern New Jersey that had a live steam railroad. People came from far and wide to cut down their own tree (the farm would also cut them down for those who were unable to do so themselves) and then carry the family and their tree to the parking lot where the trees were loaded into the family car.
As I recall...the train rides were free but the State of New Jersey decided it was an amusement ride and needed to be taxed!
The train was also then required to meet very strict safety rules that eventually led to the farm's owner removing the train ride.
The locomotive was a scale model of the SR&RL No. 23.

Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Ed Lecuyer on February 02, 2013, 07:42:50 PM
Another cautionary tale is that of the Meadows and Lake Kathleen Railroad in Oregon. It was 15" and (according to all accounts) a spectacular railroad. But the owner didn't have the necessary permits, and the county basically forced him to rip it out and sell it (to cover the fines and taxes.)
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Mike Fox on February 02, 2013, 10:49:48 PM
Nice little two foot gauge that is for sale in Fairfirld, Me. would work great for this project. I took about 40 photos and can send some if you are interested.
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on February 03, 2013, 10:01:09 AM
Thanks for Everyone's Comments and Interest in Downeast Thunder Railroad My DSL connection is back, but still spotty - so I'm back until it drops out again. The phone company tech is supposed to come and look into it this week.

To John, Keith, Ed, and Mike: I appreciate all of your input and thank you. To Ed: Thanks for emailing the forwarded info on turntables. I very much appreciate it.

Back to turntables:

I have gathered quite a bit of information about various types of turntables from books and the internet, but have also received several notes with valuable tips and advice from some very experienced folks and professionals in the industry (mostly on the Yahoo 18" gauge Railway Forum).

Turntables are certainly not complicated machines or structures. Most are quite simple, but there are several variations and designs using different materials with the structural design reflecting the use of those respective materials.

Being an engineer (and me being me), I tend to research everything to exhaustion before starting out with any new design. I've discovered I can learn quite a bit beyond the books and internet searches; simply by chatting with others on forums such as this. Maybe not everyone has all the answers, but it's amazing how many little "gold nuggets" I've been able to garner from various individuals. My goal is to eliminate features that are problematic, and add features that enhance the operation of the turntable.

The design parameters for the Downeast Thunder Railroad turntable are thus: (1.) Simple & easy to build. (2.) Economical to build. (3.) Does not require any heavy equipment beyond what I already have on hand. (4.) Uncomplicated (manual operation - no auxiliary power). (5.) Use of readily available parts and components that are common, off-the-shelf items available almost anywhere. (6.) No need for any specialized equipment, machinery, or tools such that most people I share the completed plans with, will have the capability of duplicating the turntable on their own railway if they so desire. (7.) Designed such that the turntable can be easily be modified to be larger or smaller as desired by the person building the turntable to meet their own requirements. (8.) Keep the plans and drawings clear, uncluttered, easy to read and comprehend by others contemplating the construction of the turntable. (9.) Keep all drawings restricted to standard 8-1/2" x 11" sized paper such that the plans can be released for free download in pdf format and interested parties can easily print out the plans on their own printers.

My turntable design will be for the Downeast Thunder Railroad 18" gauge system, but by making the design fairly easy to scale up or down (within reason) to suit other railway systems, the design will be versatile.

Once again, I'm asking for any ideas, comments, suggestions, or advice anyone has on this subject. I appreciate everyone's participation regardless of how much you may have to offer. Any detail pictures of turntables is a huge plus if anyone has any they care to share.

Thanks everyone!

