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.

December 17, 2017

Car Float in Action

The first crew to switch the car float
Eight operators showed up today to run trains on the Aquia Line and PoLA. We had two first timers, Wes Morgenstern and Ed Kapuscinski, Sr.  Wes has an WM based O scale layout that has some articulated engines that are as long as a whole train onto Aquia line. Ed K. Sr. and I first met over 20 years ago when doing NTRAK. I hadn't seen him in many years.

Returning for duty were John Drye, Eric Payne, Jeff Peck, Ed Kapuscinski Jr., John King, and special surprise operator Phillip Hoffman, who was visiting from Louisiana.

John King and Phillip volunteered for PoLA. John decided to make a second switchlist based on his observations of the cars on the layout. I'm not sure why or what he did, but he seems to be  happy in using it. Switching PoLA can be challenging, especially when you forget half your cars in the staging yard. Oh well, they got 'er done without mishap.

We decided to run two 3-man crews on Aquia. John Drye conducted  Train 7 out of Aquia with Jeff Peck as brakeman and Wes Morgenstern as engineer. Eric Payne was conductor on Train 8 out of Falmouth, with the Ed K's, junior and senior, as brakeman and engineer.  Three man crews work well when we are only running two trains. Things ran very smoothly overall.  There is a lot of assimilate when you first try the layout, so we expect operations to go even better as time goes on and the crews gain experience. The more experienced crews really can get the layout running smoothly.   Here is a video summary of the day.

At one point, a crew realized they misread the time table and went too far. Luckily there was no cornfield meet. So they flagged the on-coming train and waited it out in a siding. It was a simpler time then.

This was the first session where we switched cars off the car float. There were four cars to pull. Train 7 and train 9 each got to pull two cars. We did not reload the car float during the session. With the car float in operation, we discussed the possibility of having an Aquia Landing wharf switcher that would just handle that job. It will be something we consider as we do more ops sessions.

New shelf at Falmouth
I installed a small shelf in Falmouth for conductors to use based on a recommendation by Eric Payne. Hence, it is now the Eric Payne Memorial Shelf. Alas, the crews seemed to not use it as the aisle to it is blocked when other crew men are standing there.  Perhaps with two-man crews the shelf will prove more useful. It is a great place to place a drink.

Phillip got to run the General's special right at the end of the session.

One of the pleasant surprises is how interesting and challenging the operations on the Aquia Line have been, despite the relatively simple track plan and low train density. It was a factor that concerned me as I was building. I am so relieved to see my operators are enjoying it. I love watching the crews interact as they discuss what they will do. The operations really brings the layout alive.

After the op session about a dozen or so visitors showed up for a layout open house. They included Adam, Alexander and Estevan Talaber, Ed Keating, David, Emily, and Moly Mosher, and Emily's boyfriend, Bill, Tom Pierpoint, Mark Andersen, his girlfriend Betty, Doug Gurin, and Paul Dolkos.  The children got to run trains on PoLA and Aquia Line, whereupon they did quite well and with enthusiasm.

We can't forget that Alicia made some good snacks for everyone to enjoy. All in all a very fun day.

Here is a short video taken by Phil, for a different take on the day..


  1. Those brownies were bangin.

    Oh, also, the layout was incredible, as always. Thank you for including us!

  2. Alicia's chocolate chip cookies are the bomb!!!!