Author: Stephen Balkum

  • Switch stands ready

    The Tumbleweed and Dry Gulch Railroad found a dozen spare switch stands in inventory and has donated them to the A&TC. (Thanks Philip!)

  • Recent Work Day Activities

    Thanks to Tim for remembering to take photos!

  • Lanterns for #13

    Finally, #13 gets lanterns and is ready for night running.

  • A View from Above

    Kari brought her architect friend Vanessa this morning. Vanessa programmed her drone for a low altitude flyover. The resulting image of the entire ranch will be used for detailed surveying going forward. Kari and Vanessa then filled the trailer with root balls for the burn pile. (Stephen unloaded the trailer the next morning and positioned…

  • A Little Shop Time

    Stephen spent a little time Sunday in the shop addressing a couple of small projects. First task was to prepare fish plates for the upcoming work day. Using Ken’s rail slot punch with Stephen’s fish plate jig, approximately 150 fish plates were made in short order. Timing tests show it takes 20 seconds to punch…

  • Clearing and grading

    Kari, Tim, Paul, and Stephen worked the morning clearing downed trees and branches from the Austin loop Saturday morning. This included two large dead cedar trees that the February ice storm brought down over the right of way. Stephen was able to grade the right of way from Austin around the loop and it is…

  • Making fish plates

    Using Ken’s newly acquired rail slotting punch, Stephen made a jig to create slotted fish plates. It is a piece of scrap rail with the center web removed. Two screws in the rail head keep the rail in position in the punch. Then the raw piece of aluminum bar can be slide into the punch.…

  • Laying it down

    Thanks to Ben, Stephen was able to pick up another load of tie material Friday. Saturday, Stephen and Ken decided to just lay panels. Aided by Ken’s generator running two fans, they put down approximately 240′ including multiple switches. This work spanned two of the four (or more) tracks through Austin.

  • Panels and Turntable

    It was HOT! But, we were working. Kari arrived early and began clearing branches from the weeds around the steaming bay area. We all then spent an hour chipping branches before hitting the rails. Ken and Richard pumped out 15 panels with Linda priming washers on screws and John rebuilding a switch. Doug, Tim, and…

  • In the news

    Bill Laird wrote a feature piece published in the July 2023 edition of the HALS Stack Talk newsletter. With permission of the editor, the article is available here.