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The Waybill


The Waybill 
The Official Newsletter of the South Jersey S-Gaugers, Inc.

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These articles are archived from the Waybill from 2002 through 2003 and give some insight about our past history and activities. Many editors have had a hand producing the SJSG Waybill, including  Roy Hoffman, Al Schoenberg, Joe Sullivan, and Ed Claypool. To read more articles, click on the following:

Archive  1996-1999 Archive  2000-2001 Archive  2002-2003 Archive  2004-2005

A New Years Eve Visit to Strasburg PA

(Published Jan/Feb 2002)

On Saturday December 29th, several members of the South Jersey S Gaugers made their annual trek to Strasburg, PA - the mecca of railroading in this region. In attendance this year were Hank Worrell, Joe Balcer, Walt Mumie, Joe Sullivan, Don McGinnis, Dan DeSantis, and Michael McConnell. The day turned out to be a brisk and mostly sunny day, perfect for a picture-taking excursion.

We followed our tried-and-true itinerary - a tour of the National Toy Train Museum and neighboring Strasburg Railroad; a quick pause for lunch at Isaacís followed by an eagerly awaited visit to Bob Boardís All Aboard Railroad, plus a stop at the Strasburg Hobby shop. To top off the trip, most of the club members take in some refreshments at the Corn Crib before the long drive home.

We started our day at 9:30am by meeting up with Jim Lyle, Mike Packi and Jeff Leeking at the Toy Train Museum. Jim is a volunteer at the museum and took our members on a personal "behind-the-scenes" tour of the museum. Jim took the time to show us the electronics that runs the Flyer display in the museum and explain how the layout came to be; along with some of the future plans to remodel the display.

Our next stop at the Strasburg Railroad included a private tour of the "J" tower - a relocated and restored switch tower from the PRR. The second floor of the tower still contains a rack of switch control levers. Jim and Jeff gave us some insight on a day in the life of a tower operator. All of the SJSG members agreed the visit was very interesting and informative and wish to express their thanks to Jim, Mike and Jeff.

As usual we made our traditional stop at Isaacs, an excellent restaurant that features some really great sandwiches and soup. Our next stop is on the north side of Lancaster at Bob Boardís All Aboard railroad - a traditional model railroad display that features original American Flyer as well as new equipment from S Helper Service and American Models. Bobís layout is always a treat as the layout room is surrounded with displays of almost every piece of rolling stock made by A.C. Gilbert. Much can be learned on the history of Flyer by reading the displays notes. We were among the first to see the maiden run of the new American Models J3A Empire State Express set. The chrome and black engine made a very nice presence on the layout, and seemed to run well.

As the sun starts to go down, we all head back to Strasburg to stop by the hobby shop and browse through the video tapes and magazines. Sometimes there are some excellent buys to be had on the discount table. Actually, one of the reasons we stop is just to warm up a little!

Our final stop at the Corn Crib is usually the most entertaining of the day. This little tavern has a rather colorful proprietor who has no qualms about voicing his opinion of just about anything. He has also mastered the art of illusion and entertains (or is that embarrass) his clientele with a barrage of tricks. At any rate, itís always an interesting visit.

Weíve already made plans for next years trip - better mark your calendars!

Pat Bigley - Play Trains

(Published June/July 2002)

Pat has done a lot of work on his multi-level layout, and he invited the club members to pay a visit during our play-trains night in June. Hank Worrell, Peter Grout, Dave Pierce, Joe Balcer and Michael McConnell took him up on his offer.

Pat has completed much of his track work, and can run trains over most of the layout. Pat has decided to run Digital Command Control as his method of train control, and it was interesting to watch several trains run on the same loop. Dave Pierce lent some of his expertise to Pat in programming some of the engines. Pat also explained (actually he demonstrated) a nagging problem he is having with one of his automatic back-n-forth tracks where he will have a RDC car travel between a couple of towns.

In addition to finishing the track wiring and adding track signals, Pat is also starting to add scenery to his layout. Pat had blocks of foam board piled on the layout to approximate where he will have mountains and valleys, and someone (I wonít mention who) unwisely commented about "all of the trash" Pat had piled on the layout (Gee, Pat, Iím really sorry about that. . .)

Patís scenery will almost run from floor to ceiling in places and should really be a sight to see. With a full-size turntable and a multi-track storage yard on one side of the layout, and a seacoast industry on the other, and mountains and valleys in the middle, the layout will have something for everyone to enjoy. Thanks for inviting us to visit Pat.

Trip to Greg Berndstonís layout.

(Published June/July 2002)

Iím amazed. . .no, Iím astounded. . umm - no, Iím totally speechless. Greg invited club members to pay a visit to his layout-in-progress, and all Wayne Schneyer, Hank Worrell, Charles Bowen and Michael McConnell could keep saying was "Wow", "Gee", "Oohhh" and some other sputterings that I canít spell. In fact, I do believe I heard one person mutter, "Well, Iím going to go right home and rip out my layout now".

