Profile Page-RickH.

Welcome to my profile page, “About BarstowRick.”     Who is he?  Or should I be asking who am I?   Here’s a hint:

Photo courtesy of John Acosta.

Taken at John Acosta’s, Gulf & Pacific Railroad.    A unique HO, point to point model railroad.    As close as I’ll get to serving as a Santa Fe Conductor.

Who am I?   Just a fun loving kind of guy who enjoys his chosen hobby.   Who loves a good clean joke and a few messy ones.     Banters about at times and tends to see the positive side of things.   Just not all of the time.

I look at things realistically.    Not at all an optimist and certainly not a pessimist.   I look at the world through realistic eyes.

I can take a joke fairly well.  i’d be disappointed if my friends didn’t make me the butt of one every so often.    However,  I live by the motto of laughing with a person and not at them or at their expense.   I see it as rude, if someone interrupts someone Else’s story and/or laughs at it for the wrong reasons.   Not a great fan of one up-man-ship.  I see no purpose in a game of “Get Your Goat.”    HeeHaw, heehaw, heehaw….gotcha.  Unless it’s on Laugh In, which is showing my age.   AND, I don’t think much of those who wish to regulate and/or insist on everything being PC.   To many forms of censorship in our world, as it is.   Which brings me to:   Have you ever wondered why they send white’s to sensitivity training and they don’t send blacks?     Seems to me it should go both ways.

No! I’m not biased toward other races.    I think we all should have an equal chance at life. Concluding with, “All lives matter.”

My purpose or reason for creating    I want to share with you some Tips and How To’s that work well for me.   To help a newbie so He or She, doesn’t make the same mistakes I did.   To allow  the spotlight to shine on other hobbyist and presenters in the form of Links, Written Presentations  and  Video How-To’s.

Allow me to introduce myself.    I’m Wm. R. Howland of Big Bear Lake, California.     AKA   Rick Howland or RickH.   Formerly of Barstow, Ca., and  Hollister, Ca. .    Studied at Monterey Bay Academy,  Gavilan College, Pacific Union College and The California College of Mortuary Arts.

You are welcome to get acquainted.    Here you can get all the dirt on me and find out who… I might happen to be.    Nobody important, I can assure you.

I don’t and won’t tell all here but you’ll get some idea who is behind all these posts and what I hope will be, fun ahead.    Well, I can only hope we are in for some toy train or model railroading fun.

I’m respected by some, laughed at  by others and occasionally  scoffed at.     Not to worry, that’s been the norm… all my life.      Oh don’t think it’s all one way.   I do laugh back and often get the last laugh.  You’ll soon learn how I’ve done that, as you continue to read.

I grew up playing in and around a mortuary.   Dad was a mortician and I ended up working summers mowing lawns, polishing cars, moving caskets and eventually taking  up the profession.      I’d of never done that if I had thought I’d end up with some of  the memories that haunt me to this day.    The only coping mechanism I had then and have today, is laughing at what was outright ridiculous, stupid and/or funny.   Otherwise there wasn’t much to laugh at.  Keeping in mind the person we were picking up was someone’s loved one.   Not much to laugh at.    Oh, and yes, there was a few last laughs…sigh…. along the way.   I’ve buried a few of them.  I’m sure you’ll understand when I say,  those inappropriate people who made my life miserable.   Even so, there was someone who loved them.

I’m not an English Major, and I suspect you’ll figure that out in a heart beat.   It should jump right out at you and smack you in the face.

What do I want?   Not much it’s to late for to much of anything.   Maybe a new set of teeth.    Sigh!

Is my “Sucker” light on.    That’s a Rick story time all by itself.    Let’s see.  Over the years!   I’ve suckered to many times for train equipment that deserved to find the bottom side of a trash can.    It’s true!      Can’t believe the money I spent on junk.  You will always find Gold Diggers hanging about to over charge for model railroad items and selling junk.    See the illusive auction sights for further examples.

I’m ever hopeful things have changed-up.  We certainly have better offerings today then we’ve ever had in the past. Oh, and if the train equipment provided today hasn’t improved, I hope to be the first to tell you.  What frustrates me is when,  I do it again and know better!    It must be a sickness I have.  I will look at an older item and click “Buy,” faster then I can write this and I’m the proud owner of bull-puckey.   I will talk more about this over on, “Rick’s Rant”.

