The HO layout crew loves to watch museum visitors when they enter the exhibit hall and see the G&TRR for the first time. We observe their interaction and watch when they operate the train and take in the scenery. We enjoy the many compliments but also notice their confusion when the train disappears behind the mountain, makes a short run past the steel mill, then disappears again while it slowly crawls up the helix to the second level.
The past month has been mostly focused on developing solutions to enhance the overall viewing experience. Adding more cars to the train was a simple and effective solution as Gary L. put in the hours tuning and testing rolling stock and engines. Ken G. completed a beautiful covered bridge and mine office building. Bert C. added lights to Fulton Cotton Mill buildings and parking lots. Dave K. made progress on multiple train operation.
We are very close to unveiling what promises to be our signature viewing experience. The engine facility was super detailed by Gary and Ken G. Bert added his lighting magic and Dave adjusted the turntable tracks — all this in preparation for Leland F.’s computer-controlled engine facility choreography, demonstrated this month for the first time after months of development.
After the main line train disappears into the lower tunnel portal, guests suddenly hear rough voices of grizzly hostlers calling for an engine to make its way to the shop for repair. A steam engine whistles and chugs as it slowly crawls onto the turntable and the bridge groans as the engine rotates into position for backing into the shop. Once there, voices shout over a loud welding torch as sparks fly and repairs are completed. The second leg of the journey has Ken Birmingham’s donated Southern 2-6-0 Mogul traversing the turntable and stopping for coal and water before returning to the bridge for one last spin before returning to the storage track.
Leland is an engineer (the electrical kind, not the locomotive kind) and computer expert and is using his experience to break new ground in model railroad automation. This is the first of several scenes planned for the railroad. Stay tuned for more action at the mine and steel mill.