July 2019 in Delmenhorst, Germany. It was one of the warmest days of the year some maniacs had no better idea than setting up a modular layout for the weekend.
In October 2019 we want to show a layout during the US-Modellbahn-Convention in Rodgau. In the FREMO americaN group we build modules for operations. Showing the modules at an exhibition or convention is not our primary intention, but we found out that we could build an oval layout with some modules and only needed two small adapters to make it all fit. That’s what we did. Dirk extended his fiddle yard (Parkwater) to a length of six meters. Additionally he built a frame to hide the yard between to six meter long backdrops Peter created and had printed on truck tarpulin. My job was simple: finishing my six meter long module Cascade and build all required structures. No big deal ;o)
In July we setup the exhibition layout and added a small branch to have further options for the operations. Only eight people were involved, including my kids which spent most of the time using my stream-on flat rate and watched YouTube or Netflix. But they also rand some trains and my son even had the chance to dispatch during one of the sessions.
After spending the first day with setup and preparations, we had three days of nice, relaxed operations. The layout consists of a loop which is not used as such. We decided to partition the single fiddle yard in the center into two different locations: Parkwater Yard and Hillyard. Thus we had a point to point layout. To travel from Parkwater to Hillyard a train has to take the Wye into Hoquiam, pass Mesa, Sussex and Cascade and make a turn right through the other track of the Wye. This gave us a nice mainline run of about 30 meters.
The large oval is the actual exhibition layout and the single branch line to Arrowhead and Northtown is added to give us some more operating interest.
Operations took place under Time Table and Train Order (TT&TO). A dispatcher had the job of organizing the traffic for all non scheduled trains (extras). Heiko brought his new wireless clocks, which receive the JRMI clock signal. The dispatcher can speed up the clock if he gets bored. Usually we run the clock at normal speed and just create a timetable with times that match the size of the layout. Heiko also brought some wireless controllers (wiFRED) for testing. We hope that we can use them at the exhibition in Rodgau and do not need to plug- and unplug our controllers all the day. (Spoiler: We did and they worked perfectly and we used them all the time).
During this meeting we could test the exhibition layout and discuss some small changes we would apply. On of the key changes is to extend the width of the background frame from 40 cm to one meter. Thus would be able to use it not only to hide the yard but also to operate the yard hidden from the viewers.
Last but not least: Food. At least once a day – mostly for dinner – we visit a local restaurant. In this case the magic words were: “Wir überbacken das.” (We escallop it).