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Wasatch Rails '07

Held November 2nd - 4th, 2007 in the Grand Building at the Utah Fair Park in Salt Lake City, Utah.

By Scott Gentry
Wasatch Rails 2007 Run Chief

Photos By Dave Spritke

Wasatch Rails 2007 was a great success for Free-Mo in Utah . We had 12 participants from Utah , Northern and Southern California, and Colorado . The participants were Mike Nelson, Sterling Moore, Blaine Hadfield, David Spritke, Bud Rogers, Jere Ingram, Jesus Pena, Dallin Davis, Dave Winkler, Bill Schllothauer, Scott Gentry, and Ted York.

It featured our largest and best layout to date. Our mailine run stretched over 225 feet in length, with an additional branch line to boot!! The layout took up nearly 75 feet in length by over 44 feet in width. It was also the first time that we had run with true loop to loop running. Instead of having a staging loop on one end with the run ending in another yard, this time the main yard was located in between the staging loop and our new teardrop loop that Sterling Moore built. Runs at prototypical speed took between 40 and 50 minutes, depending on meets! It also featured several new modules for the first time, and some older modules with extensive rework or that had been completed. Sterling Moore brought the new reverse teardrop loop, which performed flawlessly and improved operations significantly, and Mike Nelson brought his new corner set, Sphinx, which is similar to Ted Yorks’ Faust set, but even larger and featured more signaling. Dallin Davis brought two new modules, which also featured tremendous modeling, and also had signaling in the form of operational crossing gates and signals at an intersection with a road. Dallin was awarded a Blue Ribbon in the module competition by the Wasatch Rails folks for his efforts. Additionally, nearly everyone had worked on, improved, or completed their modules. Blaine Hadfields’ Vesco was complete and looked incredible, and Scott Gentry completely redid all of the scenery on his Jack Rabbit flats module set. Dave Winkler and Bill Schllothauer also invested lots of work, both prior to and at the show to their modules, and Dave Spritke, Jere Ingram, and Jesus Pena all brought exquisite modules to add to ours.

As for operations, it was also our first layout that really required a full-time dispatcher. When we tried to run without a dispatcher, the layout was large enough that we had many difficulties. As far as operations goes, we took a real step forward with using both a Dispatcher and a Yard Master working together to ensure that the layout featured trains running in both directions from the midpoint yard as much of the time as possible. From that perspective, although there were high and low points, just as always, our foray into more organized operations was a huge success. We also really emphasized prototypical speeds, as well as prototypical consists for the models. This worked very well for the most part, again with a few exceptions. It seemed to really make an impression on people, as many guests made compliment after compliment to our operations, and the Hostlers layout on the bottom floor was noted to be operating much differently (Slower!) than at any show in the past. Maybe we can’t take all of the credit for that, but shoot - we will anyway!

As far as the train show itself, there were many more compliments and comments than in the past. Many people were kind enough to stop and say, “Wow!” and many others were overheard complimenting the scope and quality of what we were doing, including the organizers of the show themselves. Also, there never seems to be a shortage of questions about the Free-Mo standards and concepts, but it really seemed at this point that people are really starting to notice this approach to modular railroading, and the ideas and execution really seem to be gaining traction with the Utah model railroading community at large.

All in all, it was a lot of work, but very enjoyable. As usual at this venue, the initial leveling of the layout was difficult and complex, and the floor demonstrated movement almost constantly, to the level where additional adjustments needed to be made each morning, and even additional adjustments through each day were made as well to overcome transition issues between modules. As to the DCC setup, this was a monstrous layout, and while the DCC setup went relatively smooth, it took a long time to get the layout running. We did have some issues and problems, primarily the phenomena of DB150 boosters switching phase for nearly the entire first day. We also had some issues with our layout and one of the modules from California , but we never did truly trace this down. However, in spite of these difficulties, there were hours and hours of trouble-free run time for all, and at times, we were short operators because guys were either worn out from running or just needed a break!

Moving forward, we need to look at more modules on the branchline, and focus on finishing the modules that are in process, and continuing to improve the quality and execution of our new modules, and those modules still to come.

The Layout

The Pictures

Sterling works to unpack his new module set, Mounds.

Mike (on the floor) adjusts the feet on a section of Mounds as Dallin holds the module in allignment.

Mike takes a break as Dalin checks the level on his new module set, and Sterling and Scott wait to clamp the module.

The "mother ship" of Jesus Pena's North Bay hovers in the ready position as modules go up on their feet.

Blaine, Dallin, and Mike hold a section of mounds, as Bill S. and Sterling prepare the next section.

Utah Railway 2003 switches on the branchline at Spanish Fork. (Model and modules by Dave S.)

The Utah Railway local clears the siding at Spanish Fork as the crew prepares to switch the local industries.

UR 2003 couples up to a couple of two bay hoppers as it shuffles cars at Spanish Fork.

Run Chief Scott Gentry (right) along with Dallin Davis and Nick Allred smile for the camera next to the yard.

Signal maintainers work on the Light at Hearst. This is one of the NorCal signal Mo's. Module by Jere Ingram.

Dave Winkler's new module set sits at the end of the branchline.

Western Pacific 920A rounds the curve at Wash with a manifest in tow.

WP 920A slows as it passes through Brendel. Wash and Summit loop are in the background.

Dave W. switches a local at Spanish Fork.

Bud Rogers smiles as he pilots his train through North Bay.

Bill S. explains the many benefits of Free-mo to members of another club at the show.

UP 3985 heads out of the siding at Sphynx as it leads an Excursion train.

Continuing on its journey, the 3985 crosses over the highway at Hearst.

Dallin and Nick watch the 3985 cross the trestle on their module set.

Jesus happily works a train at Smokey Point Yard.

The Superchief crosses the highway at Hearst.

Jesus P. watches his Supper Chief as it passes Scott Gentry manifest which is holding the siding at Mounds.

The Super Chief crosses the trestle at Dallin.

A few seconds later it crosses State Highway 89 at Dallin.

Always enthsiastic about prototypic operations, Blaine Hadfield is all smiles as the power for his train creeps out of the engine house.

Greg B. operates Rio Grande 3800 as it passes through Hearst.

D&RGW 3800x passes the detoured Super Chief at North Bay.

After a busy and fun filled weekend, the crew gathers for a group photo. The show would not have been a success with out the comined efforts all who paticipated in the show. Back Row (Left to Right): Ted, Dave W., Mike, Sterling, Jesus, Jere, Dave S. Front Row: Blaine, Bud, Bill, and Scott. Not shown: Dallin

Photos by Dave Spritke.

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© Utah Free-MONovember 16, 2007