Showing posts from 2013

My Freight Car Friday: mystery flat car

Above we have another mystery freight car. This one took me a while to obtain due to an Ebay seller messing up shipping for over a month. What we have here is a fenced flat car. At first glance you may think- hey this is that horse car from one the Lionel General outfit or the later Lionel Jesse James outfit. But no, this car is not from either of those.
The really strange thing about this car is that it has "fake trucks." Basically what you are seeing in the photo is a plastic mask in the shape of trucks a la Marx Trains. There are only 2 axles on this unit and if it were not for the underside Lionel stamp I would think this came from Marx.
I never thought Lionel would drop quality this far for a car- but they did and especially during the period they were owned by General Mills henceforth known as the MPC era. A sharp contrast to the ever collectible and solid Post War era.
So from what outfit did this flat car come?
The Lionel Workin' On the Railroad Logging Empire o…

Thanksgiving Eve watch and listen

It is the night before Thanksgiving and all through the house not a person was hungry- not even a mouse.
All watched the clock on the oven click down- for they knew at zero a roast turkey would be found.
And with would come mash potatoes and beans and culinary delights fit for the Queen.
Some stuffing, cranberries and a sweet potato or two- these foods would be eaten and consumed by the next day at 2.
And to top it off a pumpkin pie would be sliced then dolloped with whipped dream to top off Thanksgiving night.
But now we all wait for the turkey to arrive
And now watch and listen to what some people have contrived
To commemorate this ole holiday of thanks.
Years ago I wrote a Thanksgiving program for the college radio station in Morris, MN.
A Kumm Thankgiving Pageant

Then watch Charlie brown putter his way through Thanksgiving
I must admit this Charlie Brown special is kinda of corny in the set-up. It not the best but it certainly is not the least. And it is one of the few longstanding…

Trains and WWII

With this week starting out with Veterans' Day I think this would be an appropriate video to re-post from the Tube.

It is an informative film concerning an air attack on a military train. 2 P-51s bomb the railroad and the train crew responds albeit without eliminating the enemy aircraft. You may think it is odd that that US planes would bomb a US military plane but I doubt anyone was ready with cameras to film an actual attack. The aid response was particularly quick- but what can you show in 4 minutes. Once the trucks arrived they went right at it to restore the railbed.

The remote sauna

In August the Man of 3 Name and I took a canoe trip into Voyaguer's National Park in Northern Minnesota. To our surprise we were the only canoe we saw in the park (notwithstanding the canoe party from Illinois that was leaving as we were entering the park.). Voyaguer's is a big water kind of canoe area. Most of the smaller lakes are interior to the Kabetogama Penisula. We traversed the eastern bays of Lake Kabetogma to the big waters of  Namakan Lake and base camped in Junction Bay.
The weather was pleasant but did drop in the 30s one night. We also had a spectacular show in the evening skies- meteor showers.

I digress as this post is about the sauna we found in the wilderness.
On our way to Junction Bay we passed through a narrow gap between 2 islands. As we got closer I thought I saw some type of building on one of the islands. However, we paddled on without investigating.
On our way out we came through the area again and this time decided  to disembark and poke around this …

End of the Harvest

It has been a full to the brim fall with lots of work to do. And now with Halloween over we are heading downhill into the new year and Christmas. Well this year I did not make it to the Great Minnesota Get Together.  
Instead my mostly Finnish spouse and I (and the Boe) went to a reunion- the West Central Minnesota Steam Thresher's reunion in Rollag, MN. Though neither of us were steam threshers, we were allowed to go if we paid the admission price (I think it was $12 but it might have been $10). Anyways this event is incredible in that it helps us revisit an older age- the age when hard work and the brawn of steam engines ruled the land.

We saw lots of steam powered agricultural equipment in operation. But that is not all. There were 2 steam powered sawmills, a parade of tractors, lots of small motors, and an authentic steam locomotive that circled the entire grounds of this event. 

Besides being a agriculture spectator this year, I planted a garden. It it was a real good har…

Labor Day and the unintentional hiatus

Finally! I can catch some rest and some fish.