Paul Bennett
Milbridge, Maine
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on February 03, 2013, 02:43:57 PM
Turntable pictures on Pinterest

I've opened an account on Pinterest and started a board called Narrow Gauge Trains & Railroads

I've pinned several photos of turntables and you can check them out and re-pin them to your own board if you wish. The URL is: http://www.pinterest.com/downeastthunder/narrow-gauge-trains-railroads/ (http://www.pinterest.com/downeastthunder/narrow-gauge-trains-railroads/) and the nice thing about Pinterest is that the photos I pin when doing research also post the web site URL where I found them. That allows me to go back to the site for more info, if needed. It's better than me simply copying photos and saving them to a picture file on my computer. More often than not, I tend to forget the site where I found it. If you see a picture you want to save onto your own board by re-pinning it, the photo will appear on your board with the original web site URL where I found it so you can visit. The Pinterest account is free (at least for now).
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on February 06, 2013, 12:10:45 PM
2/6/2013 Update:

I haven't posted anything lately in the past couple of days because I've been spending quite a bit of time researching turntable design & construction methods. I've been successful in compiling quite a database of information, along with many photos to aide my decisions on how I wish to design a turntable for DTRR. In the meantime, I'm also working on some drawings to fabricate a brush fork/tines attachment for the loader bucket on my tractor. Such an attachment can be clamped on quickly and be used for moving large piles of brush and tree limb trimmings from my woodlot processing area. I'm also planning on adding a couple of new pages to the DTRR web site: One for farm photos, and another for plans & drawings for farm related stuff such as a chicken coop and nesting box. These plans and photos will be available to anyone interested (again, for free download in pdf format) but with their own respective pages, they won't be mixed in with the railroad stuff. I should have the new pages added and populated within the next couple of days.
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on February 12, 2013, 08:26:13 AM

Wonderful stuff! But......it does tend to impede any outdoor progress on the railway. We still have a lot of clearing to do, and I've removed quite a bit of snow into the woodlot so I can skid out some trees with my tractor, but that operation is limited. My tractor does not have an enclosed cab (or any cab for that matter) so it can get quite cold when the wind picks up with the wind chill factor. Work does continue however, in spite of the weather, even if we only cut down one tree in an entire day. At least something is being accomplished.

Looks like the next few days should be relatively mild after the past several days of sub-zero and single digit temperatures. I intend to take advantage of the warm up and get as much brush & tree removal accomplished along the woodlot spur right of way as I can.
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on February 17, 2013, 09:15:17 AM
Un-Scientific 18" Gauge RR Survey Results:

Greetings all,

A little while back, I posed a dozen questions entitled: "Questions To
The Yahoo 18" Gauge Forum." I also posed the same questions to certain individuals with 18" gauge railroads overseas (not already part of the forum). I only
received a small percentage of responses from the 18" gauge forum with
respect to the total membership.

I've decided enough time has gone by and I haven't received anymore
feedback in the last few days, so I've decided to tally the results and
share them with all of you. Please bear in mind this was not a
scientific survey, and there were no weighted questions. I was simply
curious about what others in the 18" gauge forum are doing with their railways.
You may find the results interesting as well.

I owe many thanks to all who participated and shared information about
their respective railroads. I very much appreciate the time and effort
they took to respond.

You will see the same questions that were originally posed
to the group below, with each question followed individually with my
summation of the results from responses received:

(1) What is the most common diameter wheel you use for locomotive drivers?

*Several respondents omitted answering this question. Of answers
received, the most common diameters for driver wheels of steam
locomotives ranged from 20" to 22" and the most common diameters used
for non-steam locomotive driver wheels ranged 12" to 16" (with most at
or close to 16").

*(2) What is the most common diameter wheel you use for your rolling stock?

*This question was also omitted by most respondents. Of answers
received, the most common diameter wheels used for rolling stock are in
the range of 9" to 12" with only a few being a bit smaller or larger
outside that range.

* (3) What size rail do you use for most of your railway (i.e. - 12#,
16" etc.)?

*It seems that 12#, 16#, and 20# rail is the most commonly in use,
however 12# rail is overwhelmingly the most popular rail in use for

* (4) What size in cross section and length are the ties that you use?

*4" x 4" ties are the most common in the results received.

* (5) How far apart do you space the ties on your railway?

*Some respondents reported their tie spacing at 12" O.C. and others
reported tie spacing much wider at up to 24" O.C., but the most
common**tie spacing is a toss up at 16" O.C. and 18" O.C.

