Operations scheme: I think I got it this time!

Discussion in 'Model Rail Operations' started by Ralph, Jul 8, 2004.

  1. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    OK, I've been working on this for a while and think it might work great on my layout.

    I want to generate rail traffic the way it happens in the real world...by customer demand. So, I created a set of cards, one for each of the 12 industries/ interchanges on my layout. I made doubles of each card so one represents a set out and the other a pick up. Shuffle the deck.

    I use dice to add a degree of randomness to keep it interesting and varied. I roll one of the dice to determine how many industires will be served. Draw the number of industry cards indicated on the dice. If double cards appear that means I'll be both setting out and picking up cars at that site.
    Using only one of the dice means I may roll a minimum of one industry which might be OK depending on the number of cars going there...or I'll roll again to add to the train. A maximum of six industries is plenty of action on my layout.

    Once the industry cards are selected I'll roll dice again to determine how many cars are to be set out or picked up at each site. I ran into problems with this earlier because using dice that go up to six could create much larger trains than my layout can handle. I solved that problem by using "white out" to cover some of the dots to create a cube with only options for a 1, a 2, two 3s and two 4s. This works well since most of my industries don't accomodate more than four cars. The combined dice rolling could yeild a maximum of a 24 car train which is manageable for me. Probability suggests that most trains will be smaller.

    Below is an example of an industry card.....

    Attached Files:

    • card.jpg
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  2. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    My earlier attempts were sometimes complicated by my difficulty in planning where in the train cars should be placed to make switching efficient. Sometimes I couldn't get to the car I needed without a lot of unnecessary loco movements.

    I solved this problem by creating a custom made switch list that lines the towns and their industries in order along the route. Once the dice have determined which industries and how many cars are to be put on the train I can go through the switch list and write down where each car goes and build the train in order accordingly. Trains can orginate at either West Mill Jct. or Kings Port so I'd work up or down the list depending on the direction of the train. I've made the double list shown below, one for set outs and one for pick ups. (I cropped the bottom half of the pic that includes Kings Port because it didn't show clearly when I shrunk it down to meet size requirements for posting...but you get the idea).

    Then, once the train is ready I send it out and start working off the list!

    Attached Files:

  3. Chessie6459

    Chessie6459 Gauge Oldtimer

    Ralph sounds like you got a good going on there :thumb: :thumb: :thumb:
  4. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Ralph,I like your idea.. :thumb: Sounds interesting and very basic with no need to write several different waybills for each car you own or use on your layout... :D
  5. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    Thanks guys! I did an actual test tonight and here's how it went:

    The dice roll to determine the number of industries was 3.

    I drew Westlund Meats, Sheridan Sheet Metal, and Allied Bulk Commodaties Transfer. All are set outs.

    Dice rolls for each industry were 1, 4 (rounded down to 2 since this is the max capacity for this company), and 2...a total of 5 cars. This will be a short local run since Westlund, Sheridan, and ABCT are all located in Sawyer, the first town out of West Mill Jct. heading southbound.

    Assembling this train is easy with one box car for Westlund's, two box cars for Sheridan Sheet Metal, and two open hoppers for ABCT. I write down the initials for the road names and the last three ID numbers of each car next to the names of the industries on the switch list:


    Sheridan Sheet Metal: PC 502 and PC 150

    Westlund Meat: NH 258

    ABCT: BO 018 and RDG 556

    I set out the cars and ran back "light". Even this small job took about 15 minutes to complete from assembly to final return of the loco. I'm actually finding the paper work and recording of the car numbers to be part of the fun!

  6. CN1

    CN1 Active Member

    Ralph this is a great idea !!!!!!! :thumb:

    Please keep us updated :) . I'm about to copy your idea :D :D
  7. siderod

    siderod Member

    since copying is the only way i;d ever come up with that, or anything remotely as good, i mght just borrow it too!
  8. cyb0rg

    cyb0rg New Member


    Great idea Ralph!
  9. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    That's a great way of doing things Ralph!!! I'll keep it in mind for when I ever get trains running again - layout is undergoing serious contruction right now.

  10. grumbeast

    grumbeast Member

    Hi Ralph,

    Looks like a good system, I have question tho (I'm new to the whole operations thing). What happens if you have 2 cars to set out at an industry that has a 2 car capacity, and there is already a car there that doesn't require pickup?

  11. siderod

    siderod Member


    Good question...very good question...operations ain't a strong point on my layout, but this is something i might seriously try...if it don't work, i'm not gonna be broke for trying.

    AR :wave:
  12. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    Hi Graham,

    Well I can avoid this situation by only placing cars at industries that have been indicated by my card shuffling and dice rolling. I imagine on the prototype that if a delivery dilemma like this occurs it means some one didn't do their job very well. :) I'll leave it up to the pros on the forum to give the definitive anwer but I wonder if the crew in such circumstances might pull the car and replace it with the two they have...and then set the other car on a siding or spur as close to the industry as possible for future loading (?)

    As for my operating scheme, since I first posted it back in July I've often been lazy and didn't use the dice. I simply shuffled the deck, picked out the number of cards I felt like using, sorted them by pick ups and set outs, and decided how many cars to put on industry tracks and on the train. This still gives me some variety but I also get more control.
  13. grumbeast

    grumbeast Member

    Excellent Answer..

    I've been having a think about how to solve the problem and I'm not there yet!, When the NSN is more complete I'm going to give your ops method a try. I love the idea of some (controlled) randomness with the Dice (I used to teach game design so this naturally appeals to me!)

  14. EL3625

    EL3625 New Member


    In the real world the consignee would be contacted and he would decide which car would be spotted. The other car would be held at the yard until needed. Not a big deal really.

    John D.

  15. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    Thank you John! That's the answer!

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