How do start an operating night?

Discussion in 'Model Rail Operations' started by csxengineer, Jan 13, 2005.

  1. csxengineer

    csxengineer Member

    I am working on a n scale steel mill layout. It currently has a single track main, a 4 track yard with 3 of 4 tracks double ended, a track for the high line, 3 spots for hot metal & slag, and a track to the rolling mill. Most of the tracks are isolated into blocks, and can be used by Cab A or Cab B. Problem is I only have 1 power pack right now. I had a friend come over and I wanted to have an operating night, but I didn't know how to start. I just felt awkward saying " Ok, you be the engineer, and I'll be the conductor / yardmaster, here's what we need to do....", without sounding like a 7 yr old playing "make believe". Any sugestions?
  2. CalFlash

    CalFlash Member

    For that size and type operation, you might want to manually produce some paperwork to give the session an air of reality. Probably a switchlist or some such form. I think tacks or car cards would be too simplified at this point.
  3. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Both of my industrial switching layouts was made with solo operations in mind.That was the plan..However..My oldest grandson(15) and I operate these layouts.We take turns being a engineer or conductor.

    We use car cards and waybills which puts believability in our operation as well as situation cards(something I am trying out) and I dare say some minor headaches when things doesn't go as plan such as overflow cars for a given industry or the inbound car needs to be spotted at a given door-of course some cars may need to be moved and replaced after spotting the inbound car,cars that we are suppose to pickup is still being unloaded and that leads to the overflow problem... :eek: But such is in the life of a railroad man.. :D :thumb:
  4. Bikerdad

    Bikerdad Member

    Probably the best way of doing it would be to find somebody else's operating session, get some familiarity with how its done, and if possible, involve whoever else you might want in your operating sessions in at least one that's done by somebody with experience. Being in the Pittsburgh area, you shouldn't have much trouble finding someone else....
  5. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    I'm hoping to get one of my friends into something similar to your idea CSX. I'm thinking of using switchlists. I'm going to do a few dry runs on my own to make sure its reasonably orgainzed and tight before having a friend join me. I'm anticipating a lot of fun getting signals from some one else about locomotive speed and direction while he takes care of coupling and throwing turnouts.
  6. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I've never operated a session with a single controller. I used to go to a friend's and he would have the switchlists for all the trains printed off (computer generated traffoc flow) and either hand out the lists in sequence or leave them sitteing out to be picked up as required.
    If one of us got way ahead of the other, we'd go over and act a switchman for the other.
    I'd suggest that you let your guest choose if he wants to be engineer or switchman. For initial sessions, you could let him perform both jobs and you watch until he's fully familiar with the layout.
    And, yes, it is a role playing game. See how well you do just giving each other hand signals and whistle signals!
  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Several ops groups that I know of use two man crews - an engineer and a brakeman. The engineer drives the train, and the brakeman makes the cuts and throws the switches. Works really well.

    At our modular club, the train is usually run by one person, but I find this a bit isolating. You always need an opinion on how to perform a complicated move, and besides, it's nice to have someone to talk to!

    By the way, the ops groups tend to use switch lists, while the modular club uses car cards.

  8. Tad

    Tad Member

    My suggestion is that you need to think about developing an overall operational scheme. Think about it and write something up. It does not have to be really complex. You can print off a couple and give them to your guests when they come over so that they understand what you are trying to accomplish. If you have a labeled track diagram you can print that on the other side of the page and that can be helpful to guests that aren't familiar with your railroad. Tweak your operational scheme as necessary when you run into problems during an ops session. When you get everything worked out like you want it, you can laminate a few copies or put them in document protectors for durability.

    As a sample, this is my overall operational scheme. You don't have to start with anything complex. My scheme fit onto a single page when I first started operations, but it has evolved over the last year. :) It was simpler then, but I have added to it to answer questions that I was asked by guests.

    Operations are ran from a sequential timetable for all road trains. This is the sequence of an actual day as it occurred on the prototype. I do not currently employ a fast clock.

    Car Cards and Waybills are used to control car forwarding.

    In an operating session there are four trains that come onto the layout from staging. All trains from staging enter the layout through the wye on the lower right.

    All tracks on the layout except the two legs of the Main Wye at Whitlow Junction and the Staging Yard are within AD&N yard limits.

    All four roads interchange at Front Yard on the layout. Foreign locals will leave setouts at Front Yard for interchange will the other foreign locals as well as for the AD&N and the GP mills. Foreign power only works on the Mainline and making setouts and pickups at Front Yard.

    AD&N switchers work Pond Yard, which is the AD&N's home yard. Only AD&N switchers work the GP mills or the Pulpwood Yard. AD&N switchers leave cars at Front Yard for interchange with the three foreign roads. They also pickup the setouts that the foreign roads leave at Front Yard for the AD&N and the GP mills.

    While the road trains from staging come onto the layout in sequence, one AD&N switcher will be switching the mills and working Pond Yard. Between road trains, two AD&N switchers can work.

    Staging Track 1 represents Monticello, Arkansas and will hold the AD&N local. It will be the first train on to the layout and will come in to the A/D track, which is between Pond Yard and the Mainline, drop the train and the power will head to the the Oil Track for service and then be moved to the Engine Shed.

    An AD&N switcher will break down the train and place the AD&N caboose on the Caboose Track for service and cleaning.

    One AD&N switcher will continuously work the Georgia Pacific mills and Pond Yard and will build the next AD&N local to go to Monticello, Arkansas. This train will be assembled in Pond Yard during the course of the operating session. The switcher crew will assemble the train in cuts in Pond Yard and will place the caboose on the rear of the final cut.

    AD&N setouts for the MoPac local will be moved to Front Yard for interchange.

    The MoPac 785 Local will come onto the layout from MeGehee, Arkansas/Staging Track 2 and work the interchange at Front Yard and then leave as MoPac 786 Local and head back to the MoPac yard at MeGehee, Arkansas/Staging Track 2.

    AD&N setouts for the A&LM local will be moved to Front Yard for interchange.

    The A&LM Gator Local will come onto the layout from Monroe, Louisiana/Staging Track 3 and work the interchange at Front Yard and head back to the A&LM Yard at Monroe, Louisiana/Staging Track 3.

    AD&N setouts for the Rock Island local will be moved to Front Yard for interchange.

    The Rock 777 Local will come onto the layout from Tinsman, Arkansas/Staging Track 4 and work the interchange at Front Yard and then leave as Rock 778 Local and head back to the Rock Island Yard at Tinsman, Arkansas/Staging Track 4.

    Between foreign locals coming on to the layout a second AD&N switcher will pickup setouts for the AD&N and the GP mills from Front Yard to clear the interchange for the next inbound local. The second switch crew will spot these cars in the appropriate locations.

    After the three foreign locals have completed their runs, the AD&N road crew will acquire their power at the Engine Shed and will assemble the cuts in Pond Yard into their train. The AD&N local will then exit the layout to Monticello, Arkansas/Staging Track 1.

    An operational day ends when the AD&N Local leaves the layout for Monticello, Arkansas/Staging Track 1 and all other cars have been switched to their proper location at the mills.

    I'm not saying this is the only way to prep for operations, but it is what I came up with after reading a whole bunch of books and articles on operations. I've been working on my scheme a while and have tried to improve it by making notes during operating sessions and listening to suggestions. Writing up an overall scheme helps you to clarify in your own mind how you want your railroad to work and gives you a way to communicate that vision to others.

    I'm open to critiques and comments on my scheme as well.

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