* (6) What type of couplers do you use?

*There were a few reporting the use of knuckle type couplers, and
European style chain & tension w/buffer type couplers, but the
overwhelming majority uses link & pin, draw bars, or a combination of
the two.

* (7) Do you use air brakes & if so, what type?

*There were almost no air brake systems in use. Many in fact have no
brake systems at all. Some reported hand brakes, and that's about it.

* (8) Do you have both steam & diesel locomotives or just one or the
other, and if
so - which type?

*When I posed this question, I should have been more specific. Rather
than specifying "diesel," I should have said "non-steam, motor driven"
such to include gas, electric, air, and so forth. For the results I
received I'll just refer to non-steam as "motor." There were only a
couple of steam locomotives reported. The majority of respondents use
motor driven locomotives of various types. The steam locomotive
respondents also had motor driven locomotives.

*(9) Does your railway employ trestles, Warren truss, or other types of
bridges &
which one(s)?

*There not many trestles or bridges reported. Most were simple beam
spans, but there were a couple of short trestles and a simple truss
reported in use.

* (10) Is your railway based on industrial, park train, grand scale, or
"rules of thumb" and which one(s) (if a combination)?

*Not surprisingly, it seems that several railroads are based on park
train systems, and an equal number based on mining/industrial
specifications, with a few being a combination of park train and
mining/industrial. One reported "totally freelance."

*(11) How long in actual feet (not scale feet) is your railway at present?

*The average railway length reported by respondents is about 1000 feet,
give or take.

* (12) Do you plan to expand your railway anytime in the near future?

*Less than half of the respondents plan to expand their railway and of
those reporting the length of the planned expansion, about 2000 feet is

There you have it folks. The results are in no way intended to be
regarded as a set of standards. It's just a "window" to the 18" gauge forum group,
peeking in on what the "other guy" is doing or planning. It satisfies my
curiosity, which is of course my original intention. I hope you will all
find this as interesting as I did. Once again, I just wish to express my
thanks and gratitude to all of the participants. I hope you'll all
continue to share information about your railroads. I
find this sort of information exchange motivating in many ways.

Paul Bennett,

Downeast Thunder Railroad, Milbridge, Maine
http://www.downeastthunder.com (http://www.downeastthunder.com)
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Ira Schreiber on February 17, 2013, 08:20:45 PM
Nice job, Paul.
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on February 25, 2013, 06:41:55 PM
Free Plans for Brush Tine Attachment (clamps onto tractor loader bucket):

I have just completed a plans package for a tractor loader bucket, clamp-on brush tine attachment. The package is 11 pages, 9 of which are drawings, all in pdf format. These plans are available free from the Downeast Thunder Railroad web site ( http://www.downeastthunder.com (http://www.downeastthunder.com) ). Just hover your cursor over the "about" button and scroll down the drop-down menu. Then click on "Farm Project Plans & Drawings." Then select and click on the Brush Tine Attachment plans hyperlink - that will begin the pdf download, and as always - it's FREE.

I put these plans under the farm heading because that's where this attachment will see the most use over the years, but it's a very handy attachment to have when clearing land for a new right-of-way. After dropping trees and cutting off limbs, there is (almost always) a huge pile of brush to contend with. This attachment will save hours of backbreaking physical labor.

You might have to alter some of the dimensions to fit the loader bucket of your tractor, but it's a simple attachment and this can be easily accomplished by most folks capable of steel fabrication work.

I designed this attachment based upon my tractors loader bucket dimensions and the steel scraps & pieces I found laying around my shop. When finished, I'll have less than $50.00 invested, yet similar attachments bought at retail go for between $1000.00 and $1500.00

Here are the plans (free). Go make some arcs and sparks!

Paul B.

