Books on Railroad Operations

Discussion in 'Model Rail Operations' started by TR-Flyer, Feb 7, 2004.

  1. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

    Hi All:

    This tread is just for posting info on books useful to understanding or modeling railroad operations. Reply to this thread and put the book title in the subject line and post your synopsis or commentary in the body of the reply. Discussions about a particular book will then be easier to search in the tread under that books title. Will help us novices see everyone’s opinions about a book without having to search the entire topic for different subject lines relating to the same book.

    Jon/Shamus edit this idea if you have a better one. Would making it a “sticky” be useful?

  2. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

    Realistic Model Railroad Operation by Tony Koester

    This book published by Kalmbach gives an introduction to realistic model railroad operations. The introduction states "...this book is only a primer on teh myriad ways to enjoy our hobby through realistic operation."

    There are ten chapters and a useful appendix. Some chapter titles are:
    1 - Realistic models, realistic movements
    3 - Basics of operation
    4 - Classification and staging yards
    6 - Forwarding cars
    9 - The operating session

    I don't yet know enough about operations to comment thoughtfully on the content of the book. Having read through the book one time i now have a basic understanding of terms like "car forwarding", "waybills", "switch lists" and a few others. Will have to read parts of the book again to clarify some aspects.

  3. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Great idea Ted! It would help to make it sticky, but we are not supposed to have too many stickies, so I guess we should sticky one or ther other. Up to you guys as far as I'm concerned ;) I would suggest the sticky be used for the least popular/less posted to. A popular thread stays on top anywho.

    2nd thot, we could merge the two, they are related. It's all about information.
  4. Tad

    Tad Member

    How to Operate your Model Railroad

    by Bruce A. Chubb - 1977 - Kalmbach Books

    ISBN - 0-89024-528-2

    A classic, out of print but can be found if you look. Try Ebay or Amazon used books.

    14 Chapters

    1 - The basics of railroad operation

    2 - Purpose & layouts

    3 - Your host: the Sunset Valley Railroad

    4 - The trains

    5 - Switching

    6 - The people who run the railroad

    7 - Time & distance

    8 - Timetables

    9 - Signals & communication

    10 - Dispatching

    11 - Freight- car forwarding

    12 - Operation unlimited

    13 - Tying it all together

    14 - The meet

    This is an excellent resource that is informative and well illustrated.
  5. Tad

    Tad Member

    The Complete Handbook of Model Railroad Operations

    by Paul Mallery - Mine is a First Printing hardback from 1979 - TAB Books

    ISBN 0-8306-9894-9 = hardback
    ISBN 0-8306-1021-9 = paperback

    Also another out of print classic. I understand that there is a different version out there by a different publisher but I have not seen it.

    14 Chapters

    1 - Introduction to Operation

    2 - Concept of the Railroad

    3 - Operating Postions

    4 - Timetables

    5 - Rights of Trains

    6 - Block Signals & Interlocking

    7 - Waybills

    8 - Communications

    9 - Passenger Operations

    10 - Freight Operations

    11 - Locomotive Service

    12 - Maintenance of Way

    13 - Auxiliary Railways

    14 - Physical Factors

    Very dense with information, almost like a textbook, but not hard to read. Well illustrated with line drawings. Very worthwhile addition to your operations library.
  6. Tad

    Tad Member

    Track Planning for Realistic Operation

    Third Edition

    By John Armstrong - 1998 - Kalmbach Publishing.

    ISBN 0-89024-227-5

    Section I

    1 - Loading and unloading products and passengers

    2 - Assembling cars into trains

    3 - Moving trains over the railroad

    4 - Specialized trackage and facilities

    5 - Contemporary Railroading

    -- Case Study : Rationalization and the birth of a regional
    -- Storage Yards - On purpose?
    -- Passengers on two levels
    -- Concrete ties? - or steel?

    Section II

    6 - Operating reliability through standards

    7 - Layout locations & shapes

    -- How big is too big?

