Friday, June 18, 2021

2021 Front Patio Layout: Lyttle-Redd Caboose Co.

Each summer I enjoy having a sit on my front porch, step or patio or stoop. (Actually, I only stoop when I'm having a nap out there.) This year, as I watched folks passing by, walking their 'pandemic puppies' and young families doing family stuff (hey, remember going for bike rides together?) I also conjured up mental images of a small, easily-operable outdoor HO layout. As I do most summers. And this year was no different.

This year's concept involved a layout that would fit on the arms of my patio-set chair. No need for benchwork, posts, sticks, support legs and the like. I found a piece of 1970's turquoise kitchen counter-top from my parents' kitchen. It used to sit between the stove and the fridge. Now it's inverted and sits between the arms of my chair! As happens each summer, I monkeyed around with various pieces of track, trying to find something that made sense in such a small space.

Immediately my thoughts went to 12x2 feet! Focus, man! One of the only ways to make any kind of operation viable on something so narrow is to use switchbacks. So I did. Needed...a concept! What's a believable one for a switchback layout? Mining operation with Shay locomotives? Mountain logging with Heisler locomotives? With little room for scenery, this would be open-concept. That means I'm open to any concept! Drone footage of a trial run with a 44-tonner (below). Tools at the ready, I was sure to include 'Mears piers' at the end of every track to prevent runaways!

Switchbacks means tail tracks and on something this narrow, tail tracks are short. That means short equipment. I'm used to using 44-tonners and Alco switchers, but this year everything needs to be short! So 44-tonners, a Tyco Shifter 0-4-0T and short freight cars. And what's the shortest freight car on every road? A caboose! That's it! Welcome to the Lyttle-Redd Caboose Co. I added an initial backdrop and of course I've got a beverage in place:

What's the story? It all began when little B'y Lyttle was born (cute-ola concept spoiler alert!) on his family's Angus beef ranch. He was the youngest, bringing up the rear of his family. He was always last to the dinner table, bath time and his parents mostly forgot he was there. Which was crummy of them. After college (his mother and father, both conductors ((of orchestras)) parentally (and parenthetically!) wondered where he'd got to for four years) he met Wellington Redd. His friends called him Well Redd. Born with a sprig of red hair at the tail-end of a road on Carrot-top Mountain in Kentucky, he left school at the age of 12. He lived in a van. Down by the river, though the van had a bay-window. He played hack-ey sack a lot at his out-of-the-way-car. Lyttle and Redd went into business together. Their collaboration gave them a coll-boost and they excelled at manufacturing things that came last, and were coloured red. Cabooses seemed like a natural coupling. So the Lyttle-Redd Caboose Co. was born!

With Redd wanting to get away from it all, and Lyttle late therefore missing the meeting, they soon found their factory built at the top of Cabin Mountain. With an air of affability, they churned out BBC's (Brain-Box Cars) at the rate of one every six months! This was their big brake and business was good, for an under-achiever and a high school drop-out! They used tiny locomotives to take each car down the mountain to the mainline for furtherance to the ordering railroad. Gotta go answer the phone - it's my Front Porch Layout concept calling! I added this view-block. The finished cabooses are stored on the rear-most track prior to pick-up by the plucky locomotive! Did I mention beverages?

Now for my annual shamless it time for you to consider your own outdoor model railroad for this summer? It's not too late! The summer is young and so are we! To the scrap lumber pile, mes amis! Storm the ramparts of conventional indoor model railroading! Get outdoors to hear the swans honk, the loons plaintively wail and the chickadees chick. Grab a beverage. My laptop transformer powers a Walthers self-propelled crane as it brings another finished product of the Lyttle-Redd Caboose Company out to the mainline after an (imagined) tortoise-paced tortuous trip down the mountain! I may do more scenicking. I may not. I like the wood grain of that old inverted countertop!

The ghost of layouts past. I tend not to completely disassemble each summer's layout, so it's possible to have a rather impractical "Free-Mo" module session of sorts, this photo from 2017. This post includes links to several of my earlier front-of-house productions!

Running extra...

I would never enjoy a meal in my layout room, but it's quite likely I'll enjoy a meal or snack on the front porch. Check out Great Lakes ship cook Catherine Schmuck's upcoming book. If you like tantalizing, original recipes mixed with stories from the galley, your ship may be about to come in!

Recipe for disaster. Acrimony continues here in Kingston as symbols take a hit in the name of a progressive interpretation of history. Largely driven by social media, our city has reacted much as the Taliban did to the Buddhas of Bamiyan: Cancel Culture is an over-used term, as it appears that Topple Culture has set in. What is really needed is constructive dialogue leading to action at the real problems faced by all Canadians. That's all Canadians.

In the words of Rodney King, "Can we all get along?"

That, too, is my wish as we approach Canada Day.

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