Milbridge, Maine
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on March 02, 2013, 09:51:14 AM
Present Plans for Farm & Railroad

For many folks around the country, the beginning of March is the start of the Spring season as their local weather begins to warm up. Of course in this part of Maine, we are still very much in the dead of Winter. In fact, it snowed all day yesterday (the 1st of March) and it’s snowing today.

We can’t make any large expenditures on railroad supplies or equipment right now. In order to maintain farm operations (our main source of income), we have to allocate funds for livestock & seed purchases, plus other farm supplies required to allow us a productive season when the warm weather finally arrives. We already have our fencing and shelter materials for the new hog pen. We’re just waiting for the ground to thaw so we can set fence posts. In the meantime, we are negotiating with local pig farmers for some feeder piglets.

Today’s job involves cleaning all of our maple sap collecting equipment. We’ll then be out in the woods tapping maple trees to begin our sap collecting later this afternoon. In about three weeks, we’ll take all of the maple sap we’ve collected and boil it down to fresh Maine maple syrup. We use Silver Maples, so it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.

By the end of “sugarin’ season,” we’ll be getting our brooders all cleaned out and set up with heat lamps and fresh bedding, making way for our first batch of freshly hatched meat chicks (about 50 at a time). Some time in April, we’ll take delivery of 2 day old meat chicks at the post office (ordered from a large, commercial hatchery), and get them situated in the brooder.  They’ll live in the brooder under a heat lamp for the first 4 weeks before moving outside to the meat bird coop & run. When the chickens are 8 weeks old, they will be processed right here on the farm. They will average around 6 pounds each (dressed) after processing. If you are local, you’ll want to get your order in now because they go fast (as do the turkeys).

The yearly cycle will continue with other batches of meat turkeys and more meat chickens. There will be more egg laying chickens and ducks to add to existing flocks, and of course there will be lots of work prepping our green house, starting plants from seed, getting outside fields and raised beds prepped with rich compost and getting plants in the ground. Deer fencing will be erected everywhere to protect crops, and a new crop irrigation system is being installed this year. there is no shortage of work.

Somewhere in between all these activities, we’ll be working on our railroad as well. Good thing the days are now getting longer. Even so, there never seems to be enough hours in a day around the farm.
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: James Patten on March 02, 2013, 06:56:49 PM
When you receive your "2 day old meat chicks" in the mail, are they two days old the day you receive them, or were they mail when they were two days old?  How does one mail a chick?
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on March 03, 2013, 08:28:41 AM
Greetings James,

the large commercial hatcheries ship chicks as soon as they hatch. They ship them in special boxes designed for the purpose. The chicks can live up to three days without food or water when they first hatch as they are living off the nutrition they received from the egg. They have to be shipped with no less than 25 chicks per order so there is enough body heat from the chicks all huddled together to survive the trip. When the chicks are received, they are about two days old from hatching. The brooder has to be all set up and up to temperature (95 degrees F.) when the baby chicks arrive. We have to pick up each chick out of the box, and dip their beak into their fresh water supply before letting them loose in the brooder. This gives the chick much needed water, and lets the chick know where the water supply is (very important to their survival). The water has some sugar mixed in with it to also give them a bit of energy (but only in the first batch of water on their arrival). After the chicks get settled into the brooder and are drinking water, getting rehydrated after their journey, we introduce food a few hours later.

This practice has been going on for many years by all the major hatcheries. We usually purchase about 50 chicks per order. Some hatcheries are better than others with respect to healthy breeding stock and the care they exercise in handling and shipping their chicks.

Our meat chickens are usually Cornish Cross Rocks (a commercially bred meat chick species) or Freedom Rangers (a commercially bred meat bird species bred by a Mennonite family hatchery in Pennsylvania. The Cornish Cross Rocks (also known as Cornish X Rocks) reach market weight as roasters (average 5 to 6 pounds after processing) in 8 weeks from hatching. The Freedom Ranger are slightly smaller and reach market weight (average 4-1/2 to 5-1/2 pounds after processing) in 12 weeks from hatching. The Freedom Rangers are more expensive to purchase and cost more to feed as it takes an extra month over the X-Rocks before ready for processing, but most people agree the Freedom Rangers are much more flavorful and worth the extra time and money. The Cornish Cross Rocks are the breed of chicken you buy at your local grocery store when you bring home a roaster.

