3.2.09

SIX MORE WEEKS OF BLOGGING. I did see my shadow on the weekend, not a difficult thing to do in Silicon Valley, which is currently in the middle of a drought. The purpose of the trip was to do some shopping at O Scale West, the first swap meet of the year.

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority's streetcars serve the San Jose airport and the headquarters hotel for the swap meet. They also afforded opportunities for a streetcar fix with somewhat better weather than Kenosha offers.

Champion station is in the middle of Cisco's office campus.


The car line blends in well with the surroundings. Californian transit is a world removed from The Milwaukee Electric with multiple cars lined up at Allis-Chalmers or Seaman Body or Allen-Bradley for the shift change.


The cars, which run as single units on weekends and in two-car trains weekdays, update the Boston two-rooms-and-a-bath configuration to a smooth running package in which the bath (center) section provides four bike racks. That's not a bad idea, although when the racks are in use, the passage between the two rooms is obstructed.


The signalling includes provisions to discourage left turns in front of the cars. The square screen underneath the leftmost left-turn arrow (like most of the thickly settled states, California has excessively ornate traffic signals) flashes with the silhouette of a trolley when the trolley approaches, and the left-turn arrows are interlocked with the track circuits. It's still possible for an inattentive driver to make a left in front of a trolley, but the signals will give positive evidence of disregard.


The headquarters hotel is also close to the Santa Clara Great America stop on the Amtrak Capitol Corridor line, which is now home to the weekday Altamont Commuter Express. There's space in this right-of-way for a second track, should the investors and the policy makers see fit to expand freight and passenger capacity.


The purpose of a swap meet is to take your castoffs there and bring somebody else's castoffs home. This meet includes an auction, where several lots of detail parts and a small collection of Lima 1:45 Continental stock stimulated spirited bidding just before the auction closed. The bids for one item that interested me got beyond my reservation price, just as well given how full my kit bag was already. (Sleepers and head-end cars primarily: the State of Maine Express is just about equipped now, and the Bar Harbor Express can run as the midweek edition.)


A swap meet also includes a model contest. I liked the Pennsylvania perishables train in the foreground. The Santa Fe Golden Gate train, a precursor to Amtrak's San Joaquins, appeals, although I had to mark the coaches down for visible gaps between roof and car sides.


The most remarkable occurrence of the weekend was in the air: on time departures westward and eastward, with early arrivals and severe clear most of the way across the country. If only the airlines could expedite loading and unloading ...

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