Questions about Operations from a greenhorn.

Discussion in 'Model Rail Operations' started by grandpacoyote, Jan 14, 2007.

  1. grandpacoyote

    grandpacoyote Member

    Hello Gang,

    As some of you may know my OL and I are currently building an HO Scale layout in a spare bedroom of our house that we have been converting to a Train Room. The Layout is set in 1953-54, in northern Arizona and is the old AT&SF main running through a small town .

    I've read through a lot of various material on operations and think I have come to understand it enough that I've been able to make a reasonable, decent plan... but after all this time I still have no idea as to how operations -work-. Let me try and explain what I mean by this, I understand that basically we are talking about layout picking up and moving cars and then taking them to yards and breaking them up, sorting them out and remaking them into trains to be sent here or there. What I don't get is how to actually apply that thinking to our plan.

    I have the tracks and know the industries and I think (and hope) I've put in proper trackage for run-arounds and other needed movements and set out my spurs in proper facing or trailing manner accept for one that has a run-around provided because of that.

    That all said what I lack is the understanding of just how it all fits together... meaning what sort of cars should go and come from where, what sorts of materials are typically moved to and from such industries and how often etc. I know it may seem strange that someone can get to this point in a layout and not have a clue as to these things but I started off in the hobby totally pig ignorant about trains, in fact I'm sure that some pigs that live near the tracks might actually know more than I do! :)

    So I am wondering if the gang here which seems to be filled with very knowledgeable and helpful folks could give me some ideas... To help out along that vein I have provided our track plan below and a key to the tracks and industries.

    Honestly gang I don't even know if I'm making any sense here :oops: so if I'm not or haven't provided enough information or details please let me know and I promise to try and either provide the info needed or clarify my question ASAP.

    Looking forward to any input you all have to offer.

    Thanks in advance for your time and aid.




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  2. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Coyote, I know what you are going through, I am doing that to. Now I am not pushing my thread or anything, this is just to get you started, ok? Take a look a the thread ? about waybills in this forum. I notice you have a stockyard, but what will you do with the livestock when it gets there? Or are you shipping livestock out. Then you should have a ranch on your layout, or some place for the livestock to go to or come from. I hope I am not making things worse for you. I am pretty confused myself right now:D .

    P.S. your trackplan looks great to me.
  3. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Now is the time you have to find out what comes and goes at each of your industries.
    Then you decide what sort of cars the stuff is carried in. You don't have any natural pairs of industries, except for the oil sector, and maybe the gravel and cement. So most of your operations will be from industry to the staging yard. (This will please Brakie, because he thinks that trucks would handle most of the movement in a town that size.)
    And woork your way through Grewsome's thread.
  4. liven_letdie

    liven_letdie Member


    If this is what you are starting with you are really going places! I like the layout of the layout so to speak. I am wondering though about how many cars you expect to fit at each industry. Related to this also the capacity of the staging tracks and the trains that will be coming out of there (pass, runthrough freight, local freight) and which direction they will be heading. Do you plan on having multiple operators? Do you plan on having trains running on one line while you work the other if by yourself?

    Looking good :thumb:
  5. CCT70

    CCT70 Member

    Ok, I *think* I understand what you're looking for and so will take a stab at it.

    Here is a list of industries and cars, loads, etc. for each accordingly:

    A- Gondola loads of scrap in, empties out.
    B- Tank car loads in, empties out.
    C- Boxcar empties and loads in, empties and loads out
    D- Not being sure how bolts and screws are made, I would go boxcar empties in, loads out
    E- Passenger station, a 6-7 car Super Chief made from the shorter Athearn Streamlined cars with a few details like IHC trucks and American Limited Diaphrams would be VERY nice.
    F- 2 Bay covered hopper loads of sand in Open gravel Hoppers in, empties out (you'll need a fleet of kitbashed cement mixer trucks for your era parked nearby and even traveling the roads)
    G- Tank car empties in, loads out
    H- Team Track! These are lots of fun, as you can use ANY types of loads, cars, etc. I'd add about 7 or 8 different types of cars to the roster to serve this. Lumber on flat cars would be a great choice, as would heavy equipment and machinery on flats. Poles in Gondolas would also be cool.
    I- Stock car loads in and loads and empties out.
    J- What type of co-op? Grain? Prodice? I'd add about 6 cars accordingly to the roster for it
    K- Gravel Hoppers, open top, empties in, loads out. Add another 8 cars with removeable loads. (Chooch makes great loads, or you can make them yourself with blocks of foam with ballast added).

    Here is a roster of cars *I* would add for the layout assuming you are still shopping for cars or will be any time soon:

    Boxcar 8
    Gondola 5
    Reefer 5
    Tank Car 7
    Flat Car 5
    Covered Hopper 8
    Open Top Hopper 8
    Stock Car 6
    Passenger Car 7

    That accounts for 52 freight cars and 7 passenger cars. I know that seems like a lot, but you can never have too many freight cars. :D

    In the next post, I'll offer a suggestion to how *I* would operate a wayfreight over the road on this layout.
  6. CCT70

    CCT70 Member

    Ok, this is the train that *I* would make up and leave the staging yard with, headed south along the left leg of the wye coming out to the mainline:


    Notice that some of these cars are loads and some are empties (like the second set of open top hoppers). I'd make my first pickup and set out at "G" by making a cut behind the two tank cars in the train and hang on to them ("footboard" them) as you back in to "G" to grab the loads. Bring the loads back out to your tain and if you are a good brakeman, you could just kick those cars into your train while you return to "G" to spot the two empties you brought with you from the yard. Then proceed to the siding with your two gravel loads, run around them, switch "F", and then continue on to "H" with your two loads for the team track (in this example train the heavy equipment flat and load of lumber), and keep going around the layout in a clockwise direction with boxcar spots at "C" & "D" being your last work.

