Jack Shall

About Jack Shall

I've been a model railroader and railfan for well over 50 years now. My interests lie in the steam era and the early diesel era. My modeling has been in HO, but I do have a closet interest in Fn3 :-) It's been a number of years since I've done any layout construction, and the new Louisiana Central pike under construction is by far my most ambitious effort. Follow along with me on this new adventure of the Louisiana Central.

Back On Track

Really . . . I’m back on track, having reactivated my program of modifying Shinohara code 70 switches to be “DCC friendly”.  Regular readers of this blog will recall that I was suffering from “layout construction fatigue” back in late February.  Well, I’ve been ready to get back at it again for over a month, but have been continually distracted by other things.  To be sure, I’ve been doing mostly railroad related tasks, but meat and potatoes production on the layout, -namely trackwork- has been stagnant.  I spent time evaluating, ordering, and then changing out my DCC system back in March.  And I finally got my plate girder bridge assembled; it’s waiting for abutments and wing walls now.  I finished some miscellaneous support framing for the scenery base that will cover the staging tracks, and that area of the layout is just about ready for the hardboard fascia.  All the wiring is caught up with the installed trackage.  I even put some time in on my waybill creation program, redesigning the waybills and empty car bills to more closely resemble the real thing (thanks to Tony Thompson and his work in this area).  And as you know, I’ve been playing a lot, A Mini-Reunion at Covington.

But I have been distracted from the trackwork for much too long, so I determined that I was going to get something done under that discipline today.  That mission was accomplished.  Now that I’ve broken the ice so to speak, I think I’ll find it easier to get back into the swing of things.  I only have about 30 feet of track left to complete the mainline, but I’m holding off on that as I want to complete the trackage in Whitcomb and Oneida before I continue with the main.  I need eleven code 70 switches to be modified and installed in order to complete those areas, so I really need to get with the program.

It’s good to be back!

-Jack

The Louisiana Eastern Railroad

In a recent post, A Mini-Reunion at Covington, I had mentioned visiting Matt Hardey’s Louisiana Eastern Railroad layout.  Well, I didn’t get that exactly right.  Matt started his dream with the New Orleans Great Northern Railroad.  The prototype eventually was acquired by the Gulf, Mobile and Northern, which itself later became the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad.  Matt has come up with several operating schemes for his layout.  By using equipment and such for different eras, he can operate the road as the NOGN, or a later era of the GM&O.  Another variant is a “what if” scenario, running steam powered Louisiana Eastern trains over the GM&O via trackage rights in the Covington, Louisiana area during the early 1950s.  Matt has a collection of LE rolling stock, which is what I was fixated on during my visit.

Most of the readers of my ramblings are from this area and are likely to be familiar with the Louisiana Eastern Railroad.  However a few of you may be scratching your head and thinking “never heard of it”.  The Louisiana Eastern was the vision of Paulsen Spence.  An excellent piece about Mr. Spence and the Louisiana Eastern has been written by noted author and local historian Louis Saillard, and can be found here on Chris Palmieri’s website.  I’ll touch on a few of the highlights of the LE gleaned from Louis’ treatise here.

Born in Baton Rouge, Mr. Spence had made his fortune with his Spence Engineering Company and his considerable number of patents for various steam regulating valves.  Eventually he turned his interest to the sand and gravel business, starting a gravel operation in the late 1940s.  He utilized steam locomotives (that he had recently acquired) to move the cars of gravel from the pit to the interchange with the nearby Illinois Central.  The Comite Southern Railroad was born.  In 1950 Mr. Spence acquired a larger gravel pit operation a short distance away.  Included with that sale was the one mile Gulf & Eastern Railroad.  In late 1950 the Louisiana Eastern Railroad was chartered and that’s where the dream began.

