Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Perils of Multiple Operating Sessions

Is it naptime yet?

I am booked for three model railroad events this weekend as part of the X2011 convention. I held an operating session on Friday night, had an open house at 8am this morning, and have another gang coming over at 9:30 am tomorrow for a last operating session. Once that's done, I'm heading up to Sacramento to see the actual convention. I think I'll probably get to sleep in... oh, maybe around the 10th or so.

Operating sessions and open houses take a fair amount of effort, both making sure the model railroad is running well, getting the garage cleaned up, and getting the actual trains set up for the op session. For a garage layout, cleanup's not a trivial task because of vacuuming, sweeping, removing the debris that's moved into the garage since the last showing, cobweb patrol, etc.

For a normal operating sesssion on an evening or weekend, that's bearable; like any one-time event, all the prep is in the beginning; as long as I survive the operating session, I'm fine - the event's over, the audience is happy, and I can have a beer.

With multi-day events, that's no longer true. Suddenly there's the work of straightening and cleaning up, testing that everything still runs, and repairing any problems that turn up. Friday night - Saturday morning wasn't so bad because the need for sleep won out over everything else, but after hosting the conventioneers and the local gang of four-year-olds -- who switched boxcars very well, thank you, and all showed they could memorize the whistle sequence for grade crossings -- the crazy cleanup started.

Luckily, most of the railroad is doing fine, but one of the last things I did tonight - cleaning locomotive wheels - showed that one of my reliable engines, a Bachman 2-8-0, was having some problems moving. Uh-oh - are the backup diesels working?

"In today's performance, the role of the steam locomotive SP 3444 will be played by the slightly balky SD-7 SP 5317."

It didn't help that one of my backup steam locomotives just plain refused to move on Friday morning. The sound was fine, no motor. I'm getting a minor worry I've been cursed, and I'm running through options in case anything else fails.

So once the track was clean and the trains were set up, I dashed back into the house, and opened up the locomotive. Quick disassembly showed that the main gear on the driver has a nice half-moon cut into the top of the gear on one side, which is really annoying considering that *this* mechanism is the one I installed in January after the finicky and easily-pinched wires for the original locomotive finally went bad. I really didn't need a gear to get destroyed after two op sessions.

Luckily, the gear from the original mechanism is still working, so I swap out wheels between the old and new mechanisms, and the locomotive seems to be working ok. Fingers crossed that it survives the operating session unscathed!

[Photo: Friday night's operating session.]

1 comment:

  1. Hi Robert,

    Thank you for an excellent operating session on Sunday! You did a great job preparing us for a wonderful time switching Santa Clara in the 1930's. Hope to run in to you at the convention.