Interchange / Operations

Discussion in 'Model Rail Operations' started by Gary S., Nov 21, 2006.

  1. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Brakie, thank you for the thoughts. I think I have an overall plan that will work, but see the need to vary things, with some cars held over at industries, some offspots if an industry is full, and varying traffic patterns for each session.

    Thanks to everyone for the comments. I feel fairly comfortable with this now.
  2. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    On one layout I operated, there was a cardboard box factory and a ? manufacturing company on adjacent sidings. Every operating session we had to exchange the empty box car on the one siding with the car full of boxes on the other. Any brainy person in either company would have had them build a walkway across!
    Just one of the fun things that happens whne you let a computer run your operations.
  3. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    When I first considered the operation of a layout, I thought it would be good to have traffic between the industries on the layout. Now I am understanding that the vast majority, if not all, of the traffic should originate off the layout and be returned to off the layout (staging).
  4. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    It can work either way. The "traffic between industries" model is an older idea, while the idea of off-line staging is more in fashion lately. This is partially because contemporary model railroaders seem to be more interested in modeling a smaller geographic area, and most railroad traffic is over long distances.

    This doesn't necessarily have to be the case. It is perfectly appropriate to model one industry that serves another, through the simple expedient of a view block. A classic example is a railroad split down the middle: an extraction-oriented industry is located on one side of the layout, and, totally hidden from view, an industry that processes the other industry's materials is located on the other side. Obvious combinations are logging site/lumber mill, coal mine/powerplant, rural grain silos/grain mill, etcetera. Even if you prefer a more mixed operating scheme, shipping between nearby locations is still perfectly fine, although in the modern age short trips are more likely to be made by truck.

    There are advantages to using staging to 'offline' industries: for starters, you don't have to model them, or you don't have to model all the phases of a product. Also, some sorts of "offline modeling" is very appropriate to real railroading: interchange traffic, team tracks, LCL warehouses, or, in a more contemporary mode, intermodal traffic.
  5. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Thanks for pointing that out. I guess I was looking with blinders on, only thinking of a point-to-point shelf layout. Your example makes perfect sense.

    I'm getting anxious to put some of these thoughts into action. Time to get busy with the track and pins and experimental plans.
  6. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Gary,I caution against having industries shipping to each other on a switching layout of any size even with a view block.Why? Simply because trucks could do it FASTER and it look silly to pull a car and dropped it off 2-4 industries later.Why would they bother when there are truck lines that offers shuttle moves between industries or warehouses? There are valid reasons why interconnected industries is losing favor with advanced operators.
    Of course there are exception such as inter plant moves for heavy industry like automobile plants but,those cars never leave the property and has a dedicated switch crews 24 hours a day.But,a papermill wouldn't have a pulpwood yard near by because the local loggers would take it directly to the mill.
  7. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Understood. The view block idea is perfect for a continuous run layout like an oval, but for my point-to-point, everything will be coming from and headed to the staging yards.
  8. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Gary,IMHO thats the way it should work on a switching layout.:thumb:
  9. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    You can use the view block idea on a shelf layout too, it's just a different sort of view block. In fact, on a shelf layout it's actually easier to handle a view block, because on a shelf layout your view is limited. On a 4x8, a view block is necessary to visually separate halves of the layout because the far half is always in view if something isn't in the way.

    By separating a shelf layout into multiple "vignettes" you can model spaces that are physically distant on a shelf layout. One example I saw in MR a couple yeras back was a pair of "shadow boxes," one of which showed a logging-camp scene and another with a sawmill. Because the two boxes had a small view block, it was easy to get the idea that these two spaces were very physically distant.

    On my own layout, I use a "view block" of sorts, basically just a short railroad bridge that crosses the tracks, made a bit taller by placing a passing Southern Pacific "Daylight" train on the overhead track, plus a few semi-tall industrial buildings . Even though my yard and the industrial area are physically adjacent, a simple view block in between the two areas (plus a different sort of look between the modules--a yard in an open field and a busy-looking industrial area) enhances the suggestion of physical space between them. So no, a shelf layout doesn't preclude multiple scenes with view blocks.
  10. liven_letdie

    liven_letdie Member

    "I caution against having industries shipping to each other on a switching layout of any size even with a view block."

    From what I have seen so far on the real thing, you have a loaded car of lets say furniture come in to one industry from an adjacent railroad and then when that car is empty it may hang out in storage for a while or be switched directly to a shipper that needs an empty boxcar. They dont ship empty cars all the way back to where they came from unless they are in some kind of captive service, it is a way of maximizing revenue. If you came up with a way to designate empty/load it might be a fun little variation too.

    Just a thought,
  11. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    I'm glad I started this thread! I have read the books mentioned on another thread in this forum, but the dialogue here is making me understand some important points.

    L&L, I think you are correct in that the empties may certainly be sent to another customer on the layout. I think the railroad rules require empty cars to be sent back to their home road via the route they came in, but if there is a suitable load, the car can be loaded up and sent back.

    so, on my point-to-point, there won't be any loads transferred from industry to industry, but the empties certainly could be. Now this brings up an interesting question of carcards and waybills. If a layout owner wants to act as a "railroad agent" then he could use one-sided waybills. These would mimic loads originating from off-the-layout and on-the-layout industries, and the "railroad agent" would have to find and route suitable empty cars to the industries. On the other hand, I figure must of us would prefer to be "train engineer" and have all the empty/loads etc figured out ahead of time so we could simply switch cars without hunting down cars. This is where the 4-sided waybills come in.

