Friday, August 26, 2016

The Calm Before the Storm: A Pre-Session Layout Tour

Having seen the Crew Call for this month's session, I thought you might enjoy a "peek behind the curtain" at the session set-up. Some layout owners may not want to ever show anything but the best of their layouts, but I appreciate any time I can see "under the hood" (literally, in the case of benchwork and wiring) since it gives me a much better idea of how the builder approached the project. And I think seeing some of the nuts and bolts of what's involved in setting up an ops session is interesting too, as well as helpful.

So, herewith I submit a bunch of photos I took of the layout all staged and ready for its latest session, but before any of the operators arrived...

Crew Register - first thing the operators see at the bottom of the stairs and for good reason. I really want them to sign it so I have a keepsake of the night.

Switchlist for PDX-1 - the Shoreline local from Cedar Hill (New Haven) to New London. For more info on my ops paperwork, click here.

PDX-2 aka The Haddam Local, which goes from New London (staging yard above), up the Valley Line at Saybrook up to Haddam, and then back down the branch and on to Cedar Hill.

PDX-1 - the Shoreline Local is staged on the "west loop" mainline rather than the staging yard to avoid having first to back out of staging. Right now, it's one of the first trains that moves during a session, but I may have to modify where I stage it once I have mainline trains running.

HDX-12 aka The Airline local, staged in "Cedar Hill" - a one track hidden staging "yard."

HDX-7 aka The Valley Local - staged in Middletown in order to facilitate reviewing the cars prior to starting. In future - and as I have in the past - I'll have the Valley Local crew start in Wethersfield and run its train "on stage" from "Hartford" (behind the backdrop).

And now for a quick view of each town on the layout and where the cars are at the start of the session. Like I said, I don't mind showing you my "unscenicked" portions if you don't mind seeing them...

Thankfully, the Airline is scenicked - though the towns are fictional. This is Somerset, the first town on the route of the Airline Local.

And here are the cars waiting for pickup in Mill Hollow, the other town on the Airline.

Moving over to Old Saybrook, we see mockups for both the station and the freight house (as well as a footprint for the tower and a jar for the water tank). Two cars to be picked up on the house track, one car on the bulk track, and 5 cars on Track 7 to be picked up and taken to New London by PDX-1. The station platform has been mocked up with cardboard between the recently extended/moved Track 6 (balloon track).

Going up the Valley Line branch, first town we encounter is Essex with cars to pick up at Dickinson's, Burdick Coal, 3 cars at the house, and 3 cars on the bulk track. Plenty of room for the local to leave cars here so they don't have to take them north unnecessarily (hint, hint).

Next town north is Deep River with a car at the house track and three cars on the bulk track next to the feed store (schoolhouse stand-in)

And finally, at the north end of PDX-2's run is East Haddam/Goodspeeds where we have two cars for pickup from the house track and two cars left by the Valley Local on the exchange (center) track that need to be taken back to New London.

Moving north from East Haddam, we get to Middletown - the hub of operations for the CT River Valley. The Airline local turns here and the Valley Local does all the switching. Here we have two cars on the house track (with a photo mockup of the prototype freighthouse), a car at Meech & Stoddard (back left) and a car on the bulk track (center back). Two cars are being stored on the stub track (right foreground)

Continuing north, we come to Cromwell with three empties for pickup from the house track.

North of Cromwell is the Dividend section of Rocky Hill where Hartford Rayon is located. It's the largest single industry on the Valley Line and gets tank cars of chemicals (left front) as well as shipping out boxcars of product (back right).

The sleepy river town of Rocky Hill is busy with two cars on the bulk track (one still needing to be unloaded, IIRC) and a car at the freighthouse.

And finally we reach the north end of the Valley Line - and the first town on the Valley Local's route - at Wethersfield. Here we just have one car on the recently-extended bulk track south of the station. The Local will be delivering cars to Wethersfield Lumber (back right) and Ballentine's beer distributors (extreme back right) during the session.
So there you have it - a quick snapshot of the layout prior to its last shake-down operating session. If all goes well, I should be done with trackwork modification (finally!) and can start getting some more scenery into these scenes.

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