Archive for the ‘Layout Visits and Shows’ Category

Operating on the Carleton Railway

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

After lunch we headed to Steve McMullin’s to operate on the Carleton Railway. We probably made a mess like we usually do but we had a great time!

Here are some photos from our afternoon.





Hampton and St. Martins

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

We just left Lou McIntyre’s Hampton and St. Martins after a special morning operating session. What an amazing looking layout!  It operates very nicely as well.







The Van Horne Experience

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Well, as we are heading past Moncton we have only a few more hours until we are home and our weekend trek is officially over. It’s a fitting time to make my last entry of our adventures.

We struck out for Laval to find Van Horne Hobbies. Derwin had been there once before so we knew it was difficult to find. If it wasn’t for the GPS we would have missed it. The building is not what you would expect to house a model train store (see photo below). The sign is also not what most would consider “eye catching” either. I really had no idea what to expect inside such a place.

Let me tell you, I was not even remotely prepared for what greeted us inside the door. The place was wall to wall and floor to ceiling display cases and boxes full of train stuff! Chris related it to something you would see on the TV show “Hoarders”. You could hardly move for all the stuff!

I spent a long time looking through boxes of old Athearn and Roundhouse kits and hadn’t seen them all when Chris said “you have to see this”. So I went to the back of the store and saw several very large display cases FULL of locomotives! Everywhere you turned were cases with what I would guess were hundreds of HO scale locos! Unfortunately there were some completely obscured by the boxes piled around them.

The place is definitely worth a stop. But I have a couple of suggestions if you do go… 1. Don’t bring your family and 2. Plan on a couple hours to browse through the boxes.

I wasn’t planning to buy anything more after our visit to Hobby Junction but I just had to drop a little more cash at Van Horne!

So now we are almost home and I am officially broke after paying for gas in Salisbury. I don’t mind though because our weekend adventure in Montreal was definitely worth it!

ps – the photos of the display cases below were taken as I was standing in pretty much one spot. I don’t think any of them are of the same case.










West Island & Montreal Railway Co.

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

After visiting Canada Central we headed over to Hobby Junction. I thought I had pictures from Hobby Junction but I can’t find them now.

After a lot of browsing, free coffee and donuts, and dispersal of funds the guys at HJ suggested we visit a club only 5 minutes away – they were having an operating session.

So after a quick lunch at a nearby deli we headed over to the club. We were told to ring the doorbell and “tell em Dave sent ya”.

We received a very warm welcome and were invited upstairs. Unfortunately, they had already finished operating and were packing up.

We talked about their layout, their modules and plans for the future. Derwin was star struck when he realized the guys he had been talking to were Ken Goslett and Stan Smaill. He actually felt a little faint as we left the building.

It was a great layout that looked like it would be a lot of fun to operate. It would be nice to organize a trip to operate there some day.

Anyway, they said we really had to go to Van Horne Hobbies. So, with Only a little time to get there before they closed we decided to get on the road quick.

Next post, The Van Horne experience!




A day late.

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

We had a very busy day yesterday. We arrived at the Canada Central very close to opening time and the place was already packed with people. What a layout (but I’ll get to that later).

Just inside the entrance were a bunch of sales tables with a lot of ‘stuff’. We wandered around for a bit to see what was available and get an idea of prices. Some thing were a little more expensive then we are used to but a lot of stuff was pretty reasonably priced. Canadian Express Lines was there so I picked up a sound decoder for my US Interchange locos and also a couple automobiles.

Then we headed into the layout room. All I can say is ” “. That’s right, I was speechless. “WOW!” does not even come close to describing my initial reaction.

The place is huge and it was made for operations. The three of us could have gone there for an operating session and not seen one another the whole time we were there!

The crowd made it very difficult to get around to see it all, and to enjoy the experience, but we managed.

Here are some photos that I managed to grab with my phone. I have others I took with my SLR that I’ll upload later, hopefully, when I am at a real computer. I’m typing this on my iPhone as we ate speeding along Rte 20 heading home.







Next Stop, Montreal!

Friday, October 28th, 2011

I seem to start out posts lately (I use the term “lately” very loosely since I can’t remember when my last post was) with “I know it’s been a while…”.

Anyway, since I have some spare time on our drive to the last open house of the Canada Central in Montreal, I thought I’d share a few of our “adventures”.

We stopped in Edmunston to load up on (and get rid of) coffee. Lo and behold we found a train for Chris to operate with his WiThrottle (iPod)!


Operating in Halifax

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here.  I may post more frequently, but it is hard to find the time. A few of us drove to Halifax yesterday to operate on a couple layouts there.  We operated on the Fall River Eastern Railroad and the White River Southern and had a visit to Nottingham Subdivision.  All are very nice layouts and we had a great time.  Here are some photos from our day….

A Great Day in Saint John!

