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.
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
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!
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.