Tuesday, January 28, 2014

LD/Ops SIG weekend

Entrance scene at Otis McGhee's Shasta Division
This year's LD/Ops SIG meet was at the Elk Lodge in Alameda, a very nice venue with quite a few stuffed elks. The day started with Clif Linton presenting his rendition of the Baltimore and Ohio Chicago Terminal Railroad (B&OCT). Clif introduced us to the prototype setting in Chicago, and how his small switching layout on a shelf grew into taking over half of a garage. I had no idea how dense Chicago's rail network used to be, and to a degree still is.
Don Marenzi's talk about paper and pulp industries put all kinds of ideas in my head that I'm not going to be able to realize ... at least not on my home layout.
After Birds of a Feather sessions, that I mostly spent chatting with various people around the Silicon Valley FreeMo-N modular setup,  we had a nice lunch with plenty more chatting and exchanging of ideas. In the afternoon Mike Coen talked about the design and build of his Western Pacific Oregon division, a proto-freelanced layout set in Oregon. 
I haven't had a chance to see Ed Merrin's NWP layout yet. His presentation about how he designed the layout to get the scenic effects he wanted was mighty interesting. A "herniating helix" or a city street that turns around the edge of the peninsula backdrop to become a rural road are not only neat ideas, but Ed gave us insight in his thought process and construction methods to make the ideas reality.
The Ocean Shore Line used to run from San Francisco via today's Pacifica halfway down the peninsula towards Santa Cruz. Pete Cressman is in the middle of building a layout that depicts this little railroad, talked about the prototype, and gave a construction update.

For the evening layout tours I visited Clif Linton, and Otis McGhee's very impressive Shasta Division. Then we moved on to Mike Coen's WP Oregon division, and wrapped up the evening at Chuck Oraftik's NYC. Every layout we saw had something going for it, and I drew quite a bit of inspiration from seeing what others had done.

A New Haven passenger train is waiting for departure on Chuck Oraftik's NYC
Sunday I operated on Jon Schmidt's Nicosia Northern Railway, which was a different, yet interesting experience for me. I got the Yardmaster job and realized that visualizing moves, what works with the track work and what doesn't, is a lot easier once you've done or seen it once. On top of the amount of transfers to be worked in the yard, the tracks around Bayside Yard are sparse enough to be challenging and it requires planning to optimize activity. Apologies to Bob and Peter for completely gumming up their yard moves in the first half of the session...
I really like how Jon added servicing and turning of passenger trains into the operating scheme and got away from token passenger ops.

The Evening Glow is ready to push down to Bayside Ferry to pick up passengers returning from San Francisco by ferry
After the debrief at Jon's place I headed over to Bill Kaufman's State Belt, and marveled at the maze of tracks Bill recreated in his garage. Bill is also a quite entertaining host with lots of knowledge about the State Belt, its history and operations, so I stayed quite a bit longer than I had planned.

The Ferry Building with lots of State Belt tracks leading to the piers
As in previous years, this was a great way to spend the weekend. I had good conversations with like-minded people and enjoyed the friendly atmosphere.

An earlier version of this post accidentally attributed Chuck's layout to Steven Van Meter.

No comments: