LogoTrain Order

Train Order

Vol #61 June 2020
Division One of the North Central Region of the National Model Railroad Assoc.
Our mission is to promote education and fellowship through the sharing of information and the promotion of the world's greatest hobby. - Model Railroading.

Railroad Item of the Month

Recently I was at Dave's house for a meeting. He wanted to show us a loco that he had just put sound into. I got distracted, so please do not ask me about what I should have been looking at. I was in awe with the Irish Rose. It has changed a lot since the last time I saw her.


Now I just need Dave to create a write up of how he did the water.

Paul Marsden

View from the Cab

cab Wow! I've gotten so caught up in Summer activities that I've lost track of time and we are overdue on the Train Order! The good news is that much of that busy-ness is taking place in my basement and the MaineLines are showing definite progress. The bad news is that we are all still in this crazy virus limbo and it's hard to plan anything for the future. However, I have an exciting announcement to make regarding our annual Summer outing. On Saturday, August 22, Jim Wolsiffer will host a Black Swamp Division gathering at his home outside of Swanton. Not only does Jim have a large HO layout under construction, he has a beautiful 7-1/2" gauge railroad on his property that we can run and ride! He plans to have some live steamers in addition to diesel power. The equipment is 1/8 actual size so it is BIG. Jim has over 1/2 mile of track laid including some wooded areas, a pond, and fully equipped shop and equipment building. This will be an opportunity to not only ride and watch these big trains, but also learn more about this growing part of our hobby. We plan to gather at 3 PM and trains will run into the evening. Around 5 we will break for a picnic and enjoy a Q & A time to learn more about these big trains. In light of the health situation, everyone should bring their own food, beverages, and service items, as well as lawn chairs. A grill will be available if you want to cook your own meats. More details as well as directions to Jim's house will be included in the August Train Order, so be sure to mark you calendars now! Of course, family members and other guests are welcome.

Regarding the upcoming meeting season, our plans are to resume our monthly gatherings in September if possible, but that is all dependent on conditions then and the availability of our meeting space at Proclaim. Your Division leaders are moving at full steam on planning and we will keep you posted as we go. I assure you that we will take every available precaution as we evaluate ways to keep our meetings safe for us all. For the time being, I hope you are enjoying the Summer editions of your Train Order. We are always looking for content to share with our readers, and more so than ever during this time of restricted activity, so please send editor Paul Marsden any modeling or railfanning items you can, large or small, short or long.

See ya on down the line,

Dave McMullian,

From the Editors Desk


I was looking for a picture online recently and I stumbled accross this switch. My mind exploded trying to get my head around how one goes about building this, and how the wiring would work. I came to the conclusion I do not need this on my layout.

Thank you to the people who are posting onto Facebook. It is nice to see what people are working on this summer.

Paul Marsden, Editor

Clinic Corner

Summer Outing

With all the social distancing, most people are spending a lot more time at home. The good thing about spending more time at home is more time with family, the bad thing can also be more time with family. Everyone needs space and time to relax and indulge in self satisfying activities. With that said, we have the perfect getaway with the Black Swamp Division Summer Outing! As mentioned in Dave's "View from the Cab" above, Jim Wolsiffer will host the gathering at his home near Swanton OH. Jim's place is located on 22 acres and features the AI Railroad which is 1/8 scale and features some live steam. Jim also has a large HO scale basement layout which features some very large and unique equipment.

Jim will have some of his large scale "associates" at the outing who will be running locomotives and giving rides on the railroad. Yes, these trains are big enough to haul several people on each trip! The AI Railroad is named after the small town off "AI" which is nearby. More information on the (ghost town) of AI can be found at https://tinyurl.com/y5p63d5n


The outing will be informal and relaxed. To keep things safe, we are requesting that all who attend bring their own lawn chairs and pack your own drinks and a lunch. Additional details are currently being worked on and additional information will be sent out the first part of August. Everyone is invited even if you have not been able to attend the regular meetings.

Please RSVP by sending an e-mail to (div1ncr@Outlook.com) so we can get an idea of head count. Maybes and last-minute arrivals are OK, we are just trying to gauge interest!!

