Tales of the Little Red Wagon

Written by Charles Bartel

It’s Monday morning as I start this paper and another York road trip is in the books. But what a trip it was with the Little Red Wagon. Just to make it clear, the Little Red Wagon was a Christmas gift from my wife who thought this would be a great gift for me when I go shopping! Or bring trains into the Fair, or the Event center, or......

And after a little “what is this” and “what do I do with this” that Little Red Wagon has become a friend to me. So, on Thursday morning, I took the wagon out of the shed where it was cold and shivering, and put it in the car where it would get warm and cozy. It was quickly jointed by a host of other items, like computer (never go anywhere without it!), suitcases, and the necessities of travel like pop, nuts, candy and pretzels. By 7 am we were on our way to pick up Gary and Cathy. During trip preparation, Bonny made sure I called the credit card company so that last year’s credit card fiasco was not repeated. So, what happens, I try to buy gas and the screen says see attendant! And Bonny again asked if I called the credit card company. I and the Little Red Wagon are not even out of West Seneca, and the bashing beings. Turns out I put in the wrong zip code into the pump keypad. Fingers were just too cold to properly input the correct zip.

Finally, we are on the road leaving West Seneca and bang – detour. Not even to Gary’s and there is a detour! So, adjustments to the travel plans and wham, another detour! Road closed 1 mile ahead, local traffic only. Not a good start.

Once we picked up Gary and Cathy, an agreement was made. I was the driver, Gary was the navigator. And so the journey gets underway until we reach route 153. Gary said turn, and I turned. After a short bit, he was looking out the window and is wondering where all the trucks were. Finally realized we turned too soon! But “we could stay on the road we were on”, and it would join up with the right road about 5 miles ahead. Ok, sound good on the surface. As we drove down the road, it changed from a paved two lane road to a gravely road and then to a gravely road with POTHOLES. And snow on both sides of the road. We watched the houses disappear, and finally the power poles went away and we were on Pennsylvania state forest property with no cell service, poor roads and a bumpy ride!!! Instead of 55 mph, we were down to 20 mph or less and making dinner reservations at 6:00 pm were not looking good. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, the power lines reappeared, and a house or two showed up. And as Gary said, we found the right road (with about 20 trucks following each other at significant speed).

On the drive down, we discussed what the goals of the trip were. We discovered that we had two people who very organized and two people prepared to go with the flow. Bonny and Gary had a written list of items or activities that they wanted to accomplish over the next two days. My mental list not written down was to pick up metal wheels for my USA cars, especially the military cars, and maybe another military car or two. Beyond that, I was only interested in what might catch my fancy. (And a lot caught my fancy!)

We had a great time at the club dinner Thursday night (and we made it with about 5 minutes to spare) of the club (even though it was small numbers compared to prior years) on the river front. The weather 

turned lousy with high winds and heavy rain. We decided that dinner was going to be long and drawn out so that we would not be in the storm on our way back to the hotel.

Friday finally arrives; Bonny, Cathy and Gary were in line for tickets at 8:00 am! Myself and the Little Red Wagon were warm and comfortable in the car on a conference call. (Got to work to pay for trains!). The show opened and the race was on. Slightly after the show opened, my phone call was over and it was time to put the Little Red Wagon to work. I loaded it with our drinks, snacks and my computer and in we went. Before the first purchased was done, it was loaded with coats and bags so that no one in our group was burdened with unnecessary items. The first sale was to Bonny who found one of the two Egg liners she was looking for. On the down side, the vendor had just sold the only Russian egg liner that he had, her second item on the list! Bonny actually tracked down the buyer so she could take pictures. (She is thinking of taking one egg liner that she has a duplicate of and painting it, putting on her own jewels.) Gary found an Astrocraft wye switch that he needs for his layout. Both items went into the wagon.

