Tag Archives: trains

Magical Rotating Masses of Steel

Thinking about magical things happen when you put your mind to them. How your desires can be manifested with continuous effort. How if you keep repeating something it becomes the truth.

So there’s this club up in the Berkeley Hills where grown men  play with trains. Really big trains. A club that’s been around since 1936, leasing a nice parcel from the local parks department. Live steam it’s called. Steam engines with all the mystery and explosive power of the full size models.

I have ridden by a few times, wishing to get in and meet some of the people that do this insane-looking hobby. It is a private club. And they have a thing on Sunday afternoons where the general public can show up and get a train ride (Donation suggested), but that’s just not for me. I want IN. How do you think I got into the bicycle business?

So on this fine Sunday, the 5th or 6th time I have cruised by there, longingly peering into the members-only area, I saw a full parking lot and rolled right in, parked my bike and walked in like I owned the place. What would Karl do? Ask forgiveness, not permission.

So I start walking around looking at the trains, trying to stand tall, full expecting one of those additudenessly-said “Can I help you?’s” from one of the up-tegenarian old white guys in conductor hats spread around the whole place. Whoa look at these things they are fucking awesome! Steam and fire and metal. What an epic hobby! I saw steam trains that run on coal, some that run on wood, and propane. 1/8 scale. 7.5” track.


Wait here comes someone a little younger, walking toward me. Uh-oh. Just smile and comb your hair, Maurice. As this man moves closer, my eyes begin to focus, and an air of familiarity fills the air…closer…closer… why it’s David Hoffman, my old friend from Pittsburgh. Founder of one of the finest Bike Advocacy groups in the land, Bike Pittsburgh. I am sure both of us were thinking “What the heck are you doing here” but whatever.

Well, actually the words said are “what are you doing here?” “Well I am just poking around” say I. “I have a engine here” says David. “What? Cool! How’ve you been?” “Let me show you around! Meet my daughter Ma’ayan. Check out my engine, it’s powered by a car battery. Those steam engines run $40,000 and more”….

And I proceed to get a grand tour of the place, checking out all the hardware, getting several loops around the 5000 foot track and having a ball.

I love it when a plan comes together.


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