Gregís layout is an amazing collection of detailing, weathering, and scenery all in one space. Some of you may have seen a few glimpses of his layout on the club web site, but nothing can prepare you for seeing the layout in person. Gregís creation is a perfect example of model railroading in a small space, and what happens when you pay attention to putting in the details.

Greg is favoring S scale in his layout and has used code 148 rail throughout. Although the track plan is basically a point-to-point, he can also run trains in a loop. He will have two lift-out sections (one of those is designed to drop down and fold up under the layout) that will provide access to the center of the "around-the-room" layout.

Greg has built chain link and wooden fences, pallets, and other detail items which photograph very well. He has even taken the time to build small empty cardboard boxes and other items that are scattered in the weeds the way trash would normally collect. Iím especially impressed with Gregís detailing of his city streets with excellent coloring, markings and details such as storm drains and manhole covers. Greg incorporated the use of his computer to print up details such as building signs and store window displays.

I predict that some day you will be seeing Gregís layout as a feature in a major magazine, and the really nice part is the layout is close enough you can visit and enjoy it in person! Keep the wheels turning Greg - weíll be waiting to enjoy the completed layout.

(You can see some of Greg's layout on his Web page)

Flyer 080 Home Top The Caboose

Play Trains at Jim Pauleyís

(Published June/July 2002)

Jim Pauley in well known in Flyer circles as a collectors expert, and any time I can learn something from a person knowledgeable in a subject, I jump at it. The club members recently took advantage of an offer by Jim Pauley to visit him at his "Great Traditions" store on Bustleton Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia. Apparently, other members of the club thought the same thing as a whole bunch of us arrived in time for our "class".

Jim treated us with examples of original Gilbert sales brochures, papers, drawings and one-of-a-kind promotional items. I found the information packets the salesman used the most informative. Everything from the current years catalog to a sheet that lists the time, and place of every advertisement that A.C. Gilbert scheduled in radio, magazines and television.

Jim also gave us some tips in collecting, such as what is rare and what to look for in evaluating a piece for your collection. Of course, the fact that the Great Traditions store carries a superb collection of Flyer items for sale (which is generously discounted for the evening) gave the members plenty to consider.

Once the teaching was done, Jim put out plenty of coffee and bagels for everyone to snack on, a perfect topping to an enjoyable and informative evening.

Flyer 080 Home Top The Caboose

An evening at Wayne Schneyerís

(Published June/July 2002)

Once upon a time, a long time ago, a guy named Wayne had a really nice layout that was almost complete. It was smaller than some layouts, but the scenery and details were nice to look at. Then Wayne decided to invite some of his fellow club members over for an evening of Play Trains. The layout took on a life of itís own and definitely did not want to play nice. Trains derailed, switches didnít, and couplers wouldnít. Wayne was very sad. The next day, Wayne thought and thought and then he totally demolished his layout. Poor Wayne, poor layout.

That was six years ago! Recently, Hank Worrell and I spent an enjoyable evening at Wayneís taking a peak at his new layout (maybe he should call it the Phoenix Railroad? Hmmm. . .) It is an impressive undertaking that really grabs your attention when you first come down the stairs. Wayne has moved electrical service, moved walls, and completely remodeled his basement to accommodate his new layout.

This layout is much larger than his last, and is built using tried and true L-girder construction. It is still in the framing stage, with some track laid - about enough to run a train 3/4 of the way around the layout. Wayne has spent considerable time making sure the layout is flat and level and the track and roadbed has gradual grades that donít exceed 2%. The layout is basically a folded figure eight, with a third complete loop. There will be a separate island in the center of the room for a roundhouse and engine facilities, plus other yards and sidings that will make for a very interesting layout.

Wayne is also favoring scale, using S-Helper Serviceís new code 125 flex-track throughout, with his own custom-made open-frog hand-laid turnouts. (One of his best examples so far is a curved number eight turnout. A really impressive piece of engineering). His choice in turnouts will insure that anyone who visits his layout can bring rolling stock (high-rail or scale) that will run. He also plans to incorporate DCC, DC and AC track power so that no one will be excluded from running trains on his layout. It looks like Wayne is planning on having lots of visitors this time around!

Wayne has offered to teach anyone who wants to attend his "clinic" how to build their own turnouts. I figured if you want to learn, learn from the best - so I tossed my hat in the ring. My first project was to ballast a turnout that Wayne had already completed. I learned the Tommy MacDonald system of applying rock to roadbed - saturating the ballast until it oozes glue all over. I really donít know how well I did since the turnout was still sopping wet when we decided to leave, but I had liberal quantities of glue all over me, the floor and the tools, so Iím sure some of the ballast will be stuck to the turnout.

Hank and I were honored to witness the maiden run of a GG1 on Wayneís new layout - and things ran really smooth - a good omen for the future! I look forward to seeing the progress Wayne makes on his new layout - assuming he gets all the glue off the floor and lets me back into the basement.

Flyer 080 Home Top The Caboose