Gene Parsons – Caspar CA. resident, Musician, Inventor and Craftsman

First let me give a quote from Wiki:

“Gene Victor Parsons is an American drummer, banjo player, guitarist, singer-songwriter, and innovative engineer, best known for his work with The Byrds from 1968 to 1972. Parsons has also released solo albums and played in bands including Nashville West, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and Parsons Green. Parsons is credited with inventing the B-Bender (also known as the StringBender) along with Clarence White and the device is often referred to as the Parsons/White B-Bender, a trademarked name”

Now watch this vid:

To see just how talented Gene is have a look at these photos taken when Club Members Santa Cruz Frank Smith and Ben Sochacki visited Gene. The loco was TOTALLY built by Gene.

Ben aboard Gene's hand built 10 wheeler - Gene beside him

Ben aboard Gene’s hand built 10 wheeler – Gene beside him

Now you can see how beautiful the 10 wheeler really is

Now you can see how beautiful the 10 wheeler really is

Is that Santa Cruz Frank offering advice?

Is that Santa Cruz Frank offering advice?

Getting a sense of the size of Train Mountain – the world’s largest 7 1/2 inch railroad at Chiloquin in Oregon

Whilst in bed watching the lack of stars through the skylight last evening it struck me that the vid I posted in the previous blog didn’t really give credit to the vastness of Train Mountain. A brief prod on the keyboard and the Internet coughed up two vids that tell the “size” story.

The first vid is a drones eye view taken by Aaron Bentsen of 7idea Productions.

I have been lucky enough on my visits to ride to the four corners of Train Mountain. My ride lasted three hours and I didn’t see it all. This vid condenses a four hour vid into eighteen minutes. Hold onto your seat ‘cos you hurtle around the bends and come to abrupt stops at the signals. Whilst it may not look like it I promise you you are NOT going over the same track twice.

Wonder how big a replica Z scale layout of Train Mountain wouild be????? Hmmmmm!

2018 Tri-annual train meet at Train Mountain – the largest 7 1/2 inch railroad in the world

Our club is very proud to have (Life Member) Bill Shepherd. Since we moved into our present premises he has been a tower of strength doing construction and electrical installation. In addition to being one of our members Bill is a big cog in the operations at Train Mountain. He built the cabin he lives in during the summer at Train Mountain on property he owns in the middle of their huge property. Bill even has tracks to his front door!!

Last summer Bill was intimately involved with the organization of Train Mountains Tri-annual. Here’s the intro to the vid:

Tucked away in a tiny forest town off a highway in southern Oregon is an amazing place for train fans and live steam enthusiast alike. Located in Chiloquin, OR, a town about 30 minutes north of Klamath Falls, OR, Train Mountain is home to over 30 miles of 7 1/2 inch gauge live steam track, making it the largest in the world! Every three years, they hold the tri-annual meet where people from all over the world come out to bring their equipment or just ride the trains. This video serves as just a fraction of what there is to see there and are some of the highlights of the 2018 Tri-Annual!

Here’s the vid. The vid is long – 34 minutes. If you want to ride the rails go to the 14 minute mark. If you just want to see the grand parade of trains go to the 19 minute mark.

Just a weather note – it gets REAL  hot there!!!!

Train Ride in Howarth Park, Santa Rosa

This blog is another blog inspired by a heads up from a visitor to our (G Scale)  layout – The Mendocino Model Railroad & Navigation Company here in Fort Bragg. I am frequently asked if I have visited this or that layout/train ride. I’d say I score on about 33% of those brought to my attention. On this one I struck out. Santa Rosa isn’t that far away from Fort Bragg or Kentfield in Marin where we used to live. Alas, I’d never heard of the Howarth Park Railway.

The railway has 2,000 foot of 7 1/2 inch track. Old engine #74 was replaced in in 2016 by a  new engine #3924. Both are replicas of an 1863 C.P. Huntington steam engine. Nearly a half-century of ferrying passengers had taken its toll on old No. 74, which missed work days because of age-related maintenance issues and difficulty finding parts. The new locomotive has a modern 4-cylinder engine and amenities, including plush seating for the engineer!

The new engine is a beauty and cost $220,000.

Howarth Park locomotive

Howarth Park locomotive

Whilst I haven’t taken a ride in person I have ridden the ride in this vid:

I’ve added a visit to my bucket list.


A Visit to Riverside Live Steamers – A ride behind a 71/2″ Gauge Big Boy, 4-8-8-4 loco

On my visit “down south” earlier this year my guide, club member Bill Shepherd, arranged for us to visit Riverside Live Steamers (RLS). Anyone who is in the vicinity of Hunter Park on the second or fourth Sunday of the month and doesn’t visit is a twit. Why? Read on.

Bill explained the history of Riverside Live Steamers and its locale en route there. Because I am a geriatric with a failing memory not too much sank in. Fortunately for me the RLS website saved my bacon:

Back in the 1950’s, Joe Hunter, a well known Riverside industrialist, realized that steam locomotives were disappearing from the railroads that passed through Riverside. Knowing that future generations would not know the excitement of seeing, smelling and hearing the sounds of steam locomotives, he had a vision. Why not duplicate a steam train in miniature?

Setting aside 40 acres that surrounded his industrial complex, Mr. Hunter had a 4,300 foot railroad built at the corner of Iowa and Columbia avenues. While the railroad was being constructed, a locomotive and three cars were built. Steam up facilities were installed at the rear of the metal building now occupied by Familian Pipe & Supply.

