Operating a Layout,a new beginning

Discussion in 'Model Rail Operations' started by Tileguy, Jan 18, 2004.

  1. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    Operating a Layout for some will be an entirely new adventure in this hobby of ours we enjoy so much.While we do not have an operations forum yet, I see no reason for this to curtail any enthusiasm generated by its discussion.

    Operations have been developing over the years as new ideas and methods have come forward.Operations are not new to the model railroader,in fact,operations in one form or another have been around since scale wheel first moved on scale rail.One of the Pioneers of an operating system was Frank Ellison of the Famed Delta Lines.A man who in this writers opinion has done as much for the hobby as any other including John Allen.

    Back in 1944 Frank Ellison wrote an article on a simple aproach to operations using Index cards.Of course systems have since been developed from this original concept to develop ever increasing realism,however,the basics are all there in his system and involve an extremely easy method to either operate your layout,or to aid in developing an operations plan which can be added to later as time and energy permit.
    In1965 Model Railroader again printed this article as its last segment in a 6 part series entitled "The Art of Model Railroading"(Jan,1965).The article goes into detail about his system and how it is used.It further shows how operations can be done with absolutly no pencil work once the setup is complete.

    I see several advantages to this system for the casual operator and for the operator who wishes to develop a system of operations and gradually increasing the realism as time progresses.
    To use this system the following materials will be needed.all are available at any office supply center
    2 (or more) packets of 3x5 index cards
    1 set of Index Tab cards for 3x5 file
    1 set of Blue Index cards
    1 or more sheets of Pink cardstock material
    1 box of filecard signals(small tabs that slide onto file cards and extend about 1/2" above the card
    1 or more file boxes to hold the cards.
    Quantities of course depend on amount of equipment that will be used.

    In Frank Ellisons own words, This is a Lazy mans substitute-a little game of put and take played with a stack of cards to take the place of all those switch lists,freight bills and train consists.A pencilless way to have a graphic running record of car routings ,destinations,and dispositions.
    My next installment will describe how the system works :)
  2. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    If we get the Forum I hope posts like this can be transfered into it for easy reference. :thumb:
  3. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    Thanks Tyson.I hope so too :)
    Frank Ellisons operating system...Part deux
    The number of files needed will depend on the organization of your railroad.If you have One common yard serving a one division continuous oval layout and you do your own yard switching as well as operating trains over the mainline,you will need only one file in which to file all the cards.
    O the other hand,if your layout is a point to point system with 2 seperate terminal yards and perhaps a division yard then you will need five files.One for each of the principal yards(called yard files) and one for the way stations within each division(called mainline files).
    OK here we go.
    #1-Assign one Blue tabbed index card to each station and terminal on your layout.Letter the station name and its call letters(abreviations) on the station card tab.Name on the left.Call letters on the right of the tab.

    #2-Assign the white tabbed index cards to the various shipping points including industries,house tracks,team tracks,interchange tracks,storage sidings or yards.One card per shipping point(even if several are strung along the same line)
    These are your shipper cards!!

    note-if you wish,you can add the name of the nearest station below the main label to help new operators unfamiliar with the layout.
    #3-The white Ruled cards will be your Car Cards.
    Arrange the call letters for each terminal and station across the top of these cards.Assign one card to each car on the roster and on the first available line letter the type of car and its reporting marks.

    In the end,every car,station and every point where a car may be spotted for loading,unloading or storage will have a card.

    #4-Cut the pink cardstock into 1" squares and set them off in pairs.Letter Both cards of each pair for one of the names appearing on the white tabbed (shipper) Cards.
    These pink cards are your Waybills.

    This completes all the equipment for your Office work
    With this simple lettering done,there will be no need for any figuring,writing or searching for cars.

    #5 Insert the blue station cards in the mainline file in the order in which the stations are arranged on your layout.Behind each station card insert the white shippers card corresponding to that station.Set the mainline file handy to the mainline engineers,the yard files(if used) near the yard panels.

