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I had no idea where I was going to end up when I agreed to do a little talk last March. PeteL is head of clinics for the Nutmeg Division of the National Model Railroad Association, needed somebody to fill a vacancy he had for the March meeting, and asked if I could help. He'd seen my presentation of "A Day on the Valley Local" and thought it'd be interesting for the club (especially since their meetings take place right along the Valley Line) and would be no trouble for me to do (since I already had the PowerPoint done).
The presentation went well, folks seemed to enjoy it, and the club's head of layout tours asked if I'd be willing to host an open house to see my layout at some point. I'd heard a lot about these open houses, how motivating they could be, and was curious how I'd fare. So I agreed, and a date "far away into the future" (or so I thought) was set.
Let me just say - now, from first hand experience - that agreeing to host a tour of your layout, as stressful as it can be, is the best thing you could do to help you make a LOT of progress on your layout. The best comparison I can think of - if you'll excuse the pun - is training. I raced my bike for almost 10 years, and if it wasn't for the fact that I had races to train for, there's no way I'd be getting my butt out of bed at 5:30 on a winter morning to ride. But knowing that a race was looming was what got me going. And I found the exact same thing to be true for having this open house event.
So, if you haven't done one yet, Just Do It - it'll be the best thing you can do for your layout.
As for my First Open House, it went great! Everything ran well (thanks to Bill, Dick, Pete and Roman for ironing out some last-minute glitches), I had about 30 people show up (at least according to my Guest Book, which I
And now, for those of you who couldn't make it this time, here are some photos from a most wonderful day...
|The NMRA provides this cool lawn sign so folks can find you. And you can see my new ride in the driveway (shhh.... don't tell Bill . . .)|
|After you come through the door, but before heading down to the basement, there were some snacks and my iPad with the Valley Local website on it, in hopes that folks would stop and sign the guest book.|
|As you turn around, behind you is the Agent/Operator's Desk. I'd set it up with some NHRR paperwork and had the iPod playing some '40s music to set the mood.|
While my main keepsake of the day would be the guest book (which is why I so much wanted folks to sign it), the missus reminded me to make sure I took some pictures of the people too in order to commemorate the day. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get photos of everybody - especially during the busiest times - but I was able to get a good representation, especially early in the day . . .
|Roman and Dave at the entrance of the "North End" room (Wethersfield to Middletown). That's the siding for what will eventually be Middletown Meat Packing, at the south end of town.|
|Bill and Lee at Middletown. Looks like Bill is trying to tone down the volume on the S-2 which was so loud it actually made it difficult to have conversations.|
|I'm standing where Bill was in the previous photo and looking back toward the south end of Middletown (on the right side of the aisle) and the only completed prototype scene on the railroad so far, Rocky Hill there on the left.|
|Dave and Tim - thankfully, some folks had name tags. I might consider having those at the "entry table" next time. As much as folks don't like them, they really are pretty helpful.|
|Back at the staging area, Roman is working on a kink in the track - helped with new spikes that I ordered from Tom's Trains which were personally delivered during the tour (thank you!). Looks like Lee is having more fun than Pete here...|
|Bill doing some switching at Rocky Hill. It was great having a few guys operating trains during the day - it gave me a chance to visit (and to take these pictures!) and gave folks something fun to see.|
|Trackwork and rolling stock by me - structures and scenery by Schneider (Bill)|
|I'm super happy with how this area came out. Given the discussion about New Haven Railroad structure colors, note that the freight house - still in use by the railroad here in 1947 - is recently painted a simple all-brown scheme.|
|Note here (and in the pics just above and below) how the station - no longer in use by the railroad - is in an older paint scheme and is showing its age. Note also the scratchbuilt NHRR specific crossbucks. Custom lettering on stryrene strip, mounted on weathered code 70 rail (also by Bill - but at least that's a boxcar I built, coupled to the engine:^).|
|Diesel-powered Valley Local, northbound at Rocky Hill. I really need to learn PhotoShop so I can eliminate |
|Steam pinch-hitting on the Valley Local southbound rounding a curve between Wethersfield and Rocky Hill.|
|Ahhhh.... PhotoShop.... that's more like it! THIS is a pretty great shot - which I can say without boasting since I didn't take it. Bill took this pic and did the doctoring - so now I can say "scenery, structures, and SKY by Schneider...)|
|Rocky Hill is all quiet now. That cool tall switchstand is one of Rapido's new products. Perfect for the New Haven, and it really completes the scene.|
|I didn't do it for any accolades, but this was really cool and is very much appreciated. This, along with my guest book and photos, are prized keepsakes of a great day. Thank you again to all who were able to visit!|