The 5th Anniversary

My, how time flies! Today marks the fifth anniversary of the Louisiana Central layout construction. Unfortunately tragedy struck the Louisiana Central less than a month after the fourth anniversary post was made. For those of you who are new to reading this blog, my city suffered a horrific flood last August 13th. My home and the layout building took on about 15″ of flood waters. The good news is that the layout itself suffered only wet feet. However the restoration of the building (flooring, drywall, cabinets, etc.) is on hold until my house restoration is complete (hopefully within these next few weeks).

Since the layout and building have been out of service for the past year (the building is serving as a warehouse for items salvaged from the house), there is little to report with regards to layout construction. A few weeks before the flood I posted my latest (and last) progress report on the layout, the advancement of the mainline west out of Oneida. The only mainline track left to be done is the last stretch into Monterey, and the track in the turnback curve back in the alcove (this is the mainline between Oneida and Whitcomb). I had just finished casting the bridge abutments needed there, and was about to cast the wing walls.  The fourth anniversary installment gives more detail on the remaining work.

I’ve spent time surveying the layout progress these past few months. I’ve laid enough trackage and done enough wiring now to have a good feel for the time required for those tasks. Once layout construction resumes, I should be able to completely finish laying track (including the yards and service areas) within two or three months. Add a month for the wiring, and another month or so to install all the fascia and control panels, and the layout will be ready for shakedown operations. Maybe I’ll have a big announcement on the sixth anniversary!

Fortunately I was able to attend a half dozen railfan and model railroad events last winter and this spring. In just a few weeks (August 5th) the Southeastern Louisiana Chapter of the NRHS will be having their annual slide show at the Denham Springs library. It’s a lightly attended event, but I enjoy the company of those folks, and there are always some interesting slides to view.  You don’t have to be a member to attend, so I encourage those of you local to this area to come join the fun.

I’ll post my progress on the layout building restoration once it gets underway. Hopefully that will be soon.

-Jack

Critters and Such

Back in late March Ron Findley and I took a trip up to Jackson, Louisiana and spent the morning with the Greater Baton Rouge Model Railroaders, also home of the Old Hickory Railroad. While there, we headed over to the large “train shed” on the property, a large covered area where 1:1 railroad equipment, and an assortment of other odds and ends are stored and worked on. I thought I’d post a few photos of some items that caught my attention.

First up is a recently restored Plymouth “critter” that was parked just outside of the shed. I don’t have any information or background on this piece, but plan to ask questions on our next visit. She looks like she just rolled out of the factory.OHRR_Plymouth-1

OHRR_Plymouth-2

Here are a few other Plymouths quietly awaiting their turn at restoration. Seeing that chassis without a cab and hood (look closely behind the two locos in the foreground) was very interesting, as it allowed one to inspect and figure out the internal workings of the machine.OHRR_Plymouth-3

Below is a contraption that I’d never seen before. From a distance I initially thought it was a straddle lumber carrier. But once I walked over to it, I realized this was a beast of an entirely different nature. I’m speculating that it is some kind of harvesting machine. If any of you folks can shed some light on it, please feel free to comment.OHRR_C-R_Tractor-1

OHRR_C-R_Tractor-2

OHRR_C-R_Tractor-3

A side note: my home restoration from last year’s flood is on the final lap . . . hopefully I’ll be moving back in within a few weeks. Much work remains, especially on the exterior, but at least I’ll be home again!

-Jack

Donald M. Menard

I learned yesterday of the passing of an old friend, Don Menard.  Don was 92 years of age.

I met Don many years ago when he joined the Baton Rouge Model Railroad Club.  We quickly became friends as he became involved in the wiring aspects of the club layout (which I was heavily into).  Don founded and owned an electronics parts and equipment business, Menard Electronics, which catered mostly to the Petro-Chem industry in this area, so he graciously provided our electrical/electronic supply needs from his business.

Eventually both of us moved on from the BRMRC, but later joined in with the group of operators at the late Lou Schultz’s layout over in Covington.  Don always rode over there with a few other friends and me.  He was a prolific operator, and he loved running manifest freights, and especially fast passenger trains.  He probably moved more trains over the line during a given session than any other operator, despite his being the oldest operator in the crowd!

Don was a WWII veteran.  He was the radio operator with a B-17 crew flying out of England.  On one fateful mission his plane was shot down and he parachuted to earth.  Unfortunately he was taken prisoner by the Germans and spent the remainder of the war in a POW camp.  He shared many stories with me about his time in the U.S. Army Air Forces.  My dad was also a former airman during WWII, having been a gunner on a B-24, so between his stories and Don’s, I always had a great first-hand recounting of the 8th Air Force air war in Europe.  Don was active in a POW group, as well as a group of folks from his old bomb group.

He also loved flying and he held a private pilots license.  I was fortunate to fly with him a number of times.  I would get a call early on a Saturday morning and it would be Don.  “Want to go to Cook’s today?”, he’d ask.  Cook’s was a hobby shop up in Shreveport (a couple hundred miles from Baton Rouge).  “Sure”, I would reply.  He would direct me to meet him over at the airport, and off we’d go!  Upon arrival at the airport in Shreveport, we’d take a taxi to Cook’s, spend an hour or so browsing and purchasing, then head back to the airport and home.  One thing I learned about pilots and flying: any excuse to go somewhere in the plane is good enough.

Both Don and his wife’s health had been declining in recent years, so his children moved them to Houston so they could spend their remaining years near them in a senior’s home.

