Archive for the ‘Layout Visits and Shows’ Category

Weekend Activities

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

We had a great weekend running trains and chatting with folks at the County Fair Mall here in Summerside.  As far as I know it was the first time that anything like this has ever been done here.  We certainly increased awareness of the hobby and even dug a few more model railroaders out of the woodwork.  Hopefully a few will join our operating group.

I posted a more detailed report on the Island Rails web site.  Click here to read about it.


Operating in Saint John – 2009

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

A week ago we had our 3rd annual operating day in Saint John.  Not wanting a repeat of the last few late starts I created a healthy competition to make sure the guys were on time.  Brian and Derwin were actually early!   We were on the road pretty much on time!

We stopped at the local Tim’s/Esso to fuel up.  I did the gas pumping duties while Brian and Derwin went inside.  I got my coffe and we were on our way. We had one stop in Moncton to pick up Jean and Ryan.

The conversation in the car was pretty normal until I mentioned something about Brian paying for the gas (we were using his car).  He said he thought I was paying for the gas (from our group travel fund).  Nope, I didn’t pay for the gas.  It was the first time I ever did a “gas and dash”.  If I had known we were doing it I wouldn’t have been able to.  We had all kinds of thought of “APB’s” and roadblocks set up looking for us.  It didn’t happen and we did settle the bill after we got back.

Anyway, we picked up Jean and Ryan and made it to Doug’s place by 10:30.  Besides Doug we were joined by a couple of N-scalers that wanted to play trains with the big boys – Lawrence and Mark performed duties that required knowledge of the layout, like dispatching and yard work.  It was Jean’s first time there so he was happy to partner with me for the first couple of jobs.  We drew the daily container train from Dever Road Yard to McAdam for our first train.  It was a great way to see the whole layout at a leisurely pace.  Although, Doug did come around shortly after we left Dever Road and made an off-hand comment referring to our lack of speed and the profitability of the railroad – so we moved a little faster after that.

Our second train was a wayfreight so we had a little more work to do than with our first one.  There was something to do at just about every stop.

Derwin got lucky and drew a track maintenance job – just a loco and a rail cleaning car.  He didn’t get to do a lot of switching, but he did watch a lot of trains go by while he was thawing out frozen point rails and cleaning flanges.

At some point Derwin must have got tired of every one else doning something profitable and he finished up his maintenance job.  He and Ryan then took a train out of McAdam bound for Saint John.

I’m sure Brian ran something there, but I’ll be darned if I can remember now.

About 1:00 we decided it was time for lunch and a stop at the train store before heading to Steve’s.  We found the train store easy enough and spent only a little bit of money.  I picked up a CP 1/2 ton truck,  some Woodland Scenics people, and a couple other odds and ends that you’ll see photos of over time.

Then we unleashed ourselves on Steve’s “Carleton Railway”.  He had no idea what kind of havoc we would bring.  Jean and I ran the local switchjob in South Newbridge.  The task was to pull cars from the local indistries, sort them onto the departure tracks, put the on the approriate train through town.  It seemed easy enough so we got down to business.

Brian was running the first train into town.  Since he was heading west we gave him all the west bound cars in South Newbridge and gave him a push up the hill.  We thought it was really cool to have long main line runs to make long trains look good!  Next train through was Ryan heading east so we did the same with our waiting east bound cars.  We were done, except for a few cars to put away.

Eventually Steve figured out why we were done so quick and why Ryan’s and Brian’s trains were so long.  We weren’t supposed to give them everything we had – only certain cars (empties I think).  The other cars were supposed to go on trains that would come through town later.  I guess we should have read the instructions so conveniently posted on the fascia.  Oops!  It really was Derwin’s fault, but I haven’t figured out a good way to explain it yet.

We had supper at Steve’s and after supper we finished up the rest of the work and left for home about 7:00.

We always have a lot of fun when we visit Doug and Steve.  We really appreciate their hospitality and calmness when we screw up!  HA!

Thanks guys!


We made it to Moncton, finally!

Sunday, December 7th, 2008

That’s right, after 2 previous attempts that failed for one reason or another, we finally made it to Moncton yesterday for a day filled with model railroad operations, and 1 trip to the local train store.