Labor Day cometh and I can rest from my corporate labors. It has been an extremely busy time for me at the multi-national company for which I work. Fortunately I was able to add 3 more support staff this summer to help when the going gets tough.
It has been nearly 2 and a half months since the last post so and I guess it looked like an unexpected hiatus. Well, it was expected  but definitely unintentional.
Let me count all the adventures I've had since we wrapped up the Fargo Marathon.
I planted a vegetable garden and volunteered at the Growing Together Community Garden. A separate post is forthcoming about gardening.
I returned to the Back to 50s Car Show in St. Paul after missing last year due to the wedding bumper crop.
June just flew by at lightning speed.
In July I had a considerable amount of stuff. On Independence Day I visited Bonanzaville with my MFS and the Boe, a new character in the Royce Files sphere. We were well roasted…

Delivering the lumber- my freight car Friday

I wanted to have some action on my railway besides just going in circles.
Lionel makes quite a few operational cars. I featured the milk reefer a few weeks. I doubt I will ever get that one to work. It is a long range plan.
So I found this Northern Pacific log dump car from 1984 on e-bay in practically new condition. Even came with the box for less than $30. I was planning on getting a version of this car at one of the local antique shops for less than $20. However, that one was broken.
The log dump car basically holds a few logs and at the desired point- notably the place where the collection tray sits and the automated track piece sits- dumps the logs.
Lionel has made these types of cars since the post-war period. Earlier versions were all metal. Its close relatives are the coal dump car and the helium tank dump car. These cars can be operated manually with the manual uncoupler thingie and automatically with an operating track section.
We don't see these type of cars out my way…

Wrap it up with neon - Fargo Marathon 2013

It seems a bit late to wrap up my Fargo Marathon coverage.
The race is long over and sort of forgotten for the year, but today I wear my "Team Fargo Rocks" shirt from a 2011 to make concluding remarks about the region's premier and largest running event.
So we know the winners but what about those who ran with style and vigour and panache? Let's meet a few memorable runners.
The trending style this year appears to be day glo neon. I saw plenty of runners apparelled in the brightest colors on the spectrum.

I tend to wear the neon vests more than the actual shirts. It ensures that I am seen and not run over. For what appeared to be a mostly overcast day the runners in those loud colors stood out.

In typical years in my marathon coverage I provide a snippet of particular traits of runners- like costumes or mustaches or tattoos. Well, this year I was distracted and did not come up with any consistent trend to cover. But I did re-visit some combos of years past in 2013…

A marathon of maniacs - Fargo Marathon 2013

Let me preface this just so you don't start thinking that running a marathon in Fargo is a hazard to your life. I will first say that marathon maniacs are generally decent people and non-violent. They like the challenge of zealously running marathons. It is a club of sorts with different levels of which you can attain through running lots and lots of marathons.
Well there were plenty of them in Fargo this weekend. And investigating further I discovered that it was perhaps these runners who started their race early. Becoming a particular level of maniac has a time component in which you need to run so many marathons. So instead of perhaps bonking out in the humidity- they started earlier.
Here is a blog post about the marathon from one nicknamed T-Rex.
 During my prep work for writing the post about the Fargo Marathon I check the registrants list to find people I know. I missed a few this year. I saw co-worker Kurt Fraser in the race- I think I even saw him at packet pick up. The…

The Last Few Miles - Fargo Marathon 2013

Although I was not anywhere near the finish, overall this was one good race. Sure the humidity was high a times and it was a bit wet in the morning but the race finished with a flourish not seen in Fargo since 2008 when Eric Sondag won. Sondag was on hand this year providing color commentary for the Forum's live blog.
Let's rewind back to the 4th mile. James Kirwa sped by followed by a bit of a space and then Chris Erichsen. And this was how it was for a majority of the race: Kirwa was holding a decent lead on Erichsen.

Near mile 18 when I saw the leaders again Kirwa had what I would guess to be a under a quarter mile advantage over Erichsen. The rest of the elite men were further back and actually one of them, Eric Chirchir, withdrew around mile 18. He looked to be favoring his knee. He was in 3rd at the time he withdrew and got carried away in a golf cart.
By this time I was thinking that a Kenyan runner will finally win the Fargo Marathon.
I thought too soon.
What I failed…

And the race goes on- Fargo Marathon 2013

Still dragging out this marathon. Probably because I did not get many pictures or find a theme.
No I did find a theme and I will get to those later.

Now onto to business.
After the elites then came the herds.
These are the halfies.
Apparently the man must be mistaken about this race- this is no beer run.
However, I am wrong. There was a beer garden at the finish line. Bizarre but I suppose it makes you forget all those pavement pounding miles.
 Looking through my pictures I then realize I had gotten a photo of a top beard a co-worker too- Jake.

What about the masses from the marathon?

