Downeast Thunder Railroad is a free Model Railroad Discussion Forum and photo gallery. We cover all scales and sizes of model railroads. Whether you're a master model railroader or just getting started, you'll find something of interest here.

2/6/2013 Update:

I haven't posted anything lately because I've been spending quite a bit of time researching turntable design & construction methods. I've been successful in compiling quite a database of information, along with many photos to aide my decisions on how I wish to design a turntable for DTRR. In the meantime, I'm also working on some drawings to fabricate a brush fork/tines attachment for the loader bucket on my tractor. Such an attachment can be clamped on quickly and be used for moving large piles of brush and tree limb trimmings from my woodlot processing area. I'm also planning on adding a couple of new pages to the DTRR web site: One for farm photos, and another for plans & drawings for farm related stuff such as a chicken coop and nesting box. These plans and photos will be available to anyone interested (again, for free download in pdf format) but with their own respective pages, they won't be mixed in with the railroad stuff. I should have the new pages added and populated within the next couple of days
New Pages are up on the DTRR Web Site:

New pages for downloading FREE farm project plans and viewing farm & farm project construction photos have been launched on the Downeast Thunder Railroad web site. Just hover your cursor over the "about" button and select from the drop-down menu that appears.
Wonderful stuff! does tend to impede any outdoor progress on the railway. We still have a lot of clearing to do, and I've removed quite a bit of snow into the woodlot so I can skid out some trees with my tractor, but that operation is limited. My tractor does not have an enclosed cab (or any cab for that matter) so it can get quite cold when the wind picks up with the wind chill factor. Work does continue however, in spite of the weather, even if we only cut down one tree in an entire day. At least something is being accomplished.
Looks like the next few days should be relatively mild after the past several days of sub-zero and single digit temperatures. I intend to take advantage of the warm up and get as much brush & tree removal accomplished along the woodlot spur right of way as I can.
Un-Scientific 18" Gauge RR Survey Results:

Greetings all,

A little while back, I posed a dozen questions entitled: "Questions To
The Yahoo 18" Gauge Forum." I also posed the same questions to certain individuals with 18" gauge railroads overseas (not already part of the forum). I only
received a small percentage of responses from the 18" gauge forum with
respect to the total membership.

I've decided enough time has gone by and I haven't received anymore
feedback in the last few days, so I've decided to tally the results and
share them with all of you. Please bear in mind this was not a
scientific survey, and there were no weighted questions. I was simply
curious about what others in the 18" gauge forum are doing with their railways.
You may find the results interesting as well.

I owe many thanks to all who participated and shared information about
their respective railroads. I very much appreciate the time and effort
they took to respond.

You will see the same questions that were originally posed
to the group below, with each question followed individually with my
summation of the results from responses received:

(1) What is the most common diameter wheel you use for locomotive drivers?

*Several respondents omitted answering this question. Of answers
received, the most common diameters for driver wheels of steam
locomotives ranged from 20" to 22" and the most common diameters used
for non-steam locomotive driver wheels ranged 12" to 16" (with most at
or close to 16").

*(2) What is the most common diameter wheel you use for your rolling stock?

*This question was also omitted by most respondents. Of answers
received, the most common diameter wheels used for rolling stock are in
the range of 9" to 12" with only a few being a bit smaller or larger
outside that range.

* (3) What size rail do you use for most of your railway (i.e. - 12#,
16" etc.)?

*It seems that 12#, 16#, and 20# rail is the most commonly in use,
however 12# rail is overwhelmingly the most popular rail in use for

* (4) What size in cross section and length are the ties that you use?

*4" x 4" ties are the most common in the results received.

* (5) How far apart do you space the ties on your railway?

*Some respondents reported their tie spacing at 12" O.C. and others
reported tie spacing much wider at up to 24" O.C., but the most
common**tie spacing is a toss up at 16" O.C. and 18" O.C.

* (6) What type of couplers do you use?

