The Queen Charlotte Dock operating team of David L, Tim, me, Bill (on Friday) and Martin (on Saturday) took the layout to the Maidstone show for its maiden outing.
Once set up and after sorting out one or two teething problems we quickly established an operational modus operandi for the upper level. This always involved two passenger trains and their locomotives on the upper level, together with a station pilot. This simple operating pattern seemed to keep spectators interested and can be further enhanced by adding a variety of further trains by virtue of the cassette system.
A lot of interest was shown in our layout and its development, and a surprising number of questions were received concerning our use of PCB sleepers on the lower level. This seemed to be an innovation largely unknown to the good people of Maidstone, so we were happy to spread the word.
We were placed between Newchapel Junction and an N gauge layout exhibited by junior members of the Whitstable club. We had a very fruitful exchange of ideas with the Newchapel crowd (I think they learnt something) while on Saturday, Martin, in between operating sessions on QCD, moonlighted in helping operation of the Whitstable layout.
Running a layout at a two-day exhibition really allows you to get familiar with it and work out the best operational procedures. One thing we decided during the show was that three link couplings rather than any form of automatic coupling system is the way to go. Another thing is that we need to have a barrier to keep people back from the layout as they tend to encroach on the lower level while looking at the high level.
Anyway, a really enjoyable couple of days where we entertained the visitors and where we all learnt a lot, and even received expressions of interest in QCD attending other shows.
As we left at the end of the show a major incident was narrowly averted when David L attempted to kidnap a dog. He says he merely opened the wrong car door by mistake but I’m not so sure. Chris