My Mostly Finnish Spouse spotted a co-worker running the marathon incognito. People ran by and by. Even Chris Myers ran by. Now he is turning into a real Marathon Maniac. And apparently 2 members of the Emmy winning web series Intramural Glory, Mike McCue and Paul Unglaub ran by. But I must not have been paying attention. And I don't think Paul was in the series. At least on camera. I was. In…

A little wet and humid - Fargo Marathon 2013

My preparations for a morning of spectating and random coverage began at 5:30 AM. 
My crew zipped over to our race corner near mile 4 at 6:30 AM and set up the easy up tent in a light rain. Not much was happening until we started to see a few runners trickle by. And these were runners with official race bibs. No clue what they were doing. Too far from the Dome to be lost. I think about 2 dozen passed before either half or full officially started. We do know that a guy from Iowa ran the 10K by accident but eventually got on the right course for the marathon. Cris Estes would be proud. Apparently some entrants felt that because of the potential for high humidity in the later morn it would be better to start sooner than later. But perhaps they were slow runners who needed more than 6 hours to complete the course. This is the first time I ever encountered anything like that.
Let's go back in time for a moment before the race begins  to May 17th- inside the Fargo Dome.
As all the hubh…

The race is just the beginning- Fargo Marathon 2013

I am exhausted. I think ran the marathon. However, I did not. I spectated.
However, after spectacting in the early hours of morning I mowed the lawn then tilled the garden.
And all this is after spending most of Friday up at the Fargo Dome volunteering and watching my MFS run the 5K.
Rain may have put a damper on the 1st part of the race but the sun pulled out a major comeback by mid-morning. Yeah SUN!
I am much surprised and impressed that Chris Erichsen pulled out a victory in the men's marathon. Both times I saw him he was trailing in 2nd place.
Nichole Porath took the women's title. She had a commanding lead both a mile 4 and later around 18. I also got to check her in at the elite runner check in.
And Fargo's finest Eric Loeffler won the half. He continues to stand astride the top runners in the region.
But let's begin with my extended coverage of the races- beyond the races and to the intrigue.
This post will cover the "celebrities" at the 5K.

 For …

Another Freight Car Friday- It is good for you

A venerable operating reefer from early Post War Lionel. This one is in Ok shape. Doors are in bad shape and the figure who carries out the milk containers is missing.
This guy is heavy. The operating part has a lot of heft to it. I have not tested it yet because I have not set up my operating track piece yet.

Highlights from last year- Fargo Marathon 2013

Last year German Oliver Hoffmann was the first to finish the Fargo Marathon. Lisa Dyer won the women's title. Not much on the victors on the net besides their Fargo victories. I think Hoffmann may be lurking in the European track and field circuit. Dyer may still aspire to qualify for the 2016 Olympic trials. And we have a blog post from just after her victory. But then the blog is silent after Thanksgiving 2012.

Despite the cool weather in 2012 there was quite a turnout and spectators once again showed their Fargo friendly spirit.
Here's some highlights from last year.

It will be a little different this year so it should be an interesting race.

The heat is on - Fargo Marathon 2013

Could be the warmest Fargo Marathon this weekend. And there is a chance of thunderstorms. So who knows what could happen. Weather does that to you. I expected it to cool off a bit by weekend but forecasts have said "no."
Last year was a bit cool and wet so with the the "flood" course in place and warmer start this could be good one. Speaking of the route- it does not visit the Moorhead side of the river. However, there are plenty of stretches of this route where you can see the river and perhaps a little bit of Minnesota.

The Milwaukee Road path has returned to the course this time around. Marathoner will get to run on this path on the bottom of the route for miles 11, 12, and part of 13.
I hardly had time to research runners this year so I do not know any potential victors. The 'Net has been pretty mum about such things.
Casey Miller, Thomas Tisell are the only top 10 overall finishers from the marathon last year that are returning. Kyle Downs is running t…

Kicking things off with Estes- Fargo Marathon 2013

To continue to kick marathon week off let's revist that legendary interview of Cris Estes....

The legend goes that Cris ran the marathon course 3 times in one day at the 2009 event. No one is quite sure how he did it. Even he is a bit confused- mostly from runner's delerium.
In 2009 the route was re-routed into a loop- 2 loops was the marathon distance.
Perhaps we will catch up with Cris Estes this year as he plans to provide motivation to runners this years on the course.

