My friend Hunter Hughson visited last night. My wife joined us for a trip to Harbord House for dinner, then Hunter and I headed to Port Rowan aboard a freight extra hauled by CNR 80.
Hunter is only the second friend in the hobby to visit since I added ambient sound to the layout, and since his many talents include “musician” I was keen for his feedback on what I’ve done. I was pleased – and relieved – that he likes it. The choice of sounds seemed spot-on to his recollection of summers in Ontario, and he felt the levels were not overpowering.
Hunter took the engineer’s seat while I grabbed the paperwork and loaded into the caboose. We switched three cars in St. Williams, and four in Port Rowan, so it was a busy evening. The Port Rowan switching included lifting and spotting cars on the elevated coal track, which requires a careful hand on the throttle. Hunter did a fine job.
Hunter is enjoying the novelty of running a short local behind steam: As he notes on his blog, his main involvement in a layout is as a member of the Waterloo Regional Model Railroad Club in St. Mary’s, Ontario – a group building an extensive HO scale layout representing CP Rail in the Sudbury area in the 1970s. It’s a very impressive layout – and about as far from my modest Port Rowan effort as one can get.
After finishing the extra’s work, Hunter and I discussed layout sound, which reminded me that Lance Mindheim is feeding Soundtraxx decoders into headphones to capture the full range of audio – including the big bass notes that tiny speakers mounted in locomotives just can’t reproduce. It’s not something I plan to do on my layout, but it is an interesting approach. You can read about it on Lance’s blog – look for the April 7, 2012 entry.
While I was too busy conducting things last night to take photos, this morning I shot some video to recreate some of last night’s session. I’m in the process of editing my footage, but here’s a video of Engine 80 being turned at Port Rowan:
(You can also click here to watch this video on YouTube – where you may be able to view a larger version.)
Since I’m thinking about audio a lot these days, I’ll mention that all the sound on this video is natural – i.e.: picked up by the condenser mic on the camera, with no fiddling in the editing suite. The locomotive sound is generated by the on-board Soundtraxx Tsunami decoder, feeding two speakers – a small one in the boiler and a larger, high-bass model in the tender. The ambient sound includes bird calls, a cicada, and the turntable’s air-powered motor (which would have been fed from the locomotive).
Thanks for visiting, Hunter – let’s do it again soon!