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Saturday essay: That time again

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Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or

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Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

This being October, thoughts have turned to more than just how much fall lettuce can be coaxed out of the garden before the first hard freeze hits, or how much soup stock (also augmented with garden goodies) can be put up for the coming winter, or what mixes of what woods will produce the best fires inside with the best smells outside.

Yes, thoughts have turned once again to getting the N-scale train platform ready for its Christmas run.

A new eight-line platform bowed last year and ran remarkably well. But as any model railroader knows, there's always need and/or room for maintenance, revisions and expansion.

The work this year will range from the mundane (removing a few pesky track nails in a tunnel that love to work their way above track level and stop cold the steam locomotive pulling a consist of full coal cars), to the intricate (adding trolley line poles, catenaries and power lines on the light-rail vehicle tracks that traverse the mountain town), to the major (building a large, curved trestle bridge ­— or perhaps it will be a concrete arch bridge — to make one of the freight lines longer and more sweeping).

And the work just might border on the bolder — two additional long lines on the outside of the platform featuring newly acquired diesel engines and rolling stock.

But however the work about to commence ends, the junior engineer doing it will have that model railroader's smile of smiles on his face as the updated platform bows just after Thanksgiving.

— Colin McNickle

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