Now, the gravel business was good for Mr. Spence, with well over 200 cars of commodity eventually emerging from the pits each week.  But he had a larger vision.  Mr. Spence had been purchasing recently retired steamers from various roads beginning in the mid 1940s and throughout the 1950s, and he eventually had about three dozen of the breed on the property.  The reason for these purchases?  Mr. Spence had conceived the idea of creating a railroad that would run from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Pearl River, Louisiana near the Mississippi border, a distance of nearly 100 miles.  In Baton Rouge, he would have access to the Illinois Central, the Kansas City Southern and the Missouri Pacific.  Near Pearl River he would interchange with the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio and the Southern Railway.  With these connections he could effectively create a bypass around the rail traffic congestion in New Orleans.  The steamers were the power for that railroad.  Buying these locomotives at bargain basement prices just made good business sense to Mr. Spence.

Grand plans to be sure, but things came to an abrupt halt in late 1961 when Mr. Spence died suddenly from a heart attack while on a business trip to New York.  The dream was dead.  Everything was sold off and most of the steamers were soon scrapped.  I believe four of the locomotives survived and can be found in various parts of the country.  One of the most interesting locomotives was one of several 4-4-0 types that Mr. Spence had acquired.  Locomotive No. 98 was purchased new by the Mississippi Central Railroad in 1909 and eventually sold to Mr. Spence in 1946.  She still survives and is in operation on the Wilmington & Western Railroad, where she still carries her number of 98.  There are a number of YouTube videos showing her in service; see her during the Wilmington & Western’s Springtime Steam Spectacular in 2014.

A few other links for information about the Louisiana Eastern can be found at the HawkinsRails website, and on Wikipedia.  But if you want the very interesting and detailed story, be sure to read Louis’ piece linked to above.

-Jack

A Mini-Reunion at Covington

This week has been one of several social gatherings for me.  It began last Wednesday when Wayne Robichaux, “Tomcat” Kelly and I drove over to Covington, Louisiana to spend the day touring several layouts.  The three of us are former operators of the late Lou Schultz’s Alleghany Subdivision of the C&O Railroad.  Our hosts were also members of that same operating group, so this was not only to be a series of layout tours, but also a “mini-reunion” of sorts.

We motored over to Covington during a steady rainfall, but that didn’t dampen our spirits.  We arrived at the first layout, the Southern Railway’s “Rathole”, under construction by Walter Rieger.  Also there were our other hosts, Matt Hardey, Mike Walsdorf and Sam Urrate, and the layout tour commenced.  Walter has essentially completed the first third of his layout, and is now hard at work doing benchwork and laying track on the remainder.  The bulk of the layout is a two level mushroom design, with a third level for staging.  The focus will be on hot and heavy freights running on a fully CTC controlled mainline.  One must see the completed section of this layout to appreciate Walter’s attention to detail, and the completeness and authenticity of the design.  I’ll be following it’s construction over the next several years.

We broke for lunch after touring Walter’s layout, heading over to Bud’s Broiler for one of their famous burgers grilled over a real charcoal pit.  I was especially pleased with this selection of eatery, as I grew up a few blocks from the original Bud’s Broiler on City Park Avenue in New Orleans.  I was a regular patron of the establishment back in the 60s (and which is still in operation).

After lunch we headed over to Matt’s rendition of the Louisiana Eastern Railroad.  Matt had recently completed grafting a beautiful section of a layout that he had acquired onto the peninsula of his layout.  And he has done a masterful job of integrating it into his original layout.  Had he not told me what he’d done, I would have thought it had always been there.  Matt really enjoys building very detailed structures with interiors, and I enjoyed studying them, continually finding more and more to see.

And last we visited Mike’s L&N Railroad.  Mike has an attic layout, and that thing has one of the longest runs I believe I’ve ever seen on an HO layout.  The layout goes around the four walls of the room, and into a long U-shaped peninsula in the center.  But get this . . . it has three levels!  The room is over 50′ in length, and while I don’t recall its width, it is wide enough that Mike has four foot (and greater) aisles through most of the layout.  He says it takes about an hour for a train to traverse the entire line!  He is relatively close to completion on the trackwork, and scenery already has a good start.  The layout will feature both CTC and some APB signaling, and should be quite interesting to operate.

