Thursday, April 23, 2015

Dad Ops

I'm blessed in many ways that I won't recount here, but one of the best blessings is still having my folks around. They recently retired to Tennessee so when they get the chance to come back to CT to visit, it's especially nice. Strangely though, never before had my dad joined me in an operating session. Until this first after-retirement visit...

But first, a little backstory...

If you've ever checked out the website (as opposed to coming directly to this blog), and have seen the "About" page, you know a bit of this already. I got my start in model railroading when my little brother got a train set one Christmas. Long story short, he wasn't all that interested in the train, but I was - and adopted the set as my own. And with my Dad's help, we dove head-first into the hobby, buying plywood and lots (and lots!) of Atlas Snap Track. Dad didn't need another hobby and eventually bowed out as my interest continued to grow - but he's always been interested in the different layout projects I have had over the years (including a trip to Vermont to salvage a large layout from an old friend).

It hasn't been until recently, though, that I've actually had something to operate - largely due to a rebuilding of that VT layout into two modules. And now that I've had a few ops sessions on the Valley Line proper, it was way past time to ask Dad if he wanted to try his hand at the throttle. The pics tell the story, but I think he had a good time - I know I did!

All smiles at the start of the session in Somerset. I figured we'd start with the finished portion of the layout. Even if you're not a die-hard ops guy, you can still appreciate the structures and scenery. Bonus: all of this came from the VT layout we salvaged together many years ago.

Even though this was his first session, the look will be familiar to anyone who's been at an ops session. You're always wondering just how to get the cars to where they need to go.

After fun in Somerset, it was off to Mill Hollow - another module made up of savaged structures from the VT layout.

Since I'd started him on the Air Line Local, Dad had to get to Middletown to drop off & pick up cars.

Once he was finished with the Air Line Local, I asked if he wanted to try his hand at the Valley Local next, to get use of the whole layout. It's not as pretty to look at, but the run is longer so you can really enjoy seeing the train go by. Or, as in this case, part of the train: He was so focused on the engine here at Rocky Hill, and I was so focused on getting the photo that we both failed to notice that 1/2 the train was still back in Dividend(!) Oooops

After picking up the rest of the train, we finally made it to Wethersfield where Dad did some final switching before tying up for the night. The train couldn't get all the way back to Hartford since I'm trying to redo the backdrop at the north end of Wethersfield (you can make out the temporary vinyl in the background) and it's blocking the track.
Despite the minor snafus, we had a fun couple of hours just switching cars around on a couple of low key locals. It was a far cry from the slotcar-like running we used to do on the old 4x8s, but after over 30(?!) years' time, it was just as fun. And, best of all, we still got to do it together. And that's what I'm thankful for most of all.

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