*There were a few reporting the use of knuckle type couplers, and
European style chain & tension w/buffer type couplers, but the
overwhelming majority uses link & pin, draw bars, or a combination of
the two.

* (7) Do you use air brakes & if so, what type?

*There were almost no air brake systems in use. Many in fact have no
brake systems at all. Some reported hand brakes, and that's about it.

* (8) Do you have both steam & diesel locomotives or just one or the
other, and if
so - which type?

*When I posed this question, I should have been more specific. Rather
than specifying "diesel," I should have said "non-steam, motor driven"
such to include gas, electric, air, and so forth. For the results I
received I'll just refer to non-steam as "motor." There were only a
couple of steam locomotives reported. The majority of respondents use
motor driven locomotives of various types. The steam locomotive
respondents also had motor driven locomotives.

*(9) Does your railway employ trestles, Warren truss, or other types of
bridges &
which one(s)?

*There not many trestles or bridges reported. Most were simple beam
spans, but there were a couple of short trestles and a simple truss
reported in use.

* (10) Is your railway based on industrial, park train, grand scale, or
"rules of thumb" and which one(s) (if a combination)?

*Not surprisingly, it seems that several railroads are based on park
train systems, and an equal number based on mining/industrial
specifications, with a few being a combination of park train and
mining/industrial. One reported "totally freelance."

*(11) How long in actual feet (not scale feet) is your railway at present?

*The average railway length reported by respondents is about 1000 feet,
give or take.

* (12) Do you plan to expand your railway anytime in the near future?

*Less than half of the respondents plan to expand their railway and of
those reporting the length of the planned expansion, about 2000 feet is

There you have it folks. The results are in no way intended to be
regarded as a set of standards. It's just a "window" to the 18" gauge forum group,
peeking in on what the "other guy" is doing or planning. It satisfies my
curiosity, which is of course my original intention. I hope you will all
find this as interesting as I did. Once again, I just wish to express my
thanks and gratitude to all of the participants. I hope you'll all
continue to share information about your railroads. I
find this sort of information exchange motivating in many ways.

Paul Bennett,

Downeast Thunder Railroad, Milbridge, Maine
Free Plans for Brush Tine Attachment (clamps on tractor loader bucket):

I have just completed a plans package for a tractor loader bucket, clamp-on brush tine attachment. The package is 11 pages, 9 of which are drawings, all in pdf format. These plans are available free from the Downeast Thunder Railroad web site. Just hover your cursor over the "about" button and scroll down the drop-down menu. Then click on "Farm Project Plans & Drawings." Then select and click on the Brush Tine Attachment plans hyperlink - that will begin the pdf download, and as always - it's FREE.

I put these plans under the farm heading because that's where this attachment will see the most use over the years, but it's a very handy attachment to have when clearing land for a new right-of-way. After dropping trees and cutting off limbs, there is (almost always) a huge pile of brush to contend with. This attachment will save hours of backbreaking physical labor.

You might have to alter some of the dimensions to fit the loader bucket of your tractor, but it's a simple attachment and this can be easily accomplished by most folks capable of steel fabrication work.

I designed this attachment based upon my tractors loader bucket dimensions and the steel scraps & pieces I found laying around my shop. When finished, I'll have less than $50.00 invested, yet similar attachments bought at retail go for between $1000.00 and $1500.00

Here are the plans (free). Go make some arcs and sparks!

Paul B.
Milbridge, Maine


Gandy Dancer
81 degrees here in central Texas last week. (Cooler today, high of only 70.) Is spring too far off to even think about up there in Maine?
Present Plans for Farm & Railroad:

For many folks around the country, the beginning of March is the start of the Spring season as their local weather begins to warm up. Of course in this part of Maine, we are still very much in the dead of Winter. In fact, it snowed all day yesterday (the 1st of March) and it’s snowing today.

