Gadsden-Pacific Division Toy Train Operating Museum Logo


Tucson, Arizona


Toy Train Museum Tunnel


Toy Train Museum Tunnel



Large Scale Railroad
Construction Progress 2017

Help Wanted

Work sessions are on Saturday mornings usually around 8:00am.
Come down and help build a railroad!

For more information, or to volunteer, contact Burt Wright (cell #) 444-0661

[Large Scale Railroad info...] 

February 24, 2018

There will not be a scheduled work session held this Saturday. Work on the turntable will pause until the following Saturday’s work session. An email will be sent out next week explaining what the next steps are for the turntable. If you want to come down on Saturday, you’re certainly welcome to do so as there is a birthday party scheduled on the calendar so it would be nice to be able to give the kids a ride.

Last Saturday, Roger Phillips brought back the straddle beam car with the mounting pieces for the trucks installed including coupler pockets and couplers temporarily on loan. We quickly installed the pair of Tom Bee trucks that we had on hand and put the car on the tracks. For those of you who might remember, Saturday morning looked and felt like a drizzly day in San Francisco.

Not deterred, we got the beam car on the track and hooked it up to the Museum’s Alco S4. With headlights on, we then took it for a short trip up & down the foggy tracks.

This homemade beam car was built a couple of years ago by Dale Cover in his garage using donated lumber. It was painted at the Museum and the seat upholstery was added by Roger Phillips. Although it has some warping issues, it will give us a good opportunity to test the concept with passengers before investing a bunch of money in commercially available steel units of similar design. Planned improvements include edging along the sides of the footrest board to prevent a person’s foot from accidently sliding off the car.

We may consider building a beam car utilizing a welded steel frame similar to that depicted in the photos below. Steel will reduce the likelihood of warpage although care during the welding process to keep the steel straight & plumb will be critical. We’ll see how the wood beam car works out before we go down this road. The photo below is a beam car currently marketed for $395 on the website They are being built in Florida so shipping could add dramatically to that cost.

Another example of a beam car frame being marketed on the same website is depicted below (photo shows three separate frames stacked on top of each other). The frames are priced at $295 each. They are also located in Florida.

Now to the important stuff: This Sunday is Open House. We will be somewhat short staffed as yours truly will be out of town. If you can attend the Open House to help with running the train, please let Chairman Jesse know so that plans can be made. Jesse’s email is . The weather for Sunday will be sunny and cool. Should be fine for running the train if there is enough staff.

February 17, 2018

Yes, it’s late notice, but the weather has been pretty wild the last few days. Working outside in the dirt/mud wouldn’t have worked out so I had to wait to make sure that Saturday would be dry. The forecast says 70’ish and we shouldn’t have any rain overnight so it should be dried out. Therefore, there is a scheduled work session to begin at 8:00 am.

On the work agenda will be backfilling against the newly laid up retaining wall. This accomplishes two things; 1) it gives us a level place to work and, 2) it lowers the pile of dirt to enable us to get the grades established for the concrete ring.

Once the dirt pile is lowered, we can then establish the exact location and grade for the placement of the concrete ring that will support the ends of the turntable. If we finish that task, we can then determine where the vertical supports for the circular bar stock will be installed and perhaps begin digging the holes needed to install them.

Last weekend, although not a scheduled work session, we did get the last course of block installed on the stem wall as well as placement of rebar to secure the concrete ring to the stem wall when it is poured.

Tony Kanavage was kind enough to do the block installation which was checked and found to be nearly perfect in terms of being level. Great job Tony!

The turntable is slowly becoming a reality so it’s not too soon to start thinking about how to safely use it. Our engines may not weigh as much as a real one, but 600 pounds ain’t exactly light. As much as we try to make the track dead level in and out of the turntable, there will be a slight grade between the turn table and the engine house. Unattended equipment could roll into the turntable.

So, easily placed and visually obvious wheel chocks will need to be created and used or ???

During a Wednesday night work session at the Museum, we decided to get the train out and do some “night-running” to see how well the GPD’s Alco S4 headlight would illuminate the track as we are probably going to be giving night time rides during the Holiday Event scheduled at the end of the year themed around the Polar Express movie. Below is a photo taken during that test behind the caboose.

Night time running is a very different experience. I encourage you to try it. Think about how this will look with Christmas lights and decorations along the route. It’s going to be fun!    Hope to see you tomorrow morning.