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

We made our annual trip to Saint John, NB for a day of operating with friends.  This year a crew from Moncton joined us to round out the operating crew.  Only Derwin, Ken, and I were able to make it from the Island.  We met up with Jim, Milne, John, Murray, Doug, and Ben just outside Moncton.

The ICR Crew - Feb. 20, 2010

Our first stop was to Doug Devine’s Island Central Railway.  An operator with considerable seniority on the Island Central, Bob Kane, was on hand to help keep things under control.  I guess Doug expected to be a little too busy to look after everything on the layout.

After a brief introduction for the newbies, and refresher for the ones that hadn’t operated there in a while, we lined up to sign up for morning job assignment.

Derwin worked with John in McAdam Yard – a decision that apparently bought them a lot of free time.  At one point I took a moment from my very busy work schedule to grab a quick snack in the crew lounge.  There weren’t many cookies left, but plenty of evidence of the amount of work Derwin was doing!

Their first (and possibly only) task was to get my train, a fast freight heading to Saint John, assembled and ready to leave.  I could not believe how long this train was!  The four locos assigned as power for the train were barely able to handle it.  After a lot of work climbing the slight grade out of McAdam I was on the ICR main heading for Saint John.  This train was quite a sight as it snaked around the room.  I had to keep a close eye on it as it would gain considerable speed on downgrades and would require more power to climb.

When I finally pulled into Dever Road Yard in Saint John I was sure there would not be enough room for the train.  As it arced around the end of the yard and headed toward the passenger station I was doubtful it would fit.  But the end of train cleared the yard throat with the locomotives only inches from the end of the line.  Whew!  Then, with the guidance of the Yard Master, Bob, we split the train up into the proper classification tracks.  That’s when I became the Dever Road assistant – and any hope of free time to beat Derwin to the cookies vanished (not to mention ability to take some pictures)!

I lost track of what the other guys were doing.  Jim was in West Saint John pulling the local cars – and generally making an annoyance of himself.  Especially when he ran smack dab into a cut of cars we had pushed onto a siding from Dever Road.  He tried to blame us, of course, but when Bob reminded him that he should be watching where his train is going he got quiet again.  Jim’s always a little more tolerable when he is quiet!  HA!

Ben apparently worked in Mill Street since he arrived in Dever Road with a cut of cars at one point, that we swapped for a fresh cut heading for Mill Street.  I’m sure Milne was able to grab a passenger run.  Doug (C.), Murray, and Ken ran a mix of through freights and way freights.

At one point someone asked when we were supposed to arrive at Steve McMullin’s Carleton Railway.  I looked at my phone and was shocked to see it was 12:30!  Where had 2-1/2 hours gone!!??  The old saying that time flies when you are having fun is very true!  Anyway, we had to finish up so we could get to the train store (Valley Hobby) and get some lunch to be at Steve’s for 2:00.

We managed to arrive at the Carleton Railway shortly after 2:00.  We were greeted with a warm welcome from Rosalie since Steve was in the basement frantically making last minute preparations.  Again, after a brief intro we signed up for operating positions.

I wanted to redeem myself in South Newbridge after the last trip when Jean and I put everything leaving there onto the same train (thinking “Well these cars are supposed to go west, your train is going west, here you go”) making for the longest train in Carleton Railway history.  The Steve asked if I had read the operating instructions,  Ummmm…. No.

Derwin caught again!

Anyway, I was so intent on making sure I did things properly in South Newbridge I lost track of what the other guys were running.  I think Derwin was helping John in the yard at Avondale.  I’m sure he thought it would be another slack job like McAdam on the ICR.  He was lounging around later in the session.  Steve caught him and suggested his time would be better spent running a wayfreight (the Newbridge Turn).  Then he made a very big mistake and assigned Jim as his brakeman.  Steve, Steve, Steve….  tsk tsk!  You’ll know better for next time!

Milne and Doug (C.) ran a couple passenger trains.  Jim was having fun derailing, err… operating a wayfreight.  Ben took the Nortondale job.

I vowed that I would “follow the rules” this year and do the job properly, but apparently everyone else was about to make that very difficult for me.  Murray decided to leave early (4 hours!) with his train.  Now this really messed things up in South Newbridge!  I had one train in 4 hours early, Ben arrived with the Nortondale train, a First Class passenger train had to get through and there was another freight train waiting to arrive.  Things were very disorganized for a little while while I tried to clear mainlines for all this traffic.  Igrabbed cuts of cars that were destined for my yard, shoved out the cars that were supposed to go on the particular trains (trying to follow the proper instructions this time!) and tried to get trains moving again as quickly as possible.  Unfortunately there were some delays and a few cars got onto the wrong trains.  But at least I didn’t make any extremely long trains this time!

