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Wasatch Rails '06

Held November 3rd - 5th, 2006 in the Grand Building at the Utah Fair Park in Salt Lake City, Utah.

For the fifth year Utah Free-mo returned to Wasatch Rails, the annual train show sponsored by the Wasatch Division of the N.M.R.A. This show continues to offer the group a perfect venue to setup a large layout for a three day event, and also invite other Free-mo modelers to participate with us. This year saw a slightly smaller layout, but featured many new and rebuilt modules as well as two guests from California that contributed modules.

Setup began on Thursday afternoon with the arrival of Mike Nelson, Sterling Moore, and Jim Moore at the Grand Building. They were soon joined by Mike Hansen, Bud Rogers and Adam Eastman and Jere Ingram. Bud had traveled from southern California with his module White Horse and Jere had driven from the Bay Area with his two modules, Hearst. Other group members arrived throughout the afternoon and all but two module sets had arrived by the end of the evening. Sterling and Jim concentrated on set the yard up first to act as the anchor for the rest of the layout. Others worked on hauling in modules and getting them up on legs and in a rough position. By the end of the evening about one fourth of the layout had been set and leveled.

Setup proceeded orderly on Friday with the arrival of Bill Schlotthauer’s reworked module set Crescent Flat first thing in the morning. With his modules in position the remainder of the layout could be set in it final position and leveled. Minor problems cropped up during the afternoon as the group worked to get the layout operational. Jim Moore, with the help of others, worked on troubleshooting the problems, which turned out to be two modules with reversed plugs and a faulty LocoNet cable. The unforeseen problems caused quite a bit of stress, but the guys solved the problem and the layout ran well the rest of the afternoon for the public.

The layout continued to perform well on Saturday and Sunday. The layout featured an effective design conducive to all types of operations. Mainline trains originated in the yard, or at Mike Nelson’s reworked Summit Loop. In between the yard were a couple of sections of long single track mainline and a long siding at Ted York’s Faust module set. Shorter sidings were available at Payson and Crescent Flat. Local traffic operated between Crescent and Mike Hansen’s narrow gauge interchange based on the S.P’s narrow gauge line in California’s Owens Valley. Locals picked up cars left by through freights and switched cars along the way at I.F.A. and Sterling. The biggest challenge for the group continued to be having enough operators to keep service levels high for the railroads customers, and to keep the railroad from looking like a U.P. parking lot.

In addition to operating smoothly, the photos below demonstrate the layout looked even better this year. New module sets included Blaine Hadfield’s Vesco and Scott Gentry’s Jack Rabbit Flats which added visual interest and much needed run through scenery. As previously mention Mike Nelson and Bill Schlotthauer undertook major overhauls of their respective module sets. Through the rebuilding the modules not only became more functional, but Bill and Mike adopted desert scenery that fit well with the other modules. The addition of modules from California also added visual interest and beautiful sight lines.

All in all it was a successful show and the group is already looking forward to next years show. The show organizers are making plans to move the show to a larger facility, this will guarantee that Utah Free-mo will continue to have an opportunity to host large multi-group free-mo layout next year. We hope you will make plans to join us.

The Layout

The Pictures

Looking from Mike Nelson’s Summit Loop at the layout as Jim Moore and Bud Rogers level Jack Rabbit Flats in the background.

Looking past the throat of the yard on Summit towards Smokey Point Yard.

Scott Gentry uses an LGB track cleaner on his new modules set Jack Rabbit Flats as Bud Rogers from Free-mo LA looks on.

Jere Ingram discusses scenery techniques used on his Hearst module set with Blaine Hadfield.

An overview of the layout looking from Crescent Flat through Payson, Hurst, Vesco, and Summit. Burt and Ted discuss the layout as Jere rails a car in the yard.

Bud and Bob take a break as Greg and Jere work in the yard.

10- Mike Hansen works on his new module set and the end of the Branch line which begins at Crescent Flat and passes through Carson’s corner, IFA, Wash, and Sterling.

Mike Hansen works on his narrow gauge interchange. Mike scratch built the ramp to transfer loads between gauges.

Jere Ingram brought a Signal-mo module to demonstrate the NorCal signaling system. This is the module before the fitter rails are dropped in place.

The Signal-mo after the fitter rails and signals are in place.

Famous artist Gil Bennett takes in the view at Faust.

12- A very busy place: Scott pilots his train into the yard as Bob waits to leave. But, Sterling, Mike Nelson, and Greg watch to make sure no one kills a switch.

Leaving the yard we’ll follow a few trains around the layout. Here, UP GP30 834 accelerates as it passes over Thompson Creek after leaving the yard.

WP 801 with the California Zephyr in tow passes through White Horse.

BNSF 583 leads a trio of engines as it hauls a stack train across Jack Rabbit Flats.

834 takes the siding as it passes BNSF 8236 at Faust.

Rio Grande 5305 waits to enter the main to pick up cars from the cut on the siding at Crescent Flat as BNSF 583 passes on the main.

583 leans into the curve at Hearst as its train trails through Payson.

Almost to the end of its journey, 583 ambles across the plate girder bridge at Vesco.

583 takes track 5 in the yard at Summit, as 8236 sits idling at the head of an autorack train and Amtrak holds on the main.

Now we’ll back track and head down the branch. Traffic is heavy on Highway 89 as workers unload trucks at Intermountain Farmers.

Rio Grande SD9 5305 tugs a cut of cars through the cut at Wash as heads down the branch.

Rio Grande 1134 rumbles out of the cut at Wash.

Dave Winkler rails a car in the transfer yard at the end of the branch.

Lots of trains make for a nice day of railfanning and interesting shots like these. Here Utah Eastern #2, has its train of gons rolling along smartly through Hearst.

Rio Grande 1134—a C48 class consolidation—passes over the highway overpass at Hearst as it pulls a short string of GS Gons towards the beat dump on the branch line.

UP 8242 leads its train over the bridge crossing highway 234 at Hearst.

BNSF 9512 leads a trio of Executive Scheme SD70s through Hearst with a Unit coal train.

WP 2005 passes the road crossing at Thompson Springs on its way into the yard.

UTLX 14851 in a cut of cars in the yard is destined to be loaded with hydrochloric acid from Kennecott. Weathering by Sterling Moore.

Rising fuel prices have lead to a boom in the gas and oil industry, one side effect, loads of pipe pass through the yard destined for a new natural gas pipelines in the region.

A big CAT scrapper waits in the yard. Car by Jere Ingram.

Photos by Adam Eastman.

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© Utah Free-MONovember 11, 2006