We are planning on having some fun and learn something new?  Yes… uhh…  err… No?  Well…would you accept a Maybe?   You can decide! Let’s start this adventure and see what we can learn  or where it leads us.

The dispatcher has given us a track warrant to move ahead to the next siding.   To take it and wait there for the opposing Train #21.  Let’s get rolling.   Once in the hole I will share more about me here on     In the mean time some advice.

Warning:    Toy trains or model railroading can be addictive and may cause you to behave in some bizarre ways.

Disclaimer:   The learning curve can sometime be painful and difficult.    It won’t always be fun.    I might add… about the time you think you have it figured out….have I got  news for you.

Challenge:    Do you love a challenge?    Model Railroading will give you that and more.

Thought of the Day:  A three way conversation never works.    “Once maybe twice but third time out”, quoting Ron Core.

We made it into the siding and we are back in the hole waiting for Train #21.    It’s time for a  pop quiz.  Question.     If we are in the hole waiting for an opposing train,  Santa Fe’s, Train #21, what direction are we going?

Who is BarstowRick?

That’s an age old question!     Who are any of us?    We know what we are and those titles usually come with job status, titles pinned to us and or various pedigrees we may or may not have earned.   I don’t know who I am.  I don’t think we will answer that question anytime  to soon.    Maybe at my funeral they will finally figure it out.   Sigh!

My handle: How I earned my nick… BarstowRick.    My nick/handle comes from a group of friends who were having some fun at my expense.  Calling me and  Barstow less then complimentary names and hee hawing….a lot.  You can expect that from a bunch of Liguored Up, Liguorville (Victorville) and Barkersfield (Bakersfield) types.

I was always talking about Barstow, Ca., a favorite train watching “Hot Spot,” of mine. Including some of those family stories as told by my family of Rails.    My family moved to Barstow, in March of 1926 working for the Santa Fe Railroad.    Barstow,  would be the family  home place  until my grand dad retired in 1964.   Well… I got to yackity yacking about Barstow, the trains I had seen.  Time spent watching my family and good friends who worked for the ATSF, bring the trains in, switch the trains.  Load and unload mail, express packages and baggage.   Ice the trains.   Clean the trains and empty the, infamous “Honey Pots”.

All the noise I was generating  must have caught the eye of a high-school teacher from Victorville, Ca..  He popped in and called me “BarstowRick”, I was looking for a descriptive nick,  as  RickH. wasn’t working and was confused with a RichH. and a number of other  Rick’s.   What Rick are you referring to or talking about?   Was a common question.    It just seemed natural to assume the nick, BarstowRick.   Besides there is a AnaheimBill,  DaggetRichard, a BarstowBill and a BarstowBob.     It works and it stuck.

If the nick seems familiar.   I’ve participated on a number of websites as BarstowRick.    You may have seen me participating as BarstowRick, RickH., and  Rick Howland.   I think on one of the train board’s the only way I could get in was by using something different.   Oh yes, I did get myself thrown off one of those train boards but that’s old news.   Freedom of speech issue…you wouldn’t believe it and the story isn’t worth repeating…  The owner was someone I respected and  considered him to be a friend.  Which is probably  why I was so surprised and disappointed.   Sadly,  he has since passed away, may he rest in peace.

Who I’m not. Dr. Rick Barstow, D.D.S., or others from the Barstow family. You will find various versions of Barstow Rick when performing a google, Yahoo and/or Bing searches.    No relation to Rick Anderson, who has an e-mail address of barstowrick.  Well, he beat me to it. And,  as far as I’m aware, I’m no relation to Ben Howland.    That should cover who I’m not.

I’m not ashamed to be associated with Barstow, Ca. Check out the W.A.R.M. (Western American Railway Museum) the next time you are in town. Yes, it does get WARM in Barstow!

Not to be confused with Barstool Rick, sigh!   I’m not the bar-stool type.   Never have been and never will be.  Don’t confuse me with those mind bending   Liguorville types that hang out in  Victorville’s or Barstow’s  bars.   Oh and don’t look for me at an Octoberfest!    I dislike drunken people.   Especially the ones you find at car accident scenes.

The Barstow influence on my model railroading.

