Monday, October 24, 2022

My walking-around list

Awhile back, I described my process for walking around the layout and looking for any work that needed to be done, anything from minor details that might be damaged or missing, up to major layout components that needed to be repaired or replaced. I record these inspection tours, in the form of a “walking-around” list, as I originally explained (see that post at: ). 

Like nearly everyone, I stopped having public operating sessions during the pandemic (except for a few small session with my granddaughter). That means that such factors as dust on the structures, and track badly needing cleaning, was not a surprise. However, I have hosted three sessions so far this year, and that has been the stimulus to take care of the obvious maintenance.

But beyond ordinary maintenance, as always happens on operated layouts, things do go wrong and need fixing. In fact, I have written a series of posts over the years, in series titles of “Electrical Wars” and “Trackwork Wars” — those series names are good search terms to use (search box is at upper right) if you’d like to see any of them.

But in the present post, I’m not talking about the kinds of things that aren’t essential to operation (as are the topics mentioned in the previous paragraph), but more about “completeness” and appearance issues.

The San Francisco Bay Area, host in odd-numbered years to a weekend operating event called “Bay Rails,” will be resuming that role next year in its normal March time slot. So it was time to pull out the previous walking-around list and see what hadn’t gotten done, and what new things should go on the list.

Here’s an example. The road into the industrial area off of Bromela Road in my layout town of Ballard, between the Nocturnal Aviation and California Airframe Parts companies, hasn’t been completed with a grade crossing. This is a simple job and will enhance the appearance of this area.

I noticed that another grade crossing in that area isn’t done either. It’s an entrance into my Pacific Chemical Repackaging industry, and comes down a ramp from Bromela Road. But of course it needs to turn into a proper grade crossing. I will likely do both of these together. And I have always intended to add fencing along this side of the chemical facility, so that can be put on the list as well.

Another area in Ballard that struck me as not handled very well is the drainage ditch alongside the main line (bottom of photo). Most ditches like this do carry a little surface water, even when it isn’t raining, and that means there should be additional vegetation in the ditch, more than the minimal amount here.

Where my Coast main line runs along a bluff and into a tunnel, it occurred to me recently that there are hardly any fallen rocks in the ditch below the cut. This might just mean it’s really stable rock (not generally true of the Franciscan Formation along that part of the coast) or it could reflect good right-of-way maintenance. But I think I need to add a few more broken rocks along here.

One other area I noticed is the area in front of the Santa Rosalia depot, which has never gotten scenicked. With the new Channel Islands Kelp Products building at left (just its parking lot is visible), and the motor car pull-out at right, this area at the bottom of the photo really calls out for some work. Not sure yet what should go here; maybe a tool shed or some other railroad details.

Now all of these minor issues are specific to my layout, of course. The point I am trying to make is that even if your layout has reached a high percentage of completion, there will almost certainly remain some areas that aren’t finished, or need upgrading. It may be time to seek them out, and correct them.

Tony Thompson

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