This is probably a whole lot more information than you need (or wanted), but now you know!

My Downeast Thunder Railroad web site http://www.downeastthunder.com (http://www.downeastthunder.com) has a page where you can download plans for a chicken coop (free) in pdf format if you are thinking about raising chickens. There is also a page with step-by-step photos showing the same coop being constructed from start to finish. This web site is where we share our thoughts and information regarding the progress of our farm expansion and integration of our railroad with the farm (to become a farm attraction - helping the farm to become a destination, taking advantage of the increased interest in "agritourism").
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Ken Fleming on March 03, 2013, 12:09:16 PM
My father was a Baggageman on the CB&Q and I remember him handling thousands of chicks from a hatchery in Leland, ILL.  They went to Chicago or West for shipment to the rest of the country.  All were being shipped by U.S. Mail in special boxes.  He always kept the baggage car heated to a very warm temperature during this time.  Interestingly, the most expensive poultry shipments in those days were turkey eggs at an insured value of $.50 each (1950 dollars).
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Stewart "Start" Rhine on March 03, 2013, 03:28:13 PM
Ames True Value in Wiscasset sells chicks.  Shipments arrive each Spring in the form of special boxes.  The boxes are consigned to customers who are called as soon as the chicks arrive.  They are in the store for about a day.  I've been in the store when a few cases of "peepers" are sitting up front waiting for the customers to pick them up.   

Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Ira Schreiber on March 03, 2013, 10:35:36 PM
When I grew up in Southern New Jersey, the local Post Office had chicks every spring. Many times I was there and heard the peeping. Since my Aunt was the Assistant Post Master, I got a personal viewing of the boxed chicks.
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: John Kokas on March 03, 2013, 11:32:38 PM
Years ago my daughter and I raised Rhode Island Red chicks as part of a girl scout project.  Although we did not end up eating the chickens we did enjoy the wonderful fresh eggs for years.  After that, it was hard to go back to store bought eggs.  But for baking, the best is actually duck eggs.  We also had two pet female mallards and their eggs were wonderful !!!!  I still have my chicken coop out back - maybe its time to restock....
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on March 04, 2013, 09:44:36 AM
Wow! Seems like there is a lot of interest in poultry among members of this group!

I didn't want to delve too deep into the subject of poultry, given this is a railroad forum, but since there seems to be enough interest, I'll provide a little more info:

At Downeast Thunder Farm & Railroad, we raise more than meat chickens. We also have two flocks of egg layer chickens. One is a combination of Buff Orpingtons and Plymouth Barred Rocks (full sized chickens that lay very large brown eggs), and a flock of Bantam Americaunas (also called "Easter Egg Chickens). They lay small blue-green eggs. The egg layer chickens can be used for meat (and eventually will be when they get older and stop laying), but they are much smaller than the meat chicken breeds we raise.

We also raise White Pekin Ducks. This is a traditional meat-duck breed, but we raise them only for egg production. They eat twice the food as the egg layer chickens and produce only about a third of the number of eggs the chickens produce. That makes the duck eggs more expensive, but we do have a market for them (plus we enjoy eating them ourselves).

Later in the season, we will raise a couple of breeds of meat turkeys. They take about 16 weeks from hatching to market weight, so we typically start raising them sometime in June in order to have them ready for processing (we process our birds right on site here at our farm) by Thanksgiving (where we experience our biggest demand for fresh turkeys).

We are planing on running some classes later this summer on raising egg layer chickens and also classes on raising and processing meat chickens. There will be announcement about this on our Downeast Thunder Railroad web site http://www.downeastthunder.com (http://www.downeastthunder.com) and my wife's farm blog site http://www.downeastthundrfarm.com (http://www.downeastthundrfarm.com) when we have some dates firmed up.

