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Disaster at Kleinbach

By Lester Mathis, 68-2382                                      Spring 2016

It all started innocently enough with the cleaning of my basement 96” x 54” LGB G gauge store display layout.  Upon embarking on the exercise I noted a gondola on the siding filled with water???  Then I saw the main street of the town of Kleinbach was wet, and stained.  Damn.  This layout, as well as a Z gauge 46” x 20” layout from on a Marklin Plan (Marklin sold a preplanned layout in Z scale #8930 “Toporama”, which was a roll out sheet with printed right-of-ways, roads, grass and outline of building plots onto which you added all of the necessary items) Both  were located beneath a cast iron waste vent stack pipe. I look up and there is a looming drop of water on the bottom of the stack pipe! 

The consensus at this point is that the roof seal is faulty and rain water is running down the stack.  I might add the stack runs between the walls of the bath and kitchen upstairs.  There are cabinets on both sides in the kitchen making inspection of the piping impossible. The ceiling of the basement is done in 12” x 24” composition acoustical type tiles interlocked and stapled to lathing also making inspection difficult.  The tiles were put in when the house was built circa 1950.  About three of the tiles are water soaked and stained.

So, first step to a solution….let’s check the stack at the roof.  Well I discover that I can’t get up on the roof!  Paper wasps have set up housekeeping in the rain gutter so I can’t put a ladder up.  A $5 can of Raid is not going solve that problem, as the wasps own over 10’ of gutter and let me know that they intend to defend their homeland.  So I call the exterminator.  Big bucks of course, but the wasps are now gone.  Stack seal, meanwhile, is perfect.  No staining under the roof or in attic either. 

OK, time to pull the stained tiles to see what’s going on.  My BIG mistake is not covering the two layouts with a readily available tarp.  Along with the water soaked tiles down comes more dirt, cement, grout, and assorted schmutz onto the two layouts than I care to think about.  Damn again!  The subflooring above the tiles is soaked.  Since I cannot see the source of the leak it’s time to call the plumber.  Aargh!

The plumber comes, cuts a hole in a kitchen cabinet and dry wall and finds that the drain from the bathroom sink is cracked where it enters the vent stack and every time the sink is drained some water trickles down the stack, through the flooring and tiles onto the layout. OK, he fixes it.  (More big bucks, by the way!)Now I have to find replacement ceiling tiles.  Hey that pattern is no longer made but I found a close replacement at Lowes and do a half fast repair on the ceiling so at least it looks acceptable.  

Now I’m faced with cleaning up the two layouts.   I don’t touch the z gauge layout but simply drag it, and the table it’s on, across the room to worry about another day.  I take all the moveable objects off of the G gauge layout and break out the shopvac.  I start in on the floor around the two layouts and then move up to the G gauge layout. Well I thought all objects were taken off….Schlupp!!!! Oh boy, Kleinbach’s dependable mailman is now in the shopvac. I empty the vacuum contents (which totals about two years worth of detritus) outside on newspaper.  And there’s the unhappy mailman right on top!  Do I go back and make sure there is nothing else that has been inadvertently sucked up? BUT NO.  Huge mistake as I’ll relate later.

Having finished vacuuming and repairing the main street of Kleinbach I notice the new ceiling tiles are now water stained, again!!! Well everything is tight and looking good as far as the repaired waste pipe.  I turn my attention to the 22 year old refrigerator with ice maker which occupies the space next to the cabinet behind which the waste pipe is located.  I quickly learn that in moving the fridge in and out several times to check if it was the original source of the leak one of those tiny  plastic tubes in the refrigerator has cracked and is leaking every time the ice maker calls for water.  Of course the special fittings on the tubing are no longer available and I can’t fix it myself.  A repairman is called who has experience in making up these fittings and the leak is repaired.  Another expense with a caveat on the part of the repairman to replace the fridge soon or shut down the icemaker.  Permanently. Marvelous, I think.  Hmm, let’s see, new fridge or go to York… I’ll get back to you readers on that decision.

Well the stained new ceiling tiles have to be painted over.  I’m not replacing them.  After finishing that chore I sigh and look to moving the Z gauge layout back to where it belongs and then cleaning it.  First I need to take off all the movable pieces so I don’t vacuum them up.  (Editor’s note:  does this sound familiar?)  Well I’m missing a DB Class S3/6 electric loco.  No sign of it anywhere and then I remembered that when I moved the layout it bounced a couple of times. After moving it I vacuumed the floor where it sat with the shopvac. As I said I went through retrieving the G scale mailman, but never thought to check the pile of dirt on the newspaper for other stuff that might have fallen on the floor.  Duh!

The loco now resides at the Monmouth County landfill along with tons of garbage.  Perhaps an archeologist will find it two thousand years from now and wonder what it is and how it got there.   I am truly bummed out about this because the loco was a present from my wife many years ago.  Now every time I go downstairs I look all around hoping that the loco will magically appear and all will be well.  I know it isn’t going to happen but I like to think it will.

I realize that the above problems are miniscule and pale by comparison to those who experienced Superstorm Sandy in my town and other lashing-out of nature around the nation. I have great empathy now for those who have experienced such happenings.  Lessons learned…Murphy’s Law will not only prevail but always raise Hell with your life.  So…check your layout(s) frequently for problems.  Check the areas over and around them also for potential problems and items that may have fallen on the floor.  Protect the layout before initiating any work or other repairs in their vicinity.  Check the vacuum cleaner bag before disposing of the contents after cleaning the layout(s) and work areas.  And finally treasure and enjoy your toys!  

Second Decade.
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