And that led to a fascinating interchange between Gary, Teya and me. (Teya is a member of the Tidewaters Big Train Operator’s and a friend who has visited some our club member’s layouts). We met Teya as we were taking to the RAM sales rep. She commented that she like what we had. Gary lamented that he was only able to get one of them. Teya indicated she had a source for these and could get as many as Gary needed. At this point, I was thinking of changing my design to add a wye switch into it somewhere. The switch that Gary had found was in SS and he asked if she could get it in brass. And she said whatever Lowe’s carried she could get! Lowe’s carrying wye switches for G scale trains? And then it hit all three of us, she was talking about wagons, and we were talking about switches! And that became the pun for the next two days.

I would like to make a point about RAM. We have experienced failed relays in the station stoppers and to this day are not sure why. I have talked to the designer and he has never had this problem before. I have been collecting data on in rush currents for the Harry Potter engine (works just fine on the trolley line) and have not found an answer yet. However, he had insisted that we had a bad power supply and has us buy to new supplies. His engineer said no, we did not need these supplies, as ours was better than needed. So we asked to return these supplies at the show so that we did not have shipping. He took them back and also gave us the shipping cost. He did it on our word, not even asking for a receipt. A good vendor to the G scale world.

As the morning wore on, the Little Red Wagon earned its keep. First there were two boxes of # 6 switches from USA trains, then two boxes of wheels from USA trains along with three more military cars. The pile was now about three foot high and on its first trip to the car. To make a long story short (not my normal path), the Little Red Wagon made 7 trips to the car, each time burden well above what it was originally designed for! During these two days, I could have sold a few brothers and sisters of the Little Red Wagon. I expect next year to seen them at the show.

It was finally time to head home, with the Little
Red Wagon having done its carrying duties and
ready to rest. By the time Gary was through
packing and repacking, there was just room for the
suitcases behind the middle seats. The picture at
the right was before we went4 shopping at
Chocolate world and then at the car museum. And
Cathy kept a small tree by her seat all the way
home also. I think you could slide a piece of paper
under the front wheels the back was so loaded.
It’s a good thing that the van has good side view
mirrors, as you could not see anything except Gary and Cathy with the rear view mirror.

On the home, while the Little Red Wagon was resting, we took a short trip (not a detour!) to Hershey for some sweet chocolate and visit the railroad display at the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum. The cars were not bad either.

Thanks to the BTO convention last summer, Bonny and I were very
familiar with the area and knew of a restaurant (The Warf) across the
road from the throat of a Norfolk and Southern rail yard. We told her
we did not care where she sat us so long as we had a view of the railroad
activity! Did not phase the waitress one bit. We had a semiprivate
dining room where we could look out the window at the passing trains.
We saw a total of 5 trains in an hour. Before we left, we drove around
the yard perimeter. At one end of the yard is a Triple Crown train area.
This is an area that is being expanded to handle more traffic. We watched as a train was slowly being disconnected after arriving from points West.

And of course, I could not close out this walk down memory with the Little Red Wagon without commenting on the food. The Tidewater group has been going to the Lyndon Dinner for 20 years on Friday night. Teya invited us to join their group and we gladly accepted. When we arrived, they had no record of a reservation for 18 people, and their back room was being used by a group of 50 who were there after a funeral. We did not think our group, who expected to be noisy, was a good fit for the same room. After some hand wringing and searching, they finally decided that they could handle us in the main dining area. And so, we had one long table with multiple conversations ongoing. The fellow ship of this group was all that I have written about in the past. Of course the main conversation was about trains, but family, grandchildren, and trips were right up there at the top. On Saturday, a slightly smaller group with some new faces had a second dinner at the Olive Garden. Again, multiple conversations, but one that stood out was about men and women’s service in WWII, Korean War and other conflicts. Several at the table were vets and those of us who have not served offered our thanks for their contribution to maintaining our freedoms. 

Of course there were the usual comments about when are you going to lay track? (Soon) Do you really need this car? (Of course!) Why buy plants now when you don’t even have track down? (Why not?) If I would have known how much fun going to York could be with club members and friends, I would have joined the club a long time ago.