Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Op session testing

I recently wrote two posts about rebuilding a couple of turnouts on my layout, to manage electrical power routing with a Tam Valley Depot “Frog Juicer.” I will just cite the second of those posts, and it in turn provides a link to the first: http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2016/12/electrical-wars-part-12-new-turnout.html . One reason I needed to finish those two rebuilds was because I had an operating session coming up, which would be a good opportunity to test the rebuilding with a lot of operation.
     Last Sunday was the op session. It had been set up for a couple of Southern Californians, Al Daumann and Bruce Morden, who wanted  to come up to the Bay Area for the weekend and operate on Seth Neumann’s layout one day, and on my layout the other day. As it turned out, the whole weekend went well and we all enjoyed both the layout operations and the socializing.
     The first day was at Seth’s, and the layout is pretty well known; he models the Union Pacific in the south end of the Bay Area in 1999. The photo below shows him standing at Milpitas Yard on his layout, with the superb backdrop of a prototype photo of the actual hills you would see from that actual yard location. The rest of the 7-person crew is out of view.

     The second day was at my layout. I set up the operating patterns much as I would for any session, except that I did try to make sure there would be plenty of switching moves involving the rebuilt turnouts. This is just a matter of planning the car flow, something I do anyway. Here is one of the two operating crews, Seth (left) and Bruce Morden, working at Ballard.

     The rebuilt turnouts are on the other side of the layout (to the left of the backdrop in the photo above), in the town of Shumala. Here are Chuck Catania (left) and Al Daumann working their first shift at Shumala.

     As we have usually done, both crews worked on each side of the layout. After each crew has  completed the first round of switching, and after the Guadalupe Local operates on the main line, picking up outgoing cars at Shumala and delivering inbounds, the crews trade sides. The photo below shows Chuck and Al finishing up at Ballard.

     The crews did exercise the new turnout rebuilds extensively, and had absolutely no electrical problems, though track gauge needed a little adjustment in one of the turnouts. This was of course the goal, to get a lot of work through these turnouts. It is always an “acid test,” having visitors make a lot of use of something on the layout, to see how it performs. A few test moves by the layout owner cannot compare (in addition to the well-known principal that gremlins appear far more frequently or more severely when visitors are present). So I was glad to have a thorough exercise of the new construction, and it seemed to pass the test. Of course, we also had fun operating!
Tony Thompson

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