Sunday, October 16, 2022

OlyOps 2022

As we reemerge from our cocoons of the past couple of years, regular model railroad events are throttling back up.  OlyOps returned in mid-October.  This was a single-day local-regional operating event, drawing on “Boomer” operators within roughly 200 miles of Olympia, Washington.  Organizer Greg Wright has a well-polished routine for this event starting with a good selection of operating model railroads around Olympia, combined with a guest list built up over the years that invites operators from around the Pacific Northwest.  


The 2022 OlyOps featured eight local layouts (the typical number of layouts used).  Thirty-eight guest operators participated.  The event was arranged such that each Boomer (guest operator) operated on one layout in the morning and one layout in the afternoon.  Layout assignments were made by the Registrar with no preferences considered.  Layout assignments were picked up either Friday evening or early Saturday morning. 


The registration “fee” for the event was either canned food donation for the Thurston County Food Bank or a cash donation to same.  This year’s event raised $650 and eight very large bags of canned goods—a super response!  


Three of us carpooled up to Olympia from Oregon—regular operators on my railroad as well as me on theirs.  We were assigned as a carpool, so we worked on the same pair of railroads.  


Our morning assignment was on Scott Buckley’s Tehama Valley Railroad (TVR).  I previously operated there during a SoundRails event and was delighted to have a return visit.  Scott’s TVR represents a shortline in the California Sacramento Valley that runs east from connections with the outside railroad world at Hamilton City to locations east of Chico.   Separate interchanges with the Southern Pacific and the Northern California Traction Company (Joint ATSF and WP short line) are worked by TVR road crews.   TVR traffic includes produce and lumber shipped out via the Hamilton City interchanges.  


Craig L. works our train across the valley to pick up loaded produce and deliver fresh refrigerator cars at Walnut Grove on the right.  In the background is the bridge across the Sacramento River and on the left is the town of Colusa Junction..


The TVR is still under construction, but the basic operating pattern is well-established and supported by trackwork.  The layout is about half “scenicked.”  Structures include both kits and a number of scratch-built industries, notably the produce packers and other agricultural businesses.  I look forward to return visits.


Another crew works a less developed area representing Butte City in the middle of the layout space.  The Hamilton City interchanges are seen in the back-right of this view.  The railroad terminates at its east end at a turnback loop (unseen on the right) after passing through the lumber town of Oakville.


Our afternoon session was with Chuck Ricketts on his Baja Siena Railway.  This was a fanciful On30 layout set on an island off the northern Mexico coast.  Our operating session was scheduled to be the last formal session on the railroad in its current location.  Chuck sold the layout to Paul and Nancy O. who were on hand to assist and serve as one of the operating crews.  They will partially dismantle the layout and move it to their home in Seattle.  


Craig L. and Jim E. work the base yard and car float.  The mine tipple with live loads (steel ball bearings) where I worked is barely visible on the left.


Vic N. and Jim E. work the major town and industry area on the other side of the layout.


Chuck Ricketts began construction of the railroad until slowed by a major health event, whereupon Jim E. took over to complete track laying, wiring and generally assisting to bring the railroad up to its current state.


Though fanciful, the railroad proved a lot of fun to operate.  Four crews were kept active through the afternoon.  


OlyOps concluded with a dinner at the community golf course, attended by both the local crew and visiting operators.  We all had a great time and look forward to next year’s edition!

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