Things are finally underway for the new year and it’s time for some updates.

Trains first ran on Saturday, May 7. I tried a different approach to track cleaning that really cut down on the amount of time needed, and also used a heavier engine (USA Trains GP-9) so it had more mass to get over dirty track sections. My new method is to put some WD-40 onto the abrasive pad of the track cleaning car. The WD-40 really removes crud a lot faster than a dry pad. After a few passes with some manually held to get over dirty sections of track, the train ran without any problem. Much easier than using the old Bright Boy and several hours of work. A new bridge from Eaglewings Iron Craft was finally purchased. I had to pour concrete abutments in a custom-made mold, and on Mother’s Day I got the bridge installed:

The bridge is made of steel, is 3 feet long and weighs in around 20 pounds. Each of the abutments are around 30 pounds. This isn’t like modeling in HO scale. Here’s another shot from the track looking at the bridge. The rear of the train is on top of the tunnel, and the switch in the foreground is for the long passing siding along the back of the layout. Yes, the tree house and my ham radio tower are both in the background.

The major project was to remove the old pond and put in a much larger one, so this is what we did over Memorial Day weekend. Friday night, Sui looking on and thinking “Gee, Bob is standing in the pond waiting for it to be filled with water, what a surprise… NOT!” I’m not exactly sure how many gallons are in the pond, but my guess is around 400.

Saturday afternoon:

A few weeks later I finally had a much larger pump and a rough start of a waterfall. This will be refined through the course of the summer, but it looks and sounds nice already:

We have 12 fish happily swimming around. Sorry, there was no way to get them all in a single photo and even these guys wouldn’t all smile at the same time for me:

I bought a bag of feeder fish from a local store, but the two larger fish are from a local garden store called Laurel Oaks in Marlton (NJ). They sold us the pond liner, some of the supplies, and plants. I’ve recently been going to Lily Pond Emporium in Mt Holly (NJ) for other supplies.