Wednesday, August 26, 2015

LD SIG Layout Tour PDX 2015

Wednesday, 9am. Time for the big LD SIG layout tour. The tour featured over a dozen layouts between Portland and Eugene. With such a selection and such distances of course it's impossible to visit all of them, so I used compressive selection to make the most of the day. I also had a hard stop at the end of the day because I was signed up to operate on Charlie Comstock's "Bear Creek & South Jackson" and planned to be at Charlie's place by 6:30 at the very latest.

I started at Bruce Barney's "Arrow Lake & Western". The finished parts of the layout nicely capture the look and feel of the canadian West. There were lots of Ooooh's and Aaah's from visitors when Bruce demonstrated the linear actuator moving a barge on Slocan Lake from the lower level to the upper level of the layout. The barge, the lake, and the background all move and fit perfectly to the shelves. From the barge the tracks continue on the upper level and dead-end around the corner.

This being the Pacific North-West, Bruce also models paper mills. Here's one along the climb on the mountain grade. Hmmm, that building looks familiar, but I like this rendition, too.

I stopped at Ed McNamara's Century Model Railroad setup, which at the moment is primarily unfinished modules with no track, so not particularly photogenic. However, there's a lot of potential and opportunity in the idea to have a permanent place to efficiently set up and run modules on two levels with proper lighting and space. It'll be interesting to see this grow. I had a great chat with Ed about the arrangement and flexibility of locations.

On my way to Joe Fugate, I stopped in downtown Woodburn for lunch and caught the UP local switching cars.
"Hi, how are you?"

Over the last several years, Joe Fugate's Siskiyou line, as seen through his Web site and video series gave me a lot of inspiration and showed me lots of techniques for scenery and detailing, so it was a particular pleasure to see this layout for real and meet Joe and family.

I'm still impressed by how good the layout looks and how well it photographs. I heard the Ops session yesterday went well, and operators had a lot of fun, too.

The Siskiyou line was the first layout I heard of that used the mushroom concept, which efficiently crams a lot of railroad into a given space. In the photo below, Craig Bisgeier is looking at the lower level at Coos Bay, while right over it is one end of Roseburg yard, operated from the opposite side.

When viewed in videos or photos, the layout room feels larger than it actually is. The aisles are a bit tight, but not super-narrow. The mushroom design enhances the feeling of remoteness for the crew, especially on the lower level Coos Bay branch. As I walked down towards the end of the aisles, I felt very much "out there" in the middle of the woods, which is exactly the intented effect. Yet it's one thing to read about it, and a totally other thing to experience it.

Next up was Tom Dill's "Southern Pacific Ashland" layout, which I almost skipped due to time pressure. I'm glad I didn't. This layout is a work of art, beautifully arranged, both for viewing and operating.

The layout is not huge, yet masterfully and lovingly built up with believable details that make it a joy to visit. The photos don't do it justice.

Since the scheduled afternoon ops group didn't show, I got the opportunity to run a train on the layout. Bliss.

I stayed much longer than I had planned for, finding ever more details. From Tom Dill I plotted a route to Charlie Comstock's place that took me past two more layouts.

I briefly stopped at Charles Clark's "Modoc Southern Pacific Line", which is a heavily operations-focused multi-level layout in his former wood shop.

Charles has a lot of staging, including a mole job for active staging during the session.

Finally, Bill Decker's "SP Cascade Line". I've been following Bill's blog for a year now, and met him in person at the LD SIG meet in January this year. 

Due to how it is arranged in the room, this layout is easy to understand for operators and what they are supposed to do. Just as with Joe's layout it was really nice to see this for real, but by now I was very much pressed for time and unfortunately rushed through the layout room. I would have liked to stay a bit longer and chat. I did get to see the Golden Spike, though!

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