A random-generation operation scheme

Discussion in 'Model Rail Operations' started by screwysquirrel, Jun 29, 2004.

  1. I have an operational scheme for this layout:


    8 cars are placed in the yard (5 on the long siding, 3 on one of the short sidings, and a caboose on the caboose track).
    A typical manifest:
    1) Red Boxcar
    2) Green Boxcar
    3) Covered Hopper
    4) Open Hopper
    5) Blue Reefer
    6) White Reefer
    7) Black Tank Car
    8) Yellow Tank Car

    (this can change with different cars placed on the track)
    a 5 car train is generated by rolling an 8-sided die 5 times, rerolling any duplicates. This must be assembled on the 5 car track. Once assembled, each car is given one of the destinations:

    1) Docks
    2) Factory
    3) Local Businesses
    4) Truck Transfer
    5) Power Plant
    6) Interchange.

    and the caboose is attached.

    An assembled train makes one loop through the track, then makes its deliveries to each industry as needed, delivering the cars in order starting from the car next to the caboose. The Engine and caboose make another loop, then visit each of the 6 locations in order, reassembling the train in the new order. Another full loop is made, then the train backs into the yard, dropping the caboose off then placing the 5 car train in the 5-car siding. the engine is then parked at the far end of the yard lead, and it is ready to run again.

    opinions on the plan?
  2. Rusty Spike

    Rusty Spike Member

    Sounds random, sounds fun.
  3. no other replys?

    I was hoping some of these people who have card forwarding systems and such would have SOME comment?
  4. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    I can see it would be simple adn fun, SS, but I have more gauges than sidings right now, so not much ops going on :D I think your method would be ideal for some of those mini layouts/puzzles you do. Neat idea.
  5. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Squirrel, I think this is a very good idea for a 'lone wolf' model railroader (like I am most of the time) who wants some operation with a purpose.

    For a quick set up of an operating session throwing dice is probably faster than distributing car cards all over the place.

    Hey, this is a fine opportunity to dig out those old D&D adventure game dice. With more cars (or more industries) you can even use the 20-sided die, too! :D :D :D

    Is this only theory, or did you try it on a real layout?

  6. Theory or Practice

    Right now, its a theory, but I'm hopng to put it into practice on a 2.5 x 4.5 N scale layout in the near future.
  7. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Mr. Squirrel:
    may I suggest a variation. One 6-sided die. 5 industries and a "no move". Roll once for each car. You will end up with variable length trains and the possibility that all the cars except the hoppers will go to the power plant.
  8. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    SS,David brings up a excellent point..The only flaw I see in using dice for car movements you may end up sending(say) a gon or flat car to a grain mill that uses covered hoppers. :( So to my mind a no car movement may be needed..I know there has to be a workable solution to keep cars from going where they shouldn't... :D I think you on to a simple car forwarding system for small switching layouts but,need to work out the bugs. :D

  9. The obvious solution for such a random scheme is to make your industries generic enough to take a wide variety of cars. A Grain Elevator tends to take ONLY covered hoppers, and thus doesn't belong in such a layout.

    Instead you have generic or wide-variety industries: a Truck Transfer takes anything. A 'Widget' factory takes anything. a Dock might take anything. the Interchange with another road might take anything. You get the idea.

    even so, a little imagination can figure other things: a Mill might get a gon wth a new engine for the grinding machinery, a boxcar of empty bags to be filled with flour, a flatcar with a new millstone. Still such things don't arrive _often_, and so we need something more than that.

    A Better choice might be a Chemical Plant: Hoppers of various materials, boxcars of glassware, tankers of liquid chemicals, flatcars of piping, reefers of liquid nitrogen containers, etc.
  10. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    If you don't take it too seriously, you can have a smile or more at the inappropriately routed cars. We used to laugh at the Old Dutch Cleanser reefer arriving at the brewery. Or the pickle car.
    We had a manufacturing plant next door to the cardboard box plant. Every session we moved a load of cardboard boxes from the one siding to the other and moved the empty box that was sitting there back! A guy with a hand truck could have done the job faster.
  11. Papa Bear

    Papa Bear Member

    Screwy, have you had a chance to try this system out, yet? Seems like it would work particularly well for a large industry like a paper mill which can take several different types of cars. Like f'rinstance:

    1. Pulpwood rack
    2. Wood chip hopper
    3. Kaolin tank car
    4. Clean box cars for paper
    5. Box car or flat with machinery

    and so on...

    That happens in real life, too. I heard of one industry around here that asked for a flat car to ship a load of machinery and got a tank car instead!

  12. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    If you wanted to get a little more into the D&D metaphor, one could make up a set of tables indexing a die roll result with car type, like this:

    1 Interchange
    2 Local Businesses
    3 Factory
    4 Power Plant
    5 Trucking
    6 Local Businesses
    7 Docks
    8 Factory

    1 Interchange
    2 Interchange
    3 Factory
    4 Power Plant
    5 Local Businesses
    6 Docks
    7 Docks
    8 Engine Service Terminal (scrap clearing, or sand for the sanding tower)

    1 Interchange
    2 Factory
    3 Factory
    4 Power Plant
    5 Trucking
    6 Trucking
    7 Interchange
    8 Docks

    1 Interchange
    2 Interchange
    3 Power Plant
    4 Power Plant
    5 Power Plant
    6 Docks
    7 Docks
    8 Engine Service Terminal (to coal up your steam engines, of course!)

    More tables can be generated to reflect other car types or added industries.

    First roll for train length, then consult the original table for car type for each car.
    For each car, roll 1d8 and consult the appropriate table. Record the results on your switch list.

    The tables ensure that cars are sent to an appropriate destination, and by biasing results one can reflect realistic traffic flow patterns (Since there is no coal mine on the layout, one can assume that coal comes in from the interchange or the docks, most of which is delivered to the powerplant.)

    The engine service terminal stuff isn't strictly necessary but adds a realistic touch--your railroad's service facilities need resupply too, and this should be reflected in your traffic pattern!

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