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Pikes Peak "N" Gineers Model Railroad Club sponsored a fellow N-scale club in Baghdad, Iraq.  The following is from Lt. Anderson, a member of the US Army and the Baghdad Modelers.

Life is a two lane highway.

In the slow lane we tend to find those we enjoy spending our time with and can relate to and reach out to.  In the fast lane we race beside those we have to know to survive, the boss, the butcher, the candlestick maker, etc., etc.

So a big thanks to Joe Morgan and his wife along with the rest of those from the Pike's Peak Engineers for reaching out and helping a few lonely soldiers in Iraq feel a little closer to home.

Hobbies are usually something you can't take with you as home town guard units are activated and sent off to war.  Unless you own a violin or a guitar you pretty much have to go without.  After working with the troops I thought it would be a good idea to search out the few that are seeking to do something more productive with their time and at the same time try and include some of the guys sitting in the corners trying to overcome the home sickness.

So here we are, a two room operation with arts and crafts in one room and trains, models and a bank of chargers for electric R/C cars in the other room.   We started with N-scale as it was all we had room for.   The support shown though gave us the encouragement to go and ask for bigger quarters to set up in.  The blessings keep coming - we have guard and reserve units here from UT, Texas, Atlanta Georgia, New Jersey, Missouri, and MP's from Alabama!   Quite a few people have come forward expressing interest in participation.

There is also a large group of KBR contractors from around the world here supporting the other government agencies that try and run the war- CIA, FBI, DIA etc.  Some of these folks will wander in and ask if they can participate.   The Army is kind enough to include all.

At current we boast around forty personnel that participate on a regular basis.  Regular basis out here means you are free of duties and actually have enough time to walk from where you work to the club house and back. nbsp; There is a corps group of about five of us that try and get in at least three nights a week.  Currently we are building in both N and HO thanks to the efforts of all those that have pitched in to help us.  Our two biggest challenges have been getting the contractors to spend US dollars on US soldiers - it has taken us two months to get a lock and door.  Now we are re-wiring our rooms in order to get the power we need.

The other is lack of a hobby shop.  You start painting a building, realize you need something, and it takes a month minimum for it to arrive.   We have gotten around this by being rather creative.  Reusing plywood for tables and shelves, marble out of the palace is used for the rock quarry on the layout, Styrofoam from packing used to build our mountains.  Looters came in and stole all of the 220 volt European plugs.  So we cut pieces of wire that are left dangling and use this to wire the trains up with.

One challenge I am working on now is building a battery discharger for the R/C cars we picked up.  When you solder wire to the basis of a handful of flashlight bulbs you have your discharger - but no way to hold the lights in place.  Tools have been interesting as well.  In the beginning we used a hammer made of rebar that we found in the palace.  The Iraqi workers that are brought on post each day stole it so we went and found another - this one had a head of 6" long 1" thick rebar with electrical conduit for the handle.   Luckily my brother is a manager at a Home Depot in Northern, UT.   They pitched in and sent us a real measuring tape and a wood handled hammer!  Now we're feeling good!  (I think the carpel tunnels from trying to use the rebar hammers could win me a medical disqualification).

We also live a little over a mile from where we have set up our club house.   Due to the lack of electricity we have to charge our drills and saws in our quarters and then carry the tools across the camp to the club house.    That qualifies as physical training carrying ten lbs in each hand at a mile each way!

Well you asked for a paragraph or two, I guess I over shot the mark - Tell Mr. Morgan thanks again for the help.  The soldering iron he and his wife Lori sent is probably the most valuable tool we have at present.

  -Lt Anderson