    8 - Schematics for satisfying operation

    9 - Developing the mainline

    10 - Filling in the details

    App A - The case history of an HO track plan

    App B - Examples of operation- oriented pikes

    Available at most local hobby shops. If interested in operations , you should consider buying this book even if you have already built your layout. If you are still in the planning stages, just buy it.
  7. Agatheron

    Agatheron Member

    I have both Tony Koester's Book (Operations), and John Armstrong's track planning book. I've found them VERY helpful in trying to develop ideas for my yet-to-be built layout. It's actually given me some critical analysis tools to look at existing layout plans that I may find in a Model RR mag, to see what is good, and what might need to be tweaked if I want to do operations.

    Even from this early starting point, planning and building for operations is definitely the way I want to go... even on a small layout...

    Apparently Tony Koester has a new book slated for release on April 30th called "Realistic Model Railroad Design" which may fall into the same category as John Armstrong's book. Given how readable and accessible I found "Realistic Model Railroad Operation" I'm sure this will be a good addition. From the cover design and such it looks like a companion to the earlier book...
  8. ppowell

    ppowell New Member

    Railroad: What It Is, What It Does

    "Railroad: What It Is, What It Does" by John Armstrong. A classic and the base for his "Track Planning for Realistic Operation."
  9. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    There is a review of the Kalbach book on realistic operation at their website.
    see it here
  10. Tad

    Tad Member

    I had ordered this book, but had not received it when ppowell recommended it.

    The Rail Road
    What it is, what it does
    The Introduction to Railroading
    4th Edition
    John H. Armstrong
    Simmons-Boardman Books, Inc.

    ISBN: 0-911382-04-6

    1. Railroad Technology

    2. The Route System - How Railroad Networks Evolved

    3. The Track: Alignment and Structure

    4. The Locomotive

    5. The Railroad Car

    6. The Train

    7. Signals and Communications

    8. Railroad Operation - Moving from Here to There

    9. Car Types and Carloadings

    10. Car Ownership and Distribution

    11. Terminal Operations

    12. Classification and Bloacking

    13. Line-Haul Operation

    14. Unit-Train Operation

    15. Intermodal Traffic

    16. Special Freight and Package Services

    17. Rail Passenger Services

    18. The Railroad Organization

    19. Administration, Law, Accounting

    20. Operations

    21. Transportation

    22. Engineering and Equipment


    Suggested Readings


    An excellent resource for understanding the prototype rail transportation system
  11. n2bnsf

    n2bnsf New Member

    Track Planning for ... Op's

    I bought this book (mentioned above) years ago and it taugth me more about prototype operations and applying them to a model rr than any other single source I have found. This is a MUST READ for beginners interested in an operating model layout.

    There are three great internet sources as well, though not technically "books." They are the site and teir primer on operations, the NMRA layout design sig site, and the NMRA op's sig site. Tons of great info on all of these.
  12. mykroft

    mykroft Member

    Realistic Model Railroad Design - Tony Koester, Kalmbach Books.


    1. Freelancing - Within Limits

    2. Prototype Modelling

    3. Plausibility

    4. Considerations of time

    5. Image and Graphics

    6. Creating a roster

    7. Geography and scenery

    8. Layout design: the visible parts

    9. ...and the invisible parts

    10. Construction and maintenance

    11. Crews and jobs

    This book is more of an adjunct to Realistic Model Railroad Operations and Track Planning for Realistic Operation than a standalone volume, it covers a wide ranging area, but mostly the gotchas that most people miss when designing a railroad for Proto-freelance or Prototype operations, like how to design a plausible F unit paint scheme, or why modelling distinctive structures can be a bad idea. Think of it as a collection of topical TK columns.
  13. cyb0rg

    cyb0rg New Member

    The Gateway NMRA is a great source of online information. The current featured topic is Model Railroad Operations. Check it out!
  14. abutt

    abutt Member

    One of the books that has been most helpful to me for years is Allen McClelland's, "The V&O Story", Kalmbach. I believe it's just been re-issued.