I believe all three of these layouts will have good operations when the time comes, and that can’t be too soon.  I really miss the operations we had at Lou’s, and I’m hoping I’ll be invited over to run on these pikes someday.  The tours were excellent and I’m glad we made the trip to see them.

Late that afternoon we departed Covington and then made a stop in Hammond just to see if anything was running on the CN line there.  Our timing was impeccable.  We arrived just in time to see a southbound freight roaring by, headed by a couple of KCS units . . . an unusual sighting.  And a few minutes later, the southbound local came charging though town hot on the tail of the first train.

Upon arriving back in Denham Springs (about 8:30 pm), Tomcat decided to call it a day.  Wayne and I headed over to the Lagniappe Restaurant near my home for a late supper.  A great day, indeed!

But that wasn’t the end of the week.  Today, Friday, Syd Dann dropped by my house for a visit.  I gave him an update tour of the Louisiana Central, and he then went to his vehicle and labored to carry a large grip into the train room.  Inside was his latest acquisition, an O scale 2-6-6-6 Allegheny!  Man, that was one massive locomotive (even as a model).  After our show-and-tell, we headed up Highway 16 to Watson’s Pizza Place, where I ordered one of their famous Watson Supreme pizzas.  I really love that pizza!  Naturally, my eyes were larger than my stomach, so I’ll be chowing down on the balance of my Supreme for lunch tomorrow.  No problem, there.biggrinAnd the week still has another day left.  In the morning I’ll be attending the weekly ROMEO breakfast with some railroad friends at the Warehouse Restaurant over in Baton Rouge.  I know I’ll have gained five pounds this week by the time I finish it.

But what a delightful week it has been.

-Jack

Trains are Running Again

I’ve been working and playing with my new NCE “Hybrid” DCC system for a couple days now, and things seem to be running smoothly.  The installation was mostly straightforward, with a few glitches in figuring out the polarity of certain wires and connections between NCE and my existing Lenz equipment.  The power input, and the track and cab buses were literally a simple plug-in and all worked fine.  The biggest challenge was hooking the control bus from the Lenz boosters to the NCE command station.  Lenz uses the Euro style wire connectors for everything, whereas the NCE uses that style for just the power input and track outputs.  The NCE box utilizes a telephone type plug for the control bus, so I had to figure a way to go from a twisted single pair cable to that telephone connector.  I had an old telephone out in the garage that I had retired probably 20 years ago, so I took the receiver jack out of its base (with wires attached) and I secured it to the backboard at my controls area.  I already had a barrier strip there where the control bus terminated, so I soldered a couple spade lugs to the appropriate pair of the jack’s wires, and simply attached them to that barrier strip.  Then I was able to use the telephone handset cord to plug the NCE box into that jack, and -voila!- I had signal on the bus.  Today I finished off the installation by hooking my computer up to the NCE box, and then cranking up DecoderPro.  After doing the configuration for NCE, I was up and running.  Other than a little tidy-up work, I’m done with the new installation.

In my last post I neglected to mention the other big reason I became disillusioned with my Lenz system.  My favorite thing about the Lenz was that LH90 throttle with the big knob.  The thing I liked the least about the system was that LH90 throttle with the big knob.  Huh?  How’s that you say?  Well, the LH90 throttle doesn’t have a full keypad.  It can only access five functions directly (that is, with a single key press).  Getting to higher functions (up to function 8) requires pressing a shift button before pressing the desired function.  Getting to functions up to 28 requires as many as a dozen button presses!  With my earlier decoders, this wasn’t any particular problem.  But with the advent of sound decoders, that shortcoming was quite disappointing.  I generally need between eight and ten “instant” function buttons to set things up the way I prefer . . . easy to do with a full keypad.  Even the small NCE throttles I have satisfy that requirement.

And last, I failed to mention the fast and convenient service Art Houston (my NCE dealer) provided when I called to order the system.  Thanks, Art!

Can’t wait to get back out in the train room tomorrow to run some trains!

