Is he still out there??

Yes, the silence has been for longer than I would wish. Stay tuned for posts soon though.

Here is to a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year to Everyone

For your entertainment narrow gauge from around the world and across the centuries

The EFOM today-as a tourist railroad.
Picture pulled from Internet but I do not remember the site


EBT’s #15 in Orbisonia

A few of the “Bordes Altos” car in service.

The IRCA-Want the brakeman’s job?
photo by John West

C&S Passenger Train at the Leadville Depot
from the Denver Public Library Digital Collection

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Been a while

It has been quite some time since my last post, and a lot has happened since I started my caboose/combine project.


We are moving! Yes, that’s right. Next Monday I am driving to Jefferson City in eastern Tennessee to start a new job. Everyone else is staying here until the house sells. So on one of my back and forth trips, I’ll take my tools and the combine south to start working on it again.

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Bashing a Bachmann Combine: First steps

With the holidays over and ice falling today, I thought I would get back to some modeling. Still sitting on my desk is combine #26 awaiting conversion to its final combine caboose configuration.

The first step was to determine where to locate the cupola in conjunction with the floor and roof. My initial thought was towards the end of the passenger section giving it the traditional look.  I made a mock up of one end of the cupola and placed it on the roof.

Cupola at the end

Cupola at the end

Cupola at end side view

Cupola at end side view

I did not like that location, and I doubt the real railroad would stick the cupola there either. So I moved it closer to the car center similar to DRGW #212.

Cupola in center

Cupola in center

I didn’t want to have the cupola just sit over the roof because I wanted viewers to be able to see the inside of the cupola. So I measured and marked the masking tape then proceeded with sawing out the roof section. I first scored the mark lines with an X-Acto knife then used my Micro-Mark saw to remove the clerestory section. The remaining edge of the roof I removed with rail nippers.

Halfway cut

Halfway cut


Tools used to remove roof section.

Tools used to remove roof section.

Next time, building the cupola

Next time, building the cupola

Bashing a Bachmann Combine: First steps©

By H Mathews, January 2017

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Northern Maryland Combine #26

By Spring 1914, Northern Maryland combine #26 has reached its 40th year of service. The combine was one of two bought in 1874 when passenger service was expanded. For the next 26 years, it was used almost regularly in  mainline passenger service. By 1894 though, the railroad decided to purchase two 40 foot combines to replace the two 30 foot combines.

The two combines went to the shop for a major rebuild into baggage-express cabooses. Both had their passengers compartments extensively rebuilt to include a cupola, an office area for the conductor and a water cooler and small sink for the crew. Combine #26 spent most of its remaining years on the Beckleysville mixed train.

To build 26, I decided to start with the Bachmann combine and create the car I wanted.  The narrow gauge inspiration for the car is DRGW #212 as the Pagosa Combine, but I have found a standard gauge example on the McCloud RR. One could also point to the Sandy River’s caboose’s, but I had DRGW’s 212 in mind.

Northern Maryland Combine #26©

By H. Mathews, December 2016

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Return to Beckleysville

Hello everyone,

II have completed most of my garage rebuild. I still have some electrical work to rewire, insulation to install, and of course the Sheetrock. I plan on working on some of this on the upcoming weekend. On the outside the big project is to install a new exterior door and reinstall the vinyl siding. The bad news is I discovered some damage further down the wall as I removed vinyl siding. So, I decided to wait for Spring before doing any more work on the outside. I’m hoping for a nice somewhat warmer day with wind to install the exterior door.

So with Winter almost upon us, it is time to return to the “Beckleysville” project. First up is to finish cutting plywood to complete the remaining modules. This is mostly an outside project I hope to finish this weekend, as long as the weather cooperates and we have no rain or excessive wind. Stay tuned for future posts!

Return to Beckleysville©

H. Mathews, November 2016


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Still working in the garage

Just a brief update-still working on my garage. One wall, really just a three foot section, has been stripped and new treated wood put it. I plan on making a slurry with borax and hot water to coat the existing siding on the inside. I discovered as I removed the vinyl siding that quite a bit of the original OSB siding has been attacked by the termites, so more vinyl has to come off to find where the damage ends.

A borax “slurry” is said to be termitecidal. I will find a definitive reference and post that with some pictures. On my longer wall over half of the new concrete wall has been poured. I plan on replacing the existing damaged wood with new treated material before I continue towards the corner.

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Rebuilding the wall

It is interesting to work on a problem that one created themselves. To go back and review work done over a decade ago now. Amazing when you sit down and ask why did I do it this way? Thankfully the exterior wall studs damaged by termites have to be removed to make a new door rough out. I want to make a change to an internal electric outlet so as to provide an outside outlet as well.

Progress to date:

  1. Removed most of sheet rock and insulation to see what was the problem. The problem, water lead to termite invasion around my exterior door.
  2. Determined that I need to build a concrete wall to butt against the concrete slab that sits against the wall.
  3. Removed part of the original sill plate and termite shield. I also determined which studs need to be totally replaced due to termite damage. I also decided to replace the studs with treated wood
  4. I poured a five foot section of the new concrete wall where the most damage had occurred.
  5. Removed raised wooden platform by the exterior that protected conduits and gave a manageable step for staircase to second floor storage loft.

The garage corner


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Hereford Storm Runners-Congratulations

This past week, my daughter played in her first travel league soccer tournament in Hershey, Pennsylvania. She had a lot of fun, including not even touch the ball the last two games except during war ups. her teams defense was that good as was their offensive as the won both games 3-0. Even better, they won their age/ skill bracket by going 3-0-1. Maggie did not give up a goal the entire tournament and the team scored 7 goals in all. Not bad for a team that has only been practicing about a month!

They received a Cup, individual medals, and perhaps the largest Hershey chocolate bar I’ve ever seen.


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Please excuse the abscence

A perfect example of why smaller achievable and sustainable model railroads should be the norm. recently I discovered some serious water damage in one of my garage walls. I will be spending my time making repairs before returning to Beckleysville. I’ll be posting some pictures of my new “project”.




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Scrap wood is useful!

I liked the wooden center pier, so I decided to make an abutment.

Tools and materials list

Scrap 2×4

X-acto handle with a new blade


Tools and Materials for a wood abutment. H. Mathews 2016

Tools and Materials for a wood abutment.
H. Mathews 2016

I cut my abutment on the bandsaw because I wanted it to have a slightly curved front, something unique to Northern Maryland Ry abutments.

The arced front prior to cutting. H. Mathews 2016

The arced front prior to cutting.
H. Mathews 2016

I used my bridge story stick to measure the height of the abutment taking into account the bridge tie 8x8s and the steel beams. I cut the piece off a scrap of 2×4, then cut the front on my bandsaw following the slight curve I drew.

The abutment H. Mathews 2016

The abutment
H. Mathews 2016

The next thing to do is to lay out the courses of the cut rock onto the block.

The north abutment with course lines penciled in for cutting. H. Mathew 2016

The north abutment with course lines penciled in for cutting.
H. Mathew 2016

remember to mark which way is up and where they belong!

Remember to mark your locations! H. Mathews 2016

Remember to mark your locations!
H. Mathews 2016

You are now ready to use your imagination and a sharp blade to create cut rocks on the wood.

Ready, set, and cut! H. Mathews 2016

Ready, set, and cut!
H. Mathews 2016

Scrap wood is useful!©

H. Mathews, July 2016

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