    Part 3 will go into how to put it all together and make it work :)
  4. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    I would suggest that you go back to your last post and add bunches of pictures to help explain, but then maybe I'm just not bright enough to follow along without em'. :D
  5. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    Tyson, I'll see what i can do about pictures.Let me get through the typing first though OK :)

    Part tres...................
    Correlate Cars and cards:
    Note all the cars in the terminal yard.remove thier corresponding car cards from the general pack and insert them into the terminal yard file.Do the same for any other yards.Cards corresponding to cars which may be located on an outlying house track,private spur or other tracks are inserted behind the white shippers cards bearing the names of those tracks or sours.Thus, all card cards are distributed to compartments corresponding to the actual location of every car on the railroad and Instantly and Forevermore you have a complete graphic picture of the location of all your rolling stock.Its clear that if there are 15 cards in your(insert name of yard here)yard then there must be 15 cars of corresponding description located there.If there are no cards,the yard is empty.
    One more compartment may be rigge and labeled Bad Order or Rip Track or Shops for cars which must be removed for repairs.
    You may if you wish keep a complete record of repairs and service done to cars on each individual cars Card
    The system is now ready to use......

    On operating night when things are being organized for running,the yardmaster,dispatcher or trainmaster makes a quick survey of the files and finds out how the cars are distributed
    The Gauge (terminal yard)..........28
    TYSON ..........................................0
    Villa Spitfire...................................0
    Shamus Manor(interchange).........3
    Arls river.......................................0
    J.Monons lumber Co......................1
    Rons Coal Co.................................1
    Dans Canning.................................1
    Screwy & Squirrels..........................1
    Icing Platform..................................1
    Brakies Sand & Gravel.....................1
    Mikeys Park(division Yard)..............12
    Of the total, 9 cars are on various tracks at outlying stations.We agree that cars so located are presumed to be loaded and sealed,or that they have been unloaded.In either case they are waiting for pickup from the next local train and hauled to some destination.The trainmaster decides that four will be shipped north to Mikeys Park Yard and 5 south to The Gauge Yard by the first locals travelling in these directions.Selecting any 4 cards at random for the northerly movements the trainmaster slips a BLUE signal over the top edge of each pointing to the sign letters of the station to which the car will be shipped .In this case Mikeys park yard.RED signals get slipped over the tops of the 5 southbound cars in a similar manner pointing to The Gauge Yards call letters.
    The cards are then returned to thier slots.The Blue and Red Signals stick up above the cards like sore thumbs so that the engineer of any train will see at a glance just where and what cars he is to pick up on his run.

    NEXT Segment We will make up a Train
    Last segment we will Work the Division...:)
  6. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    Part 4

    To make up a train to run from The Gauge (terminal yard) to Mikeys park(division yard) The Trainmaster selects any number of cards from the gauge yard file.Lets say 8-10 ans slips blue signals over the tops of each pointing to the call letters of the station he wishes to ship the cars to. He then clips a pink waybill card to the car card which indicates the specific track on which he wants the car spotted.Thus,if a boxcar is to be consigned to Arls River Mills at Arls River the signal points to AR and the small pink card reads Arls river mill.This takes much longer to describe than it does to do.Actually all the cards are tabbed in less than 1/2 a minute.
    The Trainmaster now turns over to the yardmaster the cards he has selected from the yard file.This is the Train Consist.The yardmaster sorts the cards in the order the cards are to be marshalledinto the train and hands them to the switch foreman.The Stack of cards is now the Switch List.When the makeup is completed and checked the cards are handed to the engineer(or conductor) of the train,stacked to match the sequence of way stations.They are now the sheaf of waybills.And while we indicate several Brass Hats handling the cards in order to identify the supposed procedure,it is no secret that one Jack of all Trades handles the whole shebang :)
    It is only necessary for the engineer to glance at the top card to note the first delivery and at the blue signals in the mainline file to locate the first pickup.Without more ado he is ready to release his air,take the crossover to the High Iron and work the Division.All without using a pencil :)

