Operating sessions for small layouts

Discussion in 'Model Rail Operations' started by RobertInOntario, Nov 26, 2007.

  1. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    I have a small 4x6' layout and am interested in any suggestions for how to improve my operating sessions.

    FYI, I have two loops. The inner/smaller loop has 3 sidings where freight or passengers cars could be stored. The outer loop (which is joined to the inner loop via a section of crossover track) also has one siding and a passing siding as well.

    I usually run one passenger train from the inner loop to the the outer loop, while another passenger train runs from the outer to inner loop. (They are able to pass each other because of the passing siding.) And I often try to weave a freight train in between.

    I have a book on railway operation for the modeller, but it's a bit technical, and I'm only slowly making my way through it.
    Sometimes, I'll place box cars down one siding, tank cars down another, etc., then I'll run my locomotive to pick up these cars from these points, and deliver them to another location.

    So, I was just wondering if anyone could suggest any simple operations that I could try to incorporate. Meanwhile, I'll carry on with my book and also check other threads on this forum.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    You could start be making a diagram of you layout, and a list of the industries and the commodities/cars they receive/ship. This can be based on what you want the industries to be, or on what cars you have available ;)

    Then you'd want to also have a "fiddle yard/track" that represents the rest of the world, so that your cars have somewhere to come from or go to outside of the 4x6. Actually taking them off the layout is optional.

    Then you can write up switch lists, or you can use car cards and way bills to route the cars to the right industry.

    There was a MR article a few years ago about two guys that ran a 4x6 with all the correct paperwork as part of the exercise. You might want to look it up in the Index of Magazines if this sounds like something that would interest you.

  3. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    I think step #1 would be deciding where your railroad is in relation to other railroads. Railroads seldom exist as contained entities, therefore must recieve interchange traffic from somewhere. Once you designate one of your sidings as an "interchange track", most of your traffic should occur between the interchange track and the industry. Only use the "0-5-0" (your hand) on the interchange track to place and remove cars from the layout. From that point, only the locomotive should be used to position everything where you want.

    I would operate as follows: Use a card system to randomly select what the town's demands are for that day. Find appropriate cars to meet those demands and place them on the interchange track. Next, put your train together, drive around the loop once or twice, then start spotting the cars at your industries. At the same time, take the cars that were already at the industries, and take them back to the interchange track.

  4. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    It would also help if we knew what type of industries you have and interchange points.Like Andrew stated a diagram of your layout would help.
  5. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks -- this is helpful. I've had the card system explained to me a couple times but am only just beginning to figure it out.

    I'll make a diagram then and draft up some potential industries based on my rolling stock. I have several box cars, tankers & gondolas. I will also try the card system and try to find that MR article -- it would be great if I could find that. I think I'll experiment with these ideas first till I get the hang of it.

    Also, just to complicate things, I usually run my layout as a British
    layout but occasionally run North American trains as well. I suspect, though, that the same principles can be applied to both.

    Thanks again,

  6. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    There are also dice systems and counter systems. If you don't have any industry buildings yet, you could make a "counter" (paper disk or whatever) for each car and put it in a bag. Then for each spot in the siding draw one counter out of the bag. Your job is then to move the chosen car to the designated spot. The rule will be that the cars in that spot have to be removed and taken back to the interchange (fiddle yard, whatever). Add fun by having blank counters (car to remain in place) or putting the counters for the cars on the sidings in the bag.
    This is not prototypical operation, but it will get you moving quickly. Your son will probably find it easy to work as well.
  7. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks, David. I've heard of something similar to this. I guess I'll just have to try this to get the hang of it. As mentioned, I have been moving and sorting my gondolas & tank cars, etc., to various locations but just want to add some variations. Yes, my son just might enjoy this as well! Cheers, Rob
  8. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    If you put industries in, you can run with a bag for each industry, with the right cars in it.
    Or put industry/car combinations on the counters. Pull 6 out and run the train, then another 6 for the next train.
    You can make mock-up industries by painting some doors and windows on a shoe box.
  9. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    The late Whit Towers used to have operating sessions on his home layout with multiple visiting modelers operating. He didn't want to bother with cards, so he used a system he called "put one take one." It certainly was not prototypical because there was no paperwork involved with any cars or description of loads or anything like that. The rule was if you are operating a freight train and you drop a car at an industry, you need to pick up a car that was already there at the industry and take it with you. On a layout as small as you are running, I don't think it will work well to try to have passenger trains runnning while you switch out freights. If your freight pulls on to the main as soon as the passenger train goes by, the passenger train is liable to be back running into the freight before the freight can even get clear of the mainline.
  10. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    Do you ever run mixed trains? (Do they do that on British railways?) I'd second the suggestions already made and add this one - I have heard it said that a layout can be as simple as a stretch of track at which one end is an interchange and the other is a team track. Or all a layout really needs for simple operations are a team track, an interchange, and a freight house. Add in passenger station and you're good to go with a wide variety of rolling stock. Even tank cars and hoppers can be unloaded at a simple siding with a pipe fitting or rolling conveyor. So even on a small layout you don't need many actual industries to have great operation.

    It'd also be helpful to know if you're willing to divide the view somehow, with a vertical view block, high ridge, etc. to simulate distance. Or perhaps hide part of the track to allow one train to layover a bit while the other works.
  11. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks ! I'll try to implement some of these ideas in the next week or so. Rob

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