Thursday, May 7, 2020

Throwback Thursday - Railfanning the Air Line Local

I've noticed something about layout owners, especially those that host regular ops sessions. . . They seldom operate their own layouts. And I'm no exception. Between setting up sessions, and maintenance between sessions, and wanting to make more progress to have something "new" to show at the next session, I can count on the fingers of one hand how often I've truly operated my own layout.

But once way back last February 2019(!), I'd set up for my normal full session (4 local freights, 2 mainline crews, agent/operator), but ended up short-handed. So I annulled the Air Line local for the session.

Bonus for me: All the paperwork was already done, and the train was staged and ready to go. Fortunately, my car forwarding system doesn't require that all the work be done during a session. But I took advantage of the opportunity to make a small pot of coffee, put on some period-correct big band music, and ran the local.

Follow along as we catch up to it in the town of Somerset . . .

By the time I shot the first photo of the local, it had already completed its work in Somerset and was pumping up the air in preparation for its trip northeast to Mill Hollow and, eventually, Middletown for interchange with the Valley Local. Here you can also see the ops paperwork laid out on top of the west end staging box.

Climbing up on top of the hill above Somerset, we get a better view of the over all scene. The setouts have been done and the pickups destined for Cedar Hill Yard (where our train originated) are set out on the siding for pickup on the return trip home.

The local has just arrived in Mill Hollow and has stopped short of the grade crossing so as not to foul it for longer than the 15 minutes allowed by the Rules.

The crew has to go up to the station to find out what work it needs to do in town - which is indicated on the switchlist left in the bill box. DERS-2b #0510 was just recently delivered to the railroad and hasn't even had a chance to get dirtied up.

Air Line local arriving in Middletown. This is where it exchanges cars with the Valley Local, which is seen here switching Middletown yard. The 0510 will head south on the Valley Main, then back north into the yard to drop off/pick up.

After all the switching is done in Middletown, and the hack is on the south end of the cut of cars, the local backs south out of the yard, past the tower and across the diamond.

Once south of the switch, the local can proceed northwest around the quadrant track to head back to Cedar Hill yard in New Haven.

Return trip coming south (railroad west) into Mill Hollow.

No work here on the way back, so continuing south/west.

Back in Somerset, we have to pick up the empties we set out this morning. Note that the rest of the train was dropped short of the grade crossing to avoid blocking it.

Once the train is back together, time to pump up the air and get ready to go.

Just departing Somerset - next stop, Cedar Hill yard, home, and dinner.
Hope you enjoyed railfanning on the Air Line a bit. Now, admittedly, the photography isn't great, so let's just say that I've set the bar low here and plan to improve (especially now that I have a fancy new photo gadget). Heh - I can only get better from here!

Also, the Air Line local traverses two 2x8' sections of railroad that host structures from a dear friend and represent my first-ever attempts at scenery. So, while "finished," the Air Line is neither prototypical nor up to the standards that I'm setting for the rest of the layout.

But boy is it a hoot to operate! Just goes to prove that even poor scenery is better than no scenery at all. There's just nothing like the immersive experience that even a rudimentary setting can create. And this area of the layout also proves that you don't need complicated trackwork to operate prototypically and have a blast while doing it.

I hope you've enjoyed a day on the Air Line local, no matter the shortcomings or how tardy. And that you'll look forward to chasing another local on the Valley Line sometime soon!

(For more on "Somerset" and "Mill Hollow" click here and here.)

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