Don was one of the good guys down in this area, and I don’t know anybody that didn’t like Don.  I know he will be missed by all that knew him.  I have missed him greatly ever since he moved away to Houston.

Rest in peace, my good friend.

-Jack

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

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

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

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

The Social Aspects of Model Railroading

In my last post I mentioned that I was becoming more fond of the social aspects of the hobby.  Well, tonight I thought I’d expand on that a bit.

I’m a regular reader of Trevor Marshall’s blog (Port Rowan in 1:64) and he often writes about the social aspects he enjoys as part of his hobby.  It isn’t uncommon for him to host an operating session, then retire to a local eatery afterwards for a nice meal and a pint or two.  He recently wrote of hosting a couple visitors at his home during which they actually devoured two meals in the one day (lunch, then later, supper).

For a good number of years I was a regular operator at the late Lou Schultz’s C&O layout.  One of the things I really enjoyed there was the social camaraderie that took place in the crew lounge both during the session, and afterwards.  I’ve just this year started eating breakfast out on Saturday mornings with a group of model railroaders (I recently referred to this as the ROMEO* breakfast).

Thinking back on it, the very first group of model railroaders that I fraternized with was the original Crescent City Model Railroad Club in New Orleans.  This came about when I was in my mid teens.  After the operating session, we usually drove to a pizza place on Veterans Highway in “new” Metairie.  Back in the mid 60s, pizza wasn’t a common thing in the deep south.  Indeed, the first slice of pizza I ever consumed was during that late hour “snack”.

The point of all this is that as I’ve aged, the social aspects and the camaraderie of being with others of the same ilk has become more and more desirable to me.  I hope to one day have a small group of folks over for regular operating sessions, and to maybe head out somewhere afterwards to share a meal.  Just tonight I was visited by two local modelers, Rod Fredericks and Gary McMills. Gary had been here once before, perhaps a year or so ago.  But much has been done on the layout construction since his last visit, so he had plenty to look at.  This was Rod’s first visit, so he received the nickel tour.  After the walk-through we just plunked down in some chairs and had a good old fashioned bull session.  What an enjoyable evening!  I had even thought of us perhaps heading around the corner to enjoy a cold brew, but tomorrow is Thanksgiving day and everyone needed to get on home for an early start in the morning.

I have to thank Trevor for reminding me of how much fun these social interactions are.  It’s really easy to hunker down in the layout room day after day and to simply forget that there’s so much more out there to enjoy about the hobby.  Reading of Trevor’s enjoyment has prompted me to stick my head up out of the benchwork occasionally to spend time with friends.

-Jack

*Retired Old Modelers Eating Out

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Well, the automobiles were only used for transportation to see the planes and trains in this case…

The past month has seen somewhat sporadic progress on the layout.  I confess to several distractions during this period.

Three weeks ago Ron Findley and I motored down to New Orleans for the Airpower Expo at the Lakefront Airport.  This year’s show was again quite interesting, with a nice roster of war birds in attendance.  There were three bombers there (all flying): a B-29, a B-17 and a B-25.  A P-51D Mustang was busy all day with flights, along with an SB2C Helldiver and a P-40 Warhawk.  Also on display were an SBD Dauntless dive bomber, a P-51C Mustang in “red tail” livery, a P-39 Airacobra, a C-47, and several training aircraft of various vintages.  The National WWII Museum (co-sponsor of the event) had quite a few pieces of ground equipment ranging from trucks and jeeps, to small field pieces, to a light tank.  A great day with good weather and plenty of flying.

Then last weekend I headed over to Ponchatoula with Ed Dayries to take in the annual train show over there.  The show is primarily aimed at the 3-rail crowd, but there was also a nice S scale layout in operation, as well as a live steam display.  Vendors were offering their goods in just about all of the common scales/gauges.  We capped it off with a short run up to Hammond where we happened to catch Amtrak #58, the northbound train running from New Orleans to Chicago.

Progress on the layout has come in short spurts during this time.  I’ve finished the mainline track through Whitcomb and the switch motors are installed.  I’ve started on the passing siding and industrial spur trackage.  I’ve finished all the joists on the peninsula that I wrote of last month, and I’ve cut out the basic sub-roadbed shapes for Oneida…trimming and adjustments will be made later once it’s time to plot out the track centerlines.

Today saw an uptick in the production, with some excellent progress being made.  Wayne Robichaux and I made a lumber run this morning after enjoying the weekly ROMEO* breakfast.  After unloading the material, we proceeded to lay out and cut the plywood and Homasote sub-roadbed pieces that will be needed for the turn back loops located in the alcove west of Whitcomb.  We completed both the Louisiana Central and the Spencer Lumber Company’s sub-roadbed loops.  I’ll probably start making risers for all of this tomorrow.

I received the 72′ bridge that I needed for the overpass at Whitcomb but it still sits on the workbench awaiting assembly.  I’m going to have to start focusing on specific tasks for the remainder of the year.  There are many events (those distractions) between now and late January that I’ll likely participate in.  But that’s okay, because for me, that’s part of what I enjoy about this hobby.  As I age I’m finding the social aspects are becoming more and more important.  I can hardly wait for each event, whether it be a train show, an open house, or an NRHS banquet…I’m ready for it!  And of course, with the holidays coming up, I’ll also be enjoying good time with family.  It’s a great time of year!

But fear not, the Louisiana Central will continue to progress.  Ultimately, I can hardly wait for the day when trains are operational.

 -Jack

*Retired Old Modelers Eating Out