New Sparky Chronicle Logo, Said to Impart More of a Masculine Look Photo of Sparky with a Frosty Fizz Cola and Crunchy Critters Candy Bar A Website Chronicling the Day to Day Struggles of a Stuffed Animal Who Believes He's Alive!


About Sparky


Contact Sparky

Next Page 

Sparky's History of Train Tracks

Right after the cavemen moved into towns cuz they got tired of being cold all the time while living in those old caves, there was a problem they noticed.

That problem was that everything they wanted to do was somewhere else, like another town, or jest the other end of town.  That's why they had to invent transportation.

They started out with horses, then wagons pulled by horses, then other kinds of animals like cows, dogs, oxen, elephants and water buffaloes.  Some guys even hitched their wife and kids up to the wagon if they had to pull a big load and they was too lazy or didn't have no animal to do the work.

Eventually somebuddy invented the "Omnibus," which was a reel big wagon-looking thing that was like a big wagon with chairs on the floor in back, and it was at first pulled by a bunch of horses, then in later years by a steam engine stuck on front in place of the horses.  That made it about a block long, and it was too long to turn at a corner cuz streets was pretty narrow back then.

The steam engine invention didn't work very well, so eventually somebuddy invented the stage coach, and that became the standard thing that people rode all over the place, like to Dodge City and other cowboy towns all over the place.

The biggest problem that happened over and over again was that there weren't any maps available like there are today, and people driving stage coaches kept getting lost, so a way had to be found to prevent this reel bad problem.

That's when Baron von Track came to America on vacation, and saw what a problem there was about people getting lost all the time.

He showed the people how they could put some of his tracks down, and put some special wheels on the stagecoach, and then all the driver had to do was go forward and he would get to the next town without getting lost or stuck in the mud or something like that!

Well, wouldn't you know it, the horses didn't like walking on those ties, and they often tripped and fell and got injured, so the next invention needed was another way to drive that stagecoach.

A smart scientist remembered seeing that "Train" that those cavekids used to play with, and he bought a steam engine from the guy that invented it and he put some of those special wheels on it and hooked it up to the stagecoach and like a miracle, he had what was called the "Stagetrain," which ran between Dodge City and Hays, Kansas for many years, up until the introduction of the Bus.

Sparky's Back Yard
Page 3
by Sparky

The Split Rock City Railroad

Featuring Construction and Operational Information About the Railroad

July 1, 2003.  Jim ordered somePicture of the little plastic bridges, 18" long little plastic bridges that will sit on top of the bridge supports in "Fearsome Gorge," and permit the trains to go over the gorge without the passengers having to be "fearsome" of a crash.  The little bridge is made by LGB, who makes a lot of the G-Scale train things we have, and is about 18" long and 6" wide.

The next things Jim ordered was some sTrack turnout that most people call a "Switch"witches (Reel train buffs call them "Turnouts.")  The one in the pitcher at the right has a lecktrical turner-outer motor on one side, and you ken hook up some wires and a special lecktrical switch to it, so you can then put in a special sensor thingy that listens fer when the train is coming and then it changes the turnout so the train goes a certain direction.  Then you ken make the train stop and maybe wait fer another train to go past before it starts up and goes again.  This works reel good in a garden railroad, cuz you fer sure don't want that train to wreck and end up in the Petunia patch, where it might wreck a lot of your wife's Petunias and get you in trubble.

It's reel lecktronical, so I won't try to explain it here, cuz I don't know nothing about it either, 'cept that it is specially made to work in a garden railroad and therefore it is waterproof and dirt proof so it don't get messed up too fast.

Jim also ordered some other thingys to fasten the tracksPicture of little brass clamps that hold the tracks tightly together together when they get to the Turnouts, cuz when you try to solder regular tracks to the end of the track that's part of the turnout, the plastic parts start to melt, and the turnout might not turn out any more!  Fer that reason some clever inventor invented some brass rail fasteners that you put on the ends of the track rails and tighten a special screw and then it holds the tracks together and makes sure the lecktrick-city gets through so the train will run smooth.

When you don't fasten the tracks correctly, the lecktrik-city sometimes gets lost or simply jest can't jump over to the next piece of track, so the locomotives will often start and stop and wiggle and jiggle all over the place, and sometimes even get into a wreck in case one train stops cuz it got to a section of track that was either dirty on top or didn't have a good lecktrickal connection, and the one behind keeps going and crashes into it reel fast.

Jim hates it when it does that, so he always solders together the pieces of track that make up most of the railroad, then uses these "Split Jaw Rail Clamps" to hold the tracks wherever he can't solder things safely.  That way, the weather that hits a garden railroad won't make the track lecktrik-city get confused and fall out onto the ground, and maybe fry some of the flowers nearby.


Since this little town that will be served by the railroad is to be located on various hills, it will need fer the dirt to be retained by some large rocks as well as little retaining walls, commonly called "Cribbing."

