Construction of the new Potomac & Patuxent Railroad continues. The ceiling has been covered to reduce dust and dirt. The walls have been framed and covered with painted backdrop. The basic bench work is in place around the room. There is lighting for the layout and the train room. The staging tracks in the boiler room are in place and sub-roadbed has been installed along the east wall, the area that will be Shepherd Junction. Some Homabed roadbed has been installed in this area also. I now have a large work table located under the peninsula that will be the wharf at Port Shepherd. Along the way, nearly every car in my fleet has been upgraded to steel wheel sets and Kadee #805 couplers. (Anyone interested in a good deal on Athearn or Weaver plastic wheel sets or Old Pullman couplers?) The track plan continued to evolve throughout the year as I made minor adjustments (see http://www.geocities.com/oscaledc/images/trkpln03.gif) in the placement of industrial tracks. Even though the O Scale national convention in the Washington DC area is still 18 months away (or “is only 18 months away”), I am beginning to worry about being sufficiently “done” by next summer.
Last May, I had the opportunity to go “O scaling” with Art Selby and Bob Johnson in southern Ontario. Our first stop after crossing the border was Niagara Hobbies in St. Catherines where we rendezvoused with Don Eastman and Ed Haydon, both NMRA Master Model Railroaders. Don, of Blenheim, and Ed, of Chatham, were our guides and traveling companions during the trip. Over a three day period, we visited the Aberfoyle Junction railroad; operated on Ivor Walsh’s traction layout; ran trains on the Model Railroad Club of Toronto; operated on the London Model Railroad Group layout; and toured Don’s much publicized C&O Cabin Creek branch. We also made time for rail-fanning the Canadian National and VIA at Bayview Junction outside Hamilton and exploring the Elgin County Railway Museum on steam excursion day. All this was accomplished in four days including driving there and back. For a complete report with many photographs, see http://www.geocities.com/oscaledc/ocanada.html.
In June, I attended the National O Scale Convention in Rosemont, IL, outside Chicago. The highlight, for me, was participating in an operating session on the Fox Valley model railroad located in the basement of Ted Schnepf’s house. I got to use NCE digital command control (DCC) to work an industrial switcher job. I was able to rail fan a couple other home layouts, attend many informational clinics, plus participate in the annual meeting of the O Scale Kings organization. Purchases were minimal since we were flying. Chris went with me and visited with her sister, with whom we stayed, while I did convention activities.
While in southern California last spring, we had an opportunity to ride a Metrolink commuter train between Covina and Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal (LAUPT). This is a beautiful station featuring exquisite work wood throughout the public areas.
We joined my parents for a ride on an Algoma Central Railway Fall Foliage special out of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, in late September. Because of the summer drought, the trees were not as colorful as we expected, but we had a pleasant ride up to Agawa Canyon. We also enjoyed watching ships pass through the Soo locks and exploring the Sault Ste. Marie, MI. We found a spectacular vertical lift bridge that carries rail traffic over the locks.
My round-robin operating group continues to meet weekly, although with three of us rebuilding and one of us about to become a new father, the number of available operating railroads is down to two. We’re about to convert one of those operating railroads to Digitrax DCC. This will be the group’s fourth Digitrax railroad.
I continue my once a month volunteering in the library and archives of the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore. I also help out with special events like “A Day Out with Thomas (the Tank Engine)” or All Aboard Days. I’ll be out of the country, but some of you may want to make plans to attend the Fair of the Iron Horse at the museum June 28 to July 3. This is the culmination of the 16 month celebration of the 175th anniversary of the founding of the B&O. Locomotives are coming to Baltimore from all over America to participate in this colorful event. For more information, see http://foih.borail.com/.
My hobby focus in 2003 will be on extending the railroad from Shepherd Junction to Port Shepherd. I may be forced to work through the summer although it can get fairly warm in our basement. (The basement is substantially above grade on the north and west sides.) We are planning to be in England and Scotland for two weeks this summer also. Since we will be on an organized tour, I am not sure how much English rail fanning I will get to do. The England trip is why I will miss the Fair of the Iron Horse as well as the National O Scale Convention in Dallas and the NMRA convention in Toronto. I should be able to attend the Fall Mid Eastern Region convention since it will be held nearby in northern Virginia.