The last train on the line was the one Steve assigned Derwin and Jim – The Newbridge Turn.  Good thing I checked the cards for the cars they brought in.  There was a tank car with no card that was supposed to have been left at another industry along the way.  They had dropped it off there, but then proceeded to pick it up again.  Then there was a stock car with a card that said it was supposed to have stayed where it was.  So, back on their train with them to be put back where they belonged.

Jim gets caught!

The witnesses

The tank car was going to be tough since they were facing the turnout the wrong way.  Jim was going to use one of his favorite switching tricks to get the car spotted at the industry but he was caught.  You can see the mischievous look on his face!  But there were too many witnesses.  I got back to work putting cars away in South Newbridge so I’m not sure how the car made it to its spot.  When I looked up again they had placed the stock car back at the meat plant and were about to head on to Avondale.

The last train of the day.

While we were having fun in the basement Rosalie was busy preparing a wonderful meal for us.  When these two finally arrived in Avondale we headed upstairs to talk about the days activities and enjoy some great food!

We want to thank Doug, Steve and Rosalie for being great hosts and allowing us to operate their incredible model railroads.  I hope we’ll have an opportunity to operate on their railroads when we are in Saint John for the MFMR Convention in May.  Hopefully we will see you there!


Operating in Moncton

Monday, January 11th, 2010

We’d been planning a trip to Moncton to operate with the Codiac group there for a few weeks now.  Planning a trip during the winter is a risky business.  You never know when the weather will good for traveling.   Fortunately the weather cooperated and Derwin, Tom, Ewen, and I were able to make it to Moncton yesterday, as planned.

We left my place a little after 7:00 am.  I must say this in my own defense and before anyone else mentions it – I was distracted with conversation as we came to then end of my street and, by force of habit, I turned right as I do 95% of the time.  There were a few (3 to be exact) comments about “Where are you going!” at about the same time that I realized I should have turned left.  A quick turn-around got us on the right path.  Fortunately the rest of the day went quite a bit more smoothly.

A motley crew - photo: Milne H.

Our first stop was at 9:00 at John S’s.  We had to have a pit stop at the Tim’s down the road from John’s so we were about 5 minutes late.  John, Milne, and Jim were waiting.  After a brief verbal overview of the layout for the benefit of the new guy we got underway.  I had worked in Riverview on previous visits and liked how it operated so I chose it as my job.  The work pace there is just enough to keep you busy, but not swamped.  Plus you’re not in the way of other operators so it is easier to get work done.  It wasn’t until near the end of the session that I managed to get a few pictures.

Tom has just finished his task and hands the throttle off to John.  Milne is just about finished working in Coverdale.  As you can see the layout is multilevel (3 if you count the lower staging fiddle yard).

It is always fun working with the Codiac Operating Group.  They like to joke around and have a good time while they “play with model trains”.  Jim, of course, was very quick to point out that he was not the latest recipient of the Golden Demerit Award and pointed out John’s achievement (which was prominently posted on his bulletin board).  John seemed proud, and Jim was relieved not to have received the award for once.

I apologize for the quality of this image.  I had to sneak up and take it quickly so he wouldn’t get up to avoid the embarrassment.

This was a common pose for Derwin on a previous trip to Moncton Please note photos 4 and 10 in that post.  Photo 3 of that post is a variation on the theme – I think it was the reason he took the job.

I was worried it would be a trend again this time.  My intention was to catch him in this position at each of the three layouts we visited, but oddly enough I was unable to.  I think he actually worked on the other two layouts!

The first 2 photos in that post show a very happy Jim presenting the first Honorary Golden Demerit Award to Derwin.  It is quite rare that Jim does not receive the award.

We left John’s for Dave W’s basement empire and got there, in his words, “early, but on time” and caught him in the middle of cleaning up.  John and Milne came with us and Doug C. and Ben O. joined us shortly after we started operating.

Ewen was behind the photographer. Photo: Milne Hall

Ewen was behind the photographer. Photo: Milne H.

After a brief into to the layout and his operating procedures we got underway.  No one else volunteered for the job so I took the Riverview Yard job.  The location had the same name as John’s but the level of effort was nowhere near the same!  It’s really a task for two people.  I’ve worked there before and the experience did help but unfortunately not enough.  I struggled through, but I’m afraid I left things in a bit of a mess.  Sorry Dave!

Derwin, as usual asked which job was the easiest.  I don’t think he got his wish.  I could not catch him sitting down.  Ewen worked with Jim in West Riverview and Tom helped John in Baltimore.  Doug and Milne ran mainline trains to keep traffic flowing.  It was very enjoyable and the time flew by.  It was lunch time before we knew it.

After lunch we went to Chuck’s (Don’s HO) to shop, spend money, and chat.  We were able to leave on time to stay on schedule and arrived at Doug C’s right on time.  It was the first time we operated on Doug’s layout.  It was a real treat!  Thanks Doug!