    Now, keep in mind, this is just an example, you can make a few laps around the railroad before starting your work, you can omit stops (very rarely if ever does a local switch ALL industries in the same day/run anyway), you can go backwards and spot "C" & "D" first, etc. You don't have to fill all industry spots with cars, you can spot one instead of two or three, you can pull an industry but have no spots for them, etc., etc.

    Since you have a West bound main and an East bound main, it would even be better to break up the train in Westbound spots and Eastbound spots. That way you can run one train at a time in each direction. There are a BUNCH of possibilities for this great layout design.

    Now, I know someone is going to point out that you aren't supposed to run tank cars behind the power, and that is true. However, this is 1955, so that rule wasn't in effect yet, or if you *do* want to enforce that, you can stick a couple of idler cars (any empty car) between the tanks and the engines.

    I *hope* I understood your question, and hope I answered it for you. If you have any other questions, give me a holler, I'll do what I can to answer them.

  7. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    I think you've done a good job getting your question across. You want to model the delivery of good and supplies to and from your industries in a realistic fashion. I liike your track plan which allows for running in either direction from staging, has trailing and facing spurs and sidings for running around cars. Nice collection of industries too. You're getting some good information about what sorts of cars might appear at the types of industires you have. You might try some internet searching to find out more. I did this with the cement industry and learned about the sorts of materials that might be needed there. Maybe those pigs who live near the tracks should have their own pen at your stock yard. :)
  8. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    David,What pleases me the most is NOT having industries that serve each other..It is BEST to have industries independent of each other.Not only does that make good common sense LED but,its prototypical as well.
    What I am trying to teach is realistic operation based on the prototype.:D

    ALL the local cement dealers have their sand and gravel trucked in from local quarries.See how it works in the real world? And it should be the same in our miniature world after all we are modeling railroads that serves our miniature industries...
  9. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Question: That train would be about 15 feet long. The layout appears to be in a 12 x 12 room. Just so i will know, is it normal to run a train this long on a layout of this size? It looks like it would take up almost half of the mainline length.
  10. CCT70

    CCT70 Member

    You know, I didn't think about that, and you're right. Best bet might be to run two locals, one westbound and one east to service the entire layout. Or even one to get the industries on the north end of the RR and one local to work the south end.

    Guys, this is just how *I* would work it if it was my layout. Just some ideas, I'd be very interested myself in hearing how some of you would work it. There is always a better way.
  11. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Guys,I would go one step farther..I would NOT switch every industry..I would rotate the industries that needed cars switched out.You see there is no law or rule stating you must switch every industry every time you run a local..
  12. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Yep, not every one will need a shipment or delivery all the time. :thumb:
  13. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Gramps: with a double track mainline, do you see yourself doing right-hand running? I see that if you do this, most of your sidings are facing, and the locomotive will be pulling the train in.
    One thing I would do with CCT70's train is divide it in two, one to serve the inside industries, the other for the outside industries.
  14. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    David,Why? Gramps has sidings facing both ways plus run around tracks and by using prototypical operating procedures he can switch the "facing point" industries with a run around move or on his return trip just like a real local would..
    Operations is far more then running a train in one direction like a new modeler would.It also calls for understanding how railroaders go about their work.
  15. grandpacoyote

    grandpacoyote Member


    I will definitely take a look at your thread thanks for pointing me to it.

    Yes livestock will be coming to the stockyard... I plan on having a piece of an ranch modeled in the area that the small hexagon is at on the map just up from the gravel company.. the hexagon is planned to be a traditional hogan and the area around it a family ranch- but other cattle will "fictionally" be coming in from other ranches in the area and I'll be modeling this by having cattle trucks coming in by road.

    Thanks for your compliment by the way... It's taken the OL and I awhile to get it to this point. :)


  16. grandpacoyote

    grandpacoyote Member


    Definitely good advice. I plan on starting to work through Grewsome's thread later today a lot to digest there.

    Thanks for the help.


  17. grandpacoyote

    grandpacoyote Member


    Thank you very much. :)

    I would expect not many in general I'd hazard a guess, without going and consulting my track plan information, at roughly 2 to 3 cars per industry - more at some points such as the Gravel Company and Cement Factory and the Oil Fields - less at places such as Shipping Warehouse where I believe the maximum number of cars is right at 1.

    I would estimate my average staging track capacity at c. 10 cars/track (given a 40' car).

    I plan on running Pass, run through freight and local freight and trains will be heading both eastbound and westbound.

    Our basic beginning plan is just for two operators; myself and my wife - but it would be nice perhaps to later have friends from out of town etc who are interested come and operate as well.

    Thanks, and thanks for the response. :)


  18. grandpacoyote

    grandpacoyote Member


    Thank you for all this information! Wonderful post! It has helped me tremendously. I am printing this out and the following post with the train make up and adding them to a Operations Folder I've started to collect all this info in so I can study it and really get it down.

    Thank you again so much for these very clear and concise examples they are a boon to my understanding of all this and helping me "get" it for myself so I then alter and change things up if I should choose.

    :thumb: Great posts Tom!


  19. grandpacoyote

    grandpacoyote Member


    Thanks for the compliments and good advice... I've been slowly digging through some web pages to try and pick up some of the information I need but it's a great volume of data to go through, but I'll make it. :)

    You know I did have a sheep a pig pen along with the cattle yards, but I removed them because of space. I've been considering losing one of the cattle pens and replacing it with a sheep/pig pen. :)

    Thanks again.



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