Question on Pick-ups and Set-outs

Discussion in 'Model Rail Operations' started by Gary S., Mar 18, 2007.

  1. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Since I have quite a bit of my track down and wired, and I have some of the magnets and turn-out controllers installed, I decided to run a mini-operating session to see if things would work as I expected.

    First, some pics:

    Attached Files:

  2. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Now, the question concerns switching the following scenario. In the following pic, there are two boxcars at the white building that need to be picked up. There are two airslide hoppers at the elevator and they need to be picked up. The two covered hoppers in the train need to be set out at the elevator. The 4 boxcars in the train need to be set out at the white building. The turn-outs are trailing point to both industries. There are several ways this could be done.

    QUESTION: How would this be done proto-typically? Would we pull the entire train past the turn-outs and then back-up into each spur, grab the cars, pul out of the spurs, and then back them past the turn-outs to get them out of the way first? Or would we do a mixture of picking up and setting out as we went? I realize there may not be an exact answer to this, just wondering what would usually be done.

    Here is the pic of the starting point of our maneuvers.

    Attached Files:

  3. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    Interesting question.. I know nothing about operations, but I assume railroads look at the bottom line ($$$). My guess is real railroads would do whatever is quickest or cheapest.

  4. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    I would guess that doing the maneuver with the fewest number of moves is what we are after. After much thought, it seems that there are many different ways to do this, and all of them require about the same number of moves. Here is one method.

    1. Pull entire train to the right until the last car clears the switch to the white building.
    2. Back up down the spur to the white building and couple to the boxcars that need to be picked up
    3. Come back out of the spur until the last car clears the switches.
    4. Back up down the mainline past the switches and uncouple the two boxcars that were picked up leaving them on the main, the four boxcars that need to be set out are on the back of the train
    5. Pull the train back to the right clearing the switches
    6. Back into the white building spur and set out the 4 boxcars.
    7. Pull out of the white building spur and go to the right until we clear the switches. The two hoppers that need to be set out are the only cars behind the engine.
    8. Back into the elevator spur and grab the airslide hoppers
    9. Pull back onto the main past the switches.
    10. Back up down the main to the left, and leave the airslide hoppers past the switches
    11. Pull the two covered hoppers to the right, clearing the switches
    12. Back into the elevator spur and set out the covered hoppers.
    13. Pull out of the elevator spur.
    14. Back up down the main and connect to the cars that we picked up
    15. Continue our job down the main to the right with the cars we picked up
  5. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Was it Model Railroader that used to publish switching challenges and then provide their best answer? It was a fun exercise. As for prototypic I would say the real railroaders would want the least number of moves to get the job done in the shortest time. I'm looking forward to Brakie's take on this one.
  6. liven_letdie

    liven_letdie Member

    It pretty much depends on the length of the handle and the power you have. For example on the M&ET they use 70 tonners so some moves just couldnt be done. Other than that prototypically you do the least amount moves in the fastest amount of time as possible.
  7. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Gary, your sceniario seems logical to me. The way I see it, that would be the least amount of moves.

  8. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    I am also wondering what would be done if there was a caboose on the train. Would it be cut-off the train first? Or would it go along for the ride in and out of the spurs? With the caboose left on the train, the brakeman could ride it so he could do the coupling/uncoupling, and switching.

    Okay... any good books on prototypical operations out there? I've got "Realistic Model Railroad Operations" and the other one on Realistic Layout Design... don't remember the name exactly, it is a book from Model Railroader. Anything else out there?
  9. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    Some crews will do it the quickest way if there is an early quit in their future. Some crews might choose to do it to minimize the amount of walking that needs to be done if there is foul weather. It's entirely at the crew's discretion. Since it's your railroad and you are the one holding the throttle that leaves it entirely up to you. Switchmen earn their reputation on the rails by how well they can conduct their work. Some are simply better at it than others.
  10. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    I'm glad to hear that... instead of rotely doing the switching "by the book", I get to use my noggin when deciding the best way to do the switching. That should make for more interesting running.