    The book covers the concept and design of the railroad, describing "off-stage" modelling and car-card/waybill operation in great detail. Plus many pictures of one of the finest model railroads around.
  15. jwmurrayjr

    jwmurrayjr Member

    Uniform Code of Operating Rules

    I know that many of the folks on this forum are MRR "Operators"; operations being one of your favorite aspects of the hobby. I've noticed many references to "rules" of operation here and this may help some of those like me who are "just getting their feet wet" break the code.:p

    Since I got back into MR about 5 years ago I've slowly learned more about the prototype and have become increasingly interested in operations.

    Recently I was thinking about some of the advantages of sound in MR, especially as relates to operation. I started looking for a definition of whistle and horn signals (The March issue of MR has a short list in the Information Desk column.) Then I remembered an article by Tony Koester that had a brief reference to (and picture of) the book of Uniform Code of Operating Rules(UCOR).

    So then I wanted a copy of such a book. :oops:
    We'll, of course, they are available on eBay and for as little as $1.00, more or less) plus shipping ($2-$3 is reasonable.) So I bought a few (4 - I don't know why.) :)

    Anyway as some of you already know the UCOR contains all the essential rules for running a railroad (packed into 140 pages) from employee conduct and the duties of conductors, engineers and various staff to definitions of "Superiority of trains". Also signals of all kinds, handling of switches, movement of trains, movement by Train Orders, the forms of each Train Order, ABS rules and CTC rules and definitions (One of my books was used by a "pilot" - "Pilot" is defined in the book too.)

    Anyway I thought that some of you might be interested in the UCOR and you can probably find one published specifically for your prototype and time period.

    Have fun,
  16. Nizleh

    Nizleh New Member

    Too early...
  17. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I don't know if anyone else has had this problem, but I tried to use prototype horn signals when approaching grade crossings on a typical modular setup of the modular club I belong to. I couldn't do it. I was running at scale speeds, but was still past the grade crossing by the time I finished signalling. I eventually figured out why. We reduce everything to scale. In ho everything is divided by 87 to get scale miles. We can run a fast clock to simulate an 8 hour shift in a two hour operating session. We can slow our trains down to run at scale speeds, but the horn signal takes the same amount of time as the prototype. It doesn't scale down.
  18. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

    Steam Steel & Stars - Photos by O.Winston Link

    Hi All:
    This book with text by Tim Hensley is a beautiful addition to any collection of railroading photographs. It details one man's view of the last days of steam on the Norfolk & Western RR. More importantly, it captures not only the equipment but the period and the people. The plates have an Ansel Adams quality to them in their clarity and unique use of light. All the photos were taken at night. If you really want to give yourself a treat, go to Roanoke, Va sometime and go to the Link Museum so you can see the original prints. ISBN-0-8109-2587-7.
  19. 2-8-2

    2-8-2 Member

    The Model Railroader's Guide to Coal Railroading

    The Model Railroader's Guide to Coal Railroading
    - Tony Koester
    - Kalmbach Books

    1) "Tide 470" by David P. Morgan
    How coal got to market on the C&O in 1955
    A reprint of the article describing two coal cars' journey from tipple to port

    2) Where's the Coal?
    How coal was formed and where major seams are located in North America

    3) Company Towns
    Coal camps and company stores

    4) The central Appalachians
    Overview of the railroads that served the bituminous coalfields in the east

    5) The anthracite region
    Railroads and breakers in the hard-coal region of NE Pennsylvania

    6) Coalfields in the cornfields
    Black diamonds continue to be an important midwestern "crop"

    7) Coal in the West
    The Powder River Basin has become the major coal-producing region of the US

    8) Black-diamond destinations
    Customers range from small retail coal yards to steel mills and power plants

    9) Big power for heavy trains
    The small and weak need not apply when it comes time to haul coal

    10) Modeling coal railroad operations
    Before unit trains, coal was mined and marketed as many different commodities

    This book is packed with tons of photos and gives a real sense of what the coal industry is all about. If you're modeling coal, this book is a must have!
  20. kutler

    kutler Member

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