Friday, April 15, 2016

Friday Fun: Shake Down Ops - 3/31/16

After not having an operating session since January 30, 2015 (other than my "Dad Ops" session last spring), I've had not one, but TWO sessions in three weeks starting March 11. Granted, they were only "shakedown" sessions - to see how everything would work after over a year(?!) of expansion and construction - but the Trains Did Run and, despite a few glitches here and there, they ran pretty well.

Here are some photos from the second of the two sessions. Unlike last time, we actually had some paperwork this time. And - for the First Time Ever - we ran All Four Locals. YAY!

TomD working the Air Line Local in Somerset. Despite being our tallest operator, he still needed a stool to reach the manual turnout in the tunnel behind the church. Powering that turnout is on the "punch list" for next session.

Meanwhile, the two Shore Line Locals (Pete's PDX-1 from New Haven & Randy/Joseph's PDX-2 from New London, a.k.a. the New London Local, the Haddam Local, or the South End Valley Local) met in Old Saybrook to switch industries and exchange cars.

Pete and Joseph intently trying to coordinate efforts between the two Shore Line locals in Old Saybrook.

Since all the turnouts in Old Saybrook are now controlled by this nifty panel, the "Saybrook tower operator" (i.e. me) has to work with the Shore Line locals to throw the switches as they need them. This job was a little tougher since the new turnouts I added don't yet have LED indicators. Reworking the diagram is another punch list item for next time (w/help from BillS).

Having left its cars for PDX-1, PDX-2 heads up the east leg of the Saybrook wye (and over the liftout) toward Essex, Deep River & East Haddam.

Meanwhile, way up north on the Valley Line, Pieter is at the helm of the southbound Valley Local which has finished its work in Wethersfield and is now working Rocky Hill & Dividend.
One of the downsides of working PDX-1 (Shore Line local from Cedar Hill) is that it's a pretty short job. It comes from "Cedar Hill/New Haven" (staging) goes straight to Old Saybrook, does Saybrook switching and car exchange with PDX-2, then returns to Cedar Hill. Even with all that, it doesn't take nearly as long as the other 3 locals. In the future, the PDX-1 operator will also operate "generic mainline" trains (on the prototype, there were over 70 in a typical day - so PLENTY to do!). Until then, PDX-1 being done, Pete enjoys heading up to Middletown to watch the interaction between the Air Line Local and the Valley Local.

Air Line Local on the left, powered by DERS-1b (RS-1) #0669 & Valley Local powered by K-1b #278.

After the Valley Local interchanges with the Air Line Local in Middletown, it has to highball down the river to East Haddam to swap cars with the New London Local (PDX-2). Here it is southbound over Shailerville Bridge.

Although nowhere near the size of Middletown, there's LOTS of activity in the sleepy CT river town of Haddam. It's called "East Haddam/Goodspeeds" by the railroad, but the town of East Haddam is actually on the other side of the river - Haddam being the only town along the entire 400 mile river that's split in two. Here we see the Valley Local and New London Local swapping cars. Once their work is done, they'll both work sidings back to their home base and tie up for the night.
A "shake down" session is a dress rehearsal of sorts - an opportunity to put the railroad through its paces, test out the timing of all the actors, and reveal any quirks or other problems that need fixing. Then the idea is to work through that punch list in time for the next session where still-yet-more problems will crop up, which you fix for next time, and etcetera. Like bubbles percolating up through your newly-poured resin pond, you pop each problem and eventually - hopefully - the problems will become less and less frequent and might even stop altogether. Eventually.

Until then though, the shake down session is yet another opportunity to have some fun with your friends. No matter what problems come up, you'll still enjoy running some trains. And what could be better than that?

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