-Jack

The New Hybrid DCC System

Back in the early 2000’s, I made the decision to go with the Lenz brand for my DCC power and control system.  That decision was based in part on the knowledge that Lenz was developing a new radio throttle that would utilize a knob (which I prefer) for the speed control (it looked identical to the present LH90 throttle).  That throttle did not come to fruition, as Lenz abandoned the project quoting the difficulty and expense in making an international throttle that could meet all the various requirements of broadcasting both in Europe and North America.  Major disappointment!  But anyway, I had already purchased their Set01 that uses the LH100 tethered throttle, and I decided to stick with their system.

Over the years I had added components to the system: several of the LH90 throttles with the big knob for speed control, a couple more boosters, a computer interface so I could use DecoderPro with the system, and a few other odds and ends.  But I still wished for a good radio throttle.  Lenz did come out with a plug-in that allowed you to use a wireless telephone as a throttle, and I understand it works well. But somehow, that just struck me as a kludge and I couldn’t warm up to it.  Then a few years ago Lenz introduced a method for using a “smart” cell phone for a throttle.  While there are some nice things about that, it still isn’t the type of control I want.  If I were to go wireless, and if I wanted a “true” throttle, I’d have to use the CVP system.  Their throttles interface to the Lenz system via a CVP base station, and are said to work quite well.  But there is a downside to that solution: big $$$.

Well, I recently had an epiphany.  The NCE system uses the same bus protocol as Lenz, and the two systems have many similarities in the way they operate.  I started investigating and found that I could use my Lenz boosters with an NCE system.  And NCE makes a radio throttle that I like . . . with a knob!  And further, I wouldn’t need to purchase all the throttles needed for the layout as so many folks around here use NCE, and already have throttles (something that didn’t benefit me with Lenz or CVP).

So, I made the decision to make the change.  I recently sold my Lenz command station/booster, the computer interface, and all my Lenz throttles.  I kept and will continue using my separate Lenz boosters, and will keep the throttle plug-ins around the layout.  I ordered an NCE Power Pro system with a radio throttle . . .

NCE-Power-Pro_R

. . . along with a couple of the Cab06 throttles that use that beautiful knob.

NCE-Cab06pr

The box arrived late this afternoon, and I have been reveling in it’s contents.  I’ll be heading out to the train room in the morning to start my installation, which should be rather straight-forward given the similarity of the systems.

Radio control at last!

I’ll do a follow up report soon once I get things operational.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that all turns out as expected.

-Jack

Lenz DCC Equipment For Sale – SOLD

I’ve decided to sell some of my Lenz equipment.  I’m offering a command station/booster, a computer interface, and several throttles.  All items are like new, clean, no scratches or dents, and are complete, and have the latest version 3.6 software.  My layout is not operational yet; equipment has only been used for testing during construction.  Manuals are included.  If you’d like to take a look at what I’m offering, head over to my For Sale page on the main website.

In my last post I had indicated my need to take a bit of a breather from layout construction.  I think that was a good decision as my spirits are taking a lift with this time off.  To be sure, my enthusiasm for the hobby hasn’t waned a bit, as most every day I find myself focused on something hobby related.  One of the things I’ve been mulling for some time is a slightly different approach to the method I’ll be using to control the layout.  I’m going to take something of a hybrid approach to this, hence my decision to sell off some of my Lenz equipment that won’t be needed in my new scheme of things.

I spent a little time last night visiting the MidSouth Model Railroad Club over in Baton Rouge, and I enjoyed seeing their relatively complete layout in action.  Getting around an operational layout helps to get the juices flowing again.  I spec I’ll be back out in the train room pretty soon for some construction.

-Jack

Side Stepping Burn-out, Part Deaux

I have to confess, I really haven’t felt much like working on the layout for a couple of weeks now.  Sure, I’ve been heading out to the layout room most each day, but I really haven’t been very productive . . . mostly looking for “low hanging fruit” to work on.  I reconditioned a bunch of old Tortoise switch motors.  And I transferred a sound decoder and speaker from a “basket case” Bachmann modern 4-4-0 to another similar model I have that is running and intact.  Another small project completed.  And I spent a day checking out my newly repaired digital camera.  But none of this was advancing the state of the layout itself.

