Model Railyard Operations

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Bongo Boy, Dec 5, 2004.

  1. Bongo Boy

    Bongo Boy Member

    Please forgive me if my terminology is sloppy.

    I've not found anything on what can be done with model trains other than running them around the track. I'm wondering...with available scale equipment can you build up a train from cars in a way similar to protoype operations?

    Now, I don't know how that's done in real operations, but I'm just wondering what 'railyard' activities can be simulated using scale gear. If my question even makes sense and the answer is yes, does it take the most sophisiticated & expensive stuff to do it?

    If you know of a book that focuses on this, please advise! Thanks for your patience, folks.
  2. theBear

    theBear Member

    Well the trains can stop, backup, go forward, and the couplers on the cars can be operated, so the short answer is yes you can build up scale trains just like the prototypes do.

    In fact you'll find all sorts of actual operations taking place on a club layout.

    I currently operate a very small switching puzzle layout, all I do is build up trains. I have no room (currently) to really "run" a train.
  3. b28_82

    b28_82 Member

    I went over to a guys house and did the yard switcher operations as him and another guy did local trains and runthroughs. One track in his yard is designated the receiving yard and other tracks are designated for the different towns/industrial areas on his layout. I just pick up the cars from the receiving track and start sorting.

    As for the sorting. Each car has a Car Card with a waybill in it. On the waybill it has 3-4 different scenarios. Exa: A grain car is from Grain Elevator A. Local train brings said grain car into the receiving track of yard. The next destination for that grain car is to go to the flour mill in Chicago. another track in the yard is designated for all cars going to Chicago. so it gets switched to that track. This is a very simplified operation assuming you only have one car in the receiving track but I personally sort all the car cards so that the card on the top is the last car on the "string" of cars to be sorted. That would be my explanation. I can take a picture of one of these car cards and waybills & post it on here. The club's christmas party is tonight and after we do the "dirty bingo" gift exchange we go up into the train room and BS or run trains. :D
  4. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    Ok here's one way: :D :D :D (See Crude Drawing Below) :D :D

    Here is a really simple loop with a 2 track main.

    Towns A B C & D
    Yard Tracks 1 & 2 Right (West Bound)
    Yard Tracks 3 & 4 Left (East Bound)

    If a train comes into 1 From Left with cars bound for C or D you are ok.

    If a train comes into 1 From Left with cars bound for A or B - You have to switch them around, or run past the "Invisible" Half way point. (Blue Line)

    Yes the cars will eventualy get to A or B - but in real life that Blue line is a break signifying the end of the line. If you cant pick up a train in Boston & Move it to Florida to start over - You CANT do it here LOL (The Reality Police don't like That) :D :D :D

    Now, how do you do that???? You need a switcher engine at the track at "6" ( "5" is your MOW / Caboose track). You bring the switcher either direction & build the trains for any Single town or any 2 towns either Westbound or Eastbound. The direction of the engine has to be correct as well as the caboose should be there if you use them. :) And finally the newly constructed train heads lets say "Right" on the Outer track. It drops off cars at D then maybe picks up some, then proceeds to C - When it finishes at C - it becomes an "Inbound train" as soon as it crosses the Blue Divider. This can be anywhere on the layout you want it. Just "mark it" with a building or structure. As soon as the train crosses that line it's "owned" by "B".

    You switch some cars at "B" then go to "A" then into the yard.

    Also somewhere you should have at least One Car dedicated to MOW or Derailments. If a train derails or a switch fails you can't touch it - untill you bring "the Crew" to the site. If Engineers & Brakeman cant rerail a boxcar - Then you can't either.

    You can make this as real as you want to - That's the great side of this Hobby. Run in circles, Drop off random cars - or go "full reality" with waybills, and call names for each train. :) :D :)

    Also - If you have Passenger Trains - whenever a train crosses the "Blue Line" they should be empty - otherwise all Passenger trains run from C... past the yards to B..... & then reverse direction back to C.

    Some people I know that run HO, actually make it mandatory to obey Grade crossing signals (Sound System Horns) They obey "reduced speeds" when necessary & use helper engines for steep grades (even though one engine would have no trouble)

    Attached Files:

    • Yard.JPG
      File size:
      19.8 KB
  5. theBear

    theBear Member

    Here is a thread dealing with yard design etc .....

    There is also a rather complete article from a back issue of a magazine referenced in one of the responses in the thread. It is worth joining the yahoo group it is hosted on.
  6. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Hi BB,

    Check out the Gauge's forum on Model Railroad Operations. It has several threads that discuss various ways of simulating the real work of railroads on our layouts. You'll find that we may have several different ways of doing things but the overall goal is to have fun while approximating the real thing. Some folks pay close attention to prototype practices while others take a more casual approach. Whatever works for you is the right answer depending on your preferences and interests. There are books about railroad operations. John Armstrong's "Track Planning for Realistic Operations is one. I'm sure other members can list more.
    Best wishes!
  7. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

  8. Bongo Boy

    Bongo Boy Member

    I can't believe I didn't even see that forum until about an hour ago.

