Yes, it was a post-war Sunday in mid-October when the crews for the Air Line and Valley Locals were called on-duty. New operator JimA - who, like me, moonlights as engine crew on the real Valley Railroad - took over the throttle of K-1 mogul #278 and headed south from Hartford, stopping first in Wethersfield...
|Valley Local switching Wethersfield, Jim at the throttle|
|Valley Local southbound, slowing to observe the 10 mph speed restriction on the curve north of Rocky Hill, according to the Bulletin Order.|
|Looking south into Rocky Hill, we see the Air Line crew in the distance, arriving in Middletown.|
|Valley Local in Cromwell switching the elevated coal trestle of Lee & Son's Coal Co.|
|Record-length Air Line Local, pumping up its brakes in preparation to leave Middletown to head back to Cedar Hill yard in New Haven (i.e. staging)|
The main reason for the session was to finally get Jim over to run the layout. He hadn't seen it in a while, so there was a lot that was "new" to him. I also wanted/needed a good excuse to address some of the issues that had cropped up during the last session: some feeder wires came unattached, and the 278's pilot coupler had started to fail (I fixed that here). Thankfully, the replacement coupler worked just fine - and the engineer on the Air Line Local (i.e. BillS) let me know there's a "scale" sized option.
I do have to admit a couple of "fails" however:
1) I'm not as impressed with my "innovative" uncoupling tools as I thought I'd be. I asked a couple of the other operators and the consensus was that "they work like a champ on #58s, when coupled to other #58s - less good on others, or mixed types." So, more experimentation needed. For next session, I'll provide some skinny bamboo skewers (thick skewers - and the damage they tend to cause - are what pushed me to develop an alternative in the first place).
2) The #278 - inexplicably - started to short more often as the session went on. No idea why. I checked the brake shoes/hangars, and everything was fine. I'll have to continue to inspect...
3) Related to the 278 shorting, I noticed that I'm still having trouble with shorting when exiting (and sometimes entering) the reversing section. The polarity in that section is controlled by 2 bays on a Frog Juicer. Unfortunately, the problem is intermittent and can't be consistently replicated. I thought at first that the section may have been too, um, short (as in too short for the length of trains I run over it) and the Juicer was trying to switch polarity under the engine at the same time as it was trying to switch polarity under another car toward the end of the train. But that would require wheels (all my wheels are metal) to be bridging the two sets of rail gaps at precisely the same time. Even when I did that myself manually, I couldn't get things to short out. So, more investigation needed. Let me know if you have any ideas - electrical gremlins can be notoriously difficult to fix.
4) Actually, this doesn't really rise to the level of a "fail" - it's more the cost of doing
I've said it before - and so have others: Ops Sessions are the ideal catalyst for keeping on top of your layout maintenance, as well as highlighting what else needs to be Done Right Away and what upgrades make the most sense to do sooner rather than later. I can't recommend them enough.
So get your layout to running & operating status as soon as you can! You certainly won't regret it (though you may end up being busier with it than ever - but that results in "progress made" as well!)