Monday, December 5, 2011

Garden State Road Trip

Naturally I had to kick off the trip report with some CV RS-11s!

St Johnsbury, Vt., on Mike McNamara's HO railroad. 
Just back from an enjoyable weekend tour through the New Jersey countryside with Bernie Kempinski.  We started out early Saturday morning, heading north towards the Garden State. After paying homage to the governors of both Maryland and Delaware (it takes about 15 minutes and $9 to get through Delaware – Maryland is almost as expensive but at least you’re in the state longer) we arrived at Mike McNamara’s “Northeast Kingdom” HO layout.  Mike models the railroads in an around St. Johnsbury, Vt., in 1980.  Lots of colorful engines and freight cars.  Mike was a great host and we had a good time looking at his layout, taking some pictures, and shooting some videos of trains in action. 

After lunch – at a local pizza joint, where surprisingly no one was named “Tony” (for the record, we did ask . . .) we headed north.  Lola, the GPS in my wife’s Honda Accord, decided to take us on a circular tour through downtown Princeton – but at least we saw a horse in the middle of the road. 

When we arrived in Newton we checked into the hotel and Tony Koester picked us up and took us on a tour through the northern New Jersey countryside.  Tony pointed out all the old railroad archaeological artifacts and abandoned right-of-way.  It was very interesting, but difficult to see in the dark. 

From L to R: Bernie, Perry Squier, and Tony Koester. 
The St. Mary's Penn., scene on Perry's P&S is a great example
of prototype modeling. 
We stopped first at Perry Squier’s house.  After meeting “Richie” – a rather large (and hungry) horse, we went to the basement to look at Perry’s Pittsburg & Shawmut.  Set in 1923 this is a very nicely done coal-hauling railroad in the mountains of Pennsylvania.  I especially liked Perry’s signature scene of St. Mary’s Penn.  I also think Perry has done a wonderful job modeling what many consider the “Golden Age” of railroading – the era just before the “super power steam” of the early 1920s. 

I really liked how Perry's layout fit the space. 
From Perry’s we headed to Ted Pamprin’s Chesapeake & Ohio.  Set deep in the New River Gorge in West Virginia I especially wanted to see for myself how Ted’s leafless trees look in person when covering a large mountainside.  I’m happy to report they look just fine. Ted had some great tips on landform modeling, including using leveling sand, secured with this thin adhesive, for basic ground cover.  Neat layout – his Thurmond, W.V. scene is right on – and looks great. 

Ted Pamprin's HO Chesapeake & Ohio New River Sub. 
Ted's Supertree-filled mountainsides look great!
A look at Thurmond, W. Va. 
After a very nice dinner (although the wait was so long Bernie was able to do an impromptu version of his USMRR clinic on his iPad while we waited in the bar!) we headed over to Tony’s for an tour/indoctrination on his Nickel Plate.  This is a BIG layout – having edited the article on the track plan back in my MR days this was the first time I’d seen the layout basically in place (I visited Tony a few years ago before he had finished most of the basic infrastructure.  The NKP Clover Leaf is a big project – very impressive. I’d classify it as “industrial strength” model railroading – everything  – locomotives, throttles, freight cars, wheelsets, etc . . . has to be done in bulk.  It’s really quite a project, and I admire Tony for his dedication to bring his favorite railroad to life in his basement, and appreciate the chance to operate on it - I had a great time.   

Go faster, Bernie, this is supposed to
be a "Fast Freight" route!
Frankfort Yard on Tony's NKP.
Yes, this yard is 60 feet long!

While we completely enjoyed the operating session, I, for one, left secure in the knowledge that style of layout was just not right – for me, anyway.  Seeing Mike’s, Perry’s, and Ted’s layouts confirmed, to me at least, that I really prefer the single deck layout arranged with a “panoramic” view over the multi-deck, long mainline at the expense of all else approach.  I felt completely vindicated in my decision to remove the upper deck from my own railroad.  I’m also continually tempted by an earlier era than I presently model – then I realize how much inventory I have on hand and think I should stick with the 1940s/50s era. 

Overall, a great trip that left us motivated to work on our own railroads. Now that I have a few weeks at home, the weather is cold outside, the days are short, and it’s time to get something done on the Central Vermont! 

1 comment:

Mike McNamara said...

Looks like the rest of your trip went well. I am glad I was able to help kick off your weekend with a visit to my layout!