Sunday, November 04, 2018

Walter Gretzky Visits Mike's Model Railroad


What a thrill it was for me to host Walter Gretzky to my model railroad about a year ago now.


Along with Walter came, from left to right, Jacques (former NHL trainer), Walter, me and Charlie Henry, former NHL scout and chief executive.  To view the images in larger format simply click on the picture.  To return to the default setting, click outside the image.


We're in the train room.  How did this visit come about, you may be wondering?  Well, over fifteen years ago, Charlie's grandson was in my class as a grade 4 student.  He visited my model railroad when the class came by on a Saturday morning in June.  The young boy showed some pictures of the layout to his grandpa (Charlie) and Charlie simply had to visit the next time he would be in town.  Well the next time came about ten years ago, but on that Saturday I was out of town giving a clinic at an SLD/NMRA meet down in Smith's Falls.  Walter would have accompanied Charlie at that time.


Well it took a number of years, but the rain date materialized this afternoon.  My wife, Lisa didn't really want to get into a picture, but Walter insisted!


Walter turned 78 the day after his visit to my place.  He suffered a stroke a while back, but, boy oh boy, is he still "sharp as a tack" keeping Lisa and me in stitches all afternoon long with stories from way back.  He told us how his family came to Canada.  He mentioned how proud he is of his five children, 14 grandchildren and one great grand-child.  He certainly kept me on my toes asking a series of historical and geographical questions.  Lots of fun!


Joanne Henry, Charlie's daughter and the mom of that young lad who visited my trains when he was in my class was thrilled to make it over.  A great thrill for me was having Michael Allan Henry (that young grade 4 student of mine who is now 25 years old) telephone from his home in British Columbia during the visit.  Joanne still insisted on calling me "Mr. Hamer" and not Mike.


The gang got to see the Maine Central ply B&M rails.


They railfanned a 40-car outbound B&M manifest train.


They were keenly interested in the scenery making.  It was Walter's birthday the following day.  I explained to him that when you step into my model railroad room you go back in time to the day I was born, May 27, 1958.  Yessirree, I model New England as it would have appeared on that day in history.  I tell the school kids who visit my model railroad that I'm always happy to enter the room as it's always my birthday!



Before I got to say to Walter and Charlie what an honour it was to meet them, they beat me to the punch, both saying, "Mike, what a thrill and an honour for us both to have finally enjoyed the opportunity of meeting you and seeing this marvel of a railroad you have."  Indeed...salt of the earth people!  Thank you for allowing me to digress away from the garden aspect of things...well, not entirely...for you see, almost all of the trees on my HO scale railroad were made from the flowers of shrubs in my garden...spirea, hydrangea and sedum!  All the best,
Mike Hamer, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Saturday, November 03, 2018

B&M Train N6 "The Newsboy"


The next inbound train to North Dover will be Train N6 "The Newsboy". In the image above we see the local North Dover crew having blocked traffic for this train.  Moments earlier, they pulled the required freight cars dispersed in among the lines of cars located along the two major sidings in town.
Click on the image to enlarge it and click outside to return to the default setting.


The switching order for the local crew indicates the cars to be found in the yard and blocked.


They've placed the cut of four cars to the "inbound" end of the North Siding in town.  This will allow "inbound" Train N6's crew ease in lifting the cut onto their train before they set out some cars from their consist for North Dover. The switch crew verifies the cars with their switch list.  A Pennsy flatcar, a B&M boxcar and two tankers all with proper identifying marks.


With the block of cars in place, the local crew moves their locomotive out of the way.


They will park the switcher on the South Siding in short order. 


In due time, Train N6, "The Newsboy" approaches town.


The train crosses Stanley Bridge over the Salmon River.


Hitting the Boundary Road crossing, the locomotives are now in the state of New Hampshire with the remainder of the consist back across the river in the state of Maine.


They round the big curve in North Dover with the Holy Spirits Distilleries complex towering above the yard.  (Due to selective compression on the model railroad, the mainline in North Dover, along with its two sidings (aka service tracks) act as a yard for the local switcher when dispatch indicates no incoming trains.


The train orders for the crew of N6 "The Newsboy".  It will determine their moves upon arrival at North Dover which is their only stop en route between Rigby Yard in Portland and Lowell Jct. outside of Boston.  The train orders indicate which cars the crew will drop (set out) from their train and which cars they will lift from the town.  Note the Slow Order Restriction they must observe at Marshall Cut.  Our train orders tell us our first drop is a Santa Fe reefer, so the model railroad operator will be looking for this car in the lengthy consist.


We locate the SFRD reefer which we have determined to be the first car in the cut to be removed from the long manifest freight.


On this day, the movement will be an easy one with four cars being set out and four lifted.


The cut is made behind the Southern flatcar which is the final car of cut of "set outs" from the train.


The gondola of scrap metal to the left heads up the remainder of Train N6 while the crew pulls the train ahead of the turnout for the siding..


The engineer guides his train on to the North Siding where they have grabbed their lifts.


They pull the lifts from the siding while still holding on to their set outs.


They bring lifts along the main to the rest of the train.


N6's crew then uncouples the setouts from the train once again.


They spot the set outs back on the North Siding.


Almost there.


Set outs complete.  The crew uncouples to head back onto the mainline to pick up the remainder of their train.


N6's crew verify their set outs with their train orders.  A Santa Fe reefer, a B&M 40' boxcar, a B&O hopper with loads and a Southern flat with all identifying marks corresponding.


The crew of N6 has performed their brake test and are now underway.


We say good-bye to the buggy as the train enters the tunnel beneath the main street of town.  In an hour or so they will arrive Lowell Jct. outside of Boston.