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Slides at: www.scribd.com/doc/31166321 Slide 1: Staunton’s Gem in the Park Welcome to the first of a two-part class that will take you behind the scenes at the Gypsy Express. We are two of the approximately 80 volunteers that make the train operation possible. Perhaps, after this class, a few of you will be interested in joining our group. Tonight’s one-hour presentation will consist of a brief history and details of the train and its operation. The second session is Sunday at 4:45 pm at the train station in Gypsy Hill Park. Sunday’s session will be very informal and will allow you to see and touch what we discuss tonight. You will also be given the opportunity to drive the train at that time if you wish. We will repeat these classes again on June 3 & 6, so if you like what you have seen and heard and know someone who might be interested, please tell them to call the Park and register to come. Slide 2: Outline Here are the topics that we plan to cover tonight. We’ll start with a brief history of the MTC including our Gypsy Express train, then a little about our organization, our facilities, and ridership statistics. Then we’ll go behind the scenes to look at some details about the track, train, facilities, and our volunteers. Finally, we’ll see what makes GX unique and what the future holds for us. Slide 3: Toy, Model, Miniature & Standard Trains First, some terminology. There are toy trains, model trains, miniature trains, and standard trains. Slide 4: Toy & Model Trains Toy trains, such as those shown here, are for kids to play with. Adults play with model trains. (Streetcar = N gauge, then HO, .027 and G.) Slide 5: Miniature Trains Miniature trains are real trains that are for riding, but they are smaller than standard trains. The term SCALE is often used, and that refers to how much smaller the engine body is than a standard train. The term GAUGE refers to the distance between the insides of the two rails. The top train, located in Fort Myers, FL, is 1/8th scale running on 7 ½” gauge rail. Slide 6: The Gypsy Express The Gypsy Express is a miniature train of 1/5th scale, which means the engine is about 10 feet long—large enough for a person to ride inside rather than seated upon it. The gauge of the Gypsy Express is 16 inches, meaning there is a distance of 16 inches between the rails. You will also often hear miniature trains such as our referred to as “Park Trains”.
Slide 7: Miniature Train History
Miniature trains are not recent inventions. (1885)
Slide 8: 1928 In 1928 Paul Sturtevant started a tool-making shop in Glen Ellyn, IL. Slide 9: 1928 As a side project Sturtevant built a 7 1/4” gauge train for his son to ride on in their backyard. Slide 10: 1928 (Picture added) Sturtevant’s train, modeled after a Chicago & Northwestern steam locomotive, was powered by an electric motor and probably looked something like this one. The neighborhood kids loved it and we’re told 20 to 25 kids could ride at one time Slide 11: 1932 Sears A Sears Roebuck & Co. executive lived in Sturtevant’s neighborhood and noticed how popular his train was. He asked if it could be placed in his new State Street store in Chicago that opened in 1932. The train was installed in time for Christmas and it became a star attraction. Slide 12: 1932 The demand for miniature trains in large department stores took off, resulting in Sturtevant creating the Miniature Train & Railroad Co. to satisfy the demand. Slide 13: 1932 to early 1940s The MT&RC electric “Store Trains” were based on the early diesel streamliners that were seeing experimental use on the nation’s railroads. Burlington’s 1934 Zepher and Rock Island’s 1935 Rocket were the models used. The Rocket-inspired trains were by far the more popular, with between thirty and forty sets produced as compared to less than half a dozen of the Zephers. Slide 14: 1932 to early 1940s (Gas Power, 12 inch gauge) Sturtevant’s early trains were electric, but as outdoor use increased, he added gasoline-powered trains to his production lines. He also increased the size of the trains from the original 7 ¼” gauge to 12 inch. The larger trains were based on the EMD E-series slant nosed passenger locomotives. Over 1,000 were produced in Sturtevant’s Addison, IL plant (called G-12s after WWII). This train in Hershey Park, PA carries 19 passengers but the market demanded a larger, higher-capacity train. To meet that need: Slide 15: History 1945-1963 (16-inch gauge design) In 1945 Sturtevant began designing a 16- inch gauge train. This G-16 train was to be an exact 1/5th scale copy (except for the space required for the engineer) of the General Motors EMD F2series diesel engine that appeared in 1946. Slide 16: History 1945-1963 There were some 275 G-16s sold. We think that less than 100 of the G-16’s remain in service, most in private hands.
