Monday, May 14, 2012

WP 1st Sub Rides Again

After a year long hiatus to attend to more pressing matters, Tommy Holt hosted a regular operating session on his Western Pacific 1st Subdivision layout set in and around Stockton, CA. We were actually pretty lucky that we operated after his building was struck by lightning (again) this week. He had some trouble that he worked around, and repairs started on electronic systems the day after we operated.

The kitchen aisle, as I call it. This is the heart of the layout. Stockton Yard is on the right and lines West to the left with the towns of Ortega, French Camp, Lathrop, and Cochran. Most of the crew is here (hence the kitchen reference where everyone gathers), front to back is Gordon, Bill, Jack, Tom and maybe Stan.

It was good to be back in the saddle again, and tonight I was breaking in the new guy. Brian, who had been to the layout only once or twice previously, and I ran mainline trains as is the custom with a rookie, so he can familiarize himself with the overall layout, rules and particulars before trying other more complex jobs. Brian is a member of Op Sig, so he has plenty of experience, and he caught on quickly.

A switcher sits quietly in a Flora Street Yard track with a long string of autoracks filled with freshly built Fords. I guess the work day is over here, as no one is in sight and the locomotive isn't even on.

It is lonely out on the road, especially at Altamont. Most famous not for WP's very useful long sidings, but rather for the free concert run amok hosted by the Rolling Stones in 1969 - three years after our train rolls through town in the late summer of 1966 on Tommy's layout.

We first ran OWPX, an eastbound freight expediter to Salt Lake City. I tried to explain as much about radio protocol, yard procedures, horn blowing, how to call the signals, etc. on the first trip and then just remind on the subsequent runs. He had operated on the layout before, so this was already familiar material. Here's some of the stuff we saw along the way.

We didn't stop at the call box today, so it was a quick pass through the sleepy control point at Trevarno.
A Merchandise Dispatch box car sits by itself on a track at the Kaiser gravel company at Radum. 
A front loader works to load gravel beyond the shack that houses the office at Kaiser.

The crossing to get to Kaiser.

Gravel hoppers ready to be picked up at Kaiser. The Rockswitcher didn't run tonight, so this will probably get picked up next session.

Stockton depot is always busy.

The depot was built by Mike Barrett after a trip to California to measure the existing building. Excellent work!

Something to mention is the "all off" switch seen here at the entrance to the layout. The red switch is lighted and turns off all the railroad related electrical circuits for safety considerations. This way you know everything is off whether for working on the layout or at the end of the evening when it is time to tie up.

I keep meaning to ask Tommy why this says "(RILEY)". If I know the building this refers to, it is a concrete structure with Egyptian detailing on it. I've seen a few pictures online, and it is an unusual building. It is located near the ST&L interchange near the Flora Street Yard.
Headed into the hole at West Staging through the SP crossing at Radum.

Blowin' and goin' through Flora Street (although in this part of the railroad, it means we were probably going about 15mph...) This is Weber Ave. with the SP tracks crossing in the foreground.

Brian minds the signals moving through Tracy on the west bound extra out of Stockton.

We ran a couple of other trains including the Auto Parts Forwarder (APF) and a westbound freight extra (WPW) without incident. The extra was the last train of the evening for us, so I let Brian take it solo, and I just hovered in case I was needed. He did great, and from what I could tell, he enjoyed the evening tremendously.

The ongoing conversation for us this evening was about how long it took to learn all the rules and how we were trained, etc. I can't remember exactly how long I've been operating at Tommy's, but it has been close to 8 or 10 years. Sounds like a long time, but it isn't if you remember that at best we operate 10 times a year and there are at least 8 different jobs on the layout. That means out of about 80 possibilities to do a job in 8 years, you probably have not done each job more than about 10 times. This is not a lot of practice when it is spread out over several years. With this in mind, it is impressive that there are several people who are really good operators of the layout. At this point the evening is usually uneventful in terms of mistakes. We can now concentrate on efficiency and enjoying the ride more now that we are not trying to remember rules or procedures. Even after a year long lay-off, we all just fell back into the groove.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Riley,
    I will be in Austin next week and was wondering how to contact Tommy Holt. My information is below.
    Thank you,
    Frank Kenny
    Los Angeles area