Sunday, January 15, 2012


A happy belated New Year to all.

It's been a bit since the last post of any substantive modeling.  The holidays, work, a family illness,....etc.  all put most of my modeling on hold.  Also, the train time I did have I devoted to making the basement semi-presentable as I had agreed to host a layout tour for the local NMRA Division.  Most of the work for this involved finishing soffits, finally removing the little historic wiring I had left in my house from the basement ceiling and organizing my piles so people could walk down there.  Necessary work, but not probably interesting to you blog readers.

NMRA Division Meet - Layout Tour - Saturday January 7, 2012  -

As I think I had noted a few months ago, I am now a card carrying NMRA member for the first time in my life, despite being a model railroader for most of that said life.  I also made a point to join the local division as many of the model railroaders from our friday night operations group are members.   In joining the local group I checked the box that I would be willing to open my layout for tours, without realizing I'd get an email within a month asking to do that very thing.  I pleaded my case that I didn't think people would find it worthwhile visiting as the layout is very under construction, but the response was that some find that aspect interesting.  So I agreed figuring not many would show up but at the least it would put some pressure on me to finish some of the uninteresting things and also serve as a dress rehearsal of sorts for when we open up in September for the 2012 Steel Mill Modelers Meet.  
Looking along the Lower Works Branch - Bessemer Site in Foreground,  Raritan Steel HQ just behind that and then Blast Furnaces and Pig Casters in background

Of course the list of to-do items only was about a quarter done heading into last weekend.  We worked through the morning of the event right up to the 1pm opening time.  I put out the signs and just a few minutes past 1pm our first visitors arrived and from that point on we had a continuous stream of people in the basement right up until closing at 5pm, and even then, while I was taking down the signs at 5:15 a last carload of model railroaders pulled up, so we fired things back up.   I hadn't expected much but honestly I had a very enjoyable afternoon.  Jimmy managed running the trains and I did the narrative.  We usually had at least two mainline trains running the loop and Jimmy was variably running different locals and switchers.   We were using a combination of NCE throttles, on-screen JMRI Throttles, and also WiThrottle on our IPhones.  Apparently at the actual meet earlier that day there had been a presentation on JMRI so a lot of the visitors were real interested in seeing it up and actually running a model railroad.  

State Street Pier 

Some things that I learned and to do for the next tour -

  • Better outside signage - For next tour I plan on building a semi-scale crossing buck with lights and all - probably will just mount along my fence permanently but I'll turn the lights on for a tour.
  • Put the handouts down in the basement and not upstairs as I think many of the visitors didn't realize it was put out for them
  • Railings on the basement steps - Need to put some up.  A few folks had a tough time on the stairs and I felt bad as I had this on my list but never got to it.  
  • Holy Cow - We can fit 10 people in my basement.  As I need 8 to operate and 2 of these are back in the pit, 6 should be able to function reasonably well, although the crew lounge will have to be upstairs
  • Model Railroaders are really nice friendly people
I've started working on the precipitator complex and B-Furnace so I'll have some posts on these soon.
Arthur Kill Yard Under construction - 6 of 8 tracks in place

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