P.C.R.R. To Host First-Ever West Coast Narrow Gauge Invitational

•April 16, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The Pacific Coast Railroad Co. is proud to be hosting the first west coast narrow gauge invitational meet in conjunction with the Early Day Gas Engine & Tractor Association’s 50th National Show, the largest display of Operating antique farm equipment on the West Coast! Click here to download the official flier.

4 DAYS – June 24-28, 2010 at the Historic Santa Margarita Ranch
San Luis Obispo County, California


American Standard 4-4-0

1890 Wood-Burning Porter 0-4-0T

(ex-Barker & LePine Plantation “Melodia B.”)
1897 Porter 2-6-2

…and a very special guest!

Steam Train Rides on board the former Disneyland & Santa Fe Railroad Coaches


Entrance/Parking Fee $10.00 and benefits the E.D.G.E.& T.A. Branch 27,8 & 3.
For more information and directions, visit: http://www.edgeta2010national.com/edgeta_flyer_color.pdf
*Exclusive Railfan Special Package Available for Saturday PM Only!
E-mail Jeff at jbadger.pcrr@gmail.com for more information

**A fourth locomotive, ‘Deanna,” which appeared in earlier advertisements for the event will no longer be able to participate.


We’re Back!

•February 17, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The Pacific Coast Railroad Co. is proud to announce its return to the steam scene!

On the weekend of June 24-27, the Railroad will operate for the Early Day Gas Engine & Tractor Association (EDGETA) as part of its 50th Anniversary expo. Over the course of its four-day run, the “Best of the West” National Show is expected to draw a five-figure attendance to the Santa Margarita Ranch – and provide plentiful ridership for the railroad.

For more information, visit the event’s official website at http://www.edgeta2010national.com/

Click Here for the official event flier

2009 Round-Up

•May 13, 2009 • 1 Comment

09-05-09_Pacific_Coast_Railroad-7313The 5th annual Pacific Coast Railroad Roundup was deemed a success, despite this years’ event being only for one day.  Due to tumultuous economic times, we had to scale back the show some, but the people came out and everyone had a great time.

The week began early as the Sunday before was a charter run for a birthday party.  Porter No. 3 held down the chores as “Grumps” Badger and “Hot Water” Hovanitz ran the locomotive with Dennis Thurman, Patti LaRose, Brad LaRose and Rob Himoto taking care of the guests on the train.09-05-09_Pacific_Coast_Railroad-7189

On Monday, Grumps went right to work with help from Jarret LaRose.  First up was getting the No. 1, Caroline, back into shape.  The last time she ran for the SLO film festival, a tube began to leak.  Former CMO Phil Reader had made an attempt to roll it but to no avail.  After a few hours of re-engineering the setup for the tube roll and breaking it, finally success!  The tube was holding pressure.  Other needed maintenance was performed including boiler washes and tubes punched.


Jim McEntire oiling the No. 3 (Jamie Foster)

Wednesday was a test day for the Caroline. Jarret and Grumps put a fire in her and she came up real nice.  We went into the north yard to make up the freight train for the weekend and that is where it all came apart.  Someone had greased the inside of the rails around Horseshoe Curve and on a locomotive with tall drivers and no sand, well lets just say it was an interesting time trying to move those heavy old cars out of the yard.  Finally after 3 hours of slipping, and a greenhorn brakeman, we doubled the hill with the help of Plymouth #594 and got the train into Horsehead Siding.

Just like the big ones! (by Jamie Foster)

Just like the big ones! (Jamie Foster)

Thursday was a day with more volunteers coming out to get ready for the event.  Jim McEntire was there to knock the cars and make some sticks for the finicky windows on the Retlaw 1 coaches.

Friday we had our rulebook review and yearly test for all crews.  After lunch, hands on training occurred in the yard with a Plymouth and two coaches with everyone taking a turn at coupling and uncoupling, using the safety chains, the proper way to tie down the brakes and setting a skate, use of the glad hands, and running the Plymouth with hand signals.  We finished up at 5:00 pm and went to beans down at Players.

