The layout has long been known for realistic operation, for more than 25 years. Articles about it have appeared throughout the hobby press, and sometimes even get reprinted. Among the best-known was one published in Model Railroader in May 1996, and reprinted in summer 2012 in the excellent Special Issue of Model Railroader, entitled “How to Operate Your Model Railroad” and still available from their on-line store, as I’ve described previously (at: http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2014/03/another-useful-publication-on-operation.html ); I recommend the entire issue as interesting an informative.
Back in 2013, Jim hosted a final operating session for the layout as it then was, preparatory to reversing the direction of the entire upper level (making east always to the right), with the help of a removable bridge across the kitchen doorway. I was lucky enough to be there for that session (read about it at this link: http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2013/06/an-operating-session-at-jim-providenzas.html ), and by now, operating crews are getting used to the changes in the layout.
I was present last weekend for the latest operating session of the new layout, interestingly devised as picking up where the fast clock of the previous session had left off, at 9:30 PM, and thus operating through the nighttime schedule. This meant the session began with movement of the daytime trains that were finishing up their work, and normal nighttime work and ballast trains. It was an intriguing variation on the traditional session in which we start the fast clock at a time first thing in the morning. One of the big nighttime jobs is the log train, and in this photo Paul Weiss is the conductor, signaling the engineer how to handle the cuts of log cars at the town of Laurel (previously named Dougherty’s).
Jim also has a new sand plant at the siding of Ilium, and here is Mike Roque with the train sent out from San Jose to switch the plant. As you can see, the spur to the plant comes off the top of the helix.
Bill Kaufman was yardmaster at San Jose’s Mac Street yard, and with the lighter night traffic, was not overwhelmed with incoming trains. Here he is at a relaxing moment, beverage at hand, and yard fully organized.
As no one volunteered to dispatch, Jim had to do so. Here he is in The Chair, located in the kitchen adjoining the layout room (which is the garage when crews are not operating). Communication is by phone.
Everyone had a task or tasks. It being nighttime, the operator for Laurel and East Rica was off duty, so the Fallon operator had the only open office on the railroad. That happened to be my job, and as always with an operator position, it was interesting and fun, especially when orders were issued for the work train and the sand plant extra to run against each other.
Like any operating session anywhere, time spent this way truly is fun, with an entire crew doing a wide range of tasks, all integrated into a pretty good representation of a working railroad. Thanks to Jim for hosting this one, and to all the crew who did all the jobs. I continue to believe that operation is the highest use of our modeling efforts.