President’s Corner – July 2013
Written by Charles Bartel
It’s the end of July and the summer is half over! A lot to do in the wonderful days of June, July, and August. For the Wester New York Garden Railroad Society member there are open houses to visit, train trips to be taken, layouts to be maintained, and the County Fair to get ready for. Let’s look at open houses and what they offer to the Garden Railroader. We all have dreams of that perfect layout in the backyard (one of the magazines refer to this form of modeling railroading as an armchair modeler). A passenger train rushing to its desRnaRon, passing a freight train on the siding, waiRng it’s turn on the mainline. A water feature with maybe a working water wheel and a bridge spanning the main water pond. Or maybe you are dreaming of an industrial layout with lots of switching, large industrial buildings, trucks and people scurrying around. And in your mind, it all looks and works great. A cool drink, some friends over and an aTernoon of train running is a nice summer pasRme. So where are the draw backs, the piUalls?
VisiRng open houses and talking to the owner/operator of each layout is your portal into the design, construcRon and maintenance of a backyard layout. How did they lay the track and how does it look? What were the problems they encounter during this phase of construcRon and how did they solve them? Are they running baZery power trains, DCC trains, or analog and block control? Why did they choose their system? What kind of couplers are they using, hook and loop or knuckle? What kind
of shrubs and flowers are
did they plant? How many hours of maintenance do they put in each month? How do they prepare these layouts for winter? These are all quesRons that best answered by someone who has built and is maintaining an operaRng layout. The open houses gives you that opportunity to ask these quesRons. This month, the WNYGRS was privileged to have two members have an open house, not only to our members but which were also open to the public. These were the layouts of Gary & Nancy Tebo and Bill and Maryann Robins. Gary and Nancy Tebo recently moved into their
landscaped, populated with house, people and vehicles. Gary runs analog trains and has two loops and a trolley line. Plenty of acRon for a visitor to watch and enjoy.
Their layout is about two years old, and as you can see in the pictures above, very well
The second open house also had two loops and a trolley line. This layout is a liZle older than Gary and Nancy’s as can be seen by the taller trees in the layout. This layout uses the DCS control system by MTH, a form of control that allows the engineer to walk around the layout while running the trains, controller such funcRons as lights, bells and whistles as well as speed and direcRon. Again, a detailed layout with a variety of buildings, people and cars that brings the layout to life. And an
example that cars, people and buildings can come from varied scales. Some are 027 which due to their locaRon on the layout, are a perfect fit to the percepRon of the visitor. And if your trains are compaRble with the local control systems, most owners will allow club members to run your trains on their layouts during the open house. A win-‐win situaRon if you do not have a layout yet but have collected trains!
For club members, there is the added benefit of socializing outside of the meeRng environment. In this case, we had a club picnic at the end of the second open house followed by a club meeRng.
Taking these lesson learned in mind, summer is the Rme to start that layout, and that means lots of hard work and friends to help. Taking my own advice, I visited not only club members layouts, but those in
other parts of the country and asked lots of quesRons, watched the operaRon of the layouts and drew up my plans. I negoRated land rights from the CEO of my family, my wife, and started to rearrange the backyard for a layout. Gary Schneider brought his new tractor and a friend with a dump truck over to the house. Three hours later we had 5 yards of dirt in the back yard, the grape vines roots dug up, and stepping stones removed. We were ready to grade! And then God thought we were too hot and needed to cool us down. And the rains came. So, the landscaping will take a bit longer, but in the meanRme, the layout plans can be refined and the
dreaming can conRnue.
I hope you get a chance to experience some
railroading this summer. Please review the schedule on the club web site for future open houses and join other Western New York Railroad fans in an
aTernoon of friendships and trains.
And don’t forget to visit us at the Erie County Fair starRng August 7 through August 18. We will be running at least four trains and a trolley. If you are not a member yet, please join us in September at our regular meeRng so that next year, you can be part of the fun at the fair.