Model railways love big basements, and that means most enthusiasts live in the suburbs. Living as I do in the downtown of a major city, I don’t have too many friends in the hobby who are close by.
But my friend David Woodhead is just seven blocks away – an easy walk (Readers who listen to The Model Railway Show podcast that I co-host will know his name: David wrote the theme music we use to open and close the show, as well as the stingers we use after interview segments.)
David is a professional musician and this means two things:
1 – He’s on the road a lot so our schedules conflict more often than not, which means we don’t see each other as much as we should;
2 – When I do see him, has always has some great train-related tales to share. He knows I’m a fan of the Modesto and Empire Traction Company in California, and on his latest tour he eailed me a photo from the road of ex-METRR GE 70-Tonners at work on a shortline in Saskatchewan. Very, very neat. (He also spent some time in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia on this trip – more on that in a future posting.)
It’s always a delight to have Dave over for coffee and conversation – and this time, an operating session on my Port Rowan layout.
David models in On3 (we know each other though our mutual appreciation for O scale narrow gauge modelling), and he prefers stuff that’s smaller than what one finds on the big Colorado three-footers, so it was interesting that he noted that the S scale standard gauge equipment I have compares favourably in size to his O scale narrow gauge models. I too have noted that relationship – my CNR 10-wheelers are about the size of the Maine two-foot gauge Big Forneys – the 2-4-4Ts such as the Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes #10 and the Bridgton and Saco River #8 – that I used to run on my On2 layout.
Today was the first day that I’d had a friend over to run trains since I added the operations aids – the brake wheels, air hoses, and waybill boxes – to the layout. So I prepped a bunch of waybills and empty car bills this morning, loaded the waybill boxes, and we ran a wayfreight from Simcoe to Port Rowan and return. Extra 1532 West had a fair bit of switching to do – lifting one car and spotting three in St. Williams, and lifting two cars and spotting one in Port Rowan, with cars that needed to be moved and respotted in both locations. It was way more work than one would have seen on the prototype in the 1950s, but I really wanted to put the operations aids to good work.
And work we did – more than 90 minutes to do the round trip.
Overall, the session went really well and David seemed to enjoy the work. I sure did. The aids definitely added to the sense of doing something – more than one would experience if one simply paused and said, “I’m hooking up the air hoses” or “I’m setting the hand brake”. At the same time, they didn’t feel unnatural or gimacky – at least, I didn’t think so.
There were a few problems – the team track switch at St. Williams might be a bit tight in gauge, and one car derailed on the switch to the team track spur in Port Rowan. I’ve made a note of the cars involved and the locations and will haul out the standards gauge and make adjustments as needed. I’ll also check the cars to make sure that I haven’t tightened the truck screws too tightly.
David – great to see you and let’s do it again soon!