    I certainly enjoyed the little session I did, and am looking forward to doing more and more as the layout progresses. In the end, I figure my typical train will be 12 cars coming out of the interchange, dropping them off and picking up about 12 which would be headed for the interchange at the other end of the line. After those 12 are dropped off, would pick up another 12 or so for the return trip, would spot them while picking up cars headed back to where we started. That would be in the neighborhood of 48 cars during the session.
  11. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Also remember what has to be done with the cars once they reach the yard. Some roads had rules about how to handle specific cars. For example, CN had a standing rule that stock cars were to be spotted behind the engine for easy handling at their destination (immediate unloading, feeding, watering).

    A number of guys that I operate with have the pick ups at the end of the train (but in front of the caboose ;)), others like the pickups behind the engine to use as a handle (or idler car) when lifting.

  12. santafewillie

    santafewillie Member

    I believe that the scenario you describe is the way most crews would handle this situation. However depending on the real world distance, some crews might do step 8 after step 4. As to the question regarding cabooses, I think that they were almost always cut off first and the crew rode the cars instead. I wish brakie would see this thread.
  13. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Gary,Your guess is the correct method!:thumb: Thats exactly the way we would handle the work..:D

    Andrew,Most conductors with would put stock cars in a out of the way place to include behind the caboose with red flag protection..Why? Because if the car was loaded they would not want to bounce the live stock around..Less chance of live stock injuries.
    As far as pickups different conductors would handle pick ups differently.Some by the caboose,some in the middle of the train IF we had return set outs on the home trip or in front.
  14. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Thanks Brakie. I now have 95% of the track down in the areas I have been working on, so Sunday I will do some more operating to see how things go.

    Here's a pic of the mess I made tonight. Man, I put in a solid 9 hours today, putting down track, installing turn-out controls, electromagnets, and wiring everything up. I'm pretty tired right now. Tomorrow I will have to clean up the mess, clean the track, and then run some trains!!

    Attached Files:

  15. Hoghead

    Hoghead Member

    Grab all of the pick ups.
    Couple up the the hoppers and shove back to grab the box cars.
    Pull out and couple up the the train.
    Pull the train ahead 10 cars and make the cut in between the pickups/set offs and the rest of the train.
    Shove back and spot the four box cars.
    Pull ahead and then shove back in the other industry track and spot the hoppers.
    Pull out with your pick ups your still hanging onto and couple back up to the remaining train.
  16. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Interesting how much personal preference + experience may differ from the "official" rules. I also thought that having them right behind the engine would make for more "back and forth" for the cattle, but that was the rule nonetheless...! I don't know how long it was in effect for? Perhaps it was changed, since farmers would not have stood for any practice that damaged their goods en route to market.

  17. KATY

    KATY Member

    And if the crew is into overtime, the yardmaster may say tie up and I'll send the gintny for you and the customers may not get their cars till later or the next day........happens to me where I work all the time. Just another scenario, but not fun to model.
  18. IandOFan71

    IandOFan71 Member

    First I want to say that your layout looks real nice so far. Ahhhhh switching. My absolute favorite part of the hobby and the focus of my own layout. The steps that you listed seem pretty logical to me, but I will tell you that it will change more times than you can count as you go along. Most often it's the quickest method possible to get the job done. When switching, my preference is to spot the pick ups at the end of the train because it works for me.
    Here is a suggestion to spice up your switching for these two industries. The first one is to throw a couple of road crossings in the mix. Perhaps one across the main and both spurs just beyond the switch and before the grain mill. And another that runs between the two industries. You can't tie up a crossing for more than 5 minutes so you either split the train at the crossing or be quick about it or else the FRA man will be in your cab.
    Good luck to you on your journey of switching and keep us posted.

  19. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Thanks for that thought. I had already planned to put a road between the two industries, I could add another as per your suggestion.

    I am finding the switching aspects to be really interesting. Lots of different ways to do it. And I think I am starting to "think like a real railroader" in that I need to consider each move seperately.... determine the move, then throw all the turn-outs for the move, make sure everything is aligned, then make the move. In other words, plan ahead before doing anything. What is getting me to think this way is the number of times I have derailed the train by running through a turn-out from frog-to-point without it being aligned. It is easy to remember to switch the turn-out to the proper direction when going point-to-frog, because that is doing the routing to the proper track, but the other way isn't quite as obvious.
  20. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Gary,Remember what a old line PRR told me when I was a student brakeman..
    Son,Always plan your work and work your plan..Never move cars you don't need to and remember you can back several cars as easily as one..And above all never get your cabin in front of your face.

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