Neither John nor Milne could make it to Doug’s so there was just the four of us plus Doug, Dave, and Jim.  Murray joined us not long after we started operating.

I picked another yard job – Moncton, but Dave offered to help out. I’m not sure of the location names where Tom, Ewen, and Derwin worked, but they were as busy as I was.  Again, Derwin did not have time to sit down during the op session.

Doug’s layout is a fairly large multi-level layout.  There is quite a bit of separation between the levels making the upper level high.  Ewen worked a yard on the upper level which was quite funny since it was almost above his eye level.  Doug has lots of step stools and platforms around so Ewen found the tallest one to stand on.

Tom even felt more comfortable using a stool.

Derwin worked a job on the lower level.  He was quiet and kept out of trouble so he must have been working hard.  (highly unusual!)

Before I show the next photo I must show this one to demonstrate that Jim actually did work during the session.  I’m not sure what he’s doing but I’m sure it’s important.

Murray is keeping an eye on his train as it leaves the Moncton Yard.

I couldn’t catch Derwin sitting, but I caught Jim having fun twirling the throttle cord.  HA!

It was a long day but well worth getting up early on a Saturday and driving to Moncton.  The Codiac guys are always great hosts and really do like to have fun.

Thanks guys!


The NeverDone Railway is Done!

Friday, June 12th, 2009

We had our last run on the NeverDone Railway last Sunday evening.  Brian is selling his house so will soon be dismantling the layout (if it isn’t already).  I’m sure Brian will build a new one some day, but until then we will miss the third layout in our operating group.  Hopefully you find someplace with a basement real soon, Brian!

ndr-photographersSince it was such an historical event the photographers were out in full force.  There was even a guy there from the Headache Corner Telegraph (local paper).  The angle he was taking with his story was that it was the end of an era for the region.  No more will townsfolk hear the clanking of couplers and blare of diesel horns.  “We might all get a good night’s sleep for change!”, he said.  He was only half kidding since he is a train fan.  He said he will definitely miss the railway.

The evening started off as usual, but we were short a couple operators.  Again, fitting since Brian was pressed into service in the yard.  Like most of our layouts the owner rarely operates, but this was Brian’s last operating night on the NDR so he should get to operate.  Anyway, since I don’t think I’ve ever run the Island job, and I was the first to arrive, I chose it.  The Island is was a very interesting job with lots of switching and some interesting puzzles.  Fortunately for me it was a relatively slow day for freight on the Island so I was able to partake in the festivities celebrating the last run (and take some photos).

ndr-brian-1As I mentioned, Brian ran the yard.  He did a pretty good job of keeping ahead of things, but he really should operate more.  He’s a little out of practice.  HA!

Here he is switching a cut of cars onto the barge for the trip across the great divide to the Island.  His barge is was a terrific idea to solve a problem.  He originally had a section of layout on the other side of the doorway (to the right in this photo) but it was built over his oil tank.  The grade to get to it was pretty steep so he dismantled it.  Then we visited a layout that had a static barge.  A light went on and within a couple weeks the Island was born with barge service from the yard.  It adds added almost two jobs to the layout – one local job on the Island and a barge operator.

ndr-farsideGreg chose the Farside job.  Farside is at the far end of the layout (hence the name) and has lots of interesting switching requiring plenty of run-around moves.  The grain elevator and power plant are were both very active industries.  Four other businesses add added to the hectic pace.  The transfer shed, a new industry to the area, is was shaping up to be another busy spot.

It was no wonder why Greg was the last to arrive in the yard to pick up his cars for the return run to Farside.  He made pretty quick work of putting everything away.  Of course he had plenty of time to perform all his car moves since Derwin had the yard blocked up for quite a while.  Hmmm… was it Derwin or the inexperienced yard guy.  Naw, it’s always Derwin’s fault!

ndr-derwin-3Derwin was stuck in Headache Corner.  The town gets got it’s name appropriately.  The only run-around track in town is was only one or two cars long and the 8 industrial tracks are were split evenly between east and west facing.  Add to that the fact that 4 of them are were in the town proper, well away from the run-around tracks, and you really have had to have your act together when operating there.

Jim McMahon will love this picture.  It shows why Derwin and Jim like each other so much.  They are each the Demerit Kings of their respective operating groups.  I think Derwin got 50,000 demerits for this faux-pas!  HA!

ndr-theend-1After the operating was done it was time to get serious.  Since the rails were going to be torn up any day we had to pull all the freight cars back into the yard for storage and distribution around the world outside NeverDone.  A crowd gathered at the wharf to welcome the last of the freight cars and the switcher locomotives from the Island.  It was quite a momentous occassion and more than a few tears were shed as the crews said goodbye to their equipment, their friends and their neighbours!  <sniff!>

Goodbye NeverDone Railway!  Until the rebuilding….