We arrived at John’s  a little before our allotted time of 10:00, which was better than the 40 minutes early the Moncton guys were the last time they came to the Island.  Anyway, we chatted for a bit, looked around to see what was new and then Jim made a surprise announcement…

The Presentation

The Presentation

Derwin won an honorary Golden Demerit Award!  Being a past winner of this prestigious award himself, Jim was very happy to present the very first G.D. Award to someone outside of their operating group.  Derwin seemed very pleased to receive the award.  I’m sure it is already framed and hanging on the wall in his train room.

Derwin's Award!

Derwin's Award!

It’s hard to read the text in this close up.  Hopefully Derwin will provide the full text on his blog.

Operating at John's

Operating at John's

Once the ceremony was out of the way and congratulations were given, it was time to start operating.  Derwin was in the operator’s chair running the yard (a position that may become familiar in upcoming photos), Brian ran several trains, and I worked the local switching job in Riverview.  Now I’m not sure at what point things got out of control, but while I was working extremely hard I noticed this out of the corner of my eye…

Not Operating at John's

Not Operating at John's

Well, when the layout owner got wind of what the new guys were up to he blew his top!  You should have heard the language that was used!  Those guys were really in trouble!


Will we be allowed back!?

Well, even after all of this, John still fed us lunch.  I thought I had made myself clear last week when I was told what was on the menu.  Derwin can not eat anything with beans, spice, or food in it.  The after-effects can be deadly.  We joked about how fast we’d get home with the back seat down and the trunk open.  Seriously, we made the 2 hour trip in 45 minutes!

After lunch we were off to Don’s HO for some bargain hunting and Christmas shopping.  Boy, am I going to be surprised Christmas morning with what I think I bought for my wife to give to me. (huh?)


Jim working in Baltimore

Then it was over to Dave’s for some more operating fun and hijinks.  Jim worked in Baltimore.  I heard him comment many times that Baltimore never ran so smoothly, or looked as well organized.  I’m pretty sure the layout owner ignored most of those comments.

Meanwhile I worked the yard job.  I noticed a lot of cars returning from Baltimore that should have stayed and been spotted at industries there.  I guess Jim discovered that traffic in = traffic out is an efficient way to keep things looking tidy.


Al, Dave, and Jim hard at work. Wait! Jim?

Everyone is reading their cards trying to figure out what they have to do.  I’m pretty sure Jim is putting on an act since he obviously just took the cards for the in-bounds and gave them to the guy running the out-bound train.


John and Brian keeping things running smoothly.

John ran the local switching job in <insert town here>.  Brian ran several trains to and from various towns on the layout.


They all seem to be having fun.

I think Dave finally started cluing in to what Jim was doing in Baltimore to keep things tidy.  Of course, it didn’t hurt that I told him.

Brian waiting for a train and Derwin...

Brian waiting for a train and Derwin...

This seemed to be a common sight.  Everyone working hard keeping freight moving on the layout and Derwin in his common position.

John leaving the yard.

John leaving the yard.

This was one of the first layouts I’ve operated on where steam equipment  was as prevalent as diesel.  John is leaving the yard with his train using a small steam locomotive.  Previously we saw a double headed steam consist leaving the yard bound for parts unknown (Saint John maybe?).

Anyway, that’s the end of the photo tour of our operating day in Moncton.  We had a great time and can’t wait to do it again.  Next it is their turn to come to the Island.  Hopefully by then we’ll have one more layout to operate on.

Time to go for now!


A Cheater Post

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

Since I’ve already posted on the UMG blog (and the coffee is wearing off) I’ll point you there for my update.

Check it out.

Scott (yawn)

Moncton Train Show – April 12, 2008

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

We left the Island about 1:00 Friday afternoon headed to Moncton for their annual train show. Besides the four of us (Greg, Brian, Mark, and myself) we had the back of the truck and a trailer loaded with UMG modules and other sundry items. One of these days I’ll have to get a picture of the truck and trailer loaded.

We arrived at the show venue about 3:00, unloaded our gear and were starting to look for our space when Trevor asked if we were able to redesign the layout on short notice. AAAAHHHH!?

