Operational Question

Discussion in 'Model Rail Operations' started by Tad, Feb 7, 2004.

  1. Tad

    Tad Member

    Operational Considerations/Questions

    When setting up operations on your layout, there are several things that must be considered. How you answer these questions greatly affects the operations and operational setting of your layout. When you start thinking about these things, it can seem overwhelming if you have never done it before. ( I know that it did for me.)

    These would be similar to "givens & druthers" in layout design. Instead of a physical design, here we are talking of operational design.

    Do you have a theme for your layout?

    Do you have an operational scheme for your layout?

    How many operators does it take to operate your layout?

    What city(ies) & state(s)/province(s) is your layout located in? (Not physical location, but modeled location. Real or fictional)

    What is your home road?

    What type of trains do you run?

    Do you have different classes of trains?

    What are your interchange roads?

    Where are your interchange junctions?

    What industries do you have on your layouts?

    What are they named?

    What do they ship and receive?

    In what types of cars?

    How do you decide:

    Who to ship to?

    What did you ship to them?

    Where to ship to?

    Who shipped to you?

    Where did they ship from?

    What did they ship to you?

    Blocking/Routing Instructions for cars?

    Do you make it up or do you try to make it realistic?

    If you use waybills:

    Do you use 1, 2, or 4 cycle waybills?

    Do your waybills stay with the car forever?

    Do you occasionally switch out & shuffle some or all of your way bills?

    Do you cycle all waybills between each session?

    Or do you allow loading/unloading periods for some/all cars?

    If so, are the periods fixed or variable?

    What type of traffic control do you use?

    Do you use timetables?

    If so, do you use a clock / fast clock to govern operations or merely a sequential time table that orders events in an "operational day?"

    Do you have a rule book?

    These are some of the questions that I have worked through in setting up operations for my layout. I'm sure that this list is by no means exhaustive.

    Do you use signals?

    Do you have a dispatcher?

    Feel free to add, subtract, debate or disagree. :cool:
  2. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    Looks like you covered all the bases :)
  3. santafewillie

    santafewillie Member

    Great to see this forum open, now let's see if this question fits the topic. On the real thing (and I guess on our layouts), where do the set-outs go on the train? Are they at the front next to the engine, or near the rear? Also, where do the pick-ups go?
    Is there a standard followed by all roads or does it vary by road or situation? I remember watching "Frisco" crews doing the flying switch maneuver in the 70's which required the car to be adjacent to the engine, otherwise I'm ignorant.
  4. Skunk Valley

    Skunk Valley Member

    Operational Reality

    Allow me to inject a few thoughts toward conducting an operating session.

    My local club only has about a dozen "active" members. Of those, only 2 or 3 have any real experience in ops. Skill level of the operators will greatly influence what can be done in a session.

    My layout is a 5 x 12 foot HO pike with DCC. A few of the guys like to bring their favorite engines to run. (Our club does not have a permanent home right now, and I'm one of only three home layouts that are useable.) I keep several blank locomotive cards that can be filled in quickly to allow these late additions.

    Session attendance has varied from a low of three to a maximum of all 12. Therefore I try to have a lot of flexibility built in to a session. I like to have crews of two, paring a rookie with some experience, but have let 'em run solo.

    A simple session can be just a local freight switching the city and yard (6 industry spots and 2 tracks holding 5 cars each). The next addition to the schedule is the way freight, switching 4 sidings spread around the main line. More people than that, I'll add logging operations, and the logging camp is at the opposite end of the layout from the sawmill. Any more people, somebody can run the engine yard. Throw a passenger train right in the middle just for grins.

    Bottom line: small groups may require a lot of flexibility to pull off a good session.
  5. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    That is a loaded question! I found while working on the PRR/PC and C&O/Chessie that would depend on the conductor.:D
    Some conductors would keep their pickups in the middle of the train if there was work to do on the return trip to the yard.Others would place the pickups in front of the caboose regardless if there was work to do on the return trip or not.As far as setouts go they would be between the engine and caboose to start with and in industry order and they may end split up after the first pickup(see above).

    Here is some advice a old line PRR conductor told me when I first hired on..I remember this well and still use it today.
    Sonny,Always plan your work and work your plan,never make moves you don't have to.Keep your train workable and never get your caboose in front of your face.:thumb:
  6. Tad

    Tad Member

    Excellent points, Jack. I don't know anyone where I live that does operations on their layouts. I'm sure there are some but all of the folks I know just run trains.

    Everything I know (admittedly little) has been learned from books and on-line reading. I have just gotten my pike to the point that I can start operating and actualy gain some experience.

    I did receive an nice invitation to travel a few hours away to a session in a few months. I am definitely going to take him up on it just for the experience and to see an operational pike in action. The fellow that sent me the invite has a very nice layout with a large group of operators that meet monthly. From his website, I definitely want to go and see it in person.

    Its here: www.ucwrr.com
  7. papasmurf37

    papasmurf37 Member

    HI FOLKS: HI BRAKIE! I missed you last p.m. on chat here as I tuned in too late. Will try again soon for sure!

    Regarding you question on location of loads/ loco/ MT cars in a turn: BRAKIE will be able to tell you a LOT on 1:1 switching!

    In book, titled 'The Blueberry Express', a history of local, ex-B&M short line [about 26 miles long] which ran until the early 50's, it was an everyday occurance to have all loads in front of loco, especially since they brought cars uphill this way over their short, 2% grade SWITCHBACK [only one on an active RR main in eastern US at that time]. Be advised here that loco in middle of train is FORBIDDEN by federal regulation in modern railroading, due to engineer having NO forward view of the track [back then, brakeman or conductor rode 'point' and radioed engineer]. If necessary, MT cars were sometimes hauled behind loco as they were picked up. This was not 'carved in granite' [pun, as RR was located in the Granite State; NH] as turn crew handled cars in many ways, to get the job done! They ran twice a day except Sunday and many times, the MT cars were hauled west on second turn. They'd leave them near an industry's switch for later pickup, after new cars were spotted or on any available spur or siding nearby. It was also common to temporarily drop incomng cars on nearby sidings, spurs if no room was available at their designated location [industry/ freighthouse/ team track/ REA facility].
    It's not a bad idea to make up a file of information like this on prototype practices in the era you are modeling for future reference.
  8. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Hi Papa! Glad to see you here! :D

    Tad,You bring up some excellent operation goals..All of those goals you mention makes operation more realistic and needs to be observed by the serious operators and should be considered during the planing of the layout..:thumb:
  9. Drew Toner

    Drew Toner Member

    And if I can ad one more,

    Don't ever let the engineman change your mind, if you know your right:mad: :mad: :mad:

  10. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Drew,Most if not all of the old line conductors I worked with would tell that engineer to mind his engine as that is his job and I'm the conductor on this here train sonny and not you..98% of the old line conductors called everybody sonny.

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