Slide 17: History 1945-1963 Manufacturing moved from Addison, Illinois to Rensselaer, Indiana in April of 1948. MTC sold to Herschell company in 1956. G-16s made under MTC name until 1963.(Photo credit unknown) Slide 18: History of Our Train Our train, number 732 (501 was the first one), was built in 1954 and was purchased by the Kinston, NC Jaycees for $12,000. The Jaycees had an agreement with their city to operate the train in Fairfield Park but for unknown reasons it went up for sale in 1957. Coincidentally, in 1957 the Staunton Moose Lodge (Gilmer Nuckles Sr.) had petitioned the City for permission to place a miniature train in Gypsy Hill Park, with the proceeds going toward purchase of park equipment and facilities. After some haggling over the specific arrangement, a one-year renewable agreement was reached, and in 1958 George Bartley went to NC and purchased #732 and brought it to Staunton where he and his wife Linda operated and maintained it for over 34 years, under Moose sponsorship. When the Bartley’s could no longer operate the train due to their age, George decided to sell it. He had many private lucrative offers, but being the civic-minded citizen that he was, George decided it should stay in Staunton and sold it to the City for a pittance. Slide 19: History of Our Train George was a professional trainman and kept the train in prime condition. However, it was aging, including the original track. In attempting to keep it running, the City hired an outside firm to do track repairs. They ended up welding the rails together and bolting them to the ties. Soon the track was out-of-gauge. By 1998 the City decided that it was unsafe to operate and shut it down. Slide 20 – Gypsy Express Organization City Council was leaning toward disposing of the train when several private citizens began circulating petitions to keep the train. Thousands of signatures were obtained, and the issue was discussed almost weekly in the paper. Estimates for the cost to just bring the facility back to safe levels started at $50,000 and went up from there. On August 7, 2000 John Zinn called for a public meeting of anyone interested in helping save the train. Over 50 people including George Bartley attended and they represented probably a more diverse package of skills and experience than you can imagine. Committees were formed, meetings were held, and by October GX Inc was in existence as a State licensed non-profit corporation. Three options were presented to the City, discussed and modified several times, and by November 2000 an agreement was reached between GXI and the City for GX to rebuild, improve and restore the train and facility to safe operational condition, operate the train, and maintain the facility and the train. It is a yearly agreement that either party can pull out of at any time. The City contributed $25,000 to get it started –the rest was up to GX. What happened in the next 8-9 months has been documented in a GX-produced video that we will now show. On August 5, 2001 the train began carrying passengers once again. This year we enter our 10th year of operation. Slide 21: VIDEO
Slide 22: Who Rides? We operate every weekend, weather and train permitting (it is old and doesn’t like rain) from May through October. On Saturdays it is generally from 12-6 (we sometimes shorten the closing hour when it gets cold) and from 1-5 on Sundays. During the week we also conduct special runs for special people, by appointment only. This includes school groups, assisted living and special needs groups, and all of these runs are free, and we usually have between 25-30 of these each year. Occasionally someone will rent the train for a birthday or office picnic for $75/hour. Such rentals cannot be on a day that we are normally operating (e.g. Saturday or Sunday). We also provide free rides to everyone on Kids Matter Day (1st Saturday in May), July 4 (and July 3 this year), Labor Day, and Halloween. Everyone included, we carry over 20,000 happy passengers each season. Slide 23: Behind the Scenes - The Track overview slide Let’s look at a few details related to the track. From 2006 to 2009 we replaced all the ties with treated ties (about 600) and rebuilt the crossings. (If asked about tie replacement. It can take up to 2 man-hours per tie or as little as 20 minutes, depending on the situation. Pull 