Sunday, January 15, 2017

A couple of layout visits

As part of my trip to Florida for this year’s Prototype Rails meeting at Cocoa Beach (which I described at some length in a previous post, which can be found here: ), I also visited a couple of layouts to operate. In the present post, I will say a little about each.
     In the time before the Cocoa Beach meeting, I visited Mike Brock’s impressive Union Pacific layout, depicting the Laramie area and parts of Sherman Hill. Mike has rendered the scenic appearance of that area wonderfully well. As usual, he had set up a sequence of trains, and a number of us participated in the operation. One of my tasks was the yard switcher, 0-6-0 no. 4466, fun to run with full sound.

Also seen switching was Bruce Smith at Buford, where he was organizing a string of stock cars with a 2-8-2. Here again, the DCC and sound made this fun.

Waiting at Buford (just out of sight to the right in the photo above) for a green signal was 4-12-2 no. 9003, an example of the kind of massive steam power appropriate to and practically required for a Sherman Hill operation.

     After the meeting, I traveled to Athens, Georgia to operate on Jared Harper’s layout, modeling the Alma (Kansas) branch of the Santa Fe during World War II. Jared has researched a great deal about the area in which the layout is set, including interviewing residents of the area, and thus the operation can mimic the actual train procedures on this branch quite closely. For more about the background and specifics of the layout, you can read about it in the Model Railroad Planning issue for 2009. Included there is the modified John Armstrong track plan that Jared has built.
     I was pleased that an old friend, Scott Chatfield, was able to come over from Atlanta to join our crew. Scott is not only very knowledgeable about freight cars, but worked as a professional railroader at one time, and thus brings a strong dose of reality to model operations. Also present was Claus Schlund, a San Francisco resident but able to join us from his Florida vacation home. Here is the photo Jared took of our crew. That’s me at left, Claus in the center, and Scott at right.

     Traffic on the prototype branch, 33 miles long, is dominated by livestock, as every single town has a stock pen. There are also bulk oil dealers (one of my favorite subjects) in all the larger towns. But my favorite scenic area was Eskridge Hill, which the train climbs just west of the town of Eskridge. Here is a view of the lush spring grass on the hill (it’s May of 1943).

Once the crew has traversed the entire branch and done all the trailing point switching on the way to the branch end at Alma, the locomotive is turned on the wye and returns to the starting point, Burlingame, now doing all the remaining switching, which is now also trailing point. Here is our train, with stand-in locomotive 9441 on the point, crossing Bridge 3-A as it nears Burlingame.

    Both these layouts were visually interesting and fun to operate. Both are very much in progress, with areas still needing work, but nevertheless plenty well enough developed to enjoy, I had fun at both of them, and thanks again to both hosts for putting on the sessions.
Tony Thompson

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