Our railroad will eventually have a stop at our poultry area where you can interact with and feed the chickens (we allow them to free-range during the day). Have you hugged your chicken today? We have a few chickens that love attention. The railroad will also feature stops at a livestock petting zoo, the "sugar shack" (during maple syrup making season), the choose-your-own live Christmas tree area, Pick-your-own apples area, and so forth.

Progress is a bit slow this time of year, but we do accomplish at least something each & every day. You can't fight the calender and warmer weather is close ahead. It won't be long before our work on the railroad (and farm) will be ramped up. I'm getting quite enthused at the prospect of what lies ahead!

Paul B.
Milbridge, Maine
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Richard "Steam" Symmes on March 04, 2013, 12:25:52 PM
I have trouble with "processing" chickens or other animals. That's a nice tidy word.

No, I'm not a vegetarian, but I don't relish the idea of processing any living creature, and could not bring myself to "process" anything.  I guess that would make me a defacto vegetarian by circumstance.

To each his own, I guess. 

Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on March 04, 2013, 02:47:39 PM

Your point is well taken and what you had to say is very true. If you enjoy eating meat of any kind, slaughtering & butchering (or "processing" - the nice way to say it) is indeed necessary.

I never feel very good about taking the lives of creatures we raise for food. That's the downside of the whole affair, however since I know how the big production farms raise their chickens, beef, pork, and so forth, and I also know how they are "processed," I know the methods we use are more humane and our livestock are well taken care of during their time with us.

For folks that enjoy eating meat products and order from us; they know we take great care with our livestock, raising hem in a clean and healthy environment. We never use steroids, antibiotics, or other chemicals to enhance growth, or to allow animals to be crowded together in confinement. We just won't do that. I always feel bad after processing sessions though, but that's part of food production and someone has to do it.

I'm now way off subject here. I only wished to offer a little more insight about raising different types of poultry since there was interest among members of the forum. For or against Richard, if you enjoy any kind of meat products at all, it's good to know where your food comes from. Tofu (soybean curd) along with nuts, legumes, fresh veggies, and fruits make a reasonable alternative as a food source for many folks. I'm not one of them though. Come Thanksgiving, I expect to see a big roasted turkey with all the fixin's sitting on the table (with copious amounts of giblet gravy). Nothing else will do!

Paul B.
Milbridge, Maine
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Richard "Steam" Symmes on March 04, 2013, 08:18:59 PM
I understand. I enjoy turkey at Thanksgiving too. 

I do draw the line at any form of veal.  That, to me, is just too cruel.  It's bad enough that any creature has to die after a very short "life" just to feed us.  Little calves never have a chance at any sort of life.

Maybe the "entertainment industry" should to a reality show on slaughterhouses. That seems to be the only thing they've omitted in their never ending quest to entertain us.  I suspect the vegetarian population might increase dramatically if such shows were to run on TV. Then again, maybe not.

Bon appetite!

Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Ira Schreiber on March 04, 2013, 10:00:25 PM
As a card carrying member of PETA, I find this discussion interesting and way off topic.

PETA= People Eating Tasty Animals
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on March 08, 2013, 08:03:39 AM
DTRR Turntable Plans:

I've been pressed for time lately  with just not enough hours in a day, but I have been working on a set of plans for a turntable. I was successful in compiling a number of photos and drawings for other turntables, and I received quite a bit of input from folks that have had experience building them.

The concept for my design is of a hybrid variety. It is fairly simple, uses off the shelf components wherever possible, and should be fairly straight-forward and easy to construct. Basic drawings have been started and I'll try to have a completed plans package available for free download fairly soon on the Downeast Thunder Railroad http://www.downeastthunder.com (http://www.downeastthunder.com) website. I'll post an announcement when their ready.
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on March 16, 2013, 08:05:54 AM
I broke my backhoe:

I was digging out tree stumps in a right-of-way I cleared yesterday. All of a sudden I felt and heard a couple of loud snaps. The boom for the backhoe collapsed on the ground and my controls were useless.

