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Layout Tours: Reno 2009

November 11, 2009

Reno Layout Tours 2009:


Happening Friday through Sunday this week around Reno/Sparks/Carson City in Nevada, the 2009 layout tours sponsored by High Sierra Hobbies, could not have had a better fall weekend.  Crisp weather in the 60’s, sun, and lots of model railroad fans out to see the layouts and have fun.


Living more than 100 miles from Reno, going to all 3 days was not in the cards.  However, a friend and I did drive up to Reno on Saturday to see layouts, and we managed to fit visits to 6 layouts in.  While I’ll cover each one in separate posts as I go through my photos, I thought I’d share with you one thing from each layout that I liked and intend to incorporate into my own layout.  You’ll remember, I’m just in the early stages of construction, so doing this kind of idea-borrowing is important now.


First was a visit to a massive layout under construction by Jim Price.  This massive layout will eventually depict the Southern Pacific from Oakland, CA to Reno, NV.  At the moment, the Oakland area is nearing completion.  Jim and his wife actually live ABOVE the layout.  (I tried, but my wife wouldn’t go for the same idea).  While Jim’s layout is massive, and early in construction, there was still something to learn here.  The picture is of a portable programming track, on top of a case.  There are plugs on one end to attach to a computer running decoder pro.  This setup allows Jim and his crew the ability to program any locomotive, anywhere, anytime, and not have to include a dedicated programming track.  On a small layout, or even on a layout like mine where locomotives will be all over, this idea is something I can see myself borrowing and using.
Portable Programming Track


Next, we visited the outdoor layout of Fred Twigge.  This G scale layout is complete and running.  It is a beautiful example of G scale garden railroading, and it is built to do what I feel G scale layouts do best… run.  A three times around design with only two turnouts on the whole layout, makes the need for turnout maintenance minimal.  What could an HO scaler learn from a G scaler?  I learned an important lesson in display of a layout.  You need to have your most reliable locomotive on the track, tested, running, and ready to roll before you open for tours.  While we visited, Fred had to troubleshoot a new locomotive that was going to break in that day.  While he got it running, it showed me again the need for reliable motive power.
Great Garden Layout


Now later in the day, more layouts were opening.  Our next stop was Kevin Caldwell’s N scale layout depicting Southern Pacific (and adjacent railroads) in 1984.  This bedroom sized N scale layout is quite well done.  In the middle stages of scenery construction, the code 55 track is beautifully installed.  I was impressed with long run that Kevin managed to get for his trains in a 10×10 bedroom.  The thing I’ll take away from this layout to use myself is the high standards set for the rolling stock.  Kevin has made incredible progress on his layout, and it is noticeable that no freight equipment hits the layout without being properly weathered to his standards.
SP on the SVRC


Before lunch, we stopped at Jim Petro’s for a visit to the D&RGW Joint Line.  I’ll have a detailed report on this beautiful layout another day, but Jim has done something that I found amazing with his turnout controls.  As you walk along the layout, the controls are all recessed into the facia of the layout.  This method of installation makes it possible for controls in tight spots to avoid being snagged on clothing of operators.  That is something I will be using on my own layout.
Recessed Turnout Control


After lunch, we visited Charley Lix and his atic-located harbor terminal.  Showing that you can build a railroad in just about any space you have, Charley’s layout demonstrated to me that my plan to have the bottom deck of my 3 deck layout sit at about 30″ from the floor will work as operators sit in chairs.
Switching the harbor


The last visit of the day was to the layout built by three persons in the Kuczynski family.  This nicely sceniced 13×15 layout located in the garage was a great way to cap the day.  The scenery on this layout, done with plaster cloth over packing peanuts, is simply amazing.  It captures the look of the area around Tehachapi that they had hoped to capture.  My learning experience here was the recipe for the rolling hills.  Needing some of that myself, we’ll look at the technique later in a trial I’m planning to do for my own layout.
End of the train... and tour


Most of these layouts, and many of the ones I didn’t get to see, will be open for the NMRA Pacific Coast Region convention in Sparks for 2010.  I hope to make return visits and see the progress everyone has made!



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