Friday, March 23, 2018

SoundRail 2018

The title here refers to an operating weekend held in the Seattle area in even-numbered years, this year being the fourth in the series. I attended this event in 2016, and wrote about it afterward (you can read that post at: ). And during March 6-10 of this year, I attended again. And as before, it was an impressive event.
     A priority for me was to operate again on Al Frasch’s excellent N scale layout, the Pilchuck Division of the Burlington Northern, at his home on Whidbey Island. This was not only because I had such an outstanding experience operating there on the way to VanRail 2017 (for a post about that, see here: ), but also because Al is moving to Tucson soon, and these SoundRail sessions would be the last operations on his layout. Finally, I still owe Al a debt of gratitude for his ideas, shamelessly stolen for my own layout, on ways to guide crews to correctly switch “sure spots” at industry layouts (see that post at: ).
     My experience working Al’s Delta Yard, under the direction of yardmaster Henry Freeman, was excellent, as I had expected it to be, and once again, I especially enjoyed Al’s fine touch with making realistic industrial structures. This is of course an advantage of N scale, that buildings can be realistically big enough to justify rail service, but even his smaller ones looked great. Here is just one example, his Grizzly Tools warehouse.

     The following day, one of the layouts I enjoyed was Gary Jordan’s O scale Gilpin Tram. I happened to draw the yard at Golden, Colorado (where the Colorado & Southern standard gauge interchanged with the C&S narrow gauge), and especially like his large photo backdrop at this location, which is actually a photo of the ghost town at Bodie, California, but sets an excellent scene for thinking of a mining town in mountain scenery. That’s the standard-gauge switcher in the foreground.

     On the last day, I had the great experience of operating on Jim Younkins’ Mud Bay and Southern Railway layout, a superb N scale creation. This is a layout I had visited and admired, so was delighted to receive an assignment to operate. I got the Mud Bay switching job, an excellent blend of considerable switching along with careful planning to get everything to work. One focus of this job is the car ferry, which delivers cars for local destinations, then gradually is reloaded with local outbound cars waybilled via the ferry. It’s at lower left in the photo below. Three flat cars are used to reach onto the vessel to load and unload cars.

Partway through the session, naturally, the car ferry you have been loading is taken away, and a whole new ferryload of cars arrives. Perfect staging!
     One of the pleasures of this layout is that every town has a clear and most helpful map, indicating not only all industries, but car spot identities, such as Track 2 or Door 4. Here is one example.

This is a big help when you have a truly complicated and challenging job, such as the Simpson Lumber plywood mill at Shelton, shown below. This is another example of how N scale permits industrial switching with a much bigger scope.

     This was such a great event — great meet, great layouts, some rain (Seattle in March, who knew?), and just well run overall. Even the local microbrews were excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and will certainly plan to attend in future years.
Tony Thompson

1 comment:

  1. Ah, your post brings back good memories! When I lived in Puyallup (Graham, really) I would attend the Oly-Ops event each Fall. Operating on Jim Younkins' layout is truly a fine experience. I have worked both the Mud Bay and the Shelton Mill jobs and it is hard to say which was more enjoyable.