I shut off the tractor and investigated, only to find the base unit that holds and pivots the boom had snapped, and an end of one of the hydraulic cylinders also snapped clean off.

It took me the remainder of the day to get the tractor out of the area I was digging, dragging the backhoe along the ground, getting it up to the shop, and removing the backhoe from the tractor. Now I have to disassemble the backhoe so I can begin repair work on the broken components.

This will set me back for awhile in building and prepping the rail bed, and I hate losing  the next few days because the weather promises to be clear and mild.

Oh well.....
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Steve Smith on March 16, 2013, 11:06:32 AM

Sorry to hear about the mishap. Is there some clear indication of what went wrong? I know practically zilch about backhoes, but think I heard or read somewhere that a pressure relief valve in the hydraulics is supposed to prevent a hydraulic cylinder from causing excessive stress in the mechanical components. I suppose such a valve can go on the fritz, or maybe there was a faulty weld?

Anyway, hope you can get back in action with it soon.
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Mike Fox on March 16, 2013, 07:34:23 PM
Age and wear also play as factors into this. The constant pounding in this location plus the amount of force being applied can really wreak havock on a machine. Please keep us posted on your recovery.
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on March 17, 2013, 08:23:51 AM
Upon closer inspection, I discovered the mount holding the boom on the right side (pivot bracket) where the major breakage occurred showed dirt on the edges (about 95%) indicating that a crack in the steel developed and had existed for quite some time. When the boom pivot bracket let go, the weight of the boom snapped the end off the hydraulic cylinder (the break being completely clean - no dirt on the broken edges). I posted a couple of pictures of this on my blog that can be found on the DTRR web site: http://www.downeastthunder.com (http://www.downeastthunder.com)

My backhoe was made by Woods, and is a aftermarket attachment that fits on to the 3-point hitch of my New Holland ag-tractor along with a sub-frame that attaches to the underside of the tractor. I was able to detach the backhoe & sub-frame assembly from the tractor so I can continue using the tractor & loader bucket for skidding trees out of the woods & other work while I repair the backhoe. It appears that the I should be able to repair the damage with a bit of further dis-assembly and surgery. The broken bracket was fabricated from 1/4" mild steel plate, so a little wire brushing, v-grooving with a grinder, and fillet welds should put it back into shape. A bit of love with a BFH (big hammer) to bend some of the twisted parent metal back into position will also be necessary.

Both the tractor and backhoe are of 1998 vintage. This is the first major breakage in all these years with an incredible amount of use digging up hundreds of tree stumps. I could have repaired the crack and avoided the major breakage had I noticed it. The crack had developed over time and was hidden by paint and rust. No chance of the hydraulic cylinder building too much pressure. Pressure relief valve works fine and is fully operational (I tested it). Besides, the hydraulic system on my tractor is pretty wimpy - not much power, leaving much to be desired.

Oh well. Doo-doo happens!

By the way - My web site was hacked somehow yesterday. Someone added code to show bogus ads for overseas Viagra, other drugs, casinos & lotteries, overseas loans, etc that all appear across the top of the page. My wife (professional web developer) will be shutting down the site to get rid of the unwanted code and bolster security later on today, so don't be surprised if you can't log on for a few hours time.
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Steve Smith on March 17, 2013, 05:35:46 PM
Paul, thanks for taking time from your busy life to reply in such an informative manner. A carryover from it to steam locomotives that occurs to me: the vital importance of ways railroaders used for crack detection, such as visual checking, rapping critical components with a hammer and listening for a wrong sound, and doing Magnaflux testing. Today I suppose ultrasound is probably the most commonly used tool.