Smiles like this make it all worth it (by Jamie Foster)

Smiles like this make it all worth it (Jamie Foster)

The day of the event dawned bright and early.  Grumps and young LaRose were on a pre-dawn, o-dark-thirty fire up.  There is nothing like the breaking of silence as two steam locomotives are simmering at first light.  Crews began to arrive by 7:30 and at 8:30 we held a briefing in the Tractor Shop after making up our trains for the day.  First guests arrived at 9:00 am and we were ready to take on the day. We had some guest crew members from the Hillcrest & Wahtoke in Reedley, CA in the form of Dave Kope, John Bishop, and Sean Bautista who fired and ran our locomotives while giving relief to our crews. The day went well.  Our dispatcher again this year was Bryce Reynolds who kept things moving and from running into each other.  And one cannot help but mention our fine station masters, Mary Harlow and Ginney O-C who greet the passengers in the waiting area at Vineyard Station and assist with special needs guests and the loading and unloading of passengers.


Conductor Dennis "Cookie" Thurman watching for signals (by Jamie Foster)

Our fine conductors and car attendants really are coming into their own this year as we learn more and more about running a railroad safely and with hospitality towards our guests.  As you can see in the pictures, each one takes their responsibility seriously and they are having fun in the process.

Not only did we have two passenger trains on the line, but Karl Hovanitz debuted his new Fairmont Speeder and was chasing trains all day long with Aron Kahn and himself as operators.  The speeder was such a hit and the lines were so long for a ride, that we are looking for more next year to come and participate.

Just like a NASCAR race, we have a pit crew for servicing our locomotives during this hectic event.  Mike O-C is in charge of the pit crews and does a fantastic job of seeing to it that engines are watered and fueled, along with refreshments for the crews.

28 round trips later for each locomotive, and it was over! Well almost…

Every year as a reward for those who work hard to make this all happen, and for the die hard railfans who come, we switch out the coaches and couple on to the freight cars.  This year with the hard work of Phil Reader, Karl Hovanitz and other volunteers, we placed Karl’s former D&RGW boxcar in the consist.  Freshly painted, it looked nice and added some more tonnage to our train.  With Caroline coupled to the train and the Porter on the point, we took our first trip around the line with a 5 car freight, another first for our little railroad.  After spotting at the Granary, we broke for Pizza and some debriefing.  Afterwards, all the crew that were left, came out for the annual group photo on the No. 1.

(Jamie Foster)

(Jamie Foster)

Then the Caroline separated from the Porter and backed down the grade on the main while No. 3 went into the siding at Horsehead.  The freight pulled past and Engineer LaRose made the joint as the helper on the rear of the caboose.  In a pre-determined job brief, Grumps asked that Caroline do the chores unless the No. 3 is called upon by using the proper whistle signals.  Away we went.  The #1 was just

The Hillcrest Gang: Sean Bautista, Dave Kope and John Bishop

The mercenary engine crews brought in from Reedley to fight the FrankenPorter! Left to Right: Sean Bautista, Dave Kope and John Bishop from Hillcrest Shops (Jeff Badger)

barking up around the Estrada Gardens curve and out the headquarters gate.  A small set of air and then a little more throttle to get up and over Vineyard Hill.  We drifted down all the way to runway station and through the crossing.  Harry Harlow was firing the Caroline and doing such a fine job, that the safeties were always near liftoff, so Grumps just had to lay a weight on the whistle cord to keep the popping off!

