Tuesday, March 21, 2017

BayRails 2017

Among the 40 or so operating weekends that are held around the country is our local one here in the San Francisco Bay Area, called BayRails. It is offered in March of odd-numbered years, and this year was the 7th time it’s been held. The organizing committee of Seth Neumann, David Parks, Ray deBlieck, Jim Providenza, Ed Slintak, Paul Weiss and Larry Altbaum did an excellent job once again with all the arrangements. There were 24 layouts operated, and around 60 visiting operators.

BayRails is officially an “invitation-only” event, but anyone can request an invitation through the website for the event at: http://bayrails.com/ .
     For the first time at a BayRails, my layout was among those scheduled for operating sessions. I had a pair of two-person crews on two different days. My sessions were generally similar to previous sessions, though there were a few new wrinkles in switching patterns. As always on my layout, seasonal produce shipping was represented, appropriate for March, and involved express reefers this time.
     The layout generally ran well, though there were the inevitable small glitches here and there. Crews seemed to enjoy the switching challenges and worked steadily through the assignments. I won’t show all the crews doing all the work, but just representative photos.
     On Friday, March 17, my crew was Jason Hill, Al Frasch, Dave Clune, and an old friend, Gordon Geiger. Gordon and I are both retired metallurgists and have know each other for many years. It was definitely fun to have him operating on my layout. He formed a crew with Jason, and here are the two of them at Shumala. I apologize for taking the photo just as Gordon, at right, was asking a question. Jason, who is the conductor in this photo, is also someone I’ve known for years, and having both of them here was a treat.

While those two worked at Shumala, Al and Dave were switching at Ballard on the other side of the layout. That’s Al reaching for a ground throw at left while Dave studies their next move.

     On Saturday, March 18, my crew was Bill Jolitz, Calvin Sexsmith, Michael Cee, and Bob Hemmer. The photo below shows Bill and Calvin at Shumala, with Bill, at left, holding the throttle. That means Cal is taking a turn as conductor,

You can see in this photo what I can report was indeed present, a real sense of fun in working the switching problems they were given.
     I greatly enjoyed hosting two days' worth of operators at BayRails this year, and hope to repeat that pleasure at future events. Moreover, preparation for the event was the stimulus for me to extend construction in a couple of areas of the layout and to fix some existing problems; and not only that, the operators who were here, experienced all, had some very insightful comments and suggestions. I certainly learned a few things and have some new goals for the future. I know the visitors enjoyed this event, but it was very enjoyable and valuable for me too.
Tony Thompson


  1. Tony,
    I have read your blog for years, but I don't remember seeing a schematic or drawing of your layout. Do you have it in the blog somewhere?

  2. Great fun with an "A-List" crew!