I don't know how airplane mechanics do it, but I sure hope they check for cracks thoroughly on any airplane I'm going to ride in. And of course not just check, but FIX them!
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on March 18, 2013, 12:19:03 PM

Being a marine engineer and having worked for years in a variety of shipyards in design, project management, and quality assurance, I'm familiar with the techniques used in checking for metal cracks and thinned out (oxidized) plate using magna-fluxing, ultrasound, and sometimes x-ray methods. That being said, you might think that I'd be right on top of my equipment and never have such failures as recently experienced with my backhoe. I suppose that I could offer all kinds of excuses such that I'm always pressed for time and that I can't afford to purchase such test equipment anyway. The truth though is that there are no excuses at all. I could have found the crack earlier on by exercising due diligence and checking out various key areas on occasion with a chipping hammer. I could have at least performed a cursory visual examination now and then. I didn't. The buck stops with me.

Having become an "old fart" I don't seem to care as much and I'm perhaps more lazy than I should be. Therefore, the breakage serves me right. At least it is something I can repair so I can get back to work. I will say that little tractor and backhoe has served me well for many years and this is the first catastrophic event I've experienced with it.

If it's all the same to you, I'm now going to go back to crying in my beer......
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on March 26, 2013, 07:52:40 PM
Sugarin' Season:

It's that time of year at Downeast Thunder Farm - We're collecting maple sap every day to make farm fresh Maine maple syrup. It's quite time consuming so I haven't repaired my backhoe yet, but progress continues every day (weather permitting) cutting/removing trees and brush along the planned railway routes.
Title: Maple syrup
Post by: Mike the Choochoo Nix on March 30, 2013, 08:51:15 AM
My dad made syrup when I was a kid here in Minnesota. I remember some of the big trees filling a 5 gallon bucket twice a day. Hope you have a good season.
Mike Nix
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Stewart "Start" Rhine on March 30, 2013, 07:32:46 PM
There's a big sugar shack in Whitefield and the operator brought a 5 gallon bucket to the Alna Store when we were in there for supper Friday evening.  When we finished our meal, store owner Amy gave all of us a free Maple Syrup Sundae.  Wicked good.

Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on March 31, 2013, 07:36:36 AM
Happy Easter to all. We'll be boiling down maple sap all day today, taking advantage of great weather. We got all of our equipment set up for the event yesterday, and we've been collecting sap over the past few weeks. We have enough such that we'll be cooking sap over a few more days (plus we continue to collect more every day). So far it looks like a good season.
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on April 22, 2013, 07:46:08 AM
To all following the progress of DTRR:

Sorry for not posting any updates lately. With the warm weather moving in, I've been very busy with farm work (we have a very short growing season here in Maine) and that includes pulling out our brooders and taking delivery of 50 meat chicks plus a half dozen pullets (egg laying chicks) to add to our existing flock. Our incubator is full of White Pekin duck eggs, and I have to get the meat bird coop & run ready for when the meat chicks come out of the brooder.

There has been some progress on the railroad though. The spur from the wood lot to our firewood processing area and outdoor wood boiler is the main focus, and the staging/unloading area at the wood boiler end has been cleared, and quite a bit of gravel has been put in place. This will be the first place where rail will be installed.

The backhoe that broke last month is still down, but I have recently had time to get to it and disassembled most of the machine for better access to the broken pivot bracket piece that requires major surgery. I've also removed the broken hydraulic cylinder to make repairs easier.

There will be more significant updates in the near future but probably not with the frequency I reported them during the cold weather months.
Title: Re: Downeast Thunder Railroad (18" Narrow Gauge)
Post by: Paul Bennett on July 31, 2013, 03:40:52 PM
Checking In:

Just wanted to let everyone know that I'm still around and working on DTRR whenever time allows. The work of cutting trees and clearing brush through the intended route of the RR is very time consuming and quite frankly, boring to talk about. That's about all I'd have to report throughout this summer, so I refrained from making several similar posts. Farm work has taken most of my time, but a greater concentration of work on the RR will take place after harvest season (and the weather cools down a bit). I'll probably have something more significant to share in September or October.

- Paul B.