The last two weekends have featured back-to-back NRHS* Chapter banquets, one in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and the other in Hammond, Louisiana.  I attended both and thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of each day.  The journeys were good, the meals were good, the presentations at both were excellent, and most importantly, I really enjoyed the company of fellow modelers, railfans and historians.  Today was the Hammond event, and afterward Ron Findley and I headed over to the train depot to hopefully catch a few trains.  Traffic was a bit slow, so we decided to just stroll down Cate Street (along the track) and I started photographing the wonderful old buildings along that street.  I guess Ron and I really got caught up into it, as we ended up strolling to the end of the business district, then started down Thomas Street where we repeated our photographic endeavors.  And then there was Oak Street, and finally, Church Street.  I believe I ended up with several hundred images, and I totally enjoyed our little foray.  We eventually found our way back to the depot, where I noticed that there was quite a bit a material staged along the tracks and maintenance-of-way area.  There was a crane parked on a spur, and one of those neat (Difco?) side dump ballast cars.  Lots of rail, ties, ballast, spikes, tie plates and more.  I suspect that this was material left over from the recent trestle repairs down at the Bonnet Carre Spillway. For those of you who are unaware, the CN experienced a major fire there a couple weeks ago that took out an entire span of trestle between two concrete fire breaks.

But back to my original confession above, I have been going “hot and heavy” on the layout construction for over a year now.  You long time readers may remember I went through an intense period of burn-out during my second year of construction and got very little accomplished, relatively speaking, as a result.  I even wrote a post about it, Side-Stepping Burn Out.  When I returned to serious construction a few months later, I knew I would have to change my work habits to help avoid this problem in the future.  In large part, I’ve done better because I will work on something -say, trackwork- for several weeks, then I’ll switch off to something else; benchwork, electrical work, workshop projects, just about anything to break up the repetition and boredom that sometimes occurs when building a relatively large layout (mostly single handedly).  But the burn-out symptoms have been rearing their ugly head again for some time now.  And I’ve simply backed off from what I’ve been doing.  I’m feeling a bit better about things now, especially after these two great Saturdays, and I suspect in another week or so that I’ll be raring to get after it again.  To be sure, I continually feel some guilt for letting this time pass without “real” production, but I’ve told myself that this is after all, a hobby.  And if I’m not happy doing it, then it ain’t a hobby!

So not to worry, the Louisiana Central will continue to see heavy construction, albeit with just a short delay.

Hmmm, now I’ve got to figure out how I’m going to fit those neat city buildings in over at Willis.

-Jack

*National Railway Historical Society

LCRR Mainline Reaches Oneida

I thought I’d post a brief update of the progress at Oneida.  Since my last post, I’ve completed all the roadbed within the area, and I’ve completed the mainline through town.  The roadbed took a bit longer than I thought it would as it had several variations in height.  The mainline roadbed is 3/16″ thick.  The roadbed tapers down to 1/8″ through the passing siding.  Then it tapers down to zero at the sub-roadbed (the Homasote base) for the industrial spurs.  But I also had a couple conditions where I had to slope down to just 1/16″.  This happened at a switch and also at the crossing.  I didn’t want them located on a slope, so I leveled the roadbed out at 1/16″, then later continued down to the Homasote base once past those areas.  It took some time, but it came out well and I think both the operation and visuals will be worth the effort.

Here are a couple photos:

Trackwork at Oneida - 02
This is entering the east end of Oneida.  The first switch directs to the private Spencer Logging Company’s trackage leading to the Spencer log pond.  The next switch is the start of the passing siding.  The third switch will be the spur for the sand and gravel pit.  The mainline track and switches are completed, as is the crossing.  The other trackage is in the process of being fitted, and then installed.

Trackwork at Oneida - 04
Here we are at the west end of town, looking back toward the east.  Down at the alcove, you can see the Louisiana Central mainline (the upper track) curving from Whitcomb (at the right just out of the picture) to Oneida at left.  The lower track is the Spencer Lumber Company’s mainline coming from the woods (at right), and into Oneida.  Note that the Spencer has trackage rights down there where the (future) bridge is crossing the (future) river.  In the foreground, the first switch is to the passing siding.  The next switch (on the passing siding) will be the spur to the loading area of the Spencer mill.  The depressed area (where all the clutter is resting) is the mill pond.

