Tuesday, October 4, 2016

USA - San Jose - Jim & Rosslyn

Well the "train" (model and 12" to foot) related activities continues...  We traveled from Sacramento to San Jose on the Amtrak "CAPITOL CORRIDOR".  Tom Barbalet met us at the station and our "weekend commenced".

San Jose

Tom had organised a busy schedule for Friday and Saturday before our arrival and thanks must go to him for what he did including getting a leave pass on Sunday so we could take up Richard Murphy's kind invitation to come visit. We had a full, jammed packed weekend, Thanks to Michele Barbelet for driving us everywhere and we were very impressed with her diving ability.

Tom Barbalet

Tom hosts the Model Rail Radio Podcast which has a large following and many of the listeners wanted meet Rosslyn and I during our travels.  Tom has been inviting listeners to travel to San Jose and stay with him and experience some of what the local club and modeler's are doing.  We took him up on his offer!  I would encourage others to think about it we had a great time with Tom & Michele and the cats.

Bertie checking out my stuff

Seth Newman

When we were approaching Seth's we found his house after seeing the sign...

I had a great discussion with Seth about his RFID system.  He demonstrated to me how the system works and we produced a car list on the fly and Tom was really taken with how easy it was.

Afterwards we had a lovely dinner at a local Chinese Restaurant.

Thanks Seth for allowing us to drop by.

Silicon Valley Lines

We were made welcome and I was told to report to the despatcher where I was promptly given a train running sheet for “Train 380” containing switch lists for a number of stations along the line with a NCE radio throttle and a two way radio.  My mentor was Bob and Rosslyn quickly decamped to “take photos” leaving me to run the train!  I was introduced to Bernhard who was the Bayshore Yardmaster who informed me to call the despatcher for clearance to move as my train was ready for departure.

Bob my mentor is on the left
The JMRI panels for turnout controls were interesting (lucky I had read about how they work).

I had a good time spending some 1½ hours operating and we arrived home just before 11:00pm and after talking for a while, it was midnight and time for bed.

Ted Stephens

Ted’s layout was in a business hub which was unique.

He was rearranging some stuff so the layout was not operational apart from a few sound decoders here and there burbling away.  The structures were immaculate and little wonder many had been prize winners at NRMA contests. The quality and detail on the structures was overwhelming you could see why some people spend months and months detailing a small scene.

Jamie Fenton & Jenifer Stanberry

A layout based on a track plan from the trusty “101 Track Plans Book” albeit a few extra passing sidings, it is constructed in N Gauge.  I noticed Jamie was using his phone to control the layout so I just had to run one from my phone too!  JMRI and Engine Driver worked like a dream....

Malcolm Johnson & Shana Negin

We were greeted with afternoon Adult hospitality and snacks – Tom just loved the selection of cookies and Rosslyn & I thought the red wine was nice too.  Well despite Malcolm’s very detailed and often updated blog to see what he has achieved in person made all the difference.  Lovely work Malcolm.

Vera Sepulveda & Laura Leff

The afternoon was very warm it was in the mid 30’s and when we arrived Vera offered us an ice cold beer which went down very nicely.  "It doesn’t bend" (as it appears in the first image) it was because of the angle I took the photos at! The planning is coming along nicely and we look forward to seeing future updates.  The concept planning is nearing completion and we look forward to updates.

John Polcher &  Katie Dickinson Layout & WP 668 100th Year Party

We were invited to John & Katie’s for the 100th Birthday of the Western Pacific Caboose 668. John also has a layout too so we took a look as well as enjoying the party which included a history lesson on the WP668!  WP668 is now Katie’s office too.

The Layout

WP Caboose 668

It turns out that my despatcher at the Silicon Valley Lines was the club president and he has two hobbies: model railroad and wine making.  He brought three bottles Sangevese, Merlot & Petite Syrah.  I asked where is the Shiraz and he said it is too acidic and people don’t like it then immediately said we must come to his place tomorrow,

Thanks to John and Katie for inviting us a very enjoyable evening was had by all that attended.

Richard Murphy & Mo

Well Sunday was supposed to be a rest day…. following Richard's invitation to come up to his place to see his layout and taste his wines Tom contacted his boss for permission to be further away from work, as he was on call,  as we would be in the mountains (We found out later his boss was overseas…).  Richard had a good internet connection so Tom got permission and took his work laptop just in case!

The Layout


The Wines

Richard makes some lovely wines with his wine maker friend. We were lucky to drink all of these.

We must thank Richard & Mo for opening up their house to us and for Tom who cooked an excellent BBQ to accompany the great wines Richard introduced us too.  Thanks for the invite, the experience in the mountains and the take home presents.

Back at Tom & Michele’s

Well we got home from Richard & Mo's around 8pm and Tom arranged for pizza and wings to be delivered they where we devoured with the remains of a bottle of red wine.  We chatted for a while and made a fuss of the cats before we all turned in after a very busy weekend.

Monday Morning

Tom and Michele wanted to take us to a “diner” like restaurant for breakfast so after we were all up showered and dressed we were at the diner by 8:00am.  After the filling breakfast we were dropped off at the San Jose Railway Station in plenty of time for our train.

We boarded the Amtrak Coast Starlight bound for Los Angeles.

Stay tuned for the next installment!



  1. It was nice meeting you, and watching you operate the very first official train to the Hallelujah Papermill at Silicon Valley Lines.
    At the time I didn't quite realize what massive world tour you had planned ...

  2. Bernhard I did't realise it was the first official train - I am honored. I must recovery is taking a lot longer than I expected....

  3. Thank you for coming to visit Jamie and I and our Carolan Pacific. It was delightful to meet you both and Tom.

    The CP continues to progress...

    Very best wishes, Jennifer

    1. I am following your Blog Jennifer. It was great to meet you both and see the layout when we visited.