Waiting for it to heat up - Fargo Marathon 2013

Race week is here. There is less flood than expected. But it is overcast.
Our late spring only peaks out once in a while.
Although it warmer now the temperatures will drop later this week into the weekend. But that is nothing to be concerned with the lows will be well above freezing. My only concern is potential showers on Saturday that could dampen things up a bit obviously.Still expect a cool start.
Only races still available to sign up for is the Friday Night 5K and the kids runs on Thursday.
You can sign up online for the 5K until Tuesday May 14th otherwise you can sign up in person at the Fargo Dome. The race currently has about 7000 entrants. Goal is 10000.
Fargo loves Boston is an underlying theme this year in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing in April. Memorial bands are being sold and proceeds donated to One Fund Boston, a fund set up to help victims of the Boston bombings.
Media coverage should ramp up by mid-week. Most the news in the last few weeks has been ab…

Little Green Acme Boxcar on a freight car Friday

I acquired this green box car in a train lot I purchased on E-bay. It seems to be an unlisted car as I can find no information whatsoever about an Acme Explosives box car produced by Lionel. So we've got a mystery on our hands again.
Let's examine the car.
It is an all plastic affair. Kind of short and small compared to the 6400 series of boxcars from Post War. Everything barring the axel is plastic. Stickers for nameplates and graphics. No build date. No moving doors. No doubt this is a cheap car which possibly came in a set during the MPC era.
The only indication this is a Lionel product is raised stamped lettering on the coupler sider "Lionel 9000 Series."
This is our first bit of evidence to work. And nothing comes of it on the Net. However the mold of this car certainly resembles quite a few catalogued cars. The Toys R Us 9045 and the Hershey's 9041 must share the same mold. It also appears to be a close relative of the Post War era Baby Ruth x1004.

Mystery Train from the Old Navy Yard

Seeking out old Lionel trains (and cars) has become a habit of mine recently. I decided to get started back after Christmas when I realized that there are too few people running Lionel or Marx or other O gauge electric trains. In fact, it almost seems like the hobby has been in decline since the 1980s. So I decided to keep this tradition alive somewhat.
However, it often appears that though there is plenty of old working model trains out there- the collectors have created a somewhat inflated value of these trains and accessories. It just makes the hobby more exclusive because toy trains have become equated with gold- notwithstanding the trains and accessories made of gold, if there are any. So what I often see is anything with a Lionel on it automatically becomes something of value even if it is come or unexceptionally built.
The trains of the Post-WWII period (and those before) were exceptionally made for the most part. But there was plenty of low cost yet durable pieces produced.…

Runners starting to bloom

Still feeling chilly up here in the 'Go, yet this weekend runners started to bloom out of the ground. It seemed that everywhere I went I noticed someone running. Even I ran this weekend- which has been rare this year because I run during the week. The weather cooperated mostly this weekend. The temps touched the 40s. It rained later on Sunday.
But why all the running now. Well, here are a few of my  theories.

Treadmill burnout.
I cannot imagine day in and day out doing the treadmill all winter. Running may be about the body but there is a huge aspect of running that is mental. I often burn-out running the same routes. When I find a new one my pace is more chipper. I feel more confident.Fargo Marathon in less than a month.
Yes, many may have realised that marathon day in Fargo is drawing near. Time to train. Time to get used to the pounding of the pavement. Although, the hardcore of those anticipating on running a PR at the Fargo Marathon will probably have been training since Janua…

Dangers of Twin City bike commuting and the M200

I've a little bike commuting in the Twin Cities. The vast metro area has plenty of bike lanes and routes connecting the inner core. Not so much the on the outer ring suburbs. Sure you can get around them but trying to go from one municipality to another is a trying activity because the way the highways cut everything up. However from the West and SouthWest burbs one might connect with the Cedar Lake Trail into downtown Minneapolis. Nothing that vast exists on the Eastside of the Twin Cities except perhaps the Gateway Trail and a route along Pt Douglas to Battle Creek that then follows the river.
But this post is not about routes. It is about danger and specifically this article from the Star Tribune: Bicyclist survives Molotov cocktail on Minneapolis’ Midtown Greenway.
The guy was biking through the Greenway in Minneapolis during the day and faced certain explosiveness from a bomb! Crazy! He goes on to say he has encountered other "missiles" as well. I never though that…

The Old Caboose- Lionel SP Caboose 6257 but illuminated

Since I've moved into a house I have been able to enjoy an old hobby-model railroad. Quite a few of my pics of trains and scenery have shown up on Instagram or Facebook.
The hobby seems like it is dying out to an extent- or has the potential to flicker out of popularity. I see fewer and fewer trains at the stores these days and much less a the hobby shops out this way. RC seems to be the hobby of choice. To find some supplies I need to head down to the Twin Cities and make a stop through Scale Model Supply to get what I need. Used to be a few stores that sold trains in the 'Go. In fact one of them used to be located where my church meets. Google pages say there is one- but on the map it is a house. There is an annual train show in October.
I digress.
Well, I had HO trains growing up. But just got into O scale this year, mostly because the size would be good for kids and my dad had a collection of Lionel trains. But before I set up to borrow my Dad's trains, I needed my …