4 spikes, remove tie plates, dig gravel away and slide old tie out, slide new tie into position, check rail alignment, set 1 tie plate, predrill1 hole and start spike, pre-drill other hole and drive spike. Finish driving 1st spike. Set second tie plate, check and adjust gauge, pre-drill one hole and start spike, drill other hole and start other spike, finish driving both spikes, check gauge. Check level and adjust, backfill gravel. There are about 600 ties with an 18-inch spacing maximum. Spike puller is the critical piece of equipment. Have gone thru 3 of them. Usually find an antique mine RR puller or crowbar and grind to fit our spikes.) Slide 24: Gauger, gauge & level Two very important tools are the gauger and the level. They have been incorporated into a single item with wheels (shown here) for regular inspection, but this is not used when setting the gauge and level. Gauge is the single most important track factor for safe operation. Slide 25: Gap & spike pattern The rails are connected by splice plates that keep the rails aligned yet allow lateral movement to accommodate expansion during warm weather. The gap is what causes the ‘clickity-clack of the railroad track’. The gap should be 1/16 inch at 100 degrees, 1/8 at 70, and ¼ at 30 degrees. Spiking pattern shown here – outside opposite, inside opposite. Tie plate under each rail on each tie. Slide 26: Inside of rails When checking the track, always check that the grooves on the inside of the rail are clear, because that is where the wheel flange rides. That is also where grease is applied, but usually only on the curves on the inside of the inside rail. We only grease when there is squealing on the tight curves. The grease we use on the track does not wash out, so if you are walking along the track do not rub against the rails.
Slide 27: Work Car We have a work car for hauling ties, gravel, and tools around the track. Slide 28: Track Signal and W’s When the track signal is green it means go and yellow means stop. It is controlled via a remote switch. We have two W’s along the track – who knows what they tell the driver? not water, but whistle for upcoming crossing. Slide 29: Behind the Scenes - The Train (overview) Now let’s look at the train. Our normal configuration is the engine, the easy access car, and the observation car. Each passenger car has 6 seats. One is for the conductor, 11 for passengers. Normal load is 22 passengers. The Loaded train weighs about 3 tons. Why not use all three cars? There are 8 driving wheels, each with maybe 1/32 sq inch on track for total of maybe ¼ sq. in. of bearing surface. In the sharpest curve with steepest upgrade, it is a challenge to keep speed at a minimum and momentum high enough to pull thru the curve. Without the momentum, there isn’t enough friction surface to pull 3 tons thru the curve. A third car would almost make it impossible, especially with a little grease on the track. That is also why we don’t run in the rain. We installed an electronic ignition in 2009. That is what causes occasional backfire when starting. Oil gets changed monthly. Brake pads as needed. Just finished replacing coil springs in both cars after finding a broken piece of spring while walking the track. Slide 30: The Dashboard Let’s look at the dashboard and other controls, starting from the driver’s left. The first button is for the sander. It works but is not used because of the need to use extremely fine and dry sand. We sand the track by hand when necessary. Next is the brake lever and then the accelerator. The accelerator, brake, and main horn are vacuum-driven, resulting in a long and variable delay in response. This is the trickiest part of driving – getting used to the delay. Then there is the tail light switch, a dial showing the vacuum for the brakes, and the headlight switch. The dial to the left of center is the tachometer. At the center top is the choke (not normally needed), a generator light, and the main air horn. Next to the choke is an indicator that tells if the dead-man switch has been activated. The speedometer is adjusted for our 1/5 scale, so that when we are going 10 MPH it shows 50 MPH and feels like a normal-size train would at 50 MPH. There is a power-on indicator letting us know that power is available to the coil and the ignition. The key is inserted upside down.
