Maine Central, Lamoille Valley

Maine Central, Lamoille Valley
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Sunday, October 18, 2009

MER Hagerstown: Day 4

Sunday and time for a little more model and full size railroading before heading home. Checked our door prize tickets before leaving (I luckily picked up a couple of prizes). With time to spare before layouts opened up at 1pm, we headed south to Brunswick to see if any CSX trains were running. We did pretty well, getting 4 CSX trains and an Amtrak train in about 1 hours time. I shot video on these trains, but there were also 2 coal trains tied up, not running but hooked up to air. Perhaps these are staged coal trains to meet specific delivery requirements.

I programmed the GPS to hit 4 layouts in order on the way back east. This included an in-progress N scale layout by Steve King, plus a nicely completed Western Maryland layout (although oddly no trains were running) and a HUGE N&W layout. These were well worth the stops. After dropping off Anton, it was another 2 hours up I-95 and back home.

Another great NMRA convention weekend. As I always say, if you've never taken advantage of one of these conventions, you are really missing a great time. Try to get to the next one in your area. Next Fall should be a trip north to Burlington, Vermont for the NER convention. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

MER Hagerstown: Day 3

Up early, too early it seems with the rain making it very dark outside. But we need to get over to the convention hotel by 7:30 to leave for the EBT trip. This turned into a drive your self car pool trip, which as it turns out was better than a bus. As we headed north into Pennsylvania, the temperature continued to drop and soon the rain was snow. By the time we got to the EBT, there was 3 inches on the ground! First up was a ride on the standard gauge trolley line.

Then we headed back to the station and got some pics of the train before the 11am departure.

The train ride was very cold, with unheated cars. At least we were not in the open-air cars (some people were!). We headed out the picnic area and the wye. Originally we were to picnic here, but instead we ate in the car. But man, it was cold in there! We did get off to get some pictures of the train. Tough to get a good shot with all the people walking around, but I was real happy with this photo:
After the train got back it was into the car to get warm!! Had to run the car and sit there for about 10 minutes until it was safe to head back out. Next up was a tour of the shop buildings. Really interesting (and cold), looking into the machine shop that runs off of a central belt drive system, then over to the roundhouse to see all the locomotives, and finally into the paint booth building to see the rebuilding process on a combine. Lots of great info about how the railroad operated in the early 20th century and a chance to see some of the current behind the scenes activities of the tourist line.

With that, we were able to head back to the hotel. After some rest and dinner, we went back to the convention hotel to check out the after-banquet activities. The live auction was entertaining, although I did not find anything to bid on.

Friday, October 16, 2009

MER Hagerstown: Day 2

Friday and we have some time to figure out what to do. First up we catch a clinic on layout design by Lance Mindhiem. Well done and plenty of good points made. Wanting to get some railfanning in and seeing a break in the rain, we decided to head down to Harpers Ferry WV to catch some CSX action. This is neat place of course with tunnels and bridges, a double track mainline plus a restored station that gave us some shelter while we waited on the trains.

We did catch a train, a westbound empty autorack powered by one diesel, but that was it in the 2.5 hours we were there. This seemed very unusual for a weekday; perhaps the weather was playing a factor. I only got video of the train, so I'll include a shot of where the train was, showing the bridge and the tunnel looking eastward from the station.

With not much train action we decided to head back to the hotel to get ready for the night's op session. We drove to Blue Ridge Summit early in order to visit the nearby hobby shop, and then after catching some dinner went to Brian Wolfe's really nice Western Maryland layout. Although the layout is still in progress, there are plenty of finished scenes, and everything operated very well. I signed up for the York switcher job, which was a great little op session of its own. After the morning train departed I had all session to switch local industries, work the interchange, make up the next day's outbound train and then make up a local to head out on the line to switch some on-line customers. Lots of fun! Anton had his hands full working the Hagerstown yard. Here are some pics from the session:

This is yard at York, where I worked for the session.

This is some of the local industries outside York where I delivered cars. As you can see, very nice modeling. Very enjoyable to operate this area.

Here is the Hagerstown yard where there was lots of activity. This was in the next room over, with the track on the shelf to the left connecting the 2 rooms. Anton (center) has his hands full, not only with the yard work, but also battling his fellow yard operator to keep things running smooth. One night I was glad NOT to get the main yard job!

The session ended around 11:30 and we headed back to the hotel to try to get some sleep before the early wake Saturday morning for the EBT trip.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

MER Hagerstown: Day 1

In Hagerstown for the Mid Eastern Region NMRA convention, the Western Maryland Transfer. I headed south on Thursday to meet up with my modeling buddy Anton. As he lives minutes away from the MB Klein hobby shop, I was obliged to stop in and find something I needed! After finally getting a chance to see Anton's layout in person (CP Rail/CN present day theme), we headed west into the mountains. Rain fell the whole time I drove south and continued as we drove west, something that would repeat all weekend as it turns out.

We arrived at the convention hotel with just enough time to register before heading out to an operating session that night. We saw plenty of NJ Division people in the hotel lobby, and also had familiar faces join us on the operating session. We drove out to Mike Shockey's Great Northern themed layout. This was a fairly large layout with most track in place, but not too much scenery yet. We had a good time operating for a few hours. Even though we managed to run into trouble in the session right away, we did get through all the trains and had things running OK by the end of the night. A good first night, and thanks to Mike for hosting (a Capital's fan, but I won't hold that against him!) [Sorry, did not get any pics this first day to post]