Future Clinics and Hands-On Groups

With the plan to start our meetings back up in September, I need to get things rolling and line up some subjects for the meetings. To that end, I want to present subjects that most attendees will have some interest in. I would hate to bore you! Some ideas that have been raised so far include:

  • Visit from one of the many NMRA Special Interest Groups
  • Building Round Table, short discussions of using different materials
  • Turnout Building
  • Paper Structures
  • Air Brushing
  • Locomotive Scratch Building
I really need feedback from YOU to help keep the subjects relevant and interesting. To make it simple I have created a survey where anyone can vote/suggest on future clinic subjects. Please help us help you and use the survey! Tell us what you want at https://forms.gle/XTEaHKJYWSnGishh6

Hands-On Groups

We are also looking at starting some "Hands-On Group Meetings". These will be outside of the normal division meetings and will be focused on a single subject. These group meetings will be smaller and delve into greater detail than is presented at the normal clinics. So, for instance, a clinic on Turnout construction will review the basics and best practices for constructing turnouts but lacks the "hands-on". A group meeting would be 4-10 people and would allow everyone to be "hands-on" and try the skills themselves. Three subjects for Hands-On already in the works include:

  • Turnout Building
  • Paper Structures
  • MMR Tips/Paper Work/Submission
More information about Hands-On Groups will be forthcoming. Expect to hear more in September. Again, I cannot stress enough, we need your feedback! Please use the form at https://forms.gle/XTEaHKJYWSnGishh6 to make suggestions.

Marshall Stull,
Assistant Superintendent

Panama by Al Grigsby

This last January we took a Rhodes Scholar trip to Panama to learn the history of this historic Panama Canal construction project. The location of the canal turned out to be a story of a railroad that survived because of the California gold rush which was built before the completion of the trans continental railroad. Well, there's actually a lot more to it but this is my view being a model railroader.


From the Road Scholar write-up.

A railroad across Panama.

By the time the United States completed its expansion to the west coast with the acquisition of California, Arizona and New Mexico from Mexico in 1848, the isthmus was already part of Colombia, having won independence from Spain on November 28, 1821. Investors George Law and William H. Aspinwall saw an opportunity in providing passenger and supply service to California service and quickly procured rights to the US east-coast-to-Panama and Panama -to-California routes. They then began a campaign with Henry Shauncey and John L. Stephens to build the first transcontinental railroad in the Western Hemisphere, located in Panama where their shipping routes connected. Construction started from the Caribbean terminus of Colon in 1850.


Luck in the form of the California Gold Rush shined on them before tropical diseases could decimate too many workers and render the company bankrupt. The Gold Rush began in 1848, and hundreds of ship passenger began arriving in Colon to demand transportation across the 50-mile wide isthmus. At first they paid $10 gold to walk the railroad right-of-way and then $25 to ride the rails. By 1862, the railroad had cleared a profit of $6 million and continued to make money until the 1869 opening of the Union Pacific Railroad across the continental United States.

From 1896 until August 15, 1914 when the canal officially opened for business, was a time of political maneuvering, massive health & engineering problems that defeated the French. It is estimated the French lost over 30,000 workers during its' attempt. Finally success was accomplish with the eradication of yellow fever and a revolution off Panama from Columbia with a quick treaty with the USA for canal right-of-way and the use of railroads.

The use of railroads during the construction of the canal was vital for construction of the canal with the movement of over 250 millions cubic yards of excavation. Up to seven separate tracks were used running simultaneously. As a side note, giant US-made Bucyrus excavators, (Ohio?) were used to do the digging. In 1905, a railroad man, John Stevens was made Chief Engineer by Teddy Roosevelt. Stevens had made a name for himself during the construction of the Great Northern railroad by pioneering difficult passes and persevering harsh conditions across the Rockies.


The canal still uses 'train' engines. They are electric and use a cog gear for climbing and descending the elevation change of the locks. There are six electric tow engines on each ship, three on a side. They mainly hold the ship in the middle of the locks as the ships move under their own power. It is a treat to watch the tow cables being adjusted as the water changes level and when the tow engines climb the grade to the next level. As there are two or three locks in a row and more than one ship is in the locks at the same time, the front ship's tow engines must make their way back to the beginning to pick up the next ship. This was like watching a ballet as the tow motors from the lead ship travel back and around the tow motors to pick the next ship.

Today the Panama Railroad is primarily a tourist ride of 2 hours. We boarded the train in Colon for the ride back to Panama City the day after our 12 hour ride through the canal on a ferry boat. We were blessed with dry weather and temperatures in the high 80's. The A/C on the train was welcomed. We rode in a vista view type car with windows that needed washing. The ride was mostly viewing the rain forests with occasional views of the lakes and canal we had just visited. The train did provide a box lunch and soda pop or wine.


Al Grigsby


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Division One is a 100% NMRA membership organization. For insurance purposes, you are required to be a member of NMRA. Membership in NMRA grants you membership in both the North Central Region and Division One.