id what I did last year at the NMRA Plant City convention, a clinic on MicroOps and how I put it together. Like last year, I put the layout up on a stand so everyone could see it, top down. Talked about it for 50 minutes. Since everyone wanted to see the tower work, I dropped the layout to a table and fired it up (happily, unlike last year, it didn’t suffer a cold solder joint). And then everyone wanted to try the interlocking tower. Great fun!
Of course, this time I asked if anyone wanted to run a session and nobody did – like last year, they all huddled back. I should have pushed but I didn’t.
But Ken Farnham did.
“Okay, we’ve still got hours on this room! Let’s have a session!”
Swallowing my dry mouth, I quickly got engines and cars on the track, then briefly explained the details of how this would work (though I’d covered it a bit in the talk so it wasn’t all new). Then, with Ken on the scheduled seat, Doug Bowman running coal extras, and Donovan Lewis running the tower, we got down to it.
The layout ran pretty well. The crews were pros – Donovan fought with the tower levers for a bit but eventually had them figured. Ken was working the switching smoothly like an old hand. And Doug proved to me that I need to dump the old system of running extras off a list and let them work off a Tally Sheet. But everyone had fun.
All during the session, convention-goers came and went, checking out the session and those wee-little trains. Actually, if there is anything I learned (outside of the coal job being made tougher) its that for something like this, I should have a signup sheet and rotate crews in and out (or just through other jobs). People had settled in fine and we were running, but we should have pulled more people in.
Oh, and since we had a late start, we only ran the railroad from midnight to six am. And since I still have the spotting list, I’m going to run the rest of the session out…
(Continues below the photos!)
Got the layout home and set it up in the train room (where else?) to run things. Reestablished the situation at 6am (without coal). Took a while to remember how to hook up the cheater box. Also, there were a number of items that got shaken loose in the car box (a tank car lost a side ladder and a boxcar a wheel – I found them in the lower rack with the coal stuff).
So the session ran pretty smooth without tower delays and coal involvement. Went into the westbound cycle, did Local 2, the eastbound cycle, then the Easton Turn. Lastly I ran the PeeDee home, picking up everything. Took about an hour. I need a better light source, that much is for sure.
Decided I’m going to get another session in next week – ran off another situation sheet with two more cars added (they start at the team track in the inner industrial). It kinda takes me back to my younger days and my solo ops. After a bunch of huge sessions, it’s nice to run mano a loco. Just an engineer and his sidekick, an SW-7, working the industries around Tuscarora.
Glad that our session at the convention was such a successful event.