Although my memories aren’t letter specific they’ve been good enough for me to attempt to replicate the era of trains, viewed as a kid.   I watched various passenger trains pull in to town and stop at the Casa Del Desierto, Harvey House and Santa Fe Train Station, Barstow, Ca.,.  Allowing passengers to depart and board or transfer to a different train.  Those were the days!

My cousins and I  set on the station steps and watched as  mixed sets of F’s, PA’s, E’s and Erie Built s pulled a variety of  passenger trains and equipment through the Barstow train station.  We were lucky to witness the last of the stoves bring the trains in.   No specific  details are etched into my memory.   I was to young for that.  However, It was an  indelible and impressive time what with the noise of the stoves, clanging bells, shrill whistles, blow offs hissing steam and the staccato of chuffs.   “All Aboard” as the conductor would wave the highball and the passenger trains  got underway.  Once maybe twice we got invited up in the cab to see the inside of the locomotive or diesel.    Waving the highball while standing next to the conductor, sending the train out of town.   Amazing and magical times.  Providing many vivid memories for this young rail-fan.


I have a N Scale model railroad that bears the name:   Howland & Pacific  Railroad.   We don’t want to confuse it with the Highland Pacific Railroad.   The one  down the mountain road a fer piece.  We want to avoid getting the two confused.   I don’t think there’s a chance of that…do you?

Rick Approved:    You may see that from time to time.    Just making the point that whatever I’m about to share or recommend works well for me.  I do… want you to work from your own authority and take what you want from here.

Short biography of myself and family of Rails:

I’m a native of California, given to birth under a Santa Fe Railroad Bridge, at Alray, in Cajon Pass, Ca..     Mom said, my twin and I was born scrambling out of there so we could see the trains go by overhead.   Never had a chance, we were born to be  rail-foamers, model railroaders and with an option to be  the real deal – railroaders/rails.

I wish now I’d of gone to work full time with ANY railroad.    I’d be well taken care of in my retirement years.

All to familiar with California, as my family moved about from place to place seeking better employment.   Aside from Barstow,  being one of my favorite places to live is Seaside, Ca..  and Oakdale, Ca.   Coming through Seaside headed for Monterey, Ca. and the Spanish Presidio was the SP Del Monte.   Longest running SP passenger train.  Moving  to Oakdale, Ca., where  SP and ATSF spur lines came into town.    Where eventually Hershey would set up a candy factory.    In Oakdale you will also find a short-line known today as the Sierra Northern Railway, but I could swear it was known as the Sierra Railway.    It ran from Oakdale to James Town and on into the outskirts of  Sonora, Ca.   You might remember Petticoat Junction, which was filmed on location on or near the Sierra Railway right of way.  The show was fun to watch.    To occasionally see #3 out running around was a thrill and a half.   That is!  When I was allowed down town Oakdale,by the railroad tracks.    Oh, I didn’t miss the girls that were ever present on the TV syndication.

I spent most of my growing years in Hollister, Ca.   The place I still think of as home, to this day.  We had a short spur line where the SP served a number of canneries and other small industries.     By the time elementary school let out, as fast as my legs would peddle my bike and if I got lucky (not that kind) I’d catch the SP local working the Hollister Yard.   If I could talk someone into taking me to Salinas, Watsonville, or Gilroy, Ca., I might catch the Daylight or mail trains passing through.

To think, John Allen, a famous model railroader was never that far away in Pacific Grove, Ca..  The Gorre and Daphetid.    I was only able to visit him twice to see his model railroad.   Wow!  Twice!   That wasn’t enough.    He and is layout will be and have been missed.

I spent many a summer in Barstow, Ca.. Calling it my home away from home. Staying with my step (long story)  grandparents and great grandparents employees of the Atchison Topeka and the Santa Fe Railroad, out of Barstow, Ca.. Seems to me, I had one maybe two aunts “Harvey Girls,” that worked what else?  You got it…The Harvey House. One great uncle, that allegedly worked his way up from conductor to a yard supervisor.    My Dad and his Brother, signed up to become part of the first group of paid fireman for the Barstow Fire District. Dad also  worked for the REA, out of Barstow and Mojave, Ca., before they started phasing out their services. Me? A short stint with Union Pacific as an agent in Dayton, Ohio.