After a half hour of pacing the floor seeing where we could fit and figuring out which modules we could rearrange we had a rough idea of what we were going to do. (Left: the initial “final” plan for the show.)

As we set up modules and sales tables were rearranged we realized that we wouldn’t be able to fit as redesigned, so after a bit more head scratching we came up with plan C. (Right: the modified “final” plan.)

The redesign resulted in the 5th Street leg being about 20′ long. The Yard leg with Summer Valley was about 36′ long and the Appleton leg was unchanged other than reorienting the angle – about 14′ long. The width of the layout increased by 4′ to 32′. The overall length of modules (track) was about 102′.

Even with all the redesigning on the fly, the layout was operational and fully tested by 6:30. Not bad, and perhaps a new record for such a large layout.

We had a wonderful supper at Jean and Carol’s, where Derwin and Ken joined us. They couldn’t get the afternoon off so came over after work. After a quick tour of Jean’s layout we were off for some operating at John S’s. I didn’t get any pictures because I was so busy operating in Coverdale. There were lots of opportunities for some shots of people in embarrassing moments – being unfamiliar with the layout we made our share of blunders. John’s layout runs wonderfully. There were very few derailments that were not caused by the operators. We finished up about 11:00 and went to Ryan’s for the night.  Thank you Ryan and Jodie for hosting such a rag tag bunch!

After a very full day on Friday, 6:00 Saturday morning came pretty quick! I felt a lot better after a shower and a cup of coffee. Ryan cooked up scrambled eggs and bacon. If you’re ever in the Moncton area and need some overnight accommodation I recommend Chez Nelson. The chef has learned, since last year, that you don’t scramble eggs by dropping them on the floor first, and that perked coffee doesn’t come from a bottle of instant coffee. (Left: The morning scene – Mark It’s way too early for me!”, Ken “Give me some grub!”, Derwin “Yummm, grumm,, snort, …”, and Greg “Thank you Lord for this bounty.” – Photo by Brian.)

Anyway, we got to the show venue about 7:30 and made some final touches to the layout and managed to get a first tour of the sales tables before the doors opened to the public at 9. The weather was cold with wet snow so it was perfect to get folks out to a train show. I don’t think there were many lulls in the crowd, as there has been most other years.

Our new modules (5th Street District) were a hit with lots of people commenting on them. Thank you all! It’s nice to know we’re doing something right! I even received a few positive comments on my weathered up Geeps that I brought.

Ken moves some cars along the main to bring them down to 5th Street.

The grade there is very steep at about 8%, but a switcher with one or two cars climbs it without a problem – even Brian’s very light sound unit.

He’s heading down the grade to pick up some outbound cars.

The large building in the bottom-center is hiding part of the frame where the modules are bolted together. Because there is only 1.5″ of depth to this side of the modules we allowed the frame to rise full height at the joints to provide more surface area for bolting the modules together.  We figured we could hide these parts of the frame with some buildings. The idea worked fairly well. You can barely see an unhidden joint just above Kens’ right hand in the photo above. We don’t have a building to hide that one yet.

Looking in the other direction, he’s pulling some cars out to set on the main for pickup by a passing freight.

There is lots of potential with this module set. We could put another turnout in the area under the bridge and continue the branch off the right side of the modules to extend the switching area.

Brian has some closer shots of the 5th Street District on his blog – The NeverDone Railway.

This picture shows the bulk of our layout. I had hoped to get one from a better angle to show more of it, but time slipped away. If you look in the center of the photo you can see Derwin (black shirt & white hat). He’s switching at the far end of Spring Valley. The photo below has the areas of the layout labeled.

The crowd was pretty steady right up to 4:00 when the show officially closed. We were packed up and sitting at the Homestead Restaurant by 5:30. We arrived back in Summerside a little before 9:00.

Overall it was a great show1 We talked to a lot of new people, introduced folks to operating by allowing them to run trains on our layout, and spent time with many old friends.

Now it’s time to start preparations for the MFMR Convention coming up on May 16, 17, & 18. I’ll be presenting a demonstration/clinic there on basic layout building & scenery techniques. I must head out to the shed to start building some small modules for it.

