Maybe the Sun Hasn’t Set

Maybe the sun hasn’t set over Lou Schultz’s Chesapeake and Ohio layout just yet.  Lou’s family has indicated a desire to see the layout live on and has extended  an invitation for Lou’s operating group to conduct further operating sessions.  Matt Hardey has taken the bull by the horns, along with several others and the “exploratory committee” sat down together this past Saturday at DiMartino’s Restaurant in Covington for a fine meal and to do some planning for the session.  Present were Matt, Mike Walsdorf, Sam Urrate, Johnny Miranda, Wayne Robichaux and yours truly.

The late Bill Williams, known as the Gestapo among the crew, was the Chief Clerk for Lou.  He spent considerable time before each session staging cars and setting up the waybills.  Unfortunately, no one else has a full grasp for all that Bill did, so the main topic during the meal was how operations could be simplified and pre-staging eliminated (or at least substantially reduced).  Several ideas were presented that were deemed worthy of a trial.  The “shake-down” session has been tentatively scheduled for mid May.  I, for one, will be tickled to be back up in the attic again.  Even though Lou, Bill and Shawn won’t be there in person, I’m sure their spirit will be.

And speaking of that, several of the guys had been to Lou’s house earlier in the week to check things out on the layout.  Lou’s wife, Dee, was out puttering around in the back yard.  The fellows were down at the far end of the attic when they heard someone trudging up the stairs (wooden stairs lead up to the attic).  One of the group shouted out that they were down at the end by Alderson, but no one came forth.  Puzzled, one of the guys went to the stairs.  No one was there.  He went down and found Dee, who said she had been in the yard the entire time.  Soooo….who was there (sound of squeaking door in background)?

Maybe I’ll be busy that Saturday……


Train Day at the Library

This upcoming Saturday, January 18th, will see the second annual Train Day at the Library event over in Baton Rouge.  The main features of the event are the numerous railroading slide presentations.  There will be a number of other displays hosted by a couple local model railroad clubs, the Southeast Louisiana chapter of the NRHS, a few individuals and of course, the Operation Lifesaver display presented by a couple of the railroads in the area.  The event will be at the Jones Creek branch of the library, located at 6222 Jones Creek Road in Baton Rouge.  The show opens at 10:00 am and runs until about 4:00 pm.  Hope to see a few of y’all there!

A bit more progress has ensued on the layout.  I have the infrared LEDs installed and wired up at Monterey (these are the light sources for the optical detectors recently installed).  The final track bus run for the second booster district has been installed and connected, leaving only the third (and final) booster district to wire.  I even got a start on the trackwork at the east end of the Willis yard and hope to continue that next weekend.

As most of you folks reading this know, Lou Schultz is still struggling with his foot issue, along with low oxygen levels.  I miss going over to his place for the operating sessions, and seeing him and the other guys in the group.  Please keep Lou in your prayers for his recovery.

And finally, there is a fellow up in Canada that is building a nice layout which he calls the Port Rowan.  It’s a model of a Canadian National branch line set in the 1050s.  Trevor Marshall is his name and he regularly posts updates with photos, along with other trivia to his blog.  I admire his modeling skills and find his blog entertaining, so I thought I’d pass along the link:  Port Rowan in S Scale .  Give it a look.


Operations to Resume on the C&O

Operations will resume on Lou Schultz’s C&O Railroad next month after a long embargo.  As you may recall, back in (about) February Lou had some health issues to deal with and that led to a temporary suspension of operating and work sessions on his layout.  Lou’s doing better now and for several weeks work crews have been feverishly working on the layout in an attempt to correct some bugs and other problems.  The next operating session is scheduled for June 22nd, and I’m looking forward to seeing the crew again.

This session will be in 1951 which means we’ll have a mix of steam and diesels running.  I really love seeing those Alleghenies running down the mainline, but have to confess that I’d much rather operate a lash-up of diesels because they simply operate better on Lou’s layout.

Photo of C&O Railway 2-6-6-6 Allegheny Locomotive

When the time moves up to 1955 in sessions later this summer, I’ll be bringing my trusty (Atlas/Kato) ALCO RSD-5 to the sessions.  She is equipped with a Tsunami decoder and she runs and sounds great!

I’ve been busy each weekend working on the Louisiana Central.  The sub-roadbed (tabletop) is complete along the entire north wall of the room (that’s the wall on the right side of the track plan).  The Illinois Central sub-roadbed leading into the staging area on the east wall (bottom wall in the plan) is almost complete…just one more “section” to go on to the end to finish that.  While doing that, I’ll probably go ahead and extend that sub-roadbed to the far side of Monterey as this will become the Texas and Pacific hidden staging track at that point (again, check the plan so what I’m saying becomes clear).

The sub-roadbed (and tabletop where applicable) is starting to get “easier” as I learn and find better ways to get the construction done.  I’m lagging on the trackwork itself because of my focus on the supporting structure, but that’s okay because trains won’t roll until ALL of it is done.