As the train came across Pico Creek and around Horseshoe Curve, we began the ascent up to Little Tassajara Creek bridge and with the grade settling over the past few years, the climb is at a good 5% incline.   Grumps eased out on the throttle and dropped down a notch on the J-bar.  Caroline dug in for the climb and she was handling the train very well.  Across the bridge we went, leveling off as we headed for the North Yard Switch.  Grumps hooking up the the engine to conserve steam for the “S” curves and ruling grade that was ahead of him

(Jamie Foster)

(Jamie Foster)

The No. 1 was in a groove, just working at a good pace.  Plenty of water and plenty of steam.  We went over the switch and began the stiff climb up Horsehead Grade.  Through one curve and then the other, the No. 1 was down on her heels.  Realizing that we might stall, Grumps whistled out one long and two short, the call for some help from #3.  Engineer LaRose answered back on his 5 chime and soon a slight bump was felt and Grumps new the grade would be conquered!  A long grade crossing was whistled as we came into Vineyard Station.  We stopped and more passengers got on either riding in the caboose or on the tender of one of the locomotives, and off we went again for a second trip.

The Iron Horse Chef's triumphant return!

The Iron Horse Chef's triumphant return; this time, with enchiladas! ¡Muy bien!


(Jamie Foster)

09-05-09_Pacific_Coast_Railroad-7209We put the trains to bed after that and looked at each other and the memories we just created.  It was just awesome to hear and to see that kind of railroading recreated from a century ago.

Many thanks go out to our crew of volunteers and to the San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum for putting on this event each year.  And special thanks to Phil Reader, our former CMO, who has taken this equipment and made it safe and operable. Grumps has some big shoes to fill with his departure, but we know he and Karell are keeping tabs on us from Colorado.  But we would not have any of this if it were not for the benevolence of Mr. Rob Rossi.  I only wish he and his son Luke could have been there for the freight train to see what it was like back in the day.

‘Till next time…

-Jeff “Grumps” Badger
(Photos thanks to Jamie Foster and Mike Massee

Step By Step

•April 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

This past week, Harry Harlow and Ted Van Klaveren have built a new step for the coach “Mary Frances” This is to replace the one that broke last year at the round up, and will be installed in the next few days.  The coach will be back in service by the 2009 Round-Up, scheduled for Mother’s Day Weekend.

For more information on this years round-up, see: http://www.slorrm.com/events.html

It will only be one day this year, so don’t miss it!


Farewell, Phil!

•April 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

img_1507Last Tuesday night, the volunteer P.C.R.R. crew threw a going away dinner party for Phil and Karell Reader last Tuesday night at Players in Atascadero.  There were some 30 in attendance, including some friends from Hillcrest.  Phil and Karell were honored by the San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum, the Santa Maria Valley Railroad, the Hillcrest Gang, and of course, the P.C.R.R. crew.img_1496

Phil Reader was instrumental in the development of the Pacific Coast Railroad in becoming what it is today.  In four years, he took a roster of white elephant equipment that could barely get around a mile-and-a-half loop of track and oversaw its development into a functional railroad, instituting proper practices and an effective rule book/safety training program. He brought in Bill Farquhar and Jeff Badger, among others – even Kent Jefferies and Tom “Iron Bar” Shreve on occasion – to assist him, making for a combined 100+ years of experience among those individuals alone. Suffiimg_1498ce to say, the overwhelming majority of improvements which have made the railroad what it is today are either directly or indirectly because of Phil Reader.  The volunteer crew has been priveleged to share his knowledge and learn from his more than three decades experience with steam tourist railroads.img_1508

There is a lot of work left to be done, but hopefully those who follow will do so in his footsteps. An operation of PC’s caliber was lucky to be graced by Phil’s presence for as long as it was before he’d inevitably move on to bigger and better things. As the old heads would say, he’s a “boomer!”

Good luck, Phil — “Stay safe, have fun!”

End of an Era

•April 3, 2009 • Leave a Comment

You may or may not have heard the news.

As of this week, my tenure as the first Chief Mechanical Officer for the Pacific Coast Railroad is coming to an end. Like so many people these days, the poor economy is the main reason for my dismissal.

I want to thank Mr. Rob Rossi for giving me the opportunity to work for him here on the beautiful and historic Santa Margarita Ranch. It has been my pleasure.

I am a lucky guy. In my career I have had the good fortune to have worked and lived in some very special places. The Ranch is one of those places. I would like to think that some day my name will be written into its long and colorful history.

