Well, it turned out to be a blast! Dale Hasenzahl and Bob Cunningham arrived at the hall about 1:30 on Friday, and had the layout modules all unloaded by the time Dick Connors and I (Bill Clark) showed up at 2. There were some minor glitches getting power in the right place, but setup went great. Skip came by to help when he got out of work. Everything was up and running by about 5:30, when we all left.
Saturday the doors open at 8AM for dealer setup, although the show doesn't open until 11. Helen Lenart, Tommy Robichaud, Dick Connors, Bruce Russell, Bill Frazier and I were all ready to roll when they let us in.
We spent some time setting up rolling stock and building trains, plus talking with some of the dealers that we see at the various shows. There was also some time and effort devoted to getting Skip's video setup running. More on that later.
At 11 the doors opened, and people trickled in. We are at the far side of the hall, furthest away from the front door, so it always take time for people to make it to the layout after the show opens. But this weekend was in the 60's with sunshine, so the crowd was light all weekend.
Helen Lenart is operating a freight as it goes by the operating coal dump. Helen is really good about taking time to demo the coal dump, barrel loader, and stockyard when people come by. Notice she has a headset on. We've found that operating up to three trains on the same loop with DCC requires communication!
Tommy Robichaud demonstrating his operating crane car. Tommy spent several hours picking up some scrap beside the track and dropping it into a gondola. This crane was a real crowd pleaser!
Most of the day we had a couple of passenger trains on the inner loop, one with a video camera in it, and two freights on the outer loop. Bruce Russell ran a couple of trains for quite a while, before being relieved by Bill Frazier. Bill brought three Lehigh Valley switches and ran them consisted pulling a long freight for several hours in the afternoon. Helen, Dick, Tommy and I filled in the rest of the time.
Dick Connors was there from start to finish. Along with setup Friday and teardown Sunday, he spent several hours operating both Saturday and Sunday. He also allowed me to put a decoder in his brand new SW1 and run it most of Saturday, plus we put another decoder in his B&M doodlebug and ran that most of Sunday. Finally, it was his B&M FP7 which pushed the dummy loco with the camera in it both days. He was involved!
Sunday Ron Mistretta came in for some operating, and was immediately assigned to the AMTRAK passenger train. Ron ran for a long time, and did a great job.
Dale Hasenzahl brought the trailer with the layout on Friday and was a major part of setup, then was back early Sunday afternoon to take a long shift operating. He took over from Ron and ran the AMTRAK most of the rest of the day.
OK, I need to tell you about the video. At our show in Topsfield, Skip met a guy who sells a video camera/transmitter.receiver setup which allows you to transmit live video from a car or locomotive to a TV monitor or VCR. Skip spent many hours last week getting a unit installed into an old AF PA loco which he had in stock. There is a long, sad story involved in our attempting to get this operating under its own power using DCC, but I won't bore you with it. In the end, Skip installed the body with the camera, transmitter, and battery pack onto a dummy chassis, and we ran it all day both days.
Here's Skip changing the batteries. The video camera, transmitter and battery pack all fitinto a PA locomotive shell. The shell is then placed on (in this case) an unpowered chassis which is pushed around the layout at the head of a passenger train.
These two pictures show the setup of the monitor. The first used a flash so is sharp but the backgound is dark, the second is light but I moved the camera! Anyway, you get the idea. People would stand here and wave at the camera as it came down the straight. It was especially impressive when we sent it through Brasor Station or when it would meet Tommy's double-headed Pacific belching smoke on a curve! The bottom line is it was a big success! Skip will be proposing at the next meeting that the club buy the camera for club use at shows and at Dale's. I expect he'll bring the camera to the meeting to demonstrate on Bob's layout.
Notice how sneaky Skip looks? He's outside the layout, hiding behind a post, while his train is chasing the poor little doodlebug around the track! Those wireless throttles can be trouble! At this point we had three trains going on the inner loop. Dale had the AMTRAK, which would go through Brasor on the mainline. I had the Doodlebug, Skip the video train. Our trains would go through Brasor on the passing track. It was really a lot of fun!
All-in-all it was a great time!
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