By Jon Hinderer
Wednesday: 3 pm. Picked up rental SUV. Wow, look at all the room! Drove home, loaded three modules and their legs, tools, extra wire, track, suitcase, buildings and Hellgate bridge….running out of space here. Drat! Forgot the trains.
Thursday: 5:30 am. MapQuest says 540 miles and under nine hours; no problem! Ten hours later realized that MapQuest didn’t mention that over a hundred of those miles were construction zones and detours.
Thursday: 4:30 pm. Finally made the Altoona Convention Center. Pat Rolland, Bert Schuck, Kirk Lindvig, and Chris Bogus are already at work on the set-up and Kent Anderson is backing up to the loading dock with his modules.
Thursday: 5:30 pm. Kent pauses; truck unloaded, corner modules
Thursday 7 PM. Problems! Another reiteration of the module wiring curse, parts one and two, dealt with. Aligning track-work on the Horseshoe Curve handled by Chris and Kirk.
This thing is huge! Sixty by almost forty feet, and one loop is actually electrically functional at this point. Views from the Horseshoe Curve. In the first picture, left to right, Pat, Kirk, Chris, and Bert.
Thursday 7 PM. Adding the details: Hellgate Bridge, track activated accessories, figures and vehicles.
Thursday 9 PM. Bert has the New York City end completed with his vintage model of the Woolworth Building by Burplaspa contributing to the Edwardian-era look.
We’re running out of time, and the hall is
closing for the evening.
Kirk and Chris make some last minute repairs to the track work at the New York City end.
Friday 7 AM. The exhibition hall opens in three hours at 10 AM. Tom Bianculli joins us with a much-appreciated extra pair of hands. He and Chris clean track.
Electrical glitches sorted out, and track alignment issues corrected. More scenic details to add, but we’re finally ready to run trains!
Friday 10 AM. The audience is small but enthusiastic. For many, this is their first exposure to operating Standard Gauge trains, and the experience, especially on a layout this size, is dramatic. We made a quick decision on our part to forgo the fascia barrier in the interest of the audience experience.
Pat, as the maintenance crew along with Chris, keeps the operation well-oiled.
Friday 11 AM. This will be a long day of playing with trains. Rolling out really big stuff: the Blue Comet, and Hiawatha running around the large diameter curves make for an impressive sight. Limited production, “one-of's”, and kit-bashes join the fun.
Saturday 8 AM. The hall doesn’t open at the crack of dawn the next day; time for a little 1:1 scale railroading and prototypical detail at the former Pennsylvania yards. It’s not just in SG that turntable lengths fall a little short of what’s needed.
Sunday 10 Am. The show opens to the general public. For me, this is what the Standard Gauge Module Association is all about, introducing Standard Gauge to the general public. More than a hundred years since they were first introduced these big toys can still draw an enthusiastic crowd. Standard Gauge still works its timeless charm.
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