A couple of weeks ago we ran a test session on Bill's new layout. I'm terrible at taking photos while doing things, since I'm more interested in being in the moment. But we had a great time, and it's a lot of fun working the different jobs so we can help Bill fine tune the operations.
However, since I arrived a little early, I did take some photos a couple of days later when Bill and I went to Bruce's house for an inaugural test session there on his layout. What makes it special is that Bruce's layout is actually Bill's old layout.
It was nine years ago (!) that we dismantled Bill's O&W layout that was in an upstairs bedroom. I don't remember exactly when, but our last ops session would have been shortly before that. Since then, we've been helping Bruce reassemble it in his basement. Long time readers may be familiar with how much of an influence Bill and this layout has had on my modeling. I cover it in more detail in this clinic.
What's most interesting is that it feels both like the same layout, but also like a new layout. Since the decks are no longer stacked, it opens up the scenes in a different way. And Bruce's additions to tie them together, plus an additional freelance town yard, also add operational options that we didn't have in the past. I started pulling out of staging into the new yard so do some quick switching first, then run through the entire layout. There were a few hiccups but overall, it worked well. This is where it really felt new, with a through train that no longer had to traverse a helix.
After that I ran the Roscoe local, and that felt just like old times - switching in Roscoe, plus a little in Livingston Manor. Once you're focused on the actual work, whether there was another deck above the town didn't really matter.
The biggest change is that Bruce is running mostly steam. Because of the helix and the tight curves to accommodate the small room, Bill hadn't designed the original layout for steam. Bruce was able broaden the curves and has made some additional modifications to the track arrangements to accommodate this.
It was enormously fun to be running on this layout with good friends (and a few good beers). It was like visiting an old friend that you haven't seen in years, and I'm looking forward to when Bruce is ready to host regular sessions.
The new yard.