To further validate the Track space issue, it is also becoming harder and harder to get railroads to donate used rail. With scrap steel in the $300 -$500 range and sometimes higher, all that scrap looks very good to the railroads on the bottom line. The fact that CN donated rail to us (including bars and plates... more on this in a minute) is remarkable. Yes the rail is heavily worn, and will need almost every end cropped, but it is still good yard rail. As I said CN donated Rail, Plates AND Bars.. so we have what we need to build more track.... steel wise.
Ties are another significant expense. At $25 to $30 each (last i checked a few years ago) and needing about 24 per 39' stick, we still have significant costs to build a track panel.
Now assuming we have no rush to build, we can build the track using volunteer labor. Last year 13-4 was built by IRM and MTM track volunteers. Hope is to get another track started this year. I took a week of vacation to come out and do nothing but crop rails for this project. ( yes it was fun!) If we determine we are in a hurry, well then plan on the expense of a contractor to come in and build it for us.
So the addage applies to track as well as other items at IRM... Free is never free. There are still epxenses. And for those that think it is just a couple streaks of rust spiked down to some wood... Cmon out, we'll show you what it takes to keep IRM track as good as it is.
Bob is correct.
Every department faces the same issue.
The way IRM has survived nearly 60 years is partly because we insist all projects pay their own way. This includes the cost of the rail and ties and ballast consumed by the collection.
Jamie has recently added an indoor storage donor site for all departments, and that is great, but that is in ADDITION to the track charges. Restoration is fun and attractive to our guests, but the basic cost of the equipment must be accounted for if we hope to survive another 60 years at IRM.