Saturday, May 14, 2011

UPDATE - Still Here

I've taken a brief hiatus from model railroading since my return from the Hudson Valley backpacking trip. After 20 years of doing very little remodeling on my own house, but thousands of projects for others, I've finally been guilted into beautifying the structure over my layout. Never one to do things in moderation, my list of projects is daunting - new kitchen, new bathroom, new HVAC system, new windows, skylight, new plumbing throughout, converting my living room into a library (got that idea from John Glaab), new hardwood floors, painting almost entire interior, and tons of exterior projects and landscaping. This work did force me to take up the overgrown outdoor G-scale layout to make room for and AC unit. Eventually, this G-scale outdoor layout will be rebuilt, including relocating the pond, on hopefully a much grander scale.

Despite the non-railroad nature of this work, there is a benefit - by cleaning up all the mechanical systems in my house, most of which run through the basement, it will allow me to complete portions of the layout that I haven't really done much work on in fear of needing access to something. So far some of the exterior work is done, a few windows are replaced, the kitchen cabinets are in awaiting their granite tops, much of the plumbing work is finished, and the HVAC system is done. Given that the later item was encased in a model railroad, it is fortunate that on my day job I have a good relationship with one of our HVAC sub contractors. He was a good sport in regards to working in tight quarters and took care of my layout in the process. Hopefully, with a better interior climate control system I will have fewer issues with track expansion and contraction, not that it is a serious problem, just an occasional one.

I had most of my workbench covered but as of today I can pull that off and start getting back to work on a very limited basis, if I have energy left. I was able to get my model railroading fix last night thanks to the friday night operators group. As it was the second friday, the host was Dave Skinner and his exceptional Kade Lines. (see my links for his webpage) It's always a pleasure to operate at Dave's super detailed layout. Half the fun is that I almost always notice something that I hadn't in the past. It's one of those layouts that throws you into sensory overload the first time you visit. I usually end up running a local freight, a passenger train, and a coal drag - just always seems to work out that way. This time I ended up on a portion of the railroad I had never worked on - the Colfax Branch - a light logging branch. It made for some very tricky switching - besides switching the cars I had brought there from Parkersburg and making up the cars for the return trip, you make what seems like a zillion local moves between the various components within the lumber mill and associated yard and engine facilities. I realized about half way into switching the mill that I should have hopped out of the road steamer and into the little mill switcher to make the moves on this tight trackwork. The realization came after there wasn't enough room on a switchback for the locomotive and one car. In the end I think I managed to set the mill right and made my way back over the main to Parkersburg with a gon and three full wood chip cars. (I've posted some poor photos taken with my phone of the section of the layout I was operating.

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