Friday, October 11, 2019

"OP"toberfest Day 2, Session 1 - John McBride

I'm running a bit behind in reporting all the cool layout visits I've been lucky enough to do so far this autumn - primarily because I've been busy doing other stuff (some fun, like working on the layout & other operating sessions, some not-so-fun like crazy day-job antics). So please excuse the increase in pace here - I just hope it doesn't detract at all from fully sharing the amazing layouts I've visited lately!

First up on Day 2 of "OP"toberfest - John McBride. . .

Pete and I had wangled our way into an invite to see John's layout after "OP"toberfest last year. We registered too late to operate on it, but heard so many great things about it we decided we had to at least see it. Well, John graciously agreed to have us visit - and after that visit, we decided right then and there that we'd have to register early for 2019 and have John's layout be at the top of our list.

The photos will make the reason clear...

The first two things you need to know about John's layout: 1) It's G scale, and 2) it's indoors. Oh, and it has an operating hump yard(?!)

Hump on the left. Bumpers equipped with actual springs located at the end of each yard track.

John's layout is based on a lumber and minerals hauler in upstate New York. There's some modeling license exercised to allow for a bit more traffic diversity, but the main point of the railroad is clear. Many of his buildings have full interiors, lighting, and sometimes even animation.

Another view of the Hump

In order to fit so much G-scale RR into a standard basement, some - um - innovation was required.

Watching the large scale Shay operating was a real treat. And there are turntables at each end of the line to turn the engines for return trips.

One of the coolest parts of operating John's layout - other than the sheer size of the equipment - was that you could actually do things that you can only simulate in the smaller scales. For example, I ran a mixed train and part of my instructions were to pick up mail and milk at a certain station. Well, I got to the station and paused to simulate loading (as I would on an HO layout), but John's helper said: "Are you gonna load the milk and mail?" Sure enough, there on the platform were sacks of mail and a few milk cans which you physically picked up and put into the combine.
I didn't dare check to see if there was any actual mail or milk....

The layout is actually on multiple levels, with two branchlines going up from the base level to service a lumber camp and a town with a saw mill.

Another thing you don't see in the smaller scales. This is what's necessary to rerail an engine that's gone off the track at the back of the layout. No access hatch needed.

I mentioned earlier the treat of seeing a large-scale Shay operating.... well, if a picture is worth a thousand words, what's a video worth? Enjoy!

If you ever get the chance to visit - or, even better, operate - on John McBride's layout, definitely do it! But beware - like me, you might just be tempted to sell off all your current RR stuff and change to G scale!

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