October 6, 2018

Cornorama, tool envy, and other tales



It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks. Hopefully, I can take a breather next week, before I head to Chicago for the Naperville RPM.

Last week Alicia and I went to Minnesota to help my mother in law with some chores, attend Alicia's college reunion, visit relatives, and do some rail fanning. We got to see my brother-in-law's machine shop where he is building a Mustang II hot rod with a 427 (actually a restroked 351 V8).









Kevin and Alicia with the "famous" brian stimulation violin.
We also got a tour of a biomedical lab at the Mayo Clinic that is run by my fraternity brother Kevin Bennet.  They are doing amazing work in neurosurgery. Talk about cool tools, they have a complete machine shop with just about every tool you could want and then some. How about a femtolaser, a laser which emits optical pulses with a duration in the domain of femtoseconds (1 fs = 10−15 s). They use it to make tiny electrodes for deep brain stimulation.  They also developed a machine that makes synthetic diamonds for use in brain stimulation electrodes.  Wow!

Cornorama

Clark and his layout 
Earlier in the trip I got to spend a day visiting layouts in the Mason City, Iowa area and doing some rail fanning. After driving through seemingly endless corn fields, I arrived at Clark Propst's M&StL Branch line layout first. This layout was featured in MRP 2018. He put me to work as a conductor for an op session, while he was the engineer on a nice little mogul. It was very enjoyable session. I think layouts like this a perfect for a medium sized space. The layout is composed of three towns with lots of switching at each, yet spaced out enough to feel a sense of distance between towns. The scenery and structures are  well done.

Bob G and Bob D (l to r) 
After lunch we visited  Bob Gretillat’s Rock Island RR. It's a large double deck railroad designed for operations. We didn't operate it, but did get a good look.  Bob Drenth met us there. His house was the next destination. He has two railroads, a large ride-on outdoor railroad and a indoor HO layout. We had a great time riding the large scale trains, such that we just had time for a peek at the indoor railroad before I needed to head back. But the train action continued as I swung by Manly Terminal to watch wind mill parts being unloaded, and caught a short train in Lyle, IA with a few covered hoppers.

I made a video of the highlights of the trip. I apologize for misspelling some of the names in the video, I tried to correct them above. When I wuz a kid, i cudent even spel enjunear, now I are one.




MER open house guests
Once home, I hosted an open house for the MER NMRA and presented a clinic with an update on the Aquia Line. It's hard to believe, but the Aquia Line is coming up on its 10th year anniversary.



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