The Dad that raised me you will hear me talk more about him as I go along.  I will refer to him as Dad.    My paternal/biological father is a long time Barstowite  and good friend.    I had the privilege of working for him and should of given that more thought, as in making it permanent.    Or as permanent as anything is.   Both men managed and/or owned Mortuaries and served their communities as Funeral Directors.   Of stories I do tell, you’ll hear me say, “You’d expect that from a mortician…right?”  And, that’s not always meant to be funny.


My Model Railroading Experience:

Did I hear you ask, what about my model railroading experience?  You will hear more as I go along but for starters.    I have experience modeling various train layouts in  O, S, HO, N  and some G scale.  Although, I haven’t kept up with G Scale.

I started my serious model railroading at the age of 12 with an HO scale train layout.    No computers, very little expertise to lean on and very few but excellent, model railroad wig wags (magazines) to  pour over and read from cover to cover.   A number of how to books which are listed here under, “Resources How To”.   I’m thankful for a mentor Mr. Harry Hunter, not his real name and that’s a whole a-nother story in itself and it can be found under “Mentor’s.”   See Categories.



Ambulance Driver/ Attendant:   I share with a number of early Ambulance Drivers and Attendants an effective change in the type of care we provided for patients we transported.   A group of us in the San Francisco Bay Area, pushed for and got changes.     We operated with an Advanced First Aid Card, and felt we needed more.  CPR was a positive improvement which eventually led to qualified EMT’s and Paramedic’s.    As a side note the boys and girls in the L.A. Basin of California attempted to steal all the thunder by claiming they made it happen.   Hold on, that’s just not true.    They didn’t do that by themselves.    And, it wasn’t just happening in California but in other states as well.  Truth is we all made it happen!    And we couldn’t of done it without the influences of other Employees of Ambulance Companies.    Who is we?   We,   all of the ambulance companies and attendants in the State of California and in other States with emphasis on Pennsylvania and New York.   WE made it happen.

Vocalist:   I’ve never sang for my supper but I will sing at your wedding and/or your funeral.    I’ve been a choir boy, sang in a number of elite choral groups as well as a few barber shop quartets and traditional quartets.    Did some solo work but that part of my life is all but over.  My voice is getting raspy.  I  had loads of fun but there was no  way to sustain me financially.   Not a rock star and not particularly interested in that life style.

Adult years of employment:  Me?   My favorite heckler is at it again.    What did I do for a living?   Is that what you asked?  Were you asleep…again?  I’ll get to that. This will answer my favorite heckler’s question.

I wore a number of employment hats during my adult working years.   I went to college to become a minister and came out a mortician.   Still wondering how that happened.  Actually Greek Class proved to be to much and that was the end of that.  I’m a hat changer for sure.   Changing hats once again.   I went to work for a hospital and eventually worked my way up to a Department Head and later an  Administrative Assistant Director.   Other hats as well but hardly worth mentioning.

All in all being a mortician was a disappointment and viewed by these eyes as a waste of my adult working  years.   On the other hand  working for the hospitals I served was a  high point.    If there is such a thing as a second life, I’d want to come back and serve with the hospital  administrative staff or serve in one of the diagnostic related fields.    As long as… it isn’t  (IS-NOT) Abomination/Obama care.    Mark my word a big mistake.  You can find more of this under, Rick’s Political View Point.

Volunteer Service:   I’ve volunteered to do all kinds of work and sad to say it’s the negative experiences that tend to stand out in my memory.   Most of what I did was well received.   On a  few occasions it wasn’t!    Whether it was volunteering my time to  put in a sound system  for a Mortuary or Church,    Building a model railroad for friends or relatives.   I had loads of fun and a sense of accomplishment, doing such.    Allowing me to hone my skills and improve my techniques.      Downside,  in some cases it turned out to be a waste of my volunteer time.  More on this in Rick’s Vent, Lament, Rant & Lessons Learned.

Missed Opportunities:   Two things I would of liked to of done.  Go to work for the railroads and/or law enforcement. I think I missed an opportunity and could of combined the two.   There’s a  story here but I will leave that for another time.   The should-a, could-a, would-a syndrome.

Today:    I’m medically retired, no  serious fraternity or  service club affiliations and the only group I belong to is the Bear Valley Model Railroaders.    Although that’s kind of falling apart as we age and or members leave the mountain for warmer climates.