Later guys!


Moncton Crew Visit – Part 3

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

The last stop on the agenda was the Bayside and Tidewater. The crew arrived about 3:30 and operations got underway after everyone had a chance to tour the layout.

Murray chose the East Side Local job (working Stevenville and Derwin’s Drop), John took the West Side Local (working Chappellton and Kenville). These jobs are full-time requiring operators to work quick to get cars pulled for the wayfreights to pick up. The East Side Local was very busy, but traffic flow problems made the West Side job a little more relaxing.


Murray at the throttle in Stevenville. I think I see a violation already! Is that a box car on the service siding?


John working hard in Chappellton. Things are pretty quiet here for the moment.

Brian took the East Bound Wayfreight while Allan ran the opposing West Bound Wayfreight. Both of these jobs had extra work due to the previous crew timing out and leaving their return trains sitting on sidings outside yard limits. So the wayfreight crews had to pull their train into the yard and put away the cars before they could make up their departing train. Both were a little late departing and created some traffic problems as a result.

Brian puts away the previous crew’s cars.


Derwin gives Allan a hand (in the background) getting the Wayfreight ready to leave Bayside.

Mark grabbed the Transfer Job thinking it would be a simple straight run from Bayside to Tidewater. However, traffic issues kept him tied up for quite a while.

Ryan ran the CN Interchange train from CN Wholinthal using two CN (green and gold) units leased from a nearby railroad at the last minute. These units were another first for the BS&T. It was nice to see something other than CP on the layout for a change.


The CN Interchange in Tidewater. I should have taken a picture of this train earlier in the session, but things were a little busy.

Greg decided to run The Connector from Wholinthal to Tidewater. This train was a first for the BS&T. A couple firsts actually. It was the first passenger train on the BS&T and it was the first C-Liner (or anything close to looking like an F-Unit) ever to run on one of my layouts. Anyone knowing my aversion to anything looking like an F-unit would be surprised to see one of these.

Since I do not own any of these beasts I entered into a hastily prepared lease agreement with Canadisle Rail a few days in advance. I was expecting much more of a fuss over this train, but it did not materialize (I guess everyone was too busy). Surprisingly, it looked quite good and will hopefully become part of regular operations on the BS&T.


The Connector waits outside of Chappellton for things ahead to clear up a bit before it proceeds into Tidewater. Passengers were getting worried that they wouldn’t make their connection with The Express. Fortunately, the same traffic problems kept it pretty well locked up in Tidewater as well.

Jim thought the RDC run called “The Express” would be an easy job. Ha! It was far from it. Passengers of the premiere run of The Express were treated to 2 free meals (ok, they were just sandwiches bought from a diner near where they were waiting) as they waited on various sidings around the layout! It was far from an Express run!


The Express heads onto the station siding in Stevenville on it’s return run to Bayside.


It’s almost the end of the day on the BS&T. Power from the Transfer is running around to head east on its return run. Power from the West Bound Wayfreight is about to pull onto the service tracks to get ready for the next day’s East Bound Wayfreight.

There were only two recorded incidents during the session. Knowing most of the operators pretty well I’m sure there were lots of others that were not recorded.

At the start of the session Derwin read aloud an old memo posted on the new BS&T Crew Board (photos in a future report). The memo concerned an incident some time ago where freight cars were parked on a service siding causing significant damage to fueling equipment. The memo also stated that freight cars were not permitted on service sidings. A previous photo in this report, taken in Stevenville, is evidence of a blatant infringement of this rule, despite the warning. Since this operator was a “visitor” there will be no disciplinary action, but he may not get his choice of jobs the next time he visits.


The damaged fueling equipment is on the ground behind the caboose.

Then Management received a report that both a mid-train and rear-train helper were called to assist the East Bound Wayfreight get over The Ridge. This has never been required on the BS&T and traffic is carefully planned to avoid this. Only one helper is ever required on The Ridge. After a quick trip in the company helicopter, Management was on scene to try to figure out what was up.


The East Bound Wayfreight is about to cut in a mid-train helper from Kenville.

