My Western Trip Part~9

2 Jul

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Bill Lites

Bill Lites

The next morning I visited the Joe Martin Miniature Engineering Museum in Carlsbad, CA.   I had received emails about the detailed aluminum model aircraft that Young Park had built. Maybe you have seen pictures of them. When I researched his planes, I discovered he had donated a couple of his masterpieces to the Joe Martin Museum, and I wanted to see them up close. They are unbelievably detailed!


Well, I was absolutely overwhelmed by the many museum models! There were miniatures of just about everything mechanical you can think of. They were all scratch built, and all work just as the full sized item would. It’s hard for me to grasp the idea that people have the skill and patience to build these working miniatures. There were several examples of model steam engines (operated by air pressure), and a demonstration of a model V-8 auto engine, that had the coolest sound. If you can imagine a soprano Vroom-Vroom!!!



And, then there was the model “external” combustion engine demonstration, which included the answer to one of my life long questions. In the early days of the railroad, how did they keep the water tanks you see being used (in the movies) to replenish the steam engines, filled with water? Answer; External Combustion Engines (not usually seen) used to pump water from a well near the tank. Also not seen, is the job of the train’s engineer, who would stoke the pump’s external engine fire source when he finished filling his train’s water tank. I find these engine pumps fascinating. There are some really cool examples of model “external combustion engines” on YouTube. If you Google “External Combustion Engine” some of the schematics are even animated, giving you a good idea of how the engine and its pump works. Check them out for yourself, it’s really interesting.



Needless to say, I spent a lot more time at the Joe Martin Museum than I had planned. But, once I was able to tear myself away from all those fabulous models, I headed for San Diego. I made stops on the way at the Antique Car & Steam Engine Museum, the Mission San Luis Ray and the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum. The next morning I went to Balboa Park to visit the San Diego Air & Space Museum, the San Diego Auto Museum and the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. I had been to the Air & Space Museum and the Auto Museum (Google; Louie Mattar’s Fabulous Car & Old Plank Road) two years ago, but I had missed the Model Railroad Museum. Supported by at least four local model railroad clubs, this is one of the largest (27,000 sq. ft.) model train layouts in the country. They must have had 15 or 20 tracks coming into the rail yard and turntable area from all directions. I wished my friend Leon, who works with Model Circus Train clubs in Albuquerque, NM, could have been with me to see this fabulous layout.




—–To Be Continued—–






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