Sunday, April 24, 2011

Station Stops

While passing through Temple, Texas on a Sunday recently, I took a little detour to see the Katy and Santa Fe stations.
Katy Temple Station (abandoned)
ATSF Temple Station and current Amtrak Station
ATSF Temple Station
Both are great brick structures. They evoke confidence and display a respect for the business of railroading and the customers they served. Definitely worthy subjects for modeling and visiting.

The ATSF station holds an Amtrak office and the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum. There were a handful of people waiting to get on the Amtrak, but I couldn't immediately understand how they got to the train through the iron fences. I'll have to ask someone. The museum was closed, so I'll have to get up there this summer at some point to see the inside.

I wonder what is going on with the Katy station. It sits unoccupied with a few broken windows, but it is in pretty good shape. It would make a wonderful restaurant, architect's office, or what about another train museum?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Courthouse Part 3

So I finally got to see the McClennan County Courthouse in situ at the Mayborn Museum at Baylor University in Waco. I was on the way back from visiting a client in Northeast Texas, and I was able to take a few minutes to make a half mile detour from the interstate to see my handiwork from several years ago.

The layout is in a high traffic area of the museum and gets lots of attention. I was a little surprised by the size - I had expected it to be a lot larger and stuffed into a room of its own. Instead it is small-ish and free standing so you can walk all around it. Separate loops allow for continuous action on different levels. As it turns out, I could have made the Courthouse a lot larger - to actual scale. That's a little disappointing, because I had created scale drawings from photographs to start with, then was told to make to particular reduced dimensions. A larger model would have fit fine, and it would have been a real show piece. I think it looks good as it is, and it kind of fits the more cute/toylike oeuvre of layout and museum overall. I think it holds up well as a representation, but I would like to attempt a more faithful scratch building project that is more about precise. All in all, a good project, good results, and I think it fits and adds to positively to the layout.

Ops at Pete's

This week was an operating session at Pete's Conundrum and Pacific Railroad. A pure switching puzzle, the C&P is without staging, timetable or mainline trains.

Looking from East Port to Westport. Jack is working in Pearson Yard, and Dick is his assistant working a local out of the yard.
Looking from East Port to Westport. Jack is working in Pearson Yard, and Dick is his assistant working a local out of the yard.

I usually hang out in Pickard Yard at Cascade Locks, but this week since we had 7 operators (2 in each of three yards, then one leftover), I chose to run the local sweeper. (The other job is to stay in East Port and West Port all night.) Basically I had the run of the railroad running transfers between yards and performing switching along the way. Fun job because of the roaming nature. I think I was supposed to move from Pearson one way, then back, then out the other way and back to the yard. I ended up just going where the wind blew and doing what ever could help the three yardmasters the most when I came through their yard.

Roy, Tom, Dick, Pete, Jack, David, ?/?
End of the session watching the last moves by Dick. Left to right: Roy, Tom, Dick, Pete, Jack, David, George.
Something funny that happens all the time is at the end of the session, everyone ends up gathering around the last person operating. Tonight it was Dick who was who was working out of Pearson Yard at West Port. It can be a little unnerving when you are tired and trying to make tricky moves in front of an audience. It also keeps you from talking out loud to figure out how you are going to make your moves and what order you are going to do your work.
I'm looking a little tired after 3 hours of operating
I'm looking a little tired after 3 hours of operating.

We are getting pretty good at moving things around, so Pete has started to add cars and lengthen spots so we have more to do. We've figured out most of track and can efficiently move a lot of cars in and out of the yards, which is what sets the pace of any railroad. We've also figured out what industries are trailing points from what yard for the most part. So, things move pretty smoothly, especially since Pete has gotten really good at setting up moves. Very deliberate traffic movements help keep sessions interesting as well as being able to adjust difficulty according to operator experience level.

So now that we are comfortable after about a 6 months (?) of operating, the last challenges are in trying to break rules without Pete's finding out. Don't tell him I said that (although I think he might find that funny).
Conundrum is empty at the end of the session
Conundrum is empty at the end of the session.