    Does this make sense?
  12. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    It is certainly possible to use four-sided waybills to route empties to other industries for refilling and reshuffling. Personally I use a simplified operating scheme (a "wheel report") that doesn't track empty vs. full or individual cars.

    I don't see a problem with industries shipping to each other with a view block, I suppose. A view block and suitable scenery changes can suggest long distances traveled, if you can mentally "edit" the intervening miles then it becomes a trip from one end of the line to another. Carl Arendt's site includes a few such layouts, where a barrier changes scenes radically (from mountain to seaside, etc) to suggest long-distance travel between originating point and destination.

    And yes, shuffling empty cars to new shippers becomes a fantastic reason why a car should be shipped between two points on a small layout, even if they are industries right next to each other. In fact, that's the most convenient place to ship an empty from--right next door!
  13. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    This is the way I'm planning to operate my staging. My layout is basically "Y"-shaped, with the two "arms" of the Y stacked one over the other, on a second level. The staging is also stacked, in one location, with the yard for the "stem" of the Y on the middle level, and the yards for the two "arms" above and below it. All of my rolling stock is stored on shelves under the layout in this area, so cars will actually rotate on or off the layout, as required. A benefit of this is that you can keep acquiring more rolling stock, at least until the shelving runs out.:thumb: I will usually be the sole operator, so a "day's" activity may last over several operating sessions, and by the time a new car makes it onto the layout, I may not even remember owning it!:rolleyes:

  14. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Thanks DoctorWayne, I know that I am on the right track now, if someone of your stature will be doing something similar to what I am planning to do.

    And I want to say that the pics you post of your layout are awesome and inspiring. My favorite part of your layout is your use of color. It all just blends in so well and nothing looks out of place color-wise. It is obvious that you put in much effort with color selection and coordination.

  15. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Cory,One railroad can not hold another railroad's car..If they do they must pay the owning road a per diem fee for EACH DAY that car is being held.That is why you see empty UP cars in a CSX or NS train or a empty NS CSX car in a UP train its en route to its home rails.
    As far as loading a foreign road car you can only load that car if the load is heading toward the owning road's home rails or is located on the owning road.
  16. shortliner

    shortliner Member

    Gary - something like this, simple though it appears, will keep you busy for longer than you would expect, and make an excellent "starting" area - and can be expanded/extended later. with more pictures here
    I have a plan for a smaller version, that squidges most of the important bits into about 84" x 18"
    Also, in a way back MR, there was an article called "SHIFT TIME" by R. Thomas Cole, subtitled - Don't be a slave to the 24 hour clock - that deserves to be a lot better known. Its proposition is that you do your shift and clock off, other things happen while you are "off-shift", and when you clock on again it is a new day. You left a cut of cars on the interchange - they were picked up by the overnight freight which dropped a cut of cars for you to deal with on your shift. They are of course the same cars, but they need setting out and others need to be delivered to the interchange. Great article!
    Have a great Christmas
    Shortliner(Jack)away up here in the Highlands
  17. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member


    That is a great layout. Thanks for that link, I had seen it before but didn't make the connection that it is really similar to what I want and need. My benchwork is very similar to that too. When I first envisioned my layout, I thought I would have about 20 different small industries, but then my thinking changed to fewer but bigger industries. I've got a couple of kitbashed industry flat that are 5 feet long, and two more that are over 3 feet long. It is amazing how quickly these eat up the wallspace. I'm going to semi-plagerize that CSX Miami layout for one of my corners, I'll add a passing siding/run-around track, and extend on from there.
  18. shortliner

    shortliner Member

    Gary - email me direct - chacmool at lineone dot net - and I'll send you my compressed version
    Shortliner(Jack)away up here in the Highlands
  19. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    E-mail sent.

    As for the per diem charges on freight cars, there was an interesting event in the early 70s when the boxcar charges weren't that high. Southern Pacific had invested in a large number of brand new boxcars, and other railroads started keeping them for their own use. It was cheaper to pay the per diem charge than to build and maintain a fleet. This info is from the March 2005 Trains magazine. Apparently back then, non-specialized boxcars did not have to be routed back to the home road.

    Do the AAR rules now require cars to be routed immediately back to their home road? Other roads can still load them, but only if the load is going back toward the home road?
  20. liven_letdie

    liven_letdie Member

    Perhaps I should elaborate on what I was saying. I live in California and work for the M&ET RR a shortline RR here that interchanges with the UP and the BNSF, and is one of the railroads he wanted to base his model RR on. Any experience that I have to share comes from this point of view. I cannot comment on the big guys chess game of cars I can only comment on where we fit in. For example there is the opposite problem here. The UP seems to be strangled by an overabundance of cars having long cuts being stored everywhere possible including reno, the mococo sub and every spare inch of the Roseville yard. What that means is they use us as a storage facility in essence. It makes sense too because 9 out of 10 times we can end up using that empty car at an industry that ends up shipping back out on the UP anyway, that is our job, to play middleman. I hope that this info coupled with my previous post is a more complete version of the example I was making and if it does not apply in this particular instance I think it is still a valuable real world example none the less.


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