March 11, 2019

Don't Break the Meatballs

Train 7 pushing a car from Brooke to  Potomac Creek


We hosted Op Session 19 on the Aquia Line and 24 on PoLA today. Brad Trencamp ran PoLA, while John Salmons, John Stralka, John Barry (yes, three Johns again), and Mike Spoor ran the Aquia Line. The session went well, but we had a few glitches. Interestingly, this is perhaps the first time I have hosted a session when the majority of the crew was under 40.

Brad Trencamp, sporting hair that would make
Bryce Harper jealous, switches PoLA 
The crews did a good job with their tasks.  Bryce, I mean, Brad, did a great job running PoLA on his own. He even fixed a dragging coupler on one of the cars  during the session.

The Johns, Barry and Straka, decided to push a car from from Brooke to Potomac Creek to switch the facing point turnout there. I don't think anyone else tried that before. However, the second crew did the same later, so perhaps this will become routine.

We had the crews verbally OS as we did last session. That worked well, but it will be nice to get the telegraph in operation.

In winter time the wood in my layout contracts as the humidity drops and some of the switches get tight. Yes, even after 10 years this still happens. The 3-way stub in Falmouth needed some adjustments to get it to work properly. But even after making some adjustments, the switch stand would not lock, it just wore out. This switch stand uses acrylic plastic and brass parts. It is one of the first ones I made with laser cut plastic. I will have to replace it with a stainless steel switch stand.

Mike and John running a 10-car train back to Falmouth. Here they are
switching Stoneman's Station
Also, for the second op session in a row, the batteries on the Stanton throttles did not hold a full charge. I am referring to the batteries in the throttles, not the batteries on board the locos. I may have a faulty USB charger, or the batteries are old. However, the CVP T5000 throttle works great. I plan to get a second T5000 and retire the Stanton throttles. The T5000s are much simpler to use, especially the function keys, and the seem to have better radio transmission range. They also have replaceable batteries, so if they batteries go dead in a session, they can be swapped out.

After the session, we looked at the two possible expansion plans, the Fredericksburg Extension and 28D. The group consensus was that 28D would be the better approach. Switching the harbor would be simpler without the wye peninsula, which would make things easier on the locomotive engineers as they can follow their engine better. The wye is really an inefficient use of the space. Several of my guests also said that they thought the wharf against the wall would make a more impressive scene than as the peninsula it is now.

Look at those meatballs. 
During the session, Alicia made delicious caramel brownies. My mom made a great pasta sauce, including a big pot of meatballs for dinner afterwards. John Barry and Mike Spoor stayed for dinner. John regaled us with stories of his increasing cattle herd. He is becoming quite the cattle rancher.




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