The Santa Margarita Ranch has a long tradition for Old California hospitality. This tradition lives on. I was always made to feel right at home here. Though it all I have met many good people and made many new friends.

I have no regrets concerning my departure. I did the very best I could, given what limited resources I had to work with. In other words, I have done much with very little.

I took a collection of oddball narrow gauge railroad equipment that was barely able to function and made it into a successful operating steam railroad. As part of this, I was able to help put together a good training program and a great crew. This was no easy task, however, and I did not do it all by myself. This little narrow gauge railroad could not, cannot, operate without the help of its dedicated volunteers. Many a time these good folks would re-arrange their busy schedules on short notice to lend a hand. Not only would they operate the railroad safely and efficiently, but then they would turn around and cook up a tasty BBQ to feed everyone. So, it is with heart felt gratitude that I want to say THANK YOU!

There are lots of good memories and some fun stories. We even made some railroad history, such as having John Lasseter and the Hillcrest crew as our guests operating the beautiful and legendary steam locomotive, the “Marie E.” During this event we also pulled off a first for the P.C.R.R. At one point, we actually had four separate steam trains operating on the line at one time.  This was quite a feat, if one considers that our little loop line is less than two miles long!

Another accomplishment that I am proud of is the acquisition of a third steam locomotive for the Pacific Coast.  A few years ago Karell and I made a whirlwind trip to Houston, Texas to take possession of this locomotive. When it arrived at the Ranch it was a mess. It took me a lot of hard work and long days to get it fixed up and improved enough so we could operate it. In the end, this little “diamond in the rough” became the P.C.R.R. #1, the “Caroline”.  She is a real show stopper. With her tall drivers and old west look, she puts on a good show chugging up the hill.

With the exception of a few already scheduled train events, the railroad will most likely be mothballed for the time being. Hopefully, this will be temporary.  It is my desire to see the Pacific Coast Railroad grow and prosper. I hope that there will be some really great train events in its future.

As one door closes another opens. I truly believe this to be true. I am positive that God has a plan for Karell and I.  Already I have a good job offer; one that would take us back to our home in the Colorado Rockies.  Like I say, the adventure continues. Stay tuned for more.

Lastly, I want to thank my wife, Karell for all her love and support. She is my partner and my best friend. Karell has allowed me to pursue my weird passion for working on steam. She served as the Secretary for the Pacific Coast Railroad and kept things organized for me.

Karell, Thank you! You are the best. I love you lots.

Best wishes to all.

Yours in Steam,

Phil Reader
3 April 2009

Aloha from Kauai!

•March 13, 2009 • Leave a Comment
Phil and Karell at the Kauai Plantation Railway

Phil and Karell at the Kauai Plantation Railway

Yesterday, Karell and I had a full day here on vacation in Kauai. We went tubing down one of the old cane plantation water canals. This was awesome! We both had a blast. The canals or “ditches” are over a hundred years old and feature five hand dug tunnels.

Phil and Karell running Paulo at Grove Farm

Phil and Karell run "Paulo" at Grove Farm

Later, we visited the Kauai Plantation Railway and met with Nick Adkins. (Nick is in the middle of the group) Nick was a great host. Not only did he give us a train ride, he also let me run the Whitcomb on the railway. The Whitcomb would be a perfect diesel for the PCRR. Then, Nick took us to Grove Farm and introduced us to Scott Johnson. Scott is in charge of the Grove Farm steam program and was on the team that restored the “Claus Spreckels” which is running on Maui. He, also, helped rebuild the boiler on the UP 844. Today, we went back to the Grove Farm Railway and went for a ride behind the Paulo.

