I had an unexpected and pleasant evening, running trains and sharing good food and drink with Ryan Mendell.
I first “met” Ryan online – he has posted to the Model Railroad Hobbyist forums – including this great description of his goals in the hobby – and has offered thoughtful commentary on posts on my blog. Ryan also pens a blog about his beautiful, freelanced Algonquin Railway: Click on the image below to visit it:
Yesterday, I emailed him about something and when he replied, he said:
I’m actually in your neck of the woods right now and tonight is the one night I don’t have to run home. Would you like to meet up at your place and then grab a bite to eat?
As it happened, I also had the night off: My wife is out of town at a conference this weekend so I was on my own anyway, and I had no plans beyond, “Watch a movie” and “Twist tree armatures”. So Ryan’s timing could not have been better!
I gave Ryan the tour of the layout, and then we ran a freight extra to Port Rowan and return. This was the first operating session since I made the decision to go back to using the Kadee 808 coupler and it’s been a while since I’ve held an operating session that went so smoothly. Beyond a minor hiccup with the sector plate – I almost had it aligned properly – the layout performed really well.
If you’ve visited Ryan’s blog, you’ll know he has a modest (spare bedroom-sized) railway, so he and I face the same challenges when it comes to making a simple track plan engaging to operate. We talked a lot about the ways I do that on my Port Rowan branch, where I have just eight turnouts and “one train at a time” operation is the rule. I’m sure we’ll be having more discussions about operations in the future.
After our session, we headed to (drumroll, please!) Harbord House for dinner, pints and a wide-ranging discussion. We were both surprised when we got up to leave, and it was 11:20 pm! That’s always a very good sign – that and the fact that we could’ve talked for another three hours, easily.
Ryan: Great to finally meet you – thanks for the suggestion. I’m looking forward to continuing our discussions while visiting your end of the city to see your layout and sampling your local. We’ll arrange something soon!