    Part 5 -Working the Division Next....................:)
  7. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    Part 5 final installment
    Rolling along the main stem you see from your consist that a boxcar is to be set out on the house track at villa spitfire,and so when the local pulls into town,you set out the car on the house track,take the car card from your consist stack,remove the signal and the waybill and insert the card into the Villa Spitfire compartment behind the white card labeled "House Track".
    Then you pull out for the next town.
    As you wheel along you see 3 blue signals sticking up behind the interchange track card at Shamus Manor.You maneuver your train to pick up the cars,removing the the 3 cards from the interchange slot and noting thier destination from the position of the signals you see they need to go to Mikeys Park Yard.Add these cards to the bottom of your stack.
    Your cards indicate you have an empty hopper to pick up at Rons Coal Co. trestle and set out a loaded one.Proceed with this and add the car card of the empty to the consist stack and deposit the card for the loaded one in the compartment marked Rons Coal Co.
    As you go from town to town picking up and setting out cars,you leave a card in the correct compartment for setouts in the mainline file and remove cards for pickup from the mainline file and add them to your consist.Simple isnt it!!
    Of course in addition to all this swell switching and the put and take game with the cards,you keep your eye on the clock and duck into sidings when a superior trains are due.Or, you run from station to station only on running orders from your dispatcher(whichever your method may be)Until at last after being out on the division a scale 2-3 hours you arrive at the end of your run with an entirely differant group of cards and cars.And during any moment of the run anyone may have known the exact location of any car on the layout.
    As you are doing this run,the same operation is being done for the other trains on your schedule being run perhaps in the opposite direction.
    It is assumed that cars collected by peddler freights will either be switched to unloading tracks at the terminal or be made up into new consists to be carried over following divisions by dispatch freights,or be grouped and switched to an interchange track for handling by a foreign line.These destinations can be indicated with the pink waybill tabs.
    When a train arrives at its destination the engineer(or conductor) turns in his stack of cards to the yardmaster,who then checks them with the cars in the train.He then inserts them in his yard file and breaks up the train.The cars and cards are immediatly available for more trains without a moments loss of time or any figuring or pencil work.
    Thus as the schedule progresses and trains are dispatched up and down the line,car cards are removed from one compartment and are carried along with the train and deposited in another compartment.Trainmasters have a graphic picture of conditions at every moment so that they may select cars for as many trains as the schedule calls for.Each train Can get a new consist and new switching maneuvers without the slightest bit of confusion.

    This is an easy way to get started in simple operation.as you progress,these cards can still be very handy as referances to maintenance for every car in your inventory.It will also serve to make any transition to any other system that much faster as all your information will be readily available in a compact format.
    If anyone decided to use this system, i would sure like to hear how they like it :)

    Information Derived from an article by Frank Ellison
    "All In The Cards" Model Railroader Jan,1965
  8. Clerk

    Clerk Active Member

    I copied all these instructions and posted them to a zip drive. Might try it later.
  9. CN1

    CN1 Active Member

    Same here.

    Thanks Tileguy:thumb:
  10. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    Thank you Guys, glad you enjoyed it.If it helps just a few people,it makes all the typing worthwhile :D

    More on operations to come.Cant wait till February ;)
  11. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    As I stated earlier, right now I have little interest in operations, and a layout that wouldn't support it if I did. This stuff however is a great primer for people lile myself and just might be the key we need to understand it and the tool we need to get us started. Remember, the word is "understand" since a lot of us don't have a clue what operations entail, and so we tend to avoid those things we don't understand.

    I am also copying this to a file and will print it out. We all thank you for your efforts here.
  12. Tad

    Tad Member


    Nice job typing that up. That will make a nice topic to transfer.
  13. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    TG,Great job!:thumb: :D

    Now,there are some things that should be added but,I believe that should be done under another topic. Such as a topic on terminal switching in regards to train make up,break down, blocking and proper switching techniques that will save time and very easy to do if anybody is interested in going the next step.
  14. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    Larry,I figured to get the ball rolling.I had you batting cleanup :D

    There is a lot more to discuss here for certain but this is a very simplistic way to get those who have never operated thier layout and are interested in doing so started.
    Its also a great system for those who dont want a lot of Fuss and extra detail.
    It kind of goes back to the roots of operating scale models which is a great place to start.more Advanced operating systems have been developed to be sure,but none of these have the simple nature that Frank Ellisson put in to this one.
    First we get people operating,then we turn em into Robber Barons :D :D :D
  15. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    TG,That's the style! :thumb: :D
  16. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    Mikey, can you move this into the op forum??:)
  17. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    Thanks Mikey,I'm a little late saying this,but,better late than never ;)

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