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On the road with trains. - Chula Vista Fall Meet 2009

By Tom Downing - Long Beach, CA USA

Tom and the boys from SCLS venture down to visit the Chula Vista Live Steamers for their Fall Meet 9-5-2009

On the road with trains on Saturday 9-5-09

Some of the Southern California Live Steamers (SCLS) boys went on the first fall meet road trip, Rory, Rob, my son Wyatt and I went to the Chula Vista Live Steamers Fall Meet. It was their 35th anniversary and over the last few years I've gotten to know a few members of this group, having previously attended one of their meets a few years back. I knew it would be a good time for all.

This was also a test run to see how Wyatt would do on a longer ride in the truck too a meet. Rob and Rory with Rory's 0-4-0 loaded in his truck met Wyatt and I at our house at 7:00 AM. We loaded our locomotive the night before, so after a quick Downing Car Company (DCC) shop project update / tour, we where on the road.

We hit our local mom and pop burger stand for a breakfast burrito.Of course I talked Rob into trying the biggest one, a pastrami-egg-chilli burrito which he actually managed to eat. Man to be young again with a cast iron stomach!

It only took us about 2 hours to get to the Chula Vista Live Steamers facility in light traffic and was a nice ride. Now I have to say, Chula Vistas is the most open in the park layout I have ever been to, as the first thing you do is drive across the park grass to get to the unloading spot. There are few fences to keep people out but the local people seem to just keep back and enjoy watching the train people doing there thing.

When we got to the loading spot we were met by Brian Ratliff from the Joshua Tree group. Brian helped us unload our equipment and set us up with a few steaming bays for our locomotives. Man, that was a big help as it was the first time I brought my locomotive to this club and great to have someone point out were everything you need is located.

As I looked around, I could see a good mix of members from Joshua Tree, OCME, Riverside, and of course the Chula Vista club. As it always seems to happen, I never get to talk to all of the people I see and get an update on their projects. I did however come to run the steamer and a good wave seemed to work as we are all in the same boat on a talk/run thing.

My locomotive steamed well all day and was fun to run on their layout. For little locomotives the biggest thing is getting water as there is only one spot to get it on the layout so you have got to keep a close eye on it and save water at all times. I have to thank Tony Borzoi from the CV club for letting us know about that and it was good to meet him in person after seeing him and his locomotive on the net a few times in the past.

This was one of the first times that Rory and Rob have had Rory's 0-4-0 out for a run. They had a tough time as they are still debugging it after the locomotive was rebuilt. It looked to me like they where getting the locomotive steamed up when all came to a stop. It turned out that a fitting in the loco's steam dome broke and it was a one off type fitting. So they were going to load it up, hmmm! I took a look and told them to just try putting a bolt with some sealant in it to plug the hole as the fitting was just used to fill the locos boiler with water when starting and they didn't need it when they are running. We didn't have any bolts that size with us so I told them to go get a club member and see if they had some thing in their workshop.

Well about that time, my loco was up to steam. Wyatt was up to steam too, so we had to go. I figured if they blow it up on the steaming bay at least Wyatt and I won't be around to get hurt. (Just kidding) You know some times you just got too give a friend a kick in the ass and send them down the road to see what happens. Well off Wyatt and I go on the first run of the day. We made a run out around and back to the water fill spot and then on the next run out about as far out on their layout as you can get and as far from the water you can get. Bill H from the Riverside club loco locked up a few trains in front of us with no way to move it. I thought "Oh boy, this is going to be fun!", but we just turned the fire way low and the bower off to save steam and sat for about 30 minutes. We only had a half tender of water , about a 1/2 gallon, on my loco but we made it back about the time Rob and Rory got out on the track for a few slow runs. Since Bill's loco was down for a bit we got his SF work cars and pulled them around the layout. Man that was fun for Wyatt, that boy just loves to pull cars around!

I must say that we all had a good time. the OC meet is in a few weeks so hopefully a few of you readers will get a chance to come out and join in the fun of playing trains at a live steam meet.

Tom D.


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About the Author:

Tom is a long time live steamer and member of many live steam clubs in the Southern Calfornia area including the Southern California Live Steamers. He has a number of live steam locomotives in 1" and 1.5" scale as well as a GP diesel locomotive under construction.


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