Trains were operated on a sporadic basis with no set schedule. Ultimately, the property was donated to the City of Riverside, and was named Hunter Park. When Mr. Hunter died, the city had an unusual problem. They had a park because of the railroad, but no one to maintain or operate the train. A group of interested railroad enthusiasts in Riverside led by Dr. John Creighton undertook negotiations with the city to assure that the 7.5 inch gauge railroad would not be neglected. In 1965, the City Council officially turned over to the fledgling Riverside Live Steamers, the responsibility for maintaining and operating the train. In 1966, RLS was incorporated under the laws of the State of California.

During the past forty-six years, RLS has greatly expanded the original railroad to more than 10,000 feet of track, built three buildings and the station. With the cooperation of the city, six additional cars were built in 1972. Approximately 18,000-20,000 passengers ride the trains each year. The city owned equipment is greatly supplemented by privately owned locomotives and cars. Many times, three to four trains will be in operation.

With the exception of major items, like a new boiler, all of the equipment and trackage is maintained at minimal expense to the city. All of this requires thousands of volunteer man hours, but our members have stepped forward for forty-three years to keep the facility in top shape. RLS is pleased to offer thousands of people an opportunity to see, hear, and smell what steam locomotion is all about. We like to think Mr. Hunter would be very proud of our accomplishments during the past forty-six years.

While RLS does not have a club motto, it could easily be ” Hunter Park, where you can enjoy miles of smiles.”

Here’s the track plan:


When Bill and I arrived Bill immediately headed for the steam up area where he had a bunch of friends. I took the time to snap a few pics:

[Double click on one photos to set the slideshow in motion]

Bill and I accepted an invitation to “hop aboard” the Big Boy ……. and I was in heaven!!!!!!!

There are quite a few vids of RLS. I have chosen this one because it shows the Big Boy in a double header with a Southern Pacific Daylight.

Great visit. Thank you Bill.

Joshua Tree & Southern 7 ½ inch Division – Visit of Joe Cooper and his wife, Ginny

In a previous blog I put up some pictures of the Joshua Tree & Southern 7 ½ inch Division. The pics in this earlier blog were taken by life member Dill Shepherd. Bill is a member of the Joshua Tree & Southern and very, very active in the construction thereof. Club Member Joe Cooper and his wife Ginny until very, very recently lived in LA.  LA isn’t too far from Joshua Tree and Bill invited Joe and his wife to visit. Visit they did and Ginny took these pictures:

Great photos Ginny – Thank you

Train Mountain Trienniel 2015 and How my left shoulder was famous for 1.62 seconds

For those who don’t know Train Mountain holds an international meet every third year – hence “Trienniel.” The meet is held at Train Mountain’s 2,200 acre plot of private forest land near Chiliquin, Oregon. When wife Sarah, I and Molly (120 pounds of bull mastiff) visited for the Trienniel there were 36 REAL miles of 7.5 inch track in place with plans for more. Club member Bill Shepherd has a cottage on his private section of land within Train Mountain with rail access!!!

Bill has been intimately involved in Train Mountain almost since its inception and I was VERY pleased to learn upon arrival that Bill had been made Grand Marshall. What I did not expect was to have a seat on the lead loco in the Parade of Trains – the highlight of the event. My seat was immediately in front of Bill’s Grand Marshall seat.

The Parade of Trains is really quite something and because I was “in it” I couldn’t get the pics I anticipated. Just how impressive is the Parade of Trains? The 2015 event hosted 383 trains (compared with 273 in 2012). The train length went from 9,951 feet in 2012 to 12,262 feet in 2015. For those who can’t do maths in their head 12.262 feet is a breathtaking 2.3410985 miles.

When Bill was in town in Decemeber he said WE were on the cover of Live Steam Magazine. We? …….. here’s the cover:

Cover of Live Staeam

Cover of Live Staeam

I’ve cropped the pic so’s you can see Bill on his Grand Marshall seat:

Grand Marshall Bill Shepherd

Grand Marshall Bill Shepherd

And, and this is where I get my 1.62 seconds of fame …… this is my left shoulder ……

My left shoulder

My left shoulder

I did get a few pics which I hope give you a taste of just how great the Trienniel is.

Many of the trains in the Parade

Many of the trains in the Parade

Two of the 382 trains that came for the Trienniel

Two of the 382 trains that came for the Trienniel

The Grand Marshalls Seat

The Grand Marshall’s Seat

My seat behind the engineer and in front of the Grand Marshall Bill Shepherd

My seat behind the engineer and in front of the Grand Marshall Bill Shepherd



How about this for a parking lot

How about this for a parking lot

I loved this one

I loved this one


That’s me behind the engineer and Bill behind me in the first train in this vid:

Maybe I shouldn’t tell you but it was over 100!!!!

Thanks Bill for an unforgettable day.


Darjeeling Himalayan Railway B-Class Steam Locomotive in 7.25″ gauge

After Garatts my favorite locos are the Darjeeling 0-4-0’s. I was lucky enough to participate in the freelance building of one by my friend Colin Menziesclick here to see.

So, anytime I see the words “Darjeeling” and “Trains” in close conjunction I am on to it. So, when I was trolling the net the other day this pic turned up.

Darjeeling 0-4-0  in seven and a half inch scale.

Darjeeling 0-4-0 in seven and a half inch scale.

What a beauty. And, it came with a YouTube vid :

I thought very hard about adding it to my Bucket List but it is in New Zealand (the video was taken on the Whakatane model engineers track on the north coast of the north island of New Zealand) and that’s more than a fourpenny bus ride away. Check on the owner’s website here for more details including his visits to the USA.