Coming back for the cabin car after setting off the stone cars.

One of the best parts of the hobby are the friends you make through it. A recent visit to my friend John’s Maryland & Ohio layout really demonstrated the point.

John’s M&O is a lot of fun. He’s got multiple decks and fully operating signals. Pretty cool stuff. Occasionally he’ll have a few of us over for roundy-round sessions to test the layout and help get things running properly. This week we did that.

I’ve made a lot of friends in the hobby through my favorite online forum: The Railwire. It’s not a train forum for everyone, but that’s ok, because it means the people who stick around are generally guys who I’d enjoy being friends with. This has proven itself over and over again. When I go through my Facebook feed, I see numerous updates from my many friends I’ve made through it, from vacation pics to health updates, and it reminds me what a great thing this hobby is. This layout visit reminded me of that.

This was not only because I met John through the Railwire, or because I had dinner with my friend Cody who I also met through The Railwire, but also because I got to run a number of things that used to be owned by a number of other friends too. One of the interesting things about the forum is that it’s facilitated the “recycling” of equipment between members as interests or situations change. I’ve been incredibly lucky to benefit from this in big ways, but when running things you’ve gotten from friends, it’s also like having them there with you in a small way.

The first example of this was running a pair of RF&P GP40s that I had recently picked up from a friend who recently changed scales. Here you can see them waiting for the highball while a Pennsy passenger train storms by. This was not a prototype focused night.

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And here they are again later looping around John’s steel mill.

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Later I got to do something else that was even more fun. I got to complete my friend Lee’s vision for moving stone. On his old WM layout, he had a run-through train of stone hoppers that would run from staging to staging, replicating the WM’s move of limestone to the Sparrows Point blast furnaces. John’s layout features both a stone quarry and a steel mill, and to finish it off, Lee’s fleet of stone hoppers that were sold off when he was downsizing. I figured what would be even more fitting was to use some power I picked up in the same sale: my PC GP30. Of course, a single geep wasn’t going to get the job done, so I augmented it with a GP7 I picked up from my friend Dave when he was changing modeling themes. Talk about a true Railwire experience… including the F7B that failed en-route.

Approaching the steel mill getting ready to pickup empties.
Approaching the steel mill getting ready to pickup empties.
Highballing along the M&O's double track main.
Highballing along the M&O’s double track main.
Waiting in the hole for a train coming down the hill.
Waiting in the hole for a train coming down the hill.
Arriving at the quarry in  Hanover.
Arriving at the quarry in Hanover.
Creeping past the station in Hanover.
Creeping past the station in Hanover.
Coming back for the cabin car after setting off the stone cars.
Coming back for the cabin car after setting off the stone cars.
A family portrait in front of Hanover Foods, one of the town's other industries.
A family portrait in front of Hanover Foods, one of the town’s other industries.

I never got to take the loads back down to the furnace since the crew went “dead on the law” (ie, I had to get home), but I’m really looking forward to running the reverse next time I visit.

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