Then comes the main vacuum dial, and finally the switch for the bell (rung when coming into the station to stop) and finally, a button for our second (battery-driven) air horn. Underneath the dash on the right is the shift lever with forward, neutral and reverse positions. The train uses a fluid clutch that engages as the RPM is increased, so shifting is not done during normal operation. Slide 31: Checking Gas This picture shows us checking the gas level of the 8 gal tank. Under normal operation the train uses approx. 3/4 gal/hour. We use 100 Octane aviation fuel from Waynesboro Airport, and get 15 gallons at a time. Without AV gas we would be changing the spark plugs daily (fouling). Note bell and air horn in the picture. Slide 32: The Couplings This photo shows how the cars are coupled together. The vacuum and electric connections can also be seen. Slide 33: The Dead-man’s switch The dead-man’s switch is in the conductor’s compartment. We don’t know of any other miniature train that has one of these, but we think it is a good idea. If something happened with a load of passengers where the engineer could not stop the train (faint, seizure, etc.), the conductor could shut the engine off and allow the train to coast to a stop. Slide 34: Lifting the car A chain hoist is used for lifting the car body off of a truck, or for lifting a truck from the tracks, or for lifting the engine out of the chassis. A lifting bar is placed under the car next to the truck and the body lifted (after disconnecting vacuum and electric lines). Note the covered pit in the photo. It is used for getting under the train for servicing. Slide 35: Truck Here is what a truck looks like. Note four wheels that are in a fixed orientation, making gauge on curves critical. Also, leaf springs, journal boxes, brake cylinders, brakes. Slide 36: Underside of a car This is what the underside of a car looks like. Slide 37: Cracked bushing This photo shows the kind of problem that gets uncovered during weekly maintenance. This is a bushing that cracked and started to work its way out and had to be replaced – nothing is easy to repair on a train. In addition to our weekly maintenance inspections, the train and track are inspected every year by a registered professional engineer, and periodically by an official train inspector.
Slide 38: Santa Fe Colors Why the Santa Fe Railroad’s Warbonnet colors and paint scheme? In the spring of 2001 we were up against a schedule deadline to start painting (a long process that took several weeks). We were forced to decide on a color scheme. A couple of the Board members were at Staunton Trains and Hobbies and noticed a model train on display that looked great – it was Santa Fe colors. So they made a command decision. Slide 39: Behind the Scenes - The Facilities (overview) Our facilities – lets look at them Slide 40: Train Barn The train barn is a replica of the 1917 C&O Train Barn in Frazier’s Bottom, WV. This is where we store the train and do the maintenance on it. Beside the train barn is our grease bin, and at the crossing before the barn is our crossing signal. It is triggered for 12 seconds by a switch on the lower bridge. The siding is used to store our spare car and work car during the operational season. Slide 41: Maintenance Bays There are two maintenance bays. Bay #1 is where the engine maintenance team keeps their supplies and tools. Bay #2 is where the track and facility maintenance tools and supplies are kept, along with a spare engine and our aviation fuel. All maintenance equipment and supplies belong to GX or its volunteers. Slide 42: Covered Bridge The upper covered bridge is a single burr arch bridge. It is a replica of the 1884 Pine Grove Bridge in Chester County, PA. The covered bridge is not only part of our attraction, but it also serves as a storage facility for one car and our work car during the off-season or in case of violent weather. When we have a really severe weather forecast we move the cars to shelter. It has floor panels so it is completely enclosed and varmint- proof. (The lower bridge is a Pratt through-truss bridge. Pratt’s design of 1844 reversed the slope of the diagonal members, placing the diagonals in tension and the posts in compression.) Slide 43: Station Interior The Station boasts several amenities including a refrigerator for cold drinks, a radio/CD player, and an air conditioner. The other view shows the ticket seller position. Slide 44: Swinging Fence Section Just below the lower bridge is a section of fence that swings to allow flood debris to pass without blocking the stream and washing out the track (it did happen before we installed the swinging section).
