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Utah Free-mo at the 2005 Santa Fe Modeler's and Historical Society Convention

Held June 24th - 25th, 2005 at the Pasadena Hilton.

Several members of Utah Free-Mo responded to an invitation extended by Gary Green of Northern California Free-mo (NorCal) to participate in a layout at the 25th Annual convention of the Santa Fe Modelers and Historical Society. The Society held the convention in Pasadena, California at the Pasadena Hilton during the week of June 21-26. Convention activities stretched out over the better part of a week, but the Free-Mo layout was only operational Friday and Saturday.

The layout was a highlight of the convention and attracted the attention of many convention attendees as well as other hotel guests. Gary Green and Doug Furiman coordinated the layout which combined modules from five Free-mo groups—NorCal, Free-mo LA, Free-mo SLO, Central Arizona Free-mo, and Utah Free-mo—a record number of groups. The layout plan effectively utilized the various passing sidings, yards, and loop that were available. The plan allowed for some very prototypical operations, and also looked good. Despite the fact that many of the modules had never been in the same room together, because of the strict compliance to the Free-mo standard they all went together flawlessly.

Utah Free-mo members Ted York and Adam Eastman contributed three module sets to the layout—Faust, Thompson Springs, and Wash. Also participating in the setup at the convention were members Jim Moore and Mike Nelson. Mike Nelson volunteered to haul modules in his truck, and both Mike and Jim helped with setup and take down. Mike and Jim also provided technical help with the DCC setup. They convinced the other participants to utilize the Utah Free-mo power scheme. The layout was divided into several power districts, each powered by a DB150 booster. The boosters were daisy chained together via a dedicated their own Loco Net bus. Two UR-91s were also hooked into this bus. The bus terminated at a single DCS100 which acted as a command station. The throttle bus running through the modules was hooked to the second port on the DCS100. This arrangement provided trouble free operation throughout the show. The other groups participating in the layout expressed their appreciation to Jim and Mike for providing assistance and for the trouble free performance.

Another highlight of the setup was a professional photo shoot conducted Friday evening. Model Railroader magazine hired a professional photographer to take pictures of the layout to support an article intended for Great Model Railroads 2007. Participants assisted in setting up trains and suggesting locations for shots. It was fascinating for them to watch how he setup the shots and the equipment he used.

The layout looked great in the photographs and preformed well all weekend. But the best part was the new friendships and comradely enjoyed by the participants. Utah Free-mo’s participation has generated interest amongst the members of the other groups participating and many are now looking forward to participating in a joint layout in Utah.

The Layout

The Pictures

GP60 EMD #7 glide over Thopson Creek with a SP mixed manifest in tow.

Santa Fe Waycar #999287 clears the highway crossing at Thompson Spring Road as it brings up the tail end of a short local.

Santa Fe Business Car Atchison takes up the rear of the 991 train headed for North Bay as it meets another Santa Fe manifest at Faust.

Amtrak P42 #204 leads train #6, the eastbound California Zepher over the plate girder bridges at Piru.

Photos © by Harry K. Wong, 2005. Used with permission. Visit Harry's "famous" photo galleries for more photos from the convention.

Andy Sperandeo, Executive Editor of Model Railroader and a Santa Fe Society member, stopped to pose for a picture while visiting the Free-Mo layout during the convention. Mike Nelson photo.

Adam Eastman runs his Amtrak Superliner train throught the loop at Shandin.

NorCal member Gary Green demonstrated his signaling test board during the convention. Jim Moore Photo

Another test board for simulating several signal blocks. Jim Moore.

Two Photos above by Mike Nelson. Two Photos above by Jim Moore.

A Belmont Candy delivery truck slows to check for approaching trains at the highway crossing at Thompson Springs.

Workers load a couple of covered hoppers at the Sheridan Co-Op as trafic races over the grade crossing on Harry Wong's module.

Free-Mo members operate the layout using track warrarnts while convention attendees watch in fascination in this overview shot of left half (diagram above) of the layout.

The right half of the layout, with North Bay in the foreground and Shandin Loop and Mojave yard in the background.

Photos by Jim Moore.

Railfanning the Prototype

While at the conention Ted and Adam took advantage of some down time to do some railfanning of Cajon Pass and Beaumont Hill.

BNSF 4496 leans around the corner at Blue Cut as it charges up grade of Cajon Pass assisted by three more GE Dash 9s, with a heavy double stack train in tow.

BNSF 4806 rolls down grade from the summit with a long train of TOFCs strung out behind it as it approaches the "Garden Spot."

BNSF 5359 blasts out of Tunnel no. 2 on Cajon Pass.

BNSF 5359 continues to rumbles up grade after passing Ted and Adam at Tunnel no. 2. The train, just like the great week of prototype and model railroading, is gone leaving us to anxiously await the next go around.

Photos © Ted York, 2005. Used with permission

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© Utah Free-MOJuly 5, 2005