Exciting News For Lansing Model Railroading!


The noon news mentioned a building being moved, like that was a normal thing that could happen in the real world. It’s the old Michigan Avenue Tower, a railroad switching station no longer in use because railroads have had kind of a rough time the last 115 years. The moving’s being done by the Lansing Model Railroad Club, and they got permission and everything, as far as the noon news knows. Someone with the club mentioned how they were looking to restore it and maybe even use it as a control room for their layout.

This demands we ask: how big is their model train layout? I don’t know, but it turns out the Lansing Model Railroad Club has its headquarters in Delta Township, one of the suburbs. The city of Lansing, Michigan, spreads out over two or possibly three counties, depending on a very boring debate you can have about municipal government organization. But either way, they couldn’t fit their layout inside the city and had to go where the land was cheaper. And now they need a two-storey building relocated from Old Town in order to run it all.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index dropped today after analysts realized it hadn’t done that yet and if it doesn’t go down sometimes then nobody is going to feel it’s special when it goes up anymore.

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Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there.

6 thoughts on “Exciting News For Lansing Model Railroading!”

  1. I just jumped across to the LMRC site to have a look – there is a very similar signal box to that at Paekakariki, New Zealand, which is also headquarters for a steam enthusiast group who restore 1:1 scale steam locomotives. Recently they obtained a Garratt 4-6-2-2-6-4 from South Africa. I saw it in their yards from the main road and must admit it looked less like a Garratt than a very large pile of rusting and potentially shapeless metal. What intrigues me is that the sole NZ connection to the Garratt was in 1928 when three were obtained, experimentally. They were an unmitigated disaster. On one test run out of Wellington, the first of them (a) ripped off part of the platform canopy at Porirua, because the loading gauge was too big for the clearances, then (b) the automatic stoker broke down, forcing them to crawl on residual steam back up the gradient to Wellington, hoping they wouldn’t run out before the crest. In service, drivers and stokers complained of being choked by fumes in tunnels, and the locomotives had so much power that when loaded with their rated train, they tended to rip out drawbars and go tearing off up the track with a couple of wagons attached, leaving the rest sitting in the siding. They only lasted a few months before being given up as a bad job. So I can’t quite understand why the enthusiasts want to rebuild one, unless perhaps the former SAR locomotive they paid to have shipped into the country is the actual end-point in a kind of emblematic way, symbolic of the Garratt disasters of 1928. I can’t tell.

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    1. I am intrigued and delighted by this Garratt project. I know there’s usually at least a few problems when a new model anything is brought into service, but this does seem like it’s worse than average. I’m curious why the locomotives were such trouble in New Zealand when they were (I assume) acceptable in South Africa. Could it all have been problems like loading gauge differences and tunnel design, or were they disasters back home too?

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      1. They ran pretty well in SA. Ours didn’t – the loading gauge was dismal – a legacy of building track to 3’6″ on the back of budgetary constraints. And the fact that they had far more power than the drawbars had been built to handle. Lots of little things that added up to a general problem. The appeal was our Main Trunk line, which was laced with some fairly fearsome gradients that demanded exceptionally powerful locomotives to handle – double-heading was never quite the same – all of which had to be achieved on a narrow gauge railway with a quite silly (‘cheap’) loading gauge (it’s been mostly fixed since. Mostly.)

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        1. I see, and thank you. I was going to guess it was a convergence of a couple little issues converging to a disaster. The narrow gauge I was dimly aware of. I know there were a lot of strange-gauge railway in Australia and New Zealand for reasons that kind of made sense when the standard was set.

          (Which reminds me, Manhattan only got rid of the last of its Edison DC-grade power outlets within the past decade.)

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        2. When rail first arrived in NZ it was set up piecemeal by local authorities to various gauges. In 1868 the government formed a committee to recommend a national gauge, which plumped for anything except 3’6″. So that was the one chosen by the Treasurer, Julius Vogel – the driver was cost…

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        3. Well, I understand the system of picking up local piecemeal gauges; the same process happened in the United States, except there the federal government set the standard without actually saying it was the standard. Picking the cheap yet undesirable one, well, I guess that’s what happens when you leave the field too open.

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