My friend Riley Triggs visited Fillmore on Monday past.  Riley is a great visionary whose mantra to designing, building, maintaining, and operating model railroads is one of simplicity.  His Port of New York layout (HO Scale) has impressed and intrigued me ever since I first saw his blog about it (PONYRR).  Some of the leading-edge features include: battery powered radio control, 3D printing of significant proportions, satellite layout locations (small terminals located in a different room fed by a car float operation from the main layout), a flexible approach to temporarily laying track to test operation, and prototypes (Hoboken Shore Railroad & Erie Railroad) that are unique in operation and history.

Riley is the handsome fella on the left…


After reviewing Fillmore’s design and construction, I gave an overview of how everything works operationally.  Operations at Fillmore can be very detailed.  For example, the ash pit/wash pit (25 minute real time duration) first has the locomotive spotted for about five minutes to empty the ash pan or drop the fire.  The locomotive is positioned over the ash pit to do this.  Then it is moved forward to have the running gear steam cleaned.  While in this area, a blowdown is performed (a DCC function key activates this sound).  Another example is at the coaling/sanding tower where short locomotives like switchers need up to three movements for complete service.  Most of my operators do not go to this level of detail as they work, which is fine with me as my main aim is for everyone to just have fun.  However, I am amazed at how Riley grasped the finest of operational minutia and that he applied it all to a layout that he had never operated.  He was an absolute delight!

In the photo below, Riley returns the Plow Extra after dropping X662 on the garden track beside the roundhouse…


…and here, performing his hostling duties, bringing out an 0-8-0 switcher to the ready tracks for me to later bring to staging.


Here is a picture of the blackboard at the beginning of the session.  Even though we started operating at about 4:30PM, the session represents a morning timeframe – I have a clock on the wall above the blackboard that I reset before commencing ops.  Our start time was 10:40AM.  There was some activity “in history” before our start, so there were engines (3006, 7815, 5341) in the circuit that had to be managed right off.


Fillmore, on the engine terminal side, can easily be operated by two.  Riley was the Lead Hostler and Assistant Hostler – basically he ran most of the layout.  I was Staging Master and road crews as well as interactively updating the blackboard as the Roundhouse Foreman.  Prior, I had drawn up the blackboard providing a little more space in the timings so as to not overwhelm ourselves, and luckily, the pace was nice with busy periods and ones that gave some good moments to enjoy the process.  As seen in the blackboard we also ran two “proper” trains (the Plow Extra & the Ash Train) with Riley as engineer and me as his brakie, giving hand signals, aligning switches, uncoupling cars.

Two firsts – the longest operating session ever at well over three hours (not including the usual intermission I provide halfway).  Also, I am happy to say for the first time we used completely weathered and prepared locomotives (3006 still has the MTH control, but all others are Soundtraxx powered).  However, it was evident that I really ought to have some more locomotives prepared.

Hopefully the scenes below convey the atmosphere we enjoyed…



Of course we had a great time and afterwards we stopped off at The Brogue pub for a well-deserved, albeit late, supper.

Thank You so very much Riley for coming a long way and making this a special event!