As usual, comments are welcome.


January – It’s Been a Busy Month

January has been a great month for railroading.  I’ve been attending events for the past three weekends, and have yet another this Saturday coming.

The Crescent City Model Railroad Club in New Orleans held their annual open house early in the month.  They’re in the process of converting their layout to DCC operation, and since the layout would be down, they decided to remodel several major sections.  Wayne Robichaux and I went down to inspect their progress and also to hit the few remaining hobby shops in the area.  Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a single decent model railroad shop left in south Louisiana.  A few shops we hit had nice selections of Lionel and similar, but us “scale” guys are left in the cold.

The following weekend Ron Findley and I drove over to Hattiesburg, Mississippi to attend the annual banquet of the Mississippi Great Southern Chapter of the NRHS.  Those folks put on a fine get-together.  There were several vendors displaying their wares, the dinner was good, and the guest speaker was quite interesting.  It was good seeing old friends and acquaintances over there.

This past Saturday several of us drove over to Covington to operate on Lou Schultz’s C&O layout.  Overall the session went well, there were plenty of snacks to chow down on, and as usual, it was good to meet with fellow model railroaders.

And finally, this Saturday, January 26th, there will be the Train Day at the Library event at one of the local libraries here in Baton Rouge.  There will be numerous displays about railroading (prototype and modeling), possibly a display layout, and many slide presentations by Forrest Becht, a noted railfan and photographer.

Oh, BTW . . . I actually managed to get a bit of track laid on the Louisiana Central.  I’ve been struggling back in the corner of the room it seems forever, but we’re finally getting rail down.  I’m using Atlas code 83 track and switches for my hidden track (which is what I’m laying presently), and I’m not too impressed with the construction of the switches with regards to soldering jumper wires to them.  Soldering rail feeders isn’t too big a deal, but soldering jumpers to the points is!  They’re just formed sheet metal and I found it quite difficult to tack a wire to the lower portion of the point so it would clear wheel flanges.  Despite my efforts, I had to do considerable filing afterwards to clear the NMRA gauge nubs.  And the frog . . . what a pain!  The frog doesn’t accept solder well, but there is a small tab with a hole sticking out to one side of the frog.  I couldn’t find my taps, so drove to a friend’s house for him to tap the holes for me.  Then I screwed a 1-72 screw to each and added a nut to the bottom.  I placed a dab of solder below the nut so it will never come loose, then soldered a jumper to the screw.  Despite the precautions I took (good hot iron with freshly tinned tip, and a fast in and out technique) the thin plastic surrounding the tab melted away and the cast frog on one switch came loose from its mounting in the switch.  Now I need to figure out what kind of adhesive I need to use to adhere metal to slippery plastic so as to permanently reattach the frog on that switch.

That’s about it for now.  My main focus on the layout will be to get track laid, hopefully at a steady rate.  Leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions.


It’s Fall …and it’s Railroading Time

We’re getting into my favorite time of the year for model railroading and railfanning.  The temps have come down and the rains have slacked off . . . we’ve had some beautiful days these past several weeks.  Last weekend was the annual open house for the railroad club up in Jackson, Louisiana.  As usual, they had all of their layouts on display and operating.  I don’t think many clubs can boast of having an operating layout in each of the major scales.  And the outdoor operations are fun to watch also.  Their G scale garden railroad is pretty cool, and of course, the operating live steam loop always has some really nice equipment under steam.  I got there about lunch time (and consumed one of their complimentary lunches), but ran out of time before I got to visit all of the layouts.  It appeared to me that they had a nice turnout for the event.

This weekend coming Lou Schultz over in Covington will be having an operating session on his C&O layout.  There is also the annual railroading event over in Meridian, Mississippi this weekend.  It’s too bad that it conflicts with Lou’s session, as I would like to do both.  And the weekend following this will see another operating session down at Art Houston’s layout in Houma.  This is also the time of year that we occasionally have a train show, either in Covington or Gonzales (unfortunately, there is no show scheduled for this year).

It’s also a great time to spend next to the tracks, with the mild days and crisp weather.

I’m still working on my layout, though at a bit of a reduced pace.  As I reported earlier, the basic framework of the benchwork is all but complete.  I’ve turned my attention to the sub-roadbed and risers this past month.  I am working in one corner of the room where several of the tracks going into the hidden staging area will be located.  It turns out that this is a difficult area to lay out and build.  A couple of the tracks at the rear are on curves and are descending at the same time.  They start at different places, but ultimately end up on the same hidden roadbed.  It is challenging to say the least.  I would have rather started in an area of straight, level track to kind of ease into things, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it would be much easier in the long run to install this complex area, then build out away from it, than to do it the other way round.

I haven’t posted any pictures lately as I want to wait until I have some track actually spiked down.  Trackwork in place signifies to me that the section is complete, thus ready to photograph.

I have my vacation time coming up later this year, and I hope I am able to use some (most) of it working on the layout.