Bear Valley Model Railroaders:  Did you ask who they are?   A bunch of guys I enjoy hanging with.   A round robin group that spends time visiting and enjoying each others layouts.  Once the in-fighting has settled down.  We have loads of fun and seldom see eye to eye but who said we had to.    Not a club!

John Acosta, a BVMR and NMRA member.   His layout is the only  one  far enough along for a traditional  Operations Night.    John Acosta,  owner of the Gulf & Pacific Railway.    After he has repaired everything from the last go around.    He will invite us back for more of the same.      We work a switch list, make up trains, run a local out to the industries and switch them.   Crew call, will give the prestigious job of hog heading a locomotive, to be found at the head end of a  passenger train.         At this point all the run through freights and locals will need  to duck tail and get off the main.

Here is a look at some of the  BVMR’s, while visiting The Gulf & Pacific Railroad, at John Acosta’s invitation.

Published on Sep 4, 2015

This is a “caboose view” from the end of a through (no switching enroute) freight train as it goes from one end of the layout to another; from Johnstown to Davidsville during one of our Operations Nights. It’s a bit rough in places but you get the idea and it was still “loads of fun”!    Thanks for watching, John Acosta.

The Rail you see switching the freight train is none-other then Ron Core.    He is a retired professional, conductor formerly of the BNSF railroad.    Greg, Gregg, Stubby, John and I can also be seen.    You can hear Stubby talking in the background.    He’s in the middle of negotiating a train car swap.

Russ Greek’s, model railroad is a work in progress.   I tease him by calling  it the Cliff Hangar and Edgemoore Railroad.  It is!!!  The Rusty Nail Railroad.  The only competition to John’s layout in the Big Bear Valley.  Sadly he is leaving town for warmer country.  He held his first operation session Wednesday, March 9, 2016.   Steve acting as the Hog Head, manned the throttle while I played Conductor/Brakeman and Russ served as the Dispatcher.     Pretty common events around Big Bear Country.

Steve H’s, HO Scale model railroad is definitely worth the visit to see and experience.  A very compact layout with lot’s of action.   To small to support all of us for an operations night.    Should you get lucky and he hands you a DCC throttle you’ll enjoy running trains over his  folded over dog bone layout.   You can find more On Steve’s Layout posted here.

BVMR’s Open House:     We’ve held two Open House, Layout Tours but we aren’t likely to do it again.    To much controversy and tension over whether it should be open to the public or model railroaders only.  I won’t open to none model railroaders as I don’t need the security risk.     Never mind the disappointing turn out on the last go around uhh…err layout tour.

Work progresses on my layout:    Anymore, the only layout I work on  is my own.  My goal is:   I don’t or won’t work  on anyone else’ layouts.  If asked,  I will trouble shoot problems with track work or wiring strictly on an advisory level.   I hate remodeling.    Now that I’ve said that someone will tug on my sympathy  response cord and I will be under a table (I hope mine) doing wiring.

My love of Railroading and my expression of that passion is  through my  model railroading.   I keep wondering why it’s so important to describe our love for the hobby as a passion.   Look the word up and note what that means.

You can be assured anything I do will reflect the 1:1 foot scale right down to the verbiage, terminology and railroad lingo.    I’m not a toy train enthusiast or a model railroader as such.  They overlap each other in some odd but obvious ways.   Personally,  I don’t much care for the verbiage, I keep hearing.   Off the mark if you are trying to replicate the Rails.    Way off the mark!       However, perfect for toy trains and the wanna be model railroaders.    Now then,  I better duck and run for cover.  Incoming!

I’m a Railroad Modeler.     I model a railroad despite… my freelanced layout.   What? What? What did I say.   Hypocrisy knows no end.

Do know I will share my resources with you and you can decide what is or isn’t to your best interest.  I will never deliberately steer you in the wrong direction.  What I share here are standards as shared by others and myself.   Proven over time.

If we bump into something like DCC and I don’t know the answers I  will either  point to someone who can by providing a link.    You’ll be able to take advantage of the research I’ve done.    When,  I don’t know something…. I will say so.


You caught me!    Here I am considering one of those flashes of genius.  Well, not quite.   Wondering, if I make that change to the over all track plan, how will it effect the operations of the layout?   Do you know anyone else who’s done this?