Slide 45: Our Volunteers What has already occurred before you get on the train? During the preceding week: A maintenance team (usually Wed. nights) has inspected the train and track, serviced the engine, lubed the trucks, checked and adjusted the brakes, filled the gas cans with aviation fuel from Waynesboro Airport, vacuumed the cars and wiped them down, checked the overhead roofs in the barns and at the loading platform for bird nests and wasp nests, inspected and adjusted the entry and exit gates, and checked and replenished supplies at the barn and the Station. A Scheduler has called volunteers and filled all the shifts for the weekend (15 positions), a Station Manager has been assigned for each weekend day to handle the money, open and close the facility, and ensure each shift is staffed and runs smoothly. The scheduler then fills out the schedule sheets and posts them at the Station. On the day of your ride: The Station and gates have been opened, flags raised The track has been walked The engine gassed up and run to check it out The track has been greased where needed Where does the ticket money go? We pay no salaries – all of our employees are volunteers. The small amount of money that we take in each year goes to operational and maintenance expenses, insurance, accounting costs, state license, and all of the incidental costs of running a corporation. We also donate a couple thousand dollars a year back into Park equipment and activities. Slide 46: What Makes GX Unique Uniqueness: Has own Song RIDING THAT GYPSY EXPRESS Music and lyrics by Oakley Pearson In major movie (Evan Almighty) Easy Access Car Public-owned but maintained and operated entirely by volunteers at no cost to City Very tight turns require greasing Has dead-man switch Uses Conductors Padded seats and roof over cars Operating ‘in the black’ without supplemental support, even with 1/3 of rides free GX also donates to other park activities: Duck Feeder Tot-Lot train Sidewalks Picnic Tables Holiday Lights signs and displays Trees Playground mulch America’s Birthday Celebration events Virginia Tech memorial Slide 47: Ongoing Needs Well over 30 local businesses have donated supplies, labor, equipment, and facilities to GX so that the train could be rebuilt, operated, and maintained. Many continue to do so on a regular basis.
In addition, we have 60-80 individuals who volunteer to maintain and operate the train. As we age, move, etc. we lose about 10-15% of our volunteers each year. Replenishment of our ranks is critical to continued operation of the train. What does it cost to operate a miniature train for about 250 hours a year? Our annual operating budget ranges from $61,000 – $77,000 depending on the work to be done. About 10-13% of that total is cash-paid expense paid for by ticket sales and donations. All of the rest is covered by volunteer labor. Slide 48: Volunteer Opportunities
So what does being a GX volunteer mean? These are the areas we need new folks to learn the skills we have all learned by doing, so that as we all get older there are replacements ready to help. We have many wife-husband teams, and yes – several women drive the train. Our work shifts are two hours each. If each volunteer works an average of 1 shift/month, it takes 65 people just to run the train (3 people per shift, 5 shifts per weekend), not counting Station Managers and Schedulers. The engineers and conductors work as two-person teams and operate the train. Ticket sellers are responsible for selling tickets. We ask our volunteers to work at least 6 shifts a year (12 hours). We are especially in need of drivers (engineers). You must be at least 18 years of age to drive the train. We provide training at your convenience. What do you get out of it? You get that great ‘giving back’ feeling, thousands of smiles and genuine appreciation, you and your family get to ride free whenever you wish, and at the end of the season we have an appreciation dinner (often with door prizes and mementos) for our volunteers and their families. Slide 49: Next Session
That’s it for tonight. Here is the plan for Sunday. Meet at train station just before operation ends for day and observe roles of conductor and engineer, Station Manager, and ticket seller. Observe as much of what we’ve discussed tonight as you wish. ‘Kick the tires’. Proceed to train shed and observe pit, hoist, bays. View under hood, ask questions View cockpit and receive brake/throttle instructions. Line up for a driving experience if you wish.
Text assembled and written by Gypsy Express Inc. volunteers: Bob Roger, Ken Case, Phil DePauk and Braxton Nagle
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