To make the cribbing, Jim jest chops up all the old scrap redwood and cedar boards that have accumulated over the years.  He firstTwo different pieces of cribbing and a piece of the welding rod "rips" the scrap boards on his bandsaw, to about 1/2" square.  Then he cuts them off to about 5" long.  Then Gloria drills a 5/32" hole in each end.  And finally, Jim cuts a notch in both ends of half of them, and in the remaining pieces he cuts a notch in only 1 end, like shown in the pitcher.

They are assembled in place in the dirt by pushing pieces of 3/32" bronze welding rods into the dirt and through the cribbing pieces.  Then the wall is built up one row at a time until the correct height is achieved.  Next, the top of the wall will be leveled by pushing dirt under low spots or tapping high spots down into the dirt.  The tips of the welding rods are then bent over to hold the cribbing pieces in position.  After leveling, the space in back is gradually backfilled, being careful to locate the "Deadman" pieces of cribbing so the dirt will help keep the finished wall from tilting forward.

Sparky's Retaining Wall Cribbing Album
Top, low wall partially completed
The top wall partially done

Top wall nearly completed
The top wall done, not filled

Both cribbing walls completed
Bottom and top walls

Cribbing walls finished and backfilled
Cribbing done & backfilled

Cribbing retaining walls are typically used for relatively short distances, broken up with large rocks, to better simulate the way track roadbeds are built in the real railways.

Picture of wild frog that lives in our pond Sunburned Frog?
We have a wild frog that lives in our pond, and he jest sits on them lily pads and doesn't do anything constructive or even act cute like the goldfish.  Then on July 6th he sat on that lily all day long, in the hot sun.  The next day he was missing in action.  Does that mean that he got sunburned, or was he jest having a lazier-than-usual day?

July 7, 2003.  Weather:  6:30 a.m., 66 F., sunny, light breeze.  Great day to be working outside on the garden railroad, but after building the 2 retaining walls shown above, Jim ran out of pieces of wooden cribbing and had to go inside and cut up some more.

He used up all the redwood and cedar scraps, and decided to cut up several boxes of assorted oak scraps, due to the fact that oak is used outdoors in some parts of the country, and also due to the fact that otherwise Gloria will, sooner or later, jest throw out them scraps.  (Did I ever mention that he's half Scotch and half Irish?  The Scotch half wants to save everything and the Irish half is too lazy to clean up or throw anything away).

NOON:  Sparky looked out the back door from the basement, and the UPS package from Watts Train Shop was leaning against the back door.  Jim was making so much racket with his saws, we didn't hear the UPS driver, and the service was better than he had expected, considering the 4th of July was expected to wreak havoc with the delivery schedule.

July 8, 2003.  Weather: 6:30 a.m., 68 F., sunny, slight breeze.  It was so hot that even the sun had to wear sunglasses!Great day for a bike ride, so that's what Jim did, and he said that the yard can wait until later in the day.
Weather at noon: 96 F., Temperature at 6 p.m, 101 F.  Good afternoon to stay inside and work on cutting more pieces of cribbing.

Things are coming along reel good, but it's reel hot outside, and I don't want to overheat either myself or my powerful Steam Shovel, so that's about it fer now.  I jest wanted to bring everybuddy up to date on what's going on in my back yard.  I'll probably have some more pitchers in a couple of days and then I'll add them to the next page, which I'll be starting pretty soon. --Sparky
About Today, July 1, 2003


6:30 a.m., 72 F.
8:30 a.m., 92 F.
3:30 p.m., 95 F.
Sunny, calm and dry

Beverage of the day:

Decaffeinated Iced Sun Tea

Recipe for Sun Tea:

Put a gallon of water in a gallon glass jug, put in 4 extra large tea bags and set it in the sun for 3 or 4 hours

Question of the day:

"If you leave that jug of Sun Tea in the sun too long, will it get so hot that it turns into coffee?"

"Fearsome Gorge" Information

Total Bridge Spans:
4, each 18 inches long

Depth of Gorge at deepest point:
21.5 inches

Length of lowest track in the gorge:
About 36 inches

Width of Gorge at widest point:
21 inches

Amount of dirt moved during construction:
About 5 wheelbarrow loads

Other, Larger Wonders of the World:

Brooklyn Bridge
Panama Canal
Empire State Building
Grand Canyon
Great Pyramid
Super K-Mart, Denver
McDonald's, Barstow, CA

Easiest Things to See From Outer Space:

Grand Canyon
Great Wall of China
Polar Icecaps

Top 5 Things You'll Never See From Outer Space:

 1. Sparky's Back Yard
 2. New York City
 3. Denver bike paths
 5. World's largest Prairie Dog (in Kansas)


This is Page 3     Click Here for Page  1    2    --    4    5    6    7    8    9

 Next Page



All Travel

Train & Yard




Bike Stories


About Sparky

D-I-Y Page

Contact Me


Copyright (C) 2004 by James J. Meagher