It was cold that day and I had my Western Pacific R&R, sweat shirt on.    Photo courtesy of my camera as I had no idea I had pushed the timer to take a picture.

I love the challenges and art of building a model railroad. Now take a moment like that and add to it the complications and I’m right where I want to be.   If I’m not building a layout or working one one I’m dieing.

“Darn complicated railroads” my dad used to say. “Nothing but fun,” I’d respond  with a big reassuring grin.   He loved operating the railroads, I built for him.   He did very well even with the temporary control panels.   More on him and I as we go along here.

Oh! Before I forget.   The change I was contemplating.  It worked out just fine. Better then the original plan.  Nothing like an after thought or sudden flash and it ends up improving the overall track system.  I love it when a plan comes together.


Rick”s Story Time:

I do a few of these from time to time.    You’ll get further insight as to who I am and or have been. You see, I’m not quite finished with any story.  Mr. Long Winded, here.    My kids and their friends loved my camp fire stories, children stories (in church and bedtime stories) most borrowed from Uncle Arthur, with  a few of my own.  You ought to hear the bear stories while out camping.    Unbearable!   Grin!   Without a doubt it put some to sleep.   Out camping I’d have them all worked up and we’d spend hours around the campfire telling tales.     I said, flashing another big (toothless) grin.

Family:  My family has been a  constant but not presence, in my life.   From  time to time I get to hear from my daughter and son and their families.   Always a good thing when I answer the phone and they are on the other end.   Good to hear from  them and  my four grand kids.

Religious:   Yes, I’m religious but I don’t wear it on my sleeve and and I don’t force it down the throats of friends or family.     I don’t believe we have to advertise our Lord and Savior.   It should be apparent in our lives and dealings with others.

The one constant:    The one constant in my life is my love of Trains.   At least it’s one thing that won’t bite me in the butt.   Exception being today’s prices of things….OUCH!

I’m a survivor:  Happy 65th Birthday to me and the year is 2014:  I survived long enough to reach my 65th birthday.   How about that. I was given a unique birthday gift and you happen to be reading it.  I have my daughters husband Al, to thank for this website/blog.   Thanks Al, for the gift and if you haven’t caught on yet he is my Administrative Associate, who handles the business end of things.  I will editorialize, edit and monitor the comments and questions that come through the Contact Us Box.  He handles the finances.


So what’s up with you?  Are you seriously pursuing the idea of building a model railroad or just toying around with the idea.   Did I hear you say you wanted a toy train layout.?    Why not?  A great place to start.  Throw some track  down on the table, join it all together to make a loop and it’s done.    No one said you had to stop… there.

Take what you want from here and leave the rest behind,   Just don’t hit the delete button….that’s my job.   Didn’t I say that in another post?    I think I did!


Best Advice:

Keep in mind!   The first train layout is always a teaching layout.

Rome wasn’t built in a day.  So, don’t expect your first layout to be  perfect the first time out.

All things in life are temporary.    The layout you are building will not be the last one.

Have fun…unless you don’t want to.


Website Tutorial:  Use the navigational tools to get around    To get started open up the  “Select Categories”.  You can find it to the left of this posting just under the header, pick a subject and you are off and running.   I don’t believe there is a bad post in the bunch unless it’s my Vent, Lament, Rant, and Lessons Learned.   You can find these with all the other subjects in the  Categories.    Your personal key to this website:   Click and Scroll.

I write to be entertaining and informative at the same time.    As you will soon discover, it doesn’t always turn-out that way.

Well that’s enough about me and those I associate with or don’t.  Shall we wrap this up?    Did my stories put you to sleep?   Yawn!   Ok… maybe?   I’m certainly ready to call it a day.   Yawn!   Did you just yawn?    Power of suggestion.  Grin!

That’s enough about me… now, how about you?

Questions?   Yes, you can ask questions, use the “Contact Us Box” at the end of this page..

That is, if and when anyone uses it.    Humm?   Hurrumph.  Deedum, deedum that’s me humming while I drum my fingers on the desk top.   No questions?       I have time to answer a few questions.   No!  Did I explain it to well?   I did?  Good!   Ok!    Suit yourself.   Still waiting….anytime now.  Sigh!    COL    Grin!   LOL !!


That’s enough about me know how about you?


It’s a wrap.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *