Dick Kafka’s Colorado
Midland April 27, 2019
Photos and article by Bill Mosteller
Nick Kalis, our layout tour coordinator, likes to say that hosting an
open house is an excellent vehicle for getting your layout shaped up,
and our host today, Dick Kafka, agrees completely. Much of what we saw
today is recent, but exquisite work on his part. The Colorado Midland
stretched hundreds of miles from Colorado Springs to Grand Junction,
most of the width of Colorado. Dick's layout focuses on Basalt, roughly
at the midpoint of the line, with double-ended staging tracks beneath
serving to simulate the un-modeled parts of the railroad.
Basalt hosts scratchbuilt structures that produce traffic for the
railroad, including a hotel, a station, an engine maintenance facility,
an ice house, and a turntable. The railroad was built for the purpose of
hauling coal, and the centerpiece of the Basalt trackage is a coal
trestle. Prototypically, the slope of the track is steep, suggesting
only a few cars were moved up at a time. Dick says that at the time he's
modeling, hoppers were unloaded by men with shovels, forget rotary
dumpers or even doors on the bottom of the hoppers. Basalt was a farming
community on the western side of the continental divide, so reefers
loaded with produce would be iced, and stock cars would be used to move
cattle between winter and summer pastures, or to market. A yard provides
space for these cars.
The hand laid track in Basalt, on wooden ties with spikes on every
second tie, immediately caught my eye. After seeing this excellent
engineering, I wasn't surprised to see a certificate on the wall
indicating that Dick is an IEEE Fellow, retired from PEPCO. The staging
track beneath has LEDs to illuminate the track, greatly improving
visibility in that area. (The lighting reminded me of subway tracks in
my native Boston.) The layout design was reviewed by John Armstrong
prior to construction and he recommended the turnouts be placed along
the front edge of the hidden track area. While this change makes the
staging look a little less like a real railroad yard, and shortens some
of the tracks more, it also means that maintenance and problem solving
on the yard will be possible. Excellent idea!
Future plans include construction of the Aspen Branch, which at present
is represented by a section of track leading off into the air. When this
is completed, it will be possible to exchange freight between
non-staging parts of the railroad. Operating sessions are already being
held, and the extension will enhance them.
Last modified: November 09 2019 13:13:30.