Apparently the East Bound crew added cars intended for the Transfer heading east back to Tidewater. Over 20 cars on a 5+% grade is not something Management ever wants to see on the BS&T. So the crew from Tidewater, intended to be the rear-train helper, was instructed to pull off the Transfer cut and return it to Tidewater. Never a dull moment running on the BS&T!


Ryan pulls in to remove the Transfer cars from the East Bound Wayfreight.

It was one of the busiest and best operating session ever on the BS&T. Yes, it was totally disorganized chaos, but it was very fun totally disorganized chaos!

The madness ended about 7:00, about 3 hours after it began.  There was a break in there for supper of about 30 – 45 minutes, so the entire ordeal only lasted a little over 2 hours.  It seemed a lot longer at the time.  Ha!

Now I have to get things fixed up so we can operate the BS&T on our normal schedule this coming Sunday evening. I think I hear a work crew repairing the fueling equipment in Stevenville now.



Moncton Crew Visit – Part 2

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

We arrived at Brian’s NeverDone Railway a little after 1:00 pm. The operating started after everyone had a chance to look around, about 1:30 or so.

Mark, Al’s son, was the first to choose a job as the Farside switcher. John chose the Headache Corner job. After a quick look at the orders we discovered there wouldn’t be much of a headache in Headache Corner. John only had about 5 pickups to Mark and Al’s 12 or so. Dropoffs were about the same ratio. Mark and Al had their work cut out for them!

Mark and Al in Farside. They’ve got a lot of work to do!
John not having a headache in Headache Corner. Normally this job can be a quite confusing, but he lucked out with this shift.

Murray took the MacGregor Yard job and Jim chose the barge operator. If you’re not familiar with The NeverDone Railway, the Island is completely separate from the rest of the layout and relies on barge service to move freight to and from the area. The barge operates between the east end of MacGregor Yard and the west end of the Island.

Jim trying to figure out the phone as a throttle. We had trouble with the LH90’s at first, but got them working soon after the operating started. Murray’s busy sorting cars in MacGregor Yard.

Ryan was out of the room during this time so he was stuck with the Island job.

How does the shortest guy get the tallest part of the layout? Ryan (and height extender) on the Island.


Where did the Farside crew go??!!

Ha! Caught him! Taking a break when there’s work to be done! It was a quick break. The freight got put away shortly after his energy supplies were replenished. I don’t think he ever found his assistant though.

Next time, all hell breaks loose on the BS&T!


Moncton Crew Visit – Part 1

Monday, March 10th, 2008

After 1 failed attempt in February, we were sure their second attempt to visit would again be foiled by the weather. The forecast for Saturday March 8 did not look good right up to Friday evening. The Moncton guys decided that they’d get up early Saturday morning and if it wasn’t freezing rain outside then they’d head over. They’d watch the weather the rest of the day in case it turned bad.

The weather on Saturday was favourable for the trip. Although it was a little rainy early in the day the temperature was above freezing so it was ful steam ahead for a day of operating.

The first stop was to Derwin’s Canadisle Rail layout. After a brief period of mulling around, general chat and familiarization with the layout we got the operating session underway.

John decided to do some local switching in Ashtown with Allan and his son Mark doing the local work in Shellville. Murray took out the west bound freight and Jim ran the east bound. Ryan decided he’d give the yard job a try.

We ran two sets of train orders at Derwin’s then had lunch and headed into Brian’s. Tomorrow I’ll have a report and pictures from The NeverDone Railway.


The crew “milling around”.
Murray’s surveying the yard as John plays the photographer’s photographer.
Ryan’s having fun in the yard. Jim and Allan in the background working Shellville.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the room, Murray runs the freight into Ashtown with John hidden in the background.

Operating in Saint John

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

Everything went pretty much as expected. Most of us met at Greg’s at about 6:30 Saturday morning as we were instructed. As expected, Derwin arrived a little before 7:00 (ahem!) and we got underway shortly after. We had one short stop in Moncton to pick up some grade crossings I had ordered, some much needed windshield washer, and a coffee refill.