We can’t make any large expenditures on railroad supplies or equipment right now. In order to maintain farm operations (our main source of income), we have to allocate funds for livestock & seed purchases, plus other farm supplies required to allow us a productive season when the warm weather finally arrives. We already have our fencing and shelter materials for the new hog pen. We’re just waiting for the ground to thaw so we can set fence posts. In the meantime, we are negotiating with local pig farmers for some feeder piglets.

Today’s job involves cleaning all of our maple sap collecting equipment. We’ll then be out in the woods tapping maple trees to begin our sap collecting later this afternoon. In about three weeks, we’ll take all of the maple sap we’ve collected and boil it down to fresh Maine maple syrup. We use Silver Maples, so it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.

By the end of “sugarin’ season,” we’ll be getting our brooders all cleaned out and set up with heat lamps and fresh bedding, making way for our first batch of freshly hatched meat chicks (about 50 at a time). Some time in April, we’ll take delivery of 2 day old meat chicks at the post office (ordered from a large, commercial hatchery), and get them situated in the brooder. They’ll live in the brooder under a heat lamp for the first 4 weeks before moving outside to the meat bird coop & run. When the chickens are 8 weeks old, they will be processed right here on the farm. They will average around 6 pounds each (dressed) after processing. If you are local, you’ll want to get your order in now because they go fast (as do the turkeys).

The yearly cycle will continue with other batches of meat turkeys and more meat chickens. There will be more egg laying chickens and ducks to add to existing flocks, and of course there will be lots of work prepping our green house, starting plants from seed, getting outside fields and raised beds prepped with rich compost and getting plants in the ground. Deer fencing will be erected everywhere to protect crops, and a new crop irrigation system is being installed this year. there is no shortage of work.

Somewhere in between all these activities, we’ll be working on our railroad as well. Good thing the days are now getting longer. Even so, there never seems to be enough hours in a day around the farm.

To JazzDad: It's been quite hot around here lately, which is very unusual for this time of year. Yesterday, the temperature skyrocketed to almost 32 degrees F. I got so hot, I had to remove my coat and just wear a long sleeved, insulated work shirt while out plowing with my tractor. I only needed one pair of gloves, and my Muck (brand) boots were making my feet sweat.
DTRR Turntable Plans:

I've been pressed for time lately with just not enough hours in a day, but I have been working on a set of plans for a turntable. I was successful in compiling a number of photos and drawings for other turntables, and I received quite a bit of input from folks that have had experience building them.

The concept for my design is of a hybrid variety. It is fairly simple, uses off the shelf components wherever possible, and should be fairly straight-forward and easy to construct. Basic drawings have been started and I'll try to have a completed plans package available for free download fairly soon on the Downeast Thunder Railroad website. I'll post an announcement when they're ready.
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I broke my backhoe:

I was digging out tree stumps in a right-of-way I cleared yesterday. All of a sudden I felt and heard a couple of loud snaps. The boom for the backhoe collapsed on the ground and my controls were useless.

I shut off the tractor and investigated, only to find the base unit that holds and pivots the boom had snapped, and an end of one of the hydraulic cylinders also snapped clean off.

It took me the remainder of the day to get the tractor out of the area I was digging, dragging the backhoe along the ground, getting it up to the shop, and removing the backhoe from the tractor. Now I have to disassemble the backhoe so I can begin repair work on the broken components.

This will set me back for awhile in building and prepping the rail bed, and I hate losing the next few days because the weather promises to be clear and mild.

Oh well.....

John P

Active Member
Hi, if you follow the link below you will see a screen capture from my computer showing the first page of your website. I wonder if you know about the material that's shown at the top of the page, mostly advertisements for dubious services, like "Generic Viagra" and "merchant cash advance". Does this indicate that some bunch of crooks has had access to your computer?
Thanks John. I checked it out and nothing appears on my computer (The site is not on my computer but hosted by a separate company). My wife is professional web developer and I asked her to look into it. We checked it out using several computers and browsers. Nothing turned up. She also checked out the code on the back end but didn't see anything out of place. The only browser we have not checked is "Opera" which is what I believe you are using. Perhaps those ads are from your browser or computer? We have not heard from anyone else about this.

