A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

October 25, 2015

First Op Session on PoLA

An historic document, the first switch list for PoLA layout next to the Borax silos.
Paul and Todd bringing the train onto Fries Ave.
Paul Dolkos and his son Todd stopped by today. The actual purpose was to do some graphic work for decals for Paul, but Todd had some containers he wanted to contribute to PoLA.

Since the graphic work needed was very minor, I put them to work doing an op session on PoLA. I made up a quick switch list on a scrap of paper. Paul and Todd then worked for about an hour making pulls and set outs on the layout They used the set of Fox Valley GP60M & GP60B.

Cutting tubes on the chop saw
Todd was happy to be switching some of the DODX cars. Both men thought that the layout was fun to operate. Paul made a comment to the effect that, "why would someone build a huge double deck layout that never gets done, when this is all you need."

AW helps sand the lettering off the tubes. Acetone also helped.
Earlier in the week  I cut the silos for the Borax factory. I was planning on using the Walthers Medussa cement for the silos, but the kit did not have enough silos. So I bought 12 feet of 2 inch PVC pipe and cut 16 silos on my chop saw. I set up a jig on the saw so that each tube was the same length.

Then I laser cut the roof panels to precisely fit the tubes. The roof panel helped keep the tubes aligned and vertical as the glue dried.

I also had finished putting the paving sheets on the layout. I was in the process of painting and patching seams on the paving when Paul and Todd arrived.

Silos and laser cut roof

First ballast section drying

After they left I started ballasting the areas that are not paved. I used sifted dirt from Utah. It seems to have the right color and texture.


  1. I think Paul hit the nail on the head and drove it through the board. Go " Full Lance (Mindheim)" with prototypical things like brake sets and releases, 3 step protection, etc. and there's satisfaction aplenty to be had in a small space.

  2. I do not feel compelled to operate like the prototype if the tasks are tedious and repetitive. I want to focus on the fun stuff and leave out the boring, dangerous and uncomfortable stuf. To me the fun is planning the moves and then watching the trains move through highly detailed scenes. No number of brake tests and 3-step protection will make switching a single siding interesting after the novelty of doing it once wears off. Similarly, in designing a layout, I will move industries around, and adjust them to make the model rr crew's jobs more interesting and the layout more visually appealing. I am all for following the prototype as long as it is fun and interesting.

  3. A suggestion, add a few snake looking things on some of the Medussa silos.