Monday, November 19, 2012

November blahs

Model railroading has temporarily taken a back seat to work.  I have a number of fairly complicated woodworking projects that I am trying to complete by the end of the month.   Getting involved in a designer show house has become a yearly fall event for me it seems.  Last year I spent most of October and November building cabinetry and architectural millwork for a house in Moorestown, NJ.  This year  I'm working on a similar project in Haddonfield, NJ - and with an entirely different designer.   Most of my colleagues love to bad mouth designers, but I've never had a bad experience working with any, and I find that most of my best work has been a result of such a collaboration.   I envy the AutoCAD prowess of the young women that I am working with this year - very well organized and dead accurate drawings.

I was able to take a brief model railroading break this past saturday and attend the local NMRA division meet in Millville, NJ.   This was only as I was working down in Ocean City on Friday, stayed over in Avalon Friday night and hit the division meet on my way home Saturday.  There were two excellent presentations - one on scratchbuilding and the other on scenery.   I won the raffle and got some sort of pickle car kit.  Haven't looked at it real closely.  With the previously mentioned work issues hanging over my head, the plan was to skip the afternoon layout tours and beeline home and get cracking, but I noticed Ralph DeBlasi's HO scale Lehigh Valley layout was on the list - one that I've wanted to see for some time.  
Through the trees you can see the four track tank car siding 
The tours started at 1pm so I had an hour or so to kill - I made a short run over to a section of the old CNJ Southern Division to look around.  Much of the southern Division is abandoned - many sections with the rail still in place - but this portion, between Vineland and Bridgeton, NJ is operated by the Winchester and Western Railroad.   I went to two locations I'd noticed on Bing Birds Eye Views - an old grain or feed elevator and some sort of facility that gets a lot of tank cars.  Took some bad photos of the grain elevator - will visit again when I have more time.  The tank car place was a National Refrigerants factory.  I'm not sure if it actually gets tank cars regularly, or they just go there to die.  There were a lot that looked to be real old and not really something you'd want to see in a train traveling through your town carrying chemicals.  They had a neat tank farm all of 1950's era pressure tank cars sans trucks.  The facility has a large four track yard full of tank cars.  One theory of mine is that they use the cars as storage tanks basically.
Colorful Winchester and Western Covered Hopper for the major sand traffic on this line
I got to Ralph's house a few minutes after the official start of the tours and had the place to myself.   The layout is quite impressive and has a cohesive theme of a section of the Lehigh Valley Railroad in the vicinity of the Lehigh Gorge.  Joe Huber and Jim Main were running trains on the layout and Joe handed me a throttle and I was able to run a coal drag around the layout.  Ralph has a pretty severe grade on a section of the railroad that runs through the stairs and up to a section over a staging yard - I needed to get a running start at this hill and just made it up.  I don't feel so bad about my extreme grade on the blast furnace branch.   Ralph must buy lots of diamonds for his wife or something else, as he controls the signals and turnouts on the layout from a huge CTC panel upstairs in the dining room.  Ralph has soldered together the many many circuit boards and pulled all the wire for this electronic
Lehigh Valley Railroading


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