Continuing our tour of layouts I have visited in the past few months, we’ll take a look at George Thomas’ Southern Pacific (SP) layout, and Jeff Bulman’s Aberdeen Carolina and Western (AC&W) layout. I had requested to visit with Jeff in South Carolina, and the weekend that I had available it worked out that George was having an open house and needed operators to run trains. Jeff had planned to assist with the open house so he asked George if I could attend to help run trains, and he agreed. It all worked out perfectly, as I visited George’s layout and helped with the open house, and later went over to Jeff’s for an ops session on his layout. Each layout had a lot to offer in operations and scenery.
George has a model of each locomotive he operated on the SP.
George Thomas is a retired locomotive engineer who worked for the SP. He has been working on the past for the past two years and has made tremendous progress in a short period of time. His layout is in the finished attic area of his home. The layout room is approximately 50’X15’, with the stairway coming up into the center of the room so there is no duck under to deal with.
A hidden staging yard is located under the town on the upper level.
The layout features a large yard and a twice around the room design with the train climbing to the upper level with an approximate 1.5% grade. In addition, there is a seven track hidden staging yard located under a town on the upper level. Routes into an out of the hidden staging are set up as a route controlled by entering the proper route number into the NCE throttle, which lines all the appropriate turnouts to enter a specific yard track. A closed circuit TV monitor shows the locations of trains inside the hidden staging area.
George enjoys running long trains on his layout. The day we operated, both Jeff and I ran 24 car trains in opposite directions around the layout, and thanks to long passing sidings it was easy to have meets to pass each other. The trains looked great snaking around the layout and down the long straight sections. In addition to the long trains, George has an industrial switching area located on a peninsula. The switching area has numerous industries and looks like a lot of fun to switch. Hopefully I’ll be back soon and try my hand at switching the industrial area.
After grabbing some lunch, I went over to Jeff’s house to operate on his AC&W layout. It had been a few years since I visited and I wanted to see his progress. Jeff’s layout is very similar to mine, being in a small spare bedroom and approximately the same size room.
One yard on his layout was inspired by my Tate Yard and locomotive service facility, so it was very familiar to me. Jeff is modeling the AC&W and has a nice fleet of locomotives in their unique paint scheme. Numerous industries are on the layout and require a variety of car types.
The operating session began with picking up the train already blocked in the yard. After leaving the yard, we switched a few trailing point industries as we worked up the line. Next, we worked the locomotive service facility. There we picked up and set out a few cars for the provisions needed to service the locomotives. Once our work was completed, we headed back to the yard where we started. Jeff has done a great job on his layout. While not as large as George’s layout it offers a lot of operations in a compact space.
There is always something you can learn and takeaway from each layout you visit. I appreciated the opportunity to see and operate on George’s and Jeff’s layouts. All in all it was a great day of meeting new people, spending time with friends, and running trains.
Until next time stay safe and keep model railroading.