    Thanks for the help. I'll start with the Ten Commandments article, but you guys are WAY out ahead of me. My original question may have suggested that I know something about operations, but I know nothing at all.

    I'm going to go study, so that I have a million more questions to ask. :D
  9. b28_82

    b28_82 Member

    Ok heres the pictures i promised

    #1 Smokeys Propane and the Tank car
    #2 The Car Card with the waybill in the pocket
    #3 The waybill on one side
    #4 The other side of the waybill

    I took it after everyone left the Christmas party.

    Attached Files:

  10. Bongo Boy

    Bongo Boy Member

    Really, you guys (N Gauger and B 2882) have to understand I haven't the faintest clue about how rail works. My TOTAL experience is seeing the big choo-choo with a 150 coal car consist running down the front range in Colorado. Until last week I'd never seen the word 'consist' used outside the context of a cookie recipe ("stir until a [blah blah] CONSISTency").

    ...anyway...have gone thru the Ten Commandents article about 3 times, and oh baybeeeee.....I've increased my knowledge of railroad stuff about 1,000 percent with this one. GREAT writeup. Several terms used there that I'm not familiar with...'hack' would be one of them. Same as 'caboose' or same as 'flatcar'? Neither?

    Wonderful write-up. Is the author a member of this site? I owe the guy a beer. Anyway, it looks kinda like the Towers of Hanoi game, but with cars.
  11. CalFlash

    CalFlash Member

    One of the favorite jobs on my friend's layout is the TSR (Traveling Switch Engine) job that serves two towns. It does all the spotting and switching for them as the mainline trains just drop "cuts" of cars. It's not unusual for an operator to get so involved, you never hear from him until break time.

  12. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Hi Bongo Boy and a belated welcome to the Gauge! As someone who is "operationally challenged" I sympathize if the whole topic of operations seems hopelessly complicated at times. Let me share a little insight I had that for me was a major breakthrough: trains can only "drive" where there is track!!! Obvious as it may seem, this really helped me. Picture a Honda doing a three-point turn - that's a "wye". Picture it pulling out and backing around a string of parked cars - that's a "run-around track".

    So - when you "drive" into a spur or siding, if the engine is leading its consist, in order to get out of that spur you need a run-around track. If the engine is pushing then it can just back out the way it came.

    Yards are like the old postmaster's pigeon holes. Cars (the train kind this time) are sorted by destination and put in slots - the slots are tracks. Again, the engine needs a way out. Some yards are just for sorting freight, some just for passenger, and some have other facilities attached like repair shops, cleaning, and fueling: for steamers water, coal and cinder dumping, for deisels it's deisel fuel.

    Real trains bring cars to various industries via spur tracks, and pick-up outgoing cars as well. Sometimes there's a "team track". This is like a shared siding, for industries that don't need a full carload, or don't have their own siding.

    Everything real trains do, modellers have emulated. For a real good write-up on operations, John Armstrong's book "Trackplanning for Realistic Operation". For specific questions, ask away on the Operations forum.

  13. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Bongo Boy: "hack" is one of the many terms for "caboose" (crummy, anchor, animal car, ape wagon, cabin car, cage, clown wagon, cracker box, crow's nest, doghouse, flop wagon, glory wagon, hearse, louse cage, way car, and many more, not all of which are printable in a "family" forum.)

    And yes, switching and operation is a game, which is why it's fun. The "Towers of Hanoi" game is, in fact, an excellent analogy.
  14. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Basic railroad freight operation is:
    Local train picks up loaded car at customer's siding. Takes car to sorting yard.
    Sorting yard arranges cars by destinations on various tracks.
    Long distance train collects cars going its way and takes them to another yard.
    Another yard sorts them. Local picks out cars for customers along its route and delivers them.
    Various steps above may be combined. Sometimes another yard turns out to be another railroad and you never see the cars again.
    Then there are the extra steps that may be required -- ice for refrigerator cars, watering stops for cattle cars, cleaning for sensitive goods.
  15. b28_82

    b28_82 Member

    If I explained it to where you couldn't understand, I apologize Bongo. I was only trying to explain it to the best of my abilities. I'm not the best at explaining things all the time. I was hoping that if someone could take my idea and simplify or add to it so one could understand it better. I think one way to better understand yard operations or operations in general is to go to a local club that is actually doing operations and not running trains around the track and watch what they are doing and ask questions along the way. Or even try to take a train out and do switching yourself. Besides thats part of the fun of model railroading. :D
  16. Bongo Boy

    Bongo Boy Member

    Oh man, I can guarantee it's not YOUR fault for explaining--I just have so much to learn and need to spend some quality time with all the information. I really appreciate the effort you and everyone else has put in to helping me out. It'll happen, it just requires some concentration and multiplre sources of info to compare, etc. Thanks again.
  17. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    b28 82, I see your pics as a good chance for me to finally "get" waybill systems like this. Would you be willing to make a brief commentary about their use while referring to your pictures? I've read about card systems before but I seem to have a specific learning disability about them! :)
  18. CalFlash

    CalFlash Member

    There's a Yahoo group <> dedicated to the use of cards and includes downloadable software to create them.

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