Sunday, July 15, 2007

And now for something (not) completely different …

You know how sometimes friends who know of your interest in trains, but not the specifics, call you up about an article they've seen or an event that's happening in the area? That's always a kindness, but sometimes it's really tangential to my own hobby interests, like a display of a model of Lincoln's Funeral Train made entirely of Popsicle sticks or something. But once in a while an event that seems outside my main interests can still be engaging.

A non-model-railroading friend called to ask if I had heard about the EUROWEST 2007 train show at the Hiller Aviation Museum* in San Carlos, CA. Well, I've ridden trains in several European countries, but it's not a major point of my modeling interest. However, I did need a break from room (i.e., garage) prep and benchwork construction, so off we went.

I'm glad we did. Some neat modular layouts organized by members of the European Train Enthusiasts, including both Northern California and Southern California contingents.The photo is from last year's layout displayed by the So Cal group (Rick Anglin photo).

A local modeling acquaintance I happened to see there had his modules in the Nor Cal Meter-gauge HO layout, which had some neat features one does not often see in modular layouts. One of these was the ability to have a grade from one end of the layout to the other, facilitated by leg-height adjustment of up to a foot on each module and end loops. A couple of the modules had appealing curved track arrangements, and the group uses an interesting concept of "station" and "scenery" classes of modules. Station modules have sidings, industries, and local controls, while Scenery modules have only the main line passing through.

It was a refreshing inspiration to see trains running through nice scenery (even if the prototypes were a bit unfamiliar), especially since some of the tedious construction tasks I'm working on now seem far-removed from actually operating trains of my own. I'll never be one to say "trains are trains", but this slight departure from my norm was fun and motivating.

*The Hiller Aviation Museum was also interesting in its own right. I grew up in the center of Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff test-pilot universe near Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California and my Father was in the aircraft industry, working on such famous planes as the A-1 Sky Raider, B-58 Hustler, F-104 Starfighter and the SR-71 Blackbird, among others. But I was surprised to find out how much aerospace history was also made in the Bay Area.