November 29, 2016

Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum



Steve Wilson with 2 of the 3 dioramas that will be on loan 


This evening Steven Wilson from the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum at the Lincoln Memorial University Library in Harrogate, TN, stopped by to visit the layout and pick up some of my dioramas. The dioramas will be on display for the next two years at the museum as part of a new exhibit on technology in the Civil War. I'll post more information about the display when it is ready in a few months.




While Steve was visiting, we ran a few trains to demonstrate the Aquia Line layout. Steve is not a model railroader, so he had a lot of questions about the hobby.

Last week my brother and his wife visited us from their home in Florida. We played a lot of golf and ate lots of good food. Nonetheless, I managed to get in about 15 minutes of rail fanning as the Whiskey Creek Golf Course is adjacent to the B&O Old Main Line near Ijmansville, MD.


CSX Autorack train heading to Baltimore with about 50 loaded auto racks passes Mussetter Rd in Ijmansville, MD

November 20, 2016

The Grand Tour

I had a few minutes to railfan and got this shot of a coal drag heading to Texas at the BNSF yard in Denver..


The three hooligans on Top Gear are not the only guys doing the grand tour this month. In the past two weeks I visited 6 layouts in two states a thousand miles apart.

We found some young operator's on Pat Lana's layout
The group poising in Jim Frenec's C&S layout
One of the great scenes on John Parker's amazing layout
 The tour started in Denver where Alicia, Danica, Adam, and I visited three great layouts in the Metro area. They were Pat Lana's N Scale Crandic, John Parker's BNSF Fall River Division and Jim Frenec's Colorado Southern. All there were great layouts with gracious hosts.

We had a chance to meet Pat's operating group and have lunch with them.


At John and Jim's layouts, the layouts were not being operated, but they were kind enough to give us a detailed tour.

One thing is sure, they have some great layouts in the Denver area. I look forward for a chance to operate some of them.

Later in that weekend I had a few moments to railfan while having lunch at the Blue Moon Brewery. I was just in time to see a BNSF west bound coal drag.













After a short week home, I traveled to western New Jersey with Paul Dolkos to operate on some great layouts as part of the Northeast Interchange (an informal group of layout operators that alternate round robin op sessions in NJ and DC-MD each year).

Ted Pamperin and his wonderful layout
The first was Ted Pamperin's wonderful C&O New River Subdivision layout. I got to run a H-4 2-6-6-2 Helper to Alleghany and back to Hinton. This involved the classic dance at Alleghany with shuffling the caboose and turning the engine all under CTC control. Then  I ran an H-7 2-8-8-2 with a train load of armored vehicles (see video). That was a treat.

Ted's layout is chock full of wonderful steam engines and great scenery.

Night Ops on Dave Abeles layout
The next day I operated on Dave Abeles's Conrail Onondaga Subdivision. This layout aims to capture the feeling of high volume and high-speed operations on Conrail in the 1990's.

Dave and all his helper crew are professional railroaders on NJT, LIRR, or AMTRAK in various capacities. They are also a young group and have embraced all kinds of modern technology such as wifi throttles, remote dispatching (the dispatcher in the first half of the session was located in Philadelphia), full bi-directional CTC on a double track main, photo printed backdrops, and night time operations. It was an intense and fun session. I got to dispatch in the afternoon with lots of help from Chris Lee.

Triple Meet at Sparta Junction on Jerry Dzeidic's layout




On the last day I operated on Jerry Dzeidic's Susquehanna RR. It is a large double deck TT&TO layout. While there is little scenery, what is complete is well done and the unfinished sections are neat and well built. The layout ran great. Travis Stavac and I ran a way freight that was a lot of fun. Through a blunder on our part, we managed to create a "first"- a three way meet at Sparta Junction. I guess Jerry's warning during the morning briefing to "not meet at Sparta" fell on deaf ears.

It was a fun weekend punctuated by the first snow fall of the year. Weekends like these reinforce what a great hobby  with great people we have.


Paul helps clear the first snow off the Alkem-mobile while still on summer tires. Luckily the temps were warm and the snow quickly melted.