Usually I hesitate to try and schedule an operating weekend between Thanksgiving and New Years, but this year I felt I should try, given that the local San Francisco Bay Area will host a “BayRails” event next March. This is the usual timing, March in an odd-numbered year, and since we naturally missed out on 2021, this will be the first one for awhile. Many of us, including me, are trying to get the layouts into as good a shape as possible.
Of course one should always take the time occasionally to walk the layout and scrutinize the condition of everything, preferably taking notes the while (I call such notes a ‘walking-around list,” as I have described before; see for example this post: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2022/10/my-walking-around-list.html ). But perhaps an at least equally informative test is to hold an operating session, thus the scheduling of mine this past weekend.
Slightly to my surprise, I was able to sign up full crews for both Saturday and Sunday (I had thought I might have to hold just a single session, because people tend to have full calendars for the holidays). The first day, the crews were Seth Neumann, Dave Falkenburg, John Rodgers, and Jim Radkey. Below you see Jim (at left) and John, working at Shumala; Jim was the conductor here, and you can see a batch of waybills in his hand. He is, of course, wearing season-appropriate headgear.
Meanwhile, Seth and Dave were hard at work switching Ballard. In the view below, that’s Seth at right. I think Seth was conductor on this shift, and you can see his clipboard, and switch list, in front of him. He seems to be marveling at the move his engineer, Dave, has just made with a freight car.
One change in this session is that the Guadalupe Local was pulled, not by its usual Southern Pacific Consolidation, but by a Baldwin road-switcher. By the year I model, 1953, these Baldwins had about worn out their welcome on this part of the SP, and would soon migrate into the urban areas of southern and northern California, and the Oregon branches, but here is one of them, still in use in this area.
Then on Sunday the essentially identical session was run, that is, with the same switching assignments, but different crews. Below you can see Lisa Gorrell (at left) and Richard Brennan working Shumala. Lisa was enjoying the conductor’s job here, and it looks like she and Richard are discussing their next move.
On the other side of the layout, Tom Swearingen (left) and Ed Merrin were switching at Ballard. In this location, I think Ed was the engineer; you can just see the top of the throttle he’s holding.
The sessions went pretty smoothly (and of course the layout gremlins discovered on Saturday were mostly excised before the Sunday session — a standard experience for a layout owner). The crews had fun, and I had fun watching all the new and original approaches to switching challenges. And I found a few things that need improvement before BayRails. That met all my desires and druthers for these sessions!