After being briefly summoned back to Disneyland, the track crew has returned, and has wasted no time completing the yard on (if not a little ahead of) schedule. Tracks 1-4 are now complete and ballasted, leaving Track 5 as the final conquest. For the better part of this week, three front-end loaders were busy taking out part of the hillside to enable its construction. Assisting the fast-working crew is Sharp & Fellows’ narrow-gauge tamper and ballast car. Such modern maintenance-of-way equipment is certainly not your everyday sight on the narrow gauge! Due to its availability from the contractor, the entire yard has been spiked with 90-lb. rail out of Utah. As the pictures prove, there has been some serious “gandy dancing” afoot here. The contractor expects to complete the project sometime next week, and construction on the two shop buildings is expected to commence this summer.
The new mainline switch is finally in service, and we can once again run the full loop. As the beefy, self-guiding frogs were not going to be compatible with the Disney coaches’ miniature wheel profiles, it was necessary to have guards put in before attempting to run them through. On Saturday around 3PM, the first revenue train — a wedding charter — creeped on through. A Friday test run with Porter No. 3 (which has blind center drivers) went a little less smoothly, after some grinding should work fine. Friday’s shakedowns were also a chance to try the new engine brakes out on the road, which can (quite literally) stop Thumper dead in her tracks. But especially with those composite brake shoes, we don’t wanna give ‘er flat spots or anything — she’s thumped enough already!
Oh, and to make your mouthes water a little, I should mention we were treated to an amazing dutch oven BBQ on Saturday put on by our trusty commissary crew. Once again, Mary’s cookies (s’mores bars this time) stole the show. These savory morsels are so addicting they should be outlawed. Add some beef stew, chicken apple sausage, and fresh garlic bread into the mix for another tasty day of railroading.
Lastly, I thought I’d bring attention to a unique and often forgotten piece of P.C.R.R. rolling stock — the parlor car “Senator Murphy.” This beautiful car, acquired from the Sundown & Southern in Fort Lupton, CO, was built by the International Railways of Central America as the business car “Cuscatlan.” It will eventually be restored and made available for charters on the extended railroad.