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Messages - Rick Rowlands

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Museum Discussion / Re: Leaves on The Mountain
« on: December 24, 2022, 08:37:14 AM »
On the 6% grade here at the J&LNG, if we do not get some good speed at the bottom of the hill we will stall out before reaching the top.  Once stopped, getting started in the upward direction is very difficult.  The first trip of the day is always the worst and if the rail is wet we have sanders on all the way up. That usually takes care of the issue but the occasional slip on the hill keeps the engineers on their toes.  It is only going to get more interesting as our train gets heavier with the addition of a new build caboose coming in a year or so.


"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" or so the saying goes.  Well you should consider yourself flattered as we have used the  Ichabod as inspiration for our own crane build.  The car is a particularly heavy Carpenter Steel flatcar that had previously served as our original tender for the 58. On it is a Auto Crane 12 volt electric over hydraulic crane with a 4,000 lb. maximum capacity down to 1,000 lb. at 16 feet.  To stabilize the crane we will be building a set of outriggers as well as incorporating rail clamps into the design. 

So the next time you all see Ichabod, tell him that he has a big beefy cousin down in Ohio!

Volunteers / Re: May 2022 Work Reports
« on: June 06, 2022, 07:49:14 PM »
With our 6% grade on the J&LNG, we are intentionally not making any way for our locomotive to do anything but be facing uphill. Its safer that way!

Work and Events / Re: WW&F No. 11 - Official Work Thread
« on: May 29, 2022, 07:30:32 AM »
There is an impressive amount of heavy steel in that frame design.  She is going to be a stout locomotive!

US Two Footers / Re: J&L Narrow Gauge Railroad
« on: May 12, 2022, 07:14:04 AM »
After much work this spring we have the J&L 58 running pretty good.  Straight air brakes have been installed on the locomotive and will soon be extended back to the tender and passenger car, which was delivered from the fab shop earlier this week.  The passenger car's roof and floor are yet to be installed.  Seating will be repurposed church pews.

Here are two videos of running the 58 with a loaded train of steel mill equipment last weekend. We plan to add additional cars with loads to give 58 a decent load to pull up the 6% grade.

Work and Events / Re: WW&F No. 53 - Official Work Thread
« on: April 11, 2022, 06:35:23 AM »
McHugh stands out as perhaps the most capable at rebuilding industrial GE locomotives and could probably engineer and execute a narrow gauging of these trucks. 

The car is 50' interior length.  58 and the tender is about 35' long coupler to coupler, so about the only other thing that can stay inside with it would be the Brookville. 

When the cranes were onsite again yesterday we lifted the car up higher on cribbing so I can get underneath to spray foam the underside as well as install any conduit that will be needed.  I will jack it back down onto the pad whenever all of that work is done.  Here is a shot of the rails installed inside the car.

A couple of years ago CSX donated a 50' plug door boxcar to the J&L Narrow Gauge.  In trying to figure out what to do with it I came up with the idea of converting it into a single stall enginehouse for the 58.  Although a bit narrow, it is probably the sturdiest and most economical structure that could be had for this purpose. 

The car was delivered by CSX to the shortline that I work for and we stuck it in a siding until it was time to move it by truck to the J&LNG.  Meanwhile, I proceeded to cut everything off the bottom of the frame, brake rigging, brackets, etc., anything that would stick down lower than the centersill and cross members.  We also installed 24" gauge rails inside the car, bolting them to the steel floor with crane rail clips.  Last Thursday it and our Erie bay window caboose (itself destined to become the general offices of the J&LNG) were loaded onto trucks and hauled to our site. 

At our site I had poured a 9' x 50' concrete pad to set the boxcar on.  We backed the trailer into position, lifted the boxcar off and set it down on the pad.  With the boxcar in place, the next phase of the project can begin.  The top of rails in the car is 20" above the pad, and with a bit of excavating I can fit a 35' transfer table that will allow us to access the boxcar, lead to the main and several other storage tracks for our equipment.  I am still working on the design of the transfer table.  I did find some 1913 era 18" I beams with beautiful JONES & LAUGHLIN roll marks to use for the table (rolled in the same plant that operated our Porters).  Once money becomes available in the summer we will start pouring concrete for the pad and perimeter walls. 

