A few pix from the 2004 Great Basin Getaway
September 16-18, 2004 - by Mike O'Brien
Here's the famous "Mole" at Lee's UCW. Two men run it. Run-thru trains stay on a staging treack, but all other cars get put on shelves, along with their carcards and waybills. Trains with switching are assembled from the shelves. Access to this room is only by crawling under the layout. Carcards and sent to and from the other end of the layout with a clever downhill trolley system. Tracks from here feed onto each end of the modeled RR mainline division at major yards. Robin Becker in the back is from Orange County, CA while John Dulaney in the front is Lee's visiting main mole from Portland, OR.
Lee's UCW has the museum diorama look. Valance above and fascia below are black. Aisle is unlit. Layout lighting is fluorescent bulb-lamps spaced every couple of feet. Hot spots in lighting are not objectionable in real life, tho visible in photos.
Barely visible in the darkness below the scene are the carcard box with 2 compartments, and to its left are two clips on hooks one of which has a red card which holds "PM Setouts." The empty clip would have held AM Setouts, which have already been made. This is an interesting fillip to the carcard system that Lee has developed, in which the person staging the layout between sessions determines which cars get spotted by the AM or PM crew. Tom Turner was impressed by this idea and will implement it on Gary Siegel's L&N in Santa Barbara.
Jim Senese is demonstrating uncoupling posture, reaching to the back of the layout with a pick. Jim's KC Bottoms layout near Tulsa, OK is hugely influential in the hobby. Both Chuck Hitchcock and David Barrow have implemented switching layouts influenced by Jim's ideas.
Lee's UCW is beautiful, even tho it is mostly just a long shelf layout. At this station a branch line joins the CTC controlled main line. You can see the switch this side of the station. This switch has either dispatcher control or local control. When the dispatcher, on the telephone, gives you local control, you insert the key hanging on the hook in the lock to activate your turnout control levers. This is all located on the fascia just below the switch -- you can see the white sign there, with the levers and key below it.
The usual carcard boxes are seen at the bottom of the fascia. Also, note the carcards barely visible on the valance above the layout scene -- there are 3 of them set into a plastic strip provided for temporarily organizing your carcards so you don't have to set them out on a little table or, god forbid, on the layout scenery.
Here's a bald guy from Pasadena sticking his head into Ted York's Cajon Pass layout. They tell me his name is Mike O'Brien. I see him in the mirror every morning.
This is the Sullivan's Curve scene, with the famous big rocks between the track and aisle. Ted's scenery is of course absolutely wonderful. This layout is on the cover of the 2005 Great Model Railroads. Note the use of fluorescent tubes in the usual way, just like Gary Siegel's L&N. You can see the great contrast between the black fascia and valance and the well-lit layout scene. This area is a big blob. No, I'm not criticizing it, that is what a turnback loop at the end of a layout peninsula is called. This is mostly a shelf layout, but at this blob it gets big and deep for a grand scenic highlight in Cajon Pass.
Here's Robin, the guy we saw in the Mole at Lee's. He's been let out on the mainline at Gary Peterson's SLS. He's at a choke point in the aisles where it gets too narrow to pass, which is probably why he's looking at me that way, I hope. No, Robin, you don't have to get out of my way, I'm just taking your picture.
Note the color of the fascia, a nondescript color which is good for being visually unobtrusive. Note the multiple decks, with the upper deck recessed at the busy station area below. A 3rd deck is below, visible thru rectangular openings cut in the fascia -- this is actually a multiple track staging area. A 4th deck is coming out of the unscenicked tunnel mouth at the far right of the photo, just below the main lower deck. A 5th level is the blue loco on the girder bridge up near the ceiling. Finally, note the smallish valance visible above Robin, which hides fluorescent lamps. The lower deck here has supplemental lighting from rope lights which are sagging into view in front of Robin and only cast a little red glow onto the backdrop.
With 5 levels of mainline here, and no room for ops to pass, there is a lot of congestion. All the ops kind of mill around in the wide areas of the aisles watching their signals. The signals are pointed towards the operators where necessary, instead of down the track.
As an extra event, we visited the layout in progress of Jon Robinson in SLC. He lives in an old church building which is huge. You can see how big his layout room is. There is another wing as big as this one, plus full basements under everything. This layout is planned to be two stories high, so is built like a two story house in the middle of the room. The 2nd story is not built yet. This corner has the helix. It is O scale. Jon may switch to HO for a longer run, he says. You can never have enough, right?
We had a catered buffet dinner from P.F. Changs, which was excellent. All 45 of us fit in one corner of his living room, in the other wing of the building. Where can I find an old church???
Tom Turner and I railfanned Cajon Pass on the way home. I-15 runs thru here and also thru Salt Lake City. It was especially interesting to be here, after being at Ted York's model of the same place. The scale is different. Really. Not just HO versus full size, but the real place seems vast, with mountains thousands of feet high, while the model has mountains hundreds of feet high. Hey, but what can you do in a basement?
Below is my traveling companion Tom Turner's brief report
Well, of our membership [Gary Siegel's L&N crew], Mike O'Brien, Bruce
Morden and Greg Drummond attended. Andy Sperandeo, Doug Geiger, John Zach,
Steve Hayes and about 40 others were there as well. Lee Nicholas, who
is a member of this list, was our host and creator of the event. We had
great times all three days running the layouts that I discussed before.