How exciting – operating a layout for the first time at an exhibition!
I volunteered to attend both days of Fareham’s 2015 exhibition, operating the South Hants MRC layout Ogden Fold. I’d operated a friends layout once about twenty-five years ago, but this was my first time at an exhibition with an audience – quite a daunting prospect.
There’s so much to remember for the three operating positions (Yorkshire fiddle yard, Lancashire fiddle yard, and the station itself). With a control panel operating both the points and signals, there’s a lot to get right, even with the comprehensive operating instructions for each ‘move’.
There were a number of minor mishaps, some of them caused by me trying to drive a train over points set the wrong way. A couple of locomotives were a bit temperamental – one 0-6-0 refusing to run safely through a particular set of points in the station yard. Several wagons had to take off and put into the repair shops to have couplings sorted out (Dinghams).
We also had an electrical failure before the public came in on the Sunday morning, when the track cleaning activity dislodged a feed wire – it couldn’t have been a good joint. Unfortunately, the feed wire was inside the tunnel at the Yorkshire end, and proved to be very difficult to get to. A temporary repair got us running again, and the joint properly remade back at the club rooms the following week.
Overall, it was a huge amount of fun, and great to be working as part of a team. It was also tiring … carrying the layout into the hall on Friday night, and back out again on Sunday evening. And I’m not used to standing up for such long periods.
Now I’m looking forward to being considered to operate one of the other club layouts in 2016.