"Paulo" backhead

"Paulo" backhead

phil-karell-on-paulo-closeupAs it turned out, not only did we ride, but we got to run her as well. Yes, Karell was wearing white pants (what was she thinking?), and she ran the Paulo

Scotty Johnson and his charge

Scotty Johnson and his charge

(How did she manage to avoid the soot and black grease from leaping off the loco onto those pants?). The Paulo is an original locomotive to Kauai and is also a wood burner. It was built in 1887 in Germany. It was Karell’s first time on a wood burner and she had a lot of fun. Scott’s 12-year-old daugther, Le, is qualified on Grove Farm’s little diesel and helps her dad. We love seeing young people running trains and it is a real treat to see girls getting practical experience at a young age.

Nick and KPCo. crew

Nick and KPCo. crew

The weather was beautiful and tropical yesterday, but is overcast and dark today. We will go to Nick’s family’s luau tomorrow night and are hoping that the weather will cooperate. It seems you never know here. The wonderful rains that make this the “Garden Island” have a way of being unpredictable. Either way, a bad day on Kauai is pretty much better than any day anywhere else, and any day on a steam engine is a great day!


Film Festival Brings 300+, Carradine Hold-Up

•March 8, 2009 • 1 Comment
No. 1 gave a show-stopping performance

No. 1 gave a show-stopping performance

Engine No. 1, the “Caroline,” went to Hollywood this weekend as the Pacific Coast Railroad hosted the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival for a second consecutive year.  Roughly 300 turned out to the event, enjoying train rides and various other activities.

The chuck wagon

The chuck wagon

As part of the show, a train robbery was staged by Old West bandits on horseback.

These, however, were no ordinary band of desperados; their leaders was none other than Western film star David Carradine, most recently of Kill Bill fame and host of the History Channel series Wild West Tech. The theme for today’s event was honoring Hollywood’s cowboy stunt men.  There was also an authentic Chuck wagon all decked out and on display.

Desperado David Carradine ready to rob Rob's train

Desperado David Carradine ready to rob Rob's train

The evening also included a screening of the 1938 movie “Stagecoach” complete with an introduction by Carradine, whose father starred in the film.  Carradine’s brother and fellow actor Bobby was also present.  The brothers Carradine are no strangers to railroad scenes, with David, Keith and Robert having filmed The Long Riders on the Sierra Railroad in 1980.

The day found Jim McEntire hogging, with Phil Reader firing and Patti, Dennis, Aron Kahn, Rob, Mike and Harry on the train.  It was a beautiful day for railroading and lots of fun for all.

P.C.R.R. Hosts S.M.V.R.R.

•March 1, 2009 • Leave a Comment
SMVRR engineer Anthony Torres running No. 3

SMVRR engineer Anthony Torres running No. 3

Yesterday, we ran for a company outing for the Santa Maria Valley Railroad.  The event went well and saw many members of the SMVRR crew present.  Jim  was engineer, with Brad firing and Patti and Dennis on train crew.  We even had SMVRR engineer Anthony Torres as a guest engineer running the No. 3 for a trip.  I think we might have given him the steam bug.

The Brothers Himoto tend to their culinary duties

The Brothers Himoto tend to their culinary duties

Rob Himoto and his brother Ray did the cooking chores — appropriately,in Santa Maria style — which included a menu of fire grilled chicken, a big roast, beans garlic bread, baked potatoes and  broccoli. This also meant that we had three BBQ pits going at once.  We had around forty or so guest and everyone had a enjoyable day.


Das Frankenporter Updaten

•February 26, 2009 • Leave a Comment

brackets2Today I finished the bracket project on the Porter. These brackets will serve two functions. Not only are they decorative and allow the Porter to be dressed up for special runs with American or extra flags; they are also sturdy enough to act as grab irons when climbing up on the Porter’s pilot deck. porterfrontendThis has always been a safety concern on this engine. We are constantly looking for improvements to the engines that not only help their performance, but also keep our crews from injury. Safety First! We also explored different paint tools and products for completing the stenciling boxcar #3126. Even though she looks lovely in her new paint livery, she will not look like a real PCRR boxcar until she has her lettering. Because her wood is pretty rough after all the years, even with the new paint, it will be a challenge to complete sharp, precise lettering. We are going to experiment with some different products and share our findings here on the blog.