We'll continue to go over our code and check out a few other things, but so far, there is nothing. Thanks for the heads up though. I appreciate you taking the time to let us know of what you discovered.

Paul B.
Milbridge, Maine

My wife just downloaded and installed "Opera" on one of her computers and checked the DTRR web site and none of the junk you reported turned up at all. She also just ran through all the code again and it's clean as a whistle - nothing showed up. I called a few friends that use different ISP's and had them check it out and they didn't see anything as you described either. Don't know what to tell you......

Paul B.
Milbridge, Maine

John P

Active Member
I think the key isn't my choice of browser, but the fact that I usually run it with Javascript turned off, to avoid advertising. I turned Javascript on, and sure enough the trash disappeared. But here's what you get if you save the HTML page as text (do a search on "viagra" if you don't find the problem immediately): Thunder Railroad _ Milbridge, Maine.txt

If the page was done by a professional, the sad truth may be that anything that person produces is contaminated.
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between the time of my last post and yours, my wife has been looking through all of the code, and identified a bunch of junk that shouldn't be in there. Right now, she is trying to identify how the hacker got in and inserted the code so she can prevent it from happening again (anytime soon - we're aware we are never truly hack-proof).

We're not sure if we got hacked through a plug-in, something on our end, or the server (Go-Daddy) just yet. We'll make the corrections, but are trying to figure out how to keep this sort of attack at bay.

The DTRR site is based on WordPress, and as I'm writing this, my wife just announced some other site owners with WordPress sites have cited similar problems with their sites over the past two weeks.

Thanks again for for bringing this problem to my attention. I appreciate it.

Paul B.
Milbridge, Maine

John P

Active Member
You're welcome. Funny how that was so cleverly hidden there, but at least they didn't play some trick like white print on a white background. I tried a search on some of the trash text, wondering if there were sites all over the world with the same stuff, but the only other one I found was a Facebook page that's all about "Rails across Maine". If that's yours too, you'd better check it.

The files I got from the Downeast Thunder site were just for illustration purposes and I've deleted them from Dropbox.
Rails Across Maine is not mine, but I think I know who might own it (I don't personally use "In Your Facebook"). I'll drop him an email and see if it's his. Thanks again. My wife purged the junk code from my site, but when she gets time, she is going to do a fresh re-install along with some security and plug-in updates, new passwords, etc. Can't be certain, but she suspects the site was hacked through Go-Daddy (the host provider). None of my other sites were affected, nor were any of the sites owned by my wife's clients. Go-Daddy was suspected because of some previous problems Go-Daddy had (they were hacked and a bunch of sites on their servers were compromised). They had notified us when that happened back then, but we heard nothing from them this time.
Sugarin' Season:

It's that time of year at Downeast Thunder Farm - We're collecting maple sap every day to make farm fresh Maine maple syrup. It's quite time consuming so I haven't repaired my backhoe yet, but progress continues every day (weather permitting) cutting/removing trees and brush along the planned railway routes.
To all following the progress of DTRR:

Sorry for not posting any updates lately. With the warm weather moving in, I've been very busy with farm work (we have a very short growing season here in Maine) and that includes pulling out our brooders and taking delivery of 50 meat chicks plus a half dozen pullets (egg laying chicks) to add to our existing flock. Our incubator is full of White Pekin duck eggs, and I have to get the meat bird coop & run ready for when the meat chicks come out of the brooder.

There has been some progress on the railroad though. The spur from the wood lot to our firewood processing area and outdoor wood boiler is the main focus, and the staging/unloading area at the wood boiler end has been cleared, and quite a bit of gravel has been put in place. This will be the first place where rail will be installed.

The backhoe that broke last month is still down, but I have recently had time to get to it and disassembled most of the machine for better access to the broken pivot bracket piece that requires major surgery. I've also removed the broken hydraulic cylinder to make repairs easier.

There will be more significant updates in the near future but probably not with the frequency I reported them during the cold weather months.

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