I have a few more photos of Oneida that I’ll be posting on the main website in the next day or so.  If interested, you can find the track plan here.

The last code 83 switches have been installed here in Oneida.  All remaining switches here, and in the yards at Monterey and Willis, will be code 70.  These are (as I’ve mentioned before) not “DCC friendly”, therefore will require modifications.  Unfortunately this will slow my progress down somewhat.  However, I’m thrilled that the mainline only has to finish curving around this peninsula, run back down to the far end, and then cross the room entrance into Monterey where it will be complete!

-Jack

Train Day at the Library – 2016

The 4th annual Train Day at the Library in Baton Rouge is now in the bag.  Last Saturday was a gorgeous day and folks took advantage of that to attend the event.  The usual fare was presented including operating layouts, slide shows, photo exhibitions, and numerous displays of models.  Several railroad historical societies were represented as well.  This year we had a new addition to the displays: Bill Chidester brought two Fairmont motor cars over and they were displayed at the entrance to the library.  One is in operating condition and the other is his recent acquisition of a derelict which Bill plans to restore.  The speeders drew plenty of attention from both adults and kids.

Bill, Jack & Wayne at TD@L-2016It’s the end of the day and the motor cars have just been loaded up on Bill Chidester’s trailer for the trip back home.  That’s Bill on the left, Wayne Robichaux on the right, and yours truly at center.  Photo by Bob Schilling.

I really have enjoyed this small gathering each year.  I look forward to seeing friends there, especially those that I don’t get to see very often.  And Saturday was no exception in that regard.  Many thanks to Forrest Becht and all the others that made the show possible.

Wayne and I, along with Bill and his wife, made our way over to a local steak house afterward.  A New York strip, along with a loaded baked potato and salad, all washed down with a cold and tasty brewski, was the perfect way to cap off the day.

-Jack

More Photo Proof as Promised

A few days ago I posted some photos taken of new construction in Whitcomb, located near the Spencer Lumber Company’s logging operation.  I ended by promising to post a few pics of the Oneida area located on the peninsula at the opposite side of the aisle.  Well, here they are:

Entering Oneida from the East
Here’s an overall view of the second peninsula taken from the alcove.  This is the last major benchwork section on the layout.  The area you’re viewing is the town of Oneida.  The narrow roadbed in the foreground is where a Pratt truss bridge will be located, with the riverbed below.

Site of Bridge Over Little River
Looking back at the (future) Pratt truss bridge which will be spanning the Little River.  There will be a sand and gravel pit operation to the left near the river flowing across the layout. Just to the left of this view the Spencer mainline will split from the joint trackage that crosses the river.

Spencer Mill Site
Panning even further to the left, the area that will contain the crude oil shipping point is at center.  The Spencer Lumber Company mill complex is seen down at the end.  The roadbed meandering at the far right is the Spencer mainline heading toward the mill.

I will be shifting to trackwork soon as I’m getting ahead of myself with all this benchwork.  I will need to put one more short piece of sub-roadbed down at the west end of Oneida (from the stub at top left of the above picture).  This is so I can have some working room ahead of the mainline switch leading into the passing siding that starts as the mainline enters town.  Leaving Oneida, the track will make the hairpin turn at the end of the orb, then head back down on the other side of the peninsula toward the room entry.  From there, it will turn left, then pass across the doorway (over a lift-up bridge) to connect with the town of Monterey (the end of the line).  And that, my friends, will complete the mainline!

As I mentioned earlier, if you’d like to see more photos, you’re invited to visit the photo section of the website: Whitcomb and Oneida.  And you can find the track plan here.

