Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Out-of-town operating, Part 4

 This post is part of a series about a group of California modelers who traveled to Wisconsin and Minnesota in late October for an intense week of layout operating (twelve layouts!). The previous post in the series is here: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2021/11/out-of-town-operating-part-3.html

One of our helpful and gracious hosts for the entire event was, as mentioned, Joe Binish. We visited his large and complex layout, the Central of Minnesota, for a session. Much of the layout is devoted to intensive  operation. One of the things I liked as a visitor was that schematic maps of each switching area were on the fascia. This can be a big help for a first-time operator, especially if not all track is readily visible from the aisle.

Though some layout areas remain incomplete, there are a number of very nice scenic effects. Among the nicely done scenes was this residential area, very much mirroring the exact kinds of neighborhoods we had driven through on our way to various Twin Cities layouts. And a nice use of the background photo.

The most intense switching was a pair of jobs on each side of a peninsula, in an essentially urban area. Shown below are Ed Slintak (left) and Jim Radkey working these jobs.

The next layout I’ll mention was Lester Breuer’s. I’ve known Lester for some years, having chatted with him often at Naperville and other events, as well as on-line, so was looking forward to operating on his layout, the Minnesota & Northland Railroad. Lester is a freight car builder and it was a delight to switch some of his fleet! Below is one of the areas I worked, as part of the Minneapolis yard job.

Our last layout of this group was Mark Amfahr’s Union Pacific, set in the transition era with steam, turbines and diesels, and located in the UP’s speedway west of Omaha. Impressive scope, and a concerted effort to reproduce the sheer scale of UP operations of the time. 

I also enjoyed the chance to chat with Mark, since he and I share an interest in researching railroad operations of that era. But there wasn’t much time for that. I was so busy switching Fremont, Nebraska that I didn’t take photos! Below is a reefer block passing an ice deck (Council Bluffs, I think) with an icing machine (Jim Radkey photo).

Great layouts, once again. The hospitality of all the layout hosts, along with local operators who filled out crews at many of the layouts, was greatly appreciated. This brings me almost to the end of these posts about our trip. I’ll wrap up the series with a final description in the near future.

Tony Thompson


  1. Tony, thanks for the nice comments about the Central of Minnesota. The maps were provided over time by a great friend, Dave Vos.
    I cannot take credit for the scenery work as the vast majority was done by fellow Monday Night guys Rich Remiarz and Doug Complin. Also great friend. I did build the houses! One for each of the kids.
    It was a delight to have you guys here, not only operator’s heaven of three days of operating but you guys are a fun and competent crew

  2. You're very welcome, Joe. I will come to comments about Dave Vos and Rich in my concluding segment.
    And whoever did the scenery, I liked it.

    Tony Thompson