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Off To Play Trains In The Sand

By Tom Downing - Lakewood, CA

Fall Meet 2009 at the Maricopa Live Steamers in Arizona

This last week end a few of the Southern California Live Steamers members went to the fall meet at Maricopa Live Steamers. The MLS is located just a little North of Phoenix, AZ which is about a 6.5 Hr ride from Southern California.

My son Wyatt and I got on the road Thursday, at about 3 PM, and met SCLS club member Rory Hawkins and his friend Donna, and LALS member Rob Lamont at the Maricopa club at about 9 PM. We got the GP60 and riding car unloaded from my pickup truck at the MLS facility. They arrived at MLS in the mid afternoon and had already been out for a run. Not being too sure about how well the GP60 was going to run, we thought it was best to just park it and go for good ride on Rory's loco, a Rail Systems S12. We made a few runs and then went and then left to get checked into the motel.

Friday morning we had a good breakfast at The Waffle House and then got checked in at the club. We did the safety meeting, and then got out on them rails! Wyatt was just in 8 year old boy heaven! I have been out to this club with this same group a few times before but this was Wyatt's fist time and he was amped up after a few of the locals told him there was 13 miles of track to run, and that he had better run it all, or he just doesn't know the place {thanks for that Marty}.

Day one went pretty good. We had only one time the GP60 got hot and stalled and shot a 2 foot high stream of hydraulic oil out the top of the body. It was funny as Wyatt was driving when it stalled and stopped. When he saw that oil shooting up in the air he just got off and ran away. At the time it was a little over a 100 degrees in the sun, you know maybe just a little to hot too be out there running as other trains where breaking down as well. We pulled the body off to let it cool for a bit and then I ran it back a mile or so to the yard. I'll tell you, this place is big and you can get a few miles out and brake down and it takes some work to get towed back to the yard, but it is all fun.

After our return to the yard we made a Home Depot run for some fixit stuff and I made some ductwork to get the hot air out the vanes in the body on the GP60. She seemed to run good as we ran till about 1.00 am without any further problems.

On Saturday we got a bit of a late start, as right on the other side of the parking lot there was a model train club with a big G gauge and HO layout to look at. They also had a swap meet, so we just had to go to that which is always fun. We did get one short run in but we just had to stop as it was just too hot out and not much fun to run. Never the less, Wyatt and some other fearless heat nuts went for a run or two in the heat. It seems like a lot of the locos go take a siesta when it gets hot but then come back out and run when its cooler at night, and to tell you the truth, to me the place is way more fun to run at night.

There are 5 routes you can run on and they all snake around and cross over each other so at times you see a head light coming right at you but then it turns away, and some times it doesn't, and some one has to back up in the dark,as most of the track is run on both ways with passing sidings, with red lights and green lights to tell you to stop and when to go. You also have a radio with people telling you info, but all I can say is things just happen and some times it just so funny to listen to the radio as your riding/running your train through the night not seeing more than 20' in front of you and thinking "am I driving in to some mass?" But you just putt along and 99% of the time you just come back to the yard with a nice smooth run on your train.

Tom Bee is always at the fall meet and you can save a lot on shipping by picking up his products at Maricopa. This year we picked up two long hopper cars and some other parts from him and we got a nice looking caboose that was built by one of the Maricopa members that had it for sale. We picked this stuff up for one of the SCLS members. We got to run the cars around for some of the weekend before loading them up and hauling them back to Southern California. This made for a good train of cars to pull, but a lot to pack up at the end of the weekend. All went well and after some paint and lettering we should all have some new cars to look at being pulled around the SCLS track in Torrance.

Hey how cool is that? Well as you can see we had a good time and I would like to thank all of the members at Maricopa for being so helpful and showing us a good time.

Tom Downing


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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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