February 10, 2018

There will not be a “scheduled” work session Saturday due to the Open House Sunday. However, rumor has it that the completion of the concrete block stem wall for the turntable will occur Saturday so if you are looking for something fun to do, you are certainly welcome to come down @ 8:00 am and join this jolly group of masons while they work their magic. As usual, on Open House weekends, if your schedule only permits one visit to the Museum, please choose Sunday as we’ve been having a lot of difficulty getting enough help to run the train during Open House.

Last Saturday, Glenn Ellis & Tony Kanavage took on the placement of the first two courses of 8” x 8” x 16” concrete blocks.

Like any project, sometimes the hardest part is just getting started. With the weather cooperating, and with John Roads, Jesse Miller, Paul Kruppenbacher feeding Glenn & Tony mortar on demand, they dynamic duo made good headway. Laying block isn’t the easiest task on the planet, and laying block in a curved pattern on a sloped embankment with uneven surfaces doesn’t make it any easier. On top of that, QC inspection from Burt Wright, who was relegated to “gofer” as he was recovering from flu, slowed progress to a crawl, but even with the problems, the group managed to get two of the three courses laid and it looks pretty darn good.

Only one more course of 4” x 8” x 16” remain and then the grouting.

Hope to see you this weekend – especially on Sunday!

February 3, 2018

Wow, what incredible weather!

Sorry for the late notice but Saturday, beginning at 8:00 am, we plan on moving into the 3rd phase of building the turntable. That will be the laying up of concrete block to create the stem/retaining wall for that portion of the turntable that extends slightly into the drainage swale. Depending on the number of individuals who come, we may also address a couple of track conditions identified during Sunday’s Open House.

Last Saturday, a few brave souls showed up to complete phase 2 of the turntable project which was the mixing and placing of a concrete foundation into the excavation (Phase 1) created a couple of months ago for the turntable. We quickly re-established the elevation needed for the top of the footing and set some rebar stakes to help us establish where the top of the concrete needed to be. Then, we strategically placed the cement mixer (obtained from Raymond McDaniel) at the edge of the excavation. This allowed us to mix & dump the concrete directly into the trench eliminating the need to wheel concrete to the trench. To prevent dirt from falling into the concrete during the pour, a trough was formed using plywood and roofing felt. By the way, thank you to Raymond McDaniel for putting wheels on that mixer!

4 volunteers then mixed up the twenty, 80 pound sacks of concrete and managed to get 98% of it into the location where it belonged. Glenn Ellis ran the mixer and created a consistent mix each time allowing it to easily pour down the embankment into the trench. It only took about 2 hours, and the result was great.

With Glenn in charge of making the mix, Dave Pederson and Jurgen Zander worked the trench below pulling the concrete as needed to each end of the excavation.

Once poured, equipment was cleaned & put away and we retired to our favorite watering hole to listen to Burt complain about having to lift 1,600 pounds of concrete twice.

We have now completed Phase Two of the project. Phase 3, which is the laying of 3 courses of cinder block (2 courses using 8”x8”x16” blocks and 1 course using 4”x8”x16”) on top of the foundation, will begin this Saturday. If any of you have experience laying concrete block, it would be great to have your help. It’s not that many block – less than 35 total.

Below are a couple of snipped images from our design drawing:


As a look ahead, once Phase 3 is completed. Note that the phases indicated below are intended to represent approximately 1 work session at the Museum. Some may get combined and others may be split into multiple sessions depending upon the amount of help we get.
• Phase 4: excavation & grading at the surface creating a level area for the 360 degree 8” x 4” concrete grade ring.

  • Phase 5: form & steel setting for the grade ring.

  • Phase 6: mix & pour the concrete grade ring.

  • Phase 7: form, steel setting, and concrete pour for the center hub assembly.

  • Phase 8: build and place the turntable.

  • Phase 9: form & pour the curbing required for installation of the approach tracks into the turntable.

  • Phase 10: grade the ground from the existing track to the turntable and from the turntable to the engine house.

  • Phase 11: Install track connecting the existing track to the turntable and from the turntable to the engine house.

Hope to see you all this Saturday at 8:00 am.

Large Scale Railroad - 2017
Large Scale Railroad - 2015-2016
Large Scale Railroad 2014 (July-Dec)
Large Scale Railroad 2014 (Jan-June)
Large Scale Railroad - 2013
Large Scale Railroad 2012 (July - Dec)
Large Scale Railroad 2012 (Jan-June)
Large Scale Railroad 2011

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PHONE: 520-888-2222

[Page Published February 21, 2018 ]
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