We arrived at Lou’s Hampton & St. Martins Railroad about 10:00. The new guys, Tom and Mark, were very impressed with Lou’s very highly detailed model railroad. The modifications he’s making in Saint John on the layout are very well done. I look forward to the possibility of operating there next year.



(left) Saint John on the Hampton & St. Martins Railroad.

Since we weren’t operating at Lou’s we left for Doug’s Island Central Railway at about 11:00 for our first operating session of the day. Again, the new guys were simply blown away from the size of Doug’s layout.

After a brief introduction from Doug, the guys chose their jobs and things got underway. Brian chose to record video of a train running from one end of the line (McAdam) to the other (Saint John). It should be interesting to see that. I think I was pushed into taking the West Saint John job (in a separate room) so that I wouldn’t be able to witness any embarrassing moments and report on them here. No problem, Tom and I had a great time switching in that area.

sj2008-tom-1.jpg sj2008-mark-2.jpg

(left) Tom is alone on the road running a through freight to Saint John. (right) Mark helps out in the Dever Road Yard.

Some of the guys take a break during a rare
moment of inactivity on the Island central.

We finished off the day operating on Steve’s Carleton Railway. His basement empire has enough scheduled traffic that keeps are hopping busy! The fast clock helps to set the pace as crews strive to maintain the schedule.

The first train out was right on time. Derwin, the Yard Master in Avondale, was very proud that he was able to manage that one. Especially considering it was a train from staging that the Hostler actually got ready for departure. Not being used to the layout or locations for the towns, the operating schedule soon became a “general guideline”.


(left) Derwin gets a train ready to leave Avondale while Mark departs the yard. (right) Tom is heading to Millville with the only train that was on time (I believe)

We did manage to get all the trains moved over the layout for a typical day, but I am sure there were a lot of cars moved that shouldn’t have been and cars not moved that should have been. I hope customers weren’t relying on speedy service!


(left) Brian and Greg are sorting cars to make sure everything is in order. (right) Being a slow bunch of model railroaders, Steve had his work cut out trying to learn us the ropes, errr… teach us the ropes.)

It turned out to be a very fun day and we can’t thank our hosts enough! Thank you Lou, Doug, and Steve for a perfect day of model railroading in Saint John. Oh, and since this is the official day, happy birthday Steve!


The 2007 Truro Show

Monday, October 15th, 2007

The weather was worrisome as we headed to Truro for the Annual Fall Model Railroad Show last Friday. The forecast said “Rain”, the sky was ominous, as we had a truckload and trailer load of model railway “stuff”. We carried 21 modules in all, plus the accompanying tools, electronic gadgets, freight cars, and locos. We were not looking forward to doing what we had done the past 3 years at the Truro show – load and unload in the rain.

Fortunately, the rain held off long enough for us to get unpacked. It started pouring about a half hour later.

Don P. and Ron D. already had all their gear inside before we arrived. Don even had a few modules set up. We started setting up the layout about 4:00 after determining our starting point – thanks to a borrowed tape measure from the N scale guys. Guess what – it was a tiny N scale tape measure, but it could extend to 6′ thankfully.

Trains were moving by 8:00, but a supper break and socializing pushed the completion of the setup to about 10:00.

The layout as seen from the stage (29′ x 38′)

Saturday morning started off with breakfast at Fletcher’s. We were back at the show about 8:00. A few minor finishing touches and the layout was ready for visitors. There were lots of folks around checking things out. A lot of regulars from previous years came around to say hello.

Greg, Steve D., Dave T., Don P. & Shelley (sitting)

Will, Ron, Al, & Derwin

The biggest surprise was seeing Jean and Carol! Carol broke her leg, very badly, a while back and we did not expect to see them at this show. Other UMG members that stopped in for a visit were Dave and Pam, Jeff Keddy (all the way from Winnipeg where he is currently living), and Stewart Gibb. If I’ve missed anyone please don’t be offended, it was a busy day.

We started packing up about 4:00 (maybe a bit before – sorry Will) and were sitting at the China Garden restaurant by 5:45.

All in all the show was well attended and the UMG gang had a great time, as usual. I spent more money than I intended, as usual, but more on that later.