Summer Evening and the ML401

Summer Evening and the ML401
Conrail ML401 rolls west through Central New York farm country in Onondaga County, September 1994.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

New Starts, and Old Friends

Life is sure a mix of a bunch of different things, isn't it?  

Amidst all the craziness that seems to be universal this year, there has been some opportunity for time spent on the hobby.  Sometimes that requires a conscious decision to stop watching the news or social media, and instead head down to the basement and make some progress.  Progress comes in different forms:  it can be physical progress on the layout, thinking about future projects or improvements, or it can be prepping for operating sessions.

Remote operations on the Onondaga Cutoff really seems to have taken off.  It is a way to keep the trains moving during the pandemic, and I am grateful for that at least.  Each session requires a 'set up night' where a few guys come over to reconsist power, clean wheels and track, and check paperwork.  It's a satisfying and fun way to get ready for a session.  Here's the lineup of power on the Island, cleaned and serviced, ready for the most recent session:

Speaking of the remote sessions, one of the fun parts about the Facebook Live events we have been hosting is that those videos are archived over on Facebook.  If you'd like to see one, take a look at - and note you don't need an account to watch the videos.  Just close out of the pop-up and you can scroll down to see the listings.

Thanks to some restrictions having been lifted, too, Teddy had his first opportunity to operate on another layout.  Here he is making a move through Sparta Junction on Jerry Dziedzic's New York, Susquehanna & Western layout:

This photo makes me smile.  We all wore masks, per protocol, and kept social distanced, but Teddy's sailing right through the challenges:  he's watching his train intently, making sure to follow speed limits and signal aspects while we made a pickup from the yard.  This bodes well for the hobby as time continues and sure makes for some fun time between Teddy and I.

And, of course, there is always physical work to be done:  here we see an upgrade in progress for Conrail SD50 6707, which wore a special paint job to support the troops as part of Operation Desert Storm in 1991.  It held that paint through 1995 or so, and so wears it on my layout.  It is shopped now getting a sound decoder and new LED lighting including ditch lights, as well as new details including air lines and moving the grab irons to reflect Conrail practice.

As this wild year continues and begins to draw to a close, and as days grow shorter, my mind is always reflecting on the months passing.  I am more and more grateful for each moment - life has a way of improving if we are mindful, if we work hard, trust others, and open our minds up.  Doing those things and being grateful for what we have changes the color of the days to come.  

In mind of that, we have a new author who is going to begin contributions to these pages:  Jack T., who regular readers will know from his involvement in the Onondaga Cutoff from the inception 12 years ago.  I think it will add a great bit of variety and analysis that will make the blog a better resource for you all.  

And finally, book proofs are in and returned - the forthcoming signal book is going to be a really neat piece of work.  I am really excited at how it is coming out.  Two articles in Model Railroader, one each in the January and February issues, will prime the pump on the book.  The book is still on track for an April delivery, and that will build some anticipation through the winter:  Good stuff coming!


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