The boxcar is destined to be insulated and kept climate controlled year round so as to protect 58 from corrosion and freezing in the off season as well as provide us the option of year round operations.  I just bought an 8' x 10' insulated roll up door to install in one end of the car.

Its an odd solution to a problem, but it fits into our theme of using standard gauge equipment here.  In addition to the aforementioned caboose, we also have an 8,000 gallon tankcar to use as a water storage tank and a GE 70 ton center cab locomotive that serves as a central power house.

The attached image shows the boxcar in it's new home on the concrete pad.  The transfer table will be located in the foreground.  Our main track climbs the hill on the right and the switch into the engine facility is behind the boxcar.

General Discussion / Re: Tie Laying
« on: November 29, 2021, 08:59:00 PM »
Putting one foot on the nipping bar while driving a spike is standard procedure for changing a tie by oneself.  I have done more than I can count that way, and even after slowing the video down to its proper speed, this guy still is way faster than I am!

US Two Footers / Re: J&L Narrow Gauge Railroad
« on: October 23, 2021, 09:51:00 PM »

For our last steam run of the season,  we moved several trains of dirt out onto the fill on the front of our property.  58 is now drained and winterized and ready for a long list of maintenance and improvements to take place over the next few months.

US Two Footers / J&L Steel Porters 57 and 60 Arrive in Youngstown
« on: September 24, 2021, 06:04:07 AM »
Yesterday two additional Porter 0-4-0Ts arrived in Youngstown from Canada, the culmination of about two years worth of planning and fundraising.  Both locomotives are complete with the exception of saddle tanks which were scrapped before the locomotives were exported in the late 1980s. 

As time goes on we will be restoring both locomotives most likely to operational status. 

To view the full photo album, go here:

US Two Footers / Re: J&L Narrow Gauge Railroad
« on: May 23, 2021, 07:45:52 AM »
May Update.   J&L 58 is undergoing some piston valve adjustments, but otherwise is ready to run.  Construction of the eastern extension of about 350 feet of track is about 80% done.  We are using 115 and 110 pound rail for this section, finally using the rail size that the locomotive would have operated on in service at the steel mill. 

We are ready to move the two J&L Porters from Canada to the US, just waiting for the Covid restrictions to be lifted in Canada. Apparently the Ontario stay at home order ends on June 2, however I will believe it when I see it. 

We will probably not have any public runs this year as our goal is to complete the eastern extension and improve visitor amenities before getting back into the tourist railroading business.  When we do open it will be a far different experience from our initial 2019 season. 

Museum Discussion / Geotextiles Under the Track
« on: May 07, 2021, 07:20:38 AM »
How has using geotextiles under your trackage worked out?  Do you put anything under the fabric or lay it down directly on the roadbed?  How much ballast is between the fabric and the bottom of the ties? 

I have a rather soft area to build a track on and am considering using fabric to stiffen the subroadbed, and want to see how it works in practice.

Work and Events / Re: Tie Changer Machine - Official Work Thread
« on: April 22, 2021, 06:07:37 PM »
We just acquired one of these machines for the J&L Narrow Gauge.  We will also be making the same conversion.  Ours has the hydraulic rail jacks and I will be adding a hose reel and hydraulic tool circuit for a spiker and tamper.  It seems that the Bucksgahuda & Western Railroad over in St. Marys, PA was the first to modify one of these tie inserters for 24" gauge.  That is where I got the idea to convert the one that we just acquired.  The photo is of the B&W's machine, which also is capable of being used on 36" gauge track.

US Two Footers / Re: J&L Narrow Gauge Railroad
« on: April 10, 2021, 06:50:50 AM »
The boiler from J&L 59, which made its way to California in the 1990s, will be loaded for transport to Youngstown this upcoming Wednesday.  This spare boiler will be evaluated, rebuilt and either held in reserve for 58 or placed on one of the Canadian Porters' chassis to bring another locomotive back into operation. 

When 59 was scrapped in the 1990s, only the frame, cab and saddle tank were destroyed.  Just about all other parts still exist and are in our possession.  The drivers under 58 are actually those from 59 since they were in much better condition. 

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