The transitional spring

How easily we forget the tentacles of winter in this region. Last year's early spring put a spell on us. Made us think that we're not that cold.We're pleasant once February rolls past.
Not this year. The snow is still on the ground as April arrived. Its disappearing act has been hampered by the cooler temps that haunt our nights. It is that transitional season without a name. Sun, ice, and breeze.
For us ice bikers it is also the season of re-freeze. In the morn, vast sheets of ice on our paths. In the evening, a malignant transitory lake to throttle through. I have 2 of them on my route.
The one above knock me off my ride. It was a slippery one with no way to practically avoid it. I tried the side and it got me good.
I had changed my ride for the week. The old winter bike is not in good shape. It's pedal crank arm is falling off again. The rear gears are not working because the derailleur wire is broken. I gerryrigged it into a single speed and that worked for a wh…

Pugsley kind of day

I was on my 2 wheels most of last weekend spinning around town. Occasionally I needed to lift and carry my wheels through the banks of impassable snow which keepers of the sidewalks failed to clear enough. This time of year the snow rots- meaning it does not stick together and melts. Rotting snow is hard to ride on with 2 inch tires. But not 4 inch tires.   I stopped at the local mall and lo and behold, I see a Pug out at the rack locked securely. This ride not only had the big tires but it had big spiky tires. The Pug would ride well in this weather but I'd be a bit cautious of the random ice slick.

Another disdain I did not add to the winter biking post a few weeks ago is the snow piles at the corners. If you are riding the streets this stuff is piled up so high you need to literally be in the intersection to see cross traffic. These piles also make the rideable road space much smaller at that point. For those who utilize the sidewalks in winter these banked corners require you…

The disdain of winter biking

This is one of those things I don't look forward to in the winter.
Snow banks.
For the ice biker this means one thing- portage.
My workplace is hemmed in by snowbanks which requires me to carry my bike from the closest access- in this case a sidewalk- across the parking lot and them up on a mount of snow lock up the bike. The irritating thing is the public sidewalk that leads to the sidewalk over the freeway- has not r weeks. If it was then my portaging would be lessened.

Another note the sidewalk thing, In winter the roads lose about 3 feet of width on both sides. Sure I can ride in the road but my reasons are for sanity-sake- what good does a biker do when you are in essence creating a bottleneck since there is limited room for cars to pass. It does little to bring goodwill to icebikers. I just avoid the busiest streets in winter. But this sidewalk/street debate will rage on.

I have been thinking about those Surly pugsley bikes that are catching on for winter biking. Really f…

Stormy Weather

So many great gobs of snow fell last week- they closed highways and schools and work and even my neighborhood BBQ succumbed to the flurries. We knew it was coming. In fact I did some pre-shoveling to keep up with all the snow that piled up. Our driveway was clear but the street we lived on was full of about 2 feet of unplowed snow. Unless we had some kind of truck we could not get out. The plows came in the afternoon.
However, I walked to work that day. It was a streneous trek through snowclad streets and sidewalks. What I needed was snowshoes.
Typically it takes the city about 4 days to fully pull itself out of the snow. The sidewalks near work were cleared 3 days later. But I still biked most of week. But I disdain having to get off my bike and walk it across the 94 bridge through 3 foot snowdrifts. All my time in Fargo this bridge's walkway is usually never cleared until the 3rd or 4th day after the storm. It is a vital link to North/South ped traffic. Again, I should get a pa…

An Obligatory January Skiing Post

Just came back from a place where you find a lot of these:

Maplelag Resort is a literal repository of  railroad depot signs and a bunch of other railroad signage.  In fact 2 of the lodges are named for former lines that served most of the region- Great Northern and Northern Pacific. From what I can discern, most of the signs are from towns in western Minnesota, North Dakota, and the prairie provinces of Canada. However, I do know there is a depot sign for my hometown which is just south of the Twin Cities. I have yet to discover its hanging place at the resort. My MFS (mostly Finnish spouse) and I enjoyed a few days respite by skiing 80 km at the resort. Yes, this was a vacation but we enjoy being outdoors even when it is 8 below. Plus you really need to ski with all the delicious food that the Maplelag kitchen cooks up for us not to mention the bottomless cookie jar of 5 flavors. The skiing was fantastic- especially after the large snowfall we received on Monday night. In fact my s…