Cinder Sniffers is a model railroad club located in the greater Cincinnati area.
Our track accommodates 7-1/2", 7-1/4", 4-3/4", 3-1/2” and 2-1/2" gauge trains.
Our foundation was based on coal-fired live steam engines,
we also run oil fired, propane fired, battery powered, and gasoline engines.
See our “SCHEDULE” page for run days.
See our “What's New” page for the latest club info.
The track is open to the model railroad community and invited guests.
HISTORY OF THE CINCINNATI CINDER SNIFFERS
by Robert W. Maynard
Probably the reason for starting the CINCINNATI CINDER SNIFFERS is the same reason why almost all live steam clubs start: it is nice to share the hobby with someone who feels the way you do about steam engines.
The CINCINNATI CINDER SNIFFERS began in 1955 with a total of six members, Jim Aull, Ed Biennstein, Ralph Knox, John Korte, Bob Maynard, and Ed Stoeckle. Three of the original six are still involved with live steam today. The organization was strictly informal. There was only a small monetary charge each month for postage and incidentals to operate. Two members, Ralph Knox and Bob Maynard, had operating locomotives. The other four were building, and all shared the dream of having a club track. At that time, the club track was in the distant future, but one of the members, Bob Maynard, built a private track in his backyard, first a 100-foot oval and later a 200-foot oval. The CCS “runs” were held here until 1964, and it was here that the winter runs, including the January 1st meets, were started.
In 1963 Lou Bandy offered the use of his company property at Lockland, Ohio, for the construction of a club track. At that time, the club numbered about eighteen members, a sufficient labor force for construction. But, in doing so, we violated a cardinal rule in the construction of miniature railroads: NEVER BUILD A RAILROAD ON LAND THAT IS NOT OWNED BY THE RAILROAD. Our violation of this rule caused the expenditure of much money, time, and effort on a project that gave no return. It reinforced, however, the belief that this very important rule should never again be challenged.
The building of the track on company property occupied the better part of two years. But alas, our first run was not until August of 1965 just before the Lockland business failed in September of the same year. The last run was two months later in November of 1965 when the new owners of the Lockland property insisted that the track be removed by the beginning of 1966. It was a very discouraging time.
During the next few months, Russ Conley spent many hours of his spare time combing the countryside of the tri-state area (Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio) for an available site. It was not easy to find land within the reach of our pocketbook.
Conley finally found a suitable place near Dover, Indiana, wooded and we purchased one and three-fourths acres for $1,750. The club treasury was then at an all-time low due to the previous construction at Lockland. Thus, it was necessary to sell stock to members at $25 per share to finance our purchase. The shares simply guaranteed that the stockholders would get their face value of the stock if the property were ever sold with the profit (if any) then divided among members. The stock could only be owned by a member of the club and could not be sold to any other person. We managed to raise the necessary funds and became landowners in December of 1967. Earlier in October, 1965, the CCS had become a non-profit corporation for the Lockland track operation. Now this change aided our purchase of the Dover property, too.
Construction at the new site started in March of 1968, and for the next year, there was only right-of-way grading, site clearing, and trestle constructing. A member of the club, Greg Korner, was our self-taught surveyor and did a very creditable job of layout on paper. Construction of the “new” railroad also involved some twenty members who had at least twenty thousand ideas of how to proceed. Needless to say, planning was extremely challenging. We had gained some welding experience from the work on the steel track at Lockland, but again the problem of what type of rail to use raised its head.
Most of the members agreed that the Lockland track had been too light in construction (the rail was 1/4” x 3/4”) so the 1 1/2” scale track was increased to 1/2 x 1,” and the inside rail for 3/4” scale was 1/4 x 1.” Three steel ties per foot were spiked to 2 x 2” wood ties and then the rail was welded. It was a very substantial assembly, and a 3-foot section could support a 300-pound locomotive without bending beyond its elastic limit. Using steel rail was not an easy decision to reach. Many members, those who had graduated from “O” and “HO” gauge, wanted aluminum rail, but after a vote, we chose steel. It is interesting to note that the wheels run on this steel track without excessive wear and track maintenance itself is minimal.
At the same time when steel rail was chosen, it was also written into the by-laws that all track be laid in two gauges, 7 1/2” and 3 1/2.” Some members who were building larger gauge locomotives wanted exclusively 7 1/2” track while another half of the membership pushed for 3 1/2.” Thus, the by-laws changed to include all scales. Since that time, the CCS track has added a 4 3/4” and a 2 1/2” rail. The latter came as a “free” present when the 1” was put down in 1979.
Presently, the club operates five gauges, 7 1/2,” 7 1/4,” 4 3/4,” 3 ½,” and 2 1/2.” It is also possible, with the use of off-center couplers, to have 7 1/2”- and 7 1/4”-gauge riding cars with smaller locomotives, and no one will dispute the advantage of stability inherent in the larger cars. It may also be noted, the belief that larger engines will “run over” smaller locomotives is untrue. The smaller engines generally move faster than the larger ones and all engines must observe a 5-mile per hour speed limit. And one of the greatest advantages of having all the gauges together on one track is that this also bands the club into a single unit. Whatever is done to the track is for everyone in all gauges.
Actual rail laying commenced in May of 1969 on the south trestle with the original “dog bone” appearing by September of that year. The switch at Fairfax was included during the original construction. The two switches at McALLISTER were “cut in” and added later.
Since the completion of the original “dog bone” shape of the first 1100 feet of track at Dover, the CCS also has added many necessary structures. The circuit was finished in September of 1969 and the steaming bays in 1971. Knox Shops came in 1973 along with the new cistern and water system and the new Diner showed in 1981. Although restroom facilities were some of the first structures finished in 1969, at the present time new and more improved buildings are scheduled for construction. Much has been made possible by the club membership that has more than tripled since 1969. Our overall facilities have served almost 1,000 people at a “meet.”
