Monday, October 7, 2019

"OP"toberfest Day 1 - Bill Duffe's LKJ&W Railroad

Although odd-numbered years mean that I can't attend one of my main RR events of the year - NERPM - I've certainly been making up for that this year. Literally every other weekend, starting with the first weekend of September, I've been able to attend something major - from the Annual NHRHTA Reunion, to the MARPM, and now just this past weekend, "OP"toberfest.

My friend PeteL and I first attended this 3-day event last year and vowed to try and make it a new annual thing. Layout owners from all around the Albany, NY area - all the way up to Saratoga Springs - open up their homes and host operating sessions for visitors. Demand is high and it's by invitation only, but if you're lucky enough to get on the list and get into a few slots, you're guaranteed a fun-filled weekend of railroad simulation.

Our weekend this year started Friday night with an ops session hosted by Bill Duffe. His layout is 100% scenicked and is jam packed with craftsman structure kits and many details. Think Dick Elwell's Hoosac Valley, but on a smaller footprint. It runs from staging yards between Boston &Mechanicville and towns in between. And while the mainline does go back and forth past itself a few times, you still get the sense of traveling from one town to another, doing work along the way. The operation itself is fairly laid-back, controlled by a full signal system, phones, and switchlists. There's no fast clock, but the trains run in a set sequence. All in all, it made for a wonderful and engaging evening of working the railroad. Here are some pics from the session:

This handy-dandy trackplan was conveniently posted right outside the layout room. VERY helpful for orientation. Be sure to click on the image to zoom in.

One of the many craftsman structures on the railroad. And even though his backdrop is painted, it looks very effective and "autumny"

Scratchbuilt stone crusher.
Super detail on the crusher

The layout is a real feast for the eyes - everywhere you look, there are photogenic buildings and scenes.

His town of North Adams was especially impressive & loaded with tons of detail.

North Adams from trackside.

A drone shot view showing how some of the mainlines come back on themselves, but the scenery here is still very effective. And when you're operating you're not as aware that the towns are so close together.

Bill's representation of North Bennington, with Rutland staging off to the right.

East Deerfield yard, looking east.

Overall view looking from Greenfield with Troy in the left distance.

One of the industries in Eagle Bridge.

Pete having a good time as our local makes its way down the grade from Greenfield to Charlemont.

The massive station and surrounding area at Troy.

Our local heading back to East Deerfield via Greenfield.
With its many trains - and SO many things to look at while you were waiting at signals - Bill's session was the perfect way to kick off "OP"toberfest 2019. It helped that the layout was only an hour north of Hartford - one of the far east outliers for the weekend, but conveniently on our way. Unfortunately, we still had a 2 hr drive to our hotel after the session. We wanted to be sure to be well rested in time to be able to make it to John McBride's layout the following morning - a railroad we'd barely seen last year, but vowed on the spot to make a priority this year.

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