-Jack

A Visit to the Grande Pacific

This post is a bit tardy relative to the event, however I had started preparing the earlier post Photographic Proof of Progress! last Tuesday and wanted to complete and publish it before starting anything else.  Okay, on to this story:

Last Wednesday I had the opportunity to visit Art Houston’s Grande Pacific Railroad.  Wayne Robichaux called Monday evening and informed me that Art was hosting an open house and an informal operating session, and would I be interested?.  Well I had never been to the Grande Pacific, and I decided it was high time that I got myself over to Art’s place, so I accepted.  Wayne picked me up at 7:35 on a rainy Wednesday morning, and then after picking up Jim Lofland, we headed south to Houma, Louisiana, the home of the Grande Pacific.

The two hour drive was uneventful and we arrived just as the layout was cranking up.  Art was busy greeting everyone as they arrived, so I set about checking out his layout.  A bit later after things were running smoothly, Art gave me a schematic diagram of the railroad so that I could get a feel for the route.  As it happened, an empty coal train was departing for it’s run to the mine near the other end of the line, so I decided I’d hitch a ride and see where the train led me.  The Grande Pacific is a multi-level layout with three levels in most places and a fourth level down at the staging yards.  Because of this, the length of run is deceptively long, and I spent a good deal of time with that train.  Once it arrived at the mine, it had to pull the loads, then spot the empties in their place.  Once the new train was made up, the journey back to the origination point began.

It was while that train was on it’s return voyage that a group of fellows from the North Shore area (of Lake Pontchartrain) arrived.  These were all folks that formerly operated on the late Lou Schultz’s C&O layout, and naturally I knew all of them quite well.  By mid afternoon it became practically a mini-reunion with no less than 12 former C&O operators in attendance at Art’s open house.  What a splendid turn of events!

Art himself was quite the gracious host.  Those that wanted to operate did so, and those that wanted to “railfan” and kibitz with each other did that also.  Art was fine with all of it.  He came over to me several times during the day for extended conversation about various things on the layout, and even some discussion about certain model railroad industries.  All was interesting.  And did I mention the refreshments?  I don’t think anyone left Art’s house hungry.

The Grande Pacific is an interesting layout, and is built for heavy operations.  There is something there for just about anybody’s operating interest.  Art has quite a bit of information about his layout on his Facebook page.

Thanks Art for an entertaining day!

-Jack

Photographic Proof of Progress!

Earlier in the week I finished installing the sub-roadbed (plywood topped with Homasote) in the town of Oneida.  This town is located on the 2nd peninsula, which happens to be the 5th and final major area of benchwork.  Today I sanded and filled joints between panels and did general cleanup in the area.  Tomorrow I’ll likely get a coat of paint down to seal things.  I’ve been promising for weeks (months?) to get some pictures posted of the work that’s been done in both Whitcomb and in Oneida.  Well I’ve finally done it!  Here are a few to start things off:

Looking down the aisle
Here’s an overall view looking down most of the length of the room.  That’s the Spencer Lumber Company’s Camp 6 on the right, along with the double switchback required to get up the hill.  To the left of that is the Louisiana Central mainline.  Way down at the far end is Whitcomb.  Over on the peninsula at left we see Oneida.

Whitcomb up close
Here’s a closer view of Whitcomb.  I’ve started the trackwork in this area and the mainline (left) is complete and wired.  The passing siding (center track) and the industrial spur (right) aren’t installed yet . . . the pieces are being cut and fitted, and they should be going down soon.  The next track to the right (on it’s own supports) is the Spencer mainline from the woods.  It’s heading back to the mill at Oneida.  And the high line against the wall is the tail of the 2nd switchback on the track up to Camp 6.

The alcove
Down in the alcove, both the Louisiana Central and the Spencer mainlines make a 180 degree curve, then head back to Oneida on the peninsula.  The gap in the roadbed at right is where the plate girder bridge will go.  The Spencer mainline passes below the bridge here.  The two mainlines join at left for a bit of joint trackage over the river bridge to be located just east of Oneida.

I’ll get a pic or two taken at Oneida in a few days after I finish up the painting and cleanup.

If you’d like to see more photos, you’re invited to visit the photo section of the website: Whitcomb and Oneida.  And you can find the track plan here.

Happy New Year to all!

-Jack