We began trestle construction in May of 1968. On the original track plan, there were two trestles, one 275 feet long and the other 90 feet. We were quite fortunate that month when it rained 28 days out of 31. The rain made it possible for us to drive the posts into the ground for the long trestle. August construction on the shorter bridge was not as easy, however. We needed a post hole digger to dig all the holes then.
In 1980 the possibility of purchasing another small tract of land arose, and a Land Committee, headed by Dick Schmid formed. We again sold stock to raise money for the land which was slightly over one acre in size. This made total club property nearly three acres. At that time, we thought the land could be either a parking lot or a “buffer” zone. The idea of building more railroad on such rough terrain was not considered. Fortunately for the club, Paul Busse did consider it, and he designed a usable section of railroad that would increase our main line by almost 1000 feet. This plan also required more railroad engineering, many hours of work, and a lot of money. The greatest engineering stumbling block was a timber trestle almost eighteen feet high and 150 feet long. The return, however, was worth the cost as the trestle not only would increase our total length of track but also added to the scenic value of the line. This new line also provided for the incorporation of another station and siding. And for those who enjoy the prototypical operation of railroads, it does incorporate an opportunity to do so.
One thing is certain about laying track: it is better to have most of the details planned on paper before you start building. We did this the second time but not the first. A great deal of thinking and planning went into the new extension. The first section of track was pretty much like “Topsy”; “it just growed.”
We developed a better procedure for the laying of smooth steel rail. Members carefully graded, ballasted, leveled and cleaned up the new right-of-way. We placed and leveled ties, and then and only then, we welded rail into position because steel rail, once welded into place, resists any movement to change its fixed position so it absolutely must be correct the first time around. The extra care taken in construction paid off. We have a noticeably smoother ride already on the completed parts of the extension and spring of 1988 is our target date for completion.
One major part of the CCS railroad, the switches, needs special mention. These are controlled remotely and operated electrically. They accommodate five gauges, have no guard rails or frogs, and give good service all in all. Some switches have worked for fifteen years with little more than an occasional shot of lubricating oil. Any derailments on these switches are generally through human error. While their appearance is definitely not to scale and acceptance is not universal, their fine operation keeps winning friends.
In 1970 Jim Aull and Bob Maynard started the practice of naming certain sections of the railroad after deceased members. Jim Aull built a beautiful little railroad station, and a contest was held for the name. Bob Maynard submitted the name of McALLISTER. Jim chose this name and the custom began. Dan McAllister was a C&O engineer for almost fifty years. He belonged to the CINCINNATI CINDER SNIFFERS for almost five years and was one of the kindest persons one could ever know. It seemed right that we should remember him in this way since most railroads have names for places. This practice was not adopted at Lockland because the railroad itself did not live long enough.
The McALLISTER station was moved from its original Dover site in January of 1979 to its present location and a brick platform added complete with platform lights. McALLISTER is used by a ticket agent to give our tickets for rides (free, of course) on “run” days. Besides McAllister Station, we have Fairfax Yards; Knox Shops; The Bandy Bridge; The Schmidhaus; Yoder, Fox, Hayes, George, all steaming bays; Jarvis Junction; Mt. McHugh; and Aullville. These are the names of past CINCINNATI CINDER SNIFFERS who have left us for that “Great Live Steam Track in the Sky,” and we shall always remember them.
The club paper, The Mudring started with Larry Koehl in 1970 and in 1978 Ralph Payne took over publication. It is published six times a year and sent to all full and associate members. It is also mailed to many other clubs and special persons engaged in the live steam hobby. It includes all news concerning club activities and a column devoted to “Cinderette News.”
The CINDERETTES are the wives of members who are interested in helping their husbands enjoy this wonderful hobby. Evelyn Maynard started the group informally by simply asking the women to come to the meeting. Ev Maynard writes the Cinderette column, and she is the informal chair and coordinator of the group. At a regular club meeting, it is quite possible to have more than thirty men and more than twenty women. The CINDERETTES operate The Schmidhaus Diner under the guiding hand of Martha North while Carol Cain supervises the flea markets at each of the train meets. Their organization has grown to become extremely helpful to the club. The CINCINNATI CINDER SNIFFERS owe a great deal to these devoted women who raise about 60 percent of the much-needed income.
At the present time, the CCS has over fifty regular members in addition to many associate members of all ages. More than half of the regular members work regularly on the railroad. As with all clubs, some members stay, some leave, new faces join, and things move ahead. All live steam clubs face the problem of age (slightly more than half of the CCS are over age fifty-five). The CCS participate in various “shows” to encourage the young to take up this wonderful hobby of miniature locomotive and railroad building. It is not always an easy task.
Bob Maynard served as president of the CCS for thirty years, from 1955 until 1985. Most of the other officers also have served more than one term. Jim Aull was treasurer from 1955 until 1979; Lou Bandy was vice-president for six years, Bill Bosse held that office for six years, and Rip Collins served for ten years. Ed Stoeckle served as corresponding secretary for fifteen years and Larry Koehl held that office for ten years. Al Lohmoeller has been the watchdog of the treasury for eight years. All of these positions take time and work and dedication.
The future of the CINCINNATI CINDER SNIFFERS seems very bright. We have a group of interested members willing to work and to serve the needs of the club. The organization is better than it has ever been in the past and looks forward to the completed extension of the track. Dick Taylor, currently in his first term as president, has the assistance of the Board of Trustees and the cooperation of the members. The CCS is a train leaving the station. Our engine is impatient with lifting pop valve. The conductor gives the highball. The engineer pulls the throttle. The drivers dig into the rail, and we are on the move!
January 2024 - December 2025
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