|Crew reports for duty|
|Layout diagrams in every town make for great reference all through the session for visiting crews|
I signed up for a yard job at El Reno at the west end of the layout after no one else jumped in. Yards are always more fun for me because of the high operating time to session length ratio. A yard is almost always busy from start to finish, and I feel like I get my money's worth in playtime this way. The downside, however, is that I didn't get to chat much with anyone. El Reno is off in a secondary space, and I only saw people as they passed through my yard when things were busy. No worries, though, as it is sometimes really nice to just play with trains off in the corner by oneself.
|Across the aisle from El Reno - I confess I have no idea what that town is, but I know there was a fair bit of activity going on behind me most of the night...|
|El Reno on the left, and some mystery town (I think this was Council) to the right. When your head gets buried in a yard, the rest of the layout might as well be invisible.|
|Portland Ave in Council|
I thoroughly enjoyed the equipment in El Reno. I was given a choice between a sweet little leased Southern Pacific unit and a highly detailed and weathered double lash up of Katy locomotives. I decided that using the home town power was the appropriate answer, and I'm glad I did. They were smooth-running and I loved the sound provided by a layout-standard SoundTraxx decoder.
One of the unique features on Kevin's layout is the use of the brake function for operating. For this, the momentum is turned way up, and it becomes necessary to pay more attention to the operation of the locomotive itself while trying to learn the railroad, keep up with the job and keep an eye out for traffic headed your way.
This all forced me to slow way down in my moves. Some of it was the information and coordination overload, but at the beginning, most of it was just getting a feel for the locomotive. When set up with braking required, you can run up the rpms before releasing the brake, get to your desired (slow) yard speed, and then shut the rpms down and glide from one end of the yard to the other. It was really a unique sensation! Much more realistic than slammin' and jammin' cars together. Then, while coasting in neutral, you can play the brake to come to a very precise and gentle nudge to couple up with a car.
|Standard car cards and card racks helped a lot for this visitor. The directional sorting cards were life-savers!|
|View of El Reno from the East. The crossing bells got a bit old when I was trying to sort cars from this end. Next time, I'll use the West ladder more...|
|A functioning lock out feature for the road crossings. I tried to get it to time-out, but I think I kept triggering it by moving back into the yard ladder too far. I gave up, but interesting feature nonetheless.|
|Staging below El Reno. Didn't have too many conflicts with departing or arriving trains since the throat was out from under the yard. Interesting use of polychromatic paint scheme on the support legs at staging. I think it works.|
|Entry lift-out with trestle|
|The main yard at Oklahoma City|
|Some GRR (Georgetown Railroad) limestone gravel cars headed back to the quarry in Georgetown, TX.|
|The dispatcher's desk|
|The call board sign up sheet|
|Lloyd, Kevin and Bill|
|Standard Iron and Metal and a concrete industry|
|The Katy crossing|
|Nathan, Lloyd, Bill, Kevin and Eric(?)|
As I didn't get to experience the rest of the layout, my overall comments may not be as valid as they could be, but having said that, I think that this is a superbly operating layout. The operating scheme made sense, the instructions were clear with plenty of reference materials, the neatness, consistency and craftsmanship of the layout made for a distraction-free environment, and the host was gracious, patient, and genuinely interested in how the layout was being interpreted by a visiting crew.
Kevin is a class-act and has created a great layout in the amazing model railroad town of Kansas City.
Stay tuned for Part 3 coming 'soon'.