We Did It Again!

Written by Charles Bartel

Once more our club pushed the boundaries of performance at the Erie County Fair. And I believe that we did something this year that has never been done at any train show in Western New York, or for that matter, on the East Coast. We ran two trains on one track in opposite directions! Dave Downs even talked about this activity on the radio, telling people when we would be doing this. At one time, I saw Dave Downs and Gary Schneider running two trains, with Dave both being an engineer and the “tower” man, throwing the switches as appropriate. Rob Bonds and Gary Schneider did it again over the last weekend of operation, with myself being the tower man. I believe Dave did a better job than me in throwing the switches on the far side. I must admit that this was a tiring effort and I was glad when we went back to trains in the same direction! I know that some that were viewing the trains at this time were impressed. I overheard some great comments, and had a few directed to me.

There are a few people that were critical in making this happen. Our president, Gary, had the idea of doing this last year when we had a siding just to put trains on and then run them onto the track. He saw the potential to add a second siding on the other side and have this capability. The idea of two trains opposing each other on a single track scared me to death when he first mentioned it. The club has to take credit for having the foresight to order additional 10 foot radius switches when Astrocraft when out of business. We could not have done this without those “extra” switches. And then there was our track master who put the plan together to make it happen. Then there were those that jumped in and made those fabulous bridges over the Thomas portion of the layout. (Bob Rodgers and Gary Ludwig, take a bow.) Then there was the whole crew there on Wednesday and Thursday putting the track in place (I can’t remember. On Saturday there was the final piece put in place, wiring the layout. Thanks to Rob Bond, John and Sam Krakowski and Gary Schneider who had the patience to help me sort out the wiring, getting all the switch polarities right. Rob came back on Sunday to help and by Sunday afternoon, it was operational. 

There was one other person to thank, and that was my grandson Marshall (Colin’s brother) who just happened to stop by. He ended up doing some fine soldering on Gary’s signal bridges. When he was done, we were able to actually set the signals at each of the four switches which gave a red when the points were opposed and green when they were aligned. These added a bit of realism to the operation.

Of course, there is all the rest of this year’s layout, from a beautiful water effect, to the contest pieces (past and present), the midway and the race track. And Thomas being on the floor was fantastic. I saw at times young kids laying of the floor with the nose up close to the trains. There was an added bonus that Sam did not bring up initially. And that was the number of wheel chair bound people that were right up there with the kids to see Thomas. For the first time, they too could see it all. The plants that Gary brought combined with the trees club members purchased and the flowers from the Gardens made this an outstanding display.

I am extremely proud to be part of a group that is willing to “push” the envelope a bit. To go off and in two or three days make a race track with fencing to add realism to the display (thanks Dennis and Jack). And I brag to one and all about what we have accomplished.

I hope I left no one out in thanks. If I did, can I blame it on old man’s memory lapse?