The Rail Druids of Northern California gathered on the
Summer Solstice yesterday in Richmond for their annual homage to modeling the
prototype. It was my first time to
attend, despite now living farther from St. David’s School than I have for the
last seven years. The day started with a
quicker than expected transit on the 101 mile journey. A good thing since I was half an hour later
than I’d planned. The lack of
construction on the “Fix 50” in downtown Sacramento gave me back that time and
I arrived and parked just before opening time at 0900. The journey’s highlight was an interesting
contrast between Stonehenge and Manhattan in a short piece on Morning Edition. Manhattanhenge set the tone for this
On entering the hall, I was confronted with a decision, how
many raffle tickets to buy, and which raffles to enter. The second was easy, not an N scaler, cross
that off; separate brass car auction, maybe, oh darn, its an SP baggage car,
not so much; HO scale, Ok that fits well.
Now how many? You want to be in
on the action, but most of the goodies are soooooo modern, and I model 44, 1944
not 2044 and the prize table is laden with a great choice of ExactRail’s
current production and other modern goodies, there are a few that might fit my
era, the gift cards give you a choice, there were some cool decal sheets, but
nothing I wanted to spend my mom’s inheritance on. $1 each or six for $5. I lay down an extra $5 with my entry
Into the sacred space to greet my fellow worshipers and find
some of the high priests. I belong to
the Santa Fe sect, seems a majority of the attendees adhere to that heretical
Southern Pacific branch. Unlike Sunni
and Shia, there were no car bombs or suicide belts present and we all learned
from each other.
The model displays were impressive, Henry Baez had some
beautifully weathered BNSF Diesels. I
was so engrossed listening to him describe his techniques of building up from
the bottom and using a short, very thin brush to apply weathering to seams and
door latches that I totally forgot to photograph them.
The first Santa Fe item to catch my eye was Phil Villalobos’
former business car 2nd 10 in its final incarnation as Bunk Car 203739.
Bill Vaughn, an active BNSF train service crewman, began his
career as a switchman at Richmond. His conversion of a Proto 2000 single door
box to a Fe-21 is inspiring.
I need one of these unique Santa Fe single door 50' box cars.
I displayed three of my in progress passenger cars. Walthers 8-1-2 and Branchline 14 section in
modification with Tom Madden roofs and Steam Ejector Air Conditioning as well
as a BR 12-1 converting to a 13 section non-AC car, also with one of Tom’s fine
In the first three worship services that I attended that
day, High priest of the State Belt, Bill
Kaufman, delivered an informative talk on his very small sect. Well done and I learned a few more things
about the switching district that connected to my modeled area via car float.
Harry Wong, one of the several SP Mullahs, presented a VERY
detailed look at their SDP-45s. And yes
Fenton, there is a Santa Claus, as some kind soul taped his presentation.
Blair High Priest (vice president) of Production for
ExactRail also gave an interesting talk on their business practices that
brought a warm glow to the friends of the freight car. I was impressed with his candor and
commitment to their business model that includes a high fidelity to prototype. Unfortunately for me (but fortunate for my
bank balance), one little detail of his presentation will make it difficult for
me to obtain many of ER’s high quality models in the future. To achieve this level of detail, they
extensively measure and photograph an actual specimen before constructing the
molds. Great for accuracy, but not so
much for extinct species, many of which I need on my layout. You modern guys have it lucky in that
regard. Fortunately, several specimens
of interest have been conserved in zoos (aka museums) so I have some hope to
contemporaries to their Rib Side car of which I could use a couple. Blair actively sought input, suggestions and
feedback from the congregation. After
the service when I had a chance, I did suggest an X-3 tank, as UTLX had gobs
and served the Standard Oil Refinery at Richmond that Santa Fe switched. Blair confirmed Supreme Ayatollah Richard H’s
remarks at the Naperville conclave that ER did have an X-3 in work. It won’t be out this summer, but he said the
research is pretty much done and it is next in the pipeline. That is good new for the pocketbook also as
it gives time for accumulating wealth.
Anyone have the winning lotto numbers?
I forgot to ask if they give case and gross discounts. I need a LOT of X-3 tanks.
I met some old friends whom I’ve not seen in a long time,
including Charlie Slater, himself a High Priest of my Santa Fe sect. Charlie is also a retired railroader and
offered a comment after Harry’s service that “If it worked, they put it on.”
And that during the rebuild of the Santa Fe’s FP45s at San Bernardino, “When a
unit was ready, they would use a crane and pull the top hood off the stack to
mate with the frame. If the numbers
didn’t match, they’d just repaint them.”
A good explanation for the profusion of horn types seen.
As the day came to a close the second an final auction
numbers rang softly through the display hall.
My comments to Blair about X-3s were interrupted when I thought I heard
1568. Deaf in the right ear and not sure
that my cross hearing aid had conveyed my winning #, I asked for a repeat. Alas, it was what I thought I heard, I had
won one of the door prizes, one of the very few I could actually use, a Fox
Valley B&O wagon top box in the express green scheme. A lovely parting gift.
Cameron Park, CA
The day after the summer solstice 2014