Getting Back Into The Game
First off, I apologize for being delinquent when it comes to posts. Life has been busy and I haven’t had a layout available for operations due to placing my train equipment into storage while we attempt to sell our house. That being said, I have found a temporary work around and I would like to discuss it with you today.
A New Stab At An Old Plan: Reactivating the Grafton Quarry Branch (formerly Lyme Crushed Stone) –
So this simple, little, switching layout used to be the terminus of my patchwork B&M Lyme Branch. In the lore I had created as a back story, the Lyme Branch had begun in the distant past as the Lebanon & Northern Railroad. At some point, as traffic dropped after WWII, the Lebanon & Northern was bought out by B&M and the northern end of the line was severed south of the town of Lyme, leaving this aggregate and cement producing quarry on the northern-most extent of the former shortline. In reality the most recent incarnation of the Lebanon & Northern was a group of three layouts (which connected in my imagination) and borrowed its name from my first N scale layout (I have already discussed that layout in some detail). Those layouts had to be packed away into storage due to putting our house on the market and I was left without anywhere to operate and relax with my beloved B&M. Well, the winter was harsh and interest in our house has been slow. It was time to dig my smallest, and still incomplete, layout back out of the garage and put B&M track crews to work rehabbing the line. I have always enjoyed this little piece of New Hampshire for two reasons, first this layout fit in an otherwise empty space in my bedroom (my wife never liked it there though), and second because on it lived a tiny N scale man who drove a red flatbed truck and always seemed to get stuck at the only grade crossing… waiting for the next working day for the train to clear the tracks (bear in mind that there is no staging on this layout, all building of the next day’s train takes place at the end opposite the quarry yard).
I put some thought into my original back story and found it somewhat wanting. My future “dream” layout is the B&M Northern Line from Concord, NH to White River Jct., VT and I wanted to tie my operations into that somehow. One of my older brothers lives in Grafton, NH and my father owns land there… fortunately there is a small abandoned quarry operation on his property. I elected to put two and two together and make this little layout into a very short branch, off the Northern, to a quarry located in Grafton. My conscience can remain clear since the meaning of Lebanon & Northern can simply be shifted to mean Lebanon and the Northern Line, as opposed to the cardinal direction “north”. Win, win!
Where was I? Oh, so anyway, I brought my quarry back inside and dusted it off. Some animal, most likely a rodent, decided to eat some of the Styrofoam base… I assume he didn’t do very well digesting it. That little insult needed (needs) to be repaired and the whole thing needed vacuumed and cleaned. A little more than 10 minutes later and the B&M crews had GP-7 1557 inbound with the first rail business the quarry has seen in over a year, two covered hoppers for cement and an open 90t hopper for aggregate.
Since there hadn’t been any rail business here since January 2013 there were no loaded outbounds for the crew to pickup, so the engine and its caboose headed off into the sunset. The next scheduled working day is tomorrow, the man with the red truck will be thrilled to see regular rail traffic return to his quiet little country road. In a few days I will go into more detail about the operating scheme, I think you will find that even a micro-layout (less than 3-4 square feet) can offer interesting (if not overly challenging) operations if you use enough rolling stock.