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I just noticed that there's no place to talk about model railroad operations. No wonder it's not discussed much here. :D

Well, at the risk of posting in the wrong place, let's talk about model railroad operations!

Inspired by all the operations sessions during the most recent American Invasion of Canada, I decided to run my own operation today. I'm hoping that I can inspire some others to give operations a chance.

I model a much smaller railroad than the IPP&W in Ottawa. The J&B is really designed for single person operations, so there is no dispatcher. In my world, the the J&B runs 4 freight trains each day; two in the morning and two in the afternoon. Two trains in each direction.

Since it is only me, I take time to do things that I might not consider doing when there are ten trains running at once. These include water stops and connecting the glad hands. All of my turnouts are controlled manually.

Today, were running train #2: it's a westbound freight out of Green Springs, headed for Jackson.
Our switchlist looks like this:
Depart Green Springs with J&B Hopper#10, Shell Tank car, J&B Boxcar #105, and Caboose #503.

At Occoquan, drop off J&B Boxcar #105 at the mill, pick up J&B #110 from the mill, and Northland #3 from the interchange.

At Jackson, I need to do a local move of EBT hopper #805 to the Miracle Chair company, and then pickup J&B box #121 from Matheson Textiles.

All in all, it sounds like a pretty easy operation session! So, let's take a look at the session:


The locomotive starts on one of the service tracks and must first be turned.


Once turned, we stop for a water fill up.


We're scheduled to take caboose #503 today. Unfortunately, #501 is just in front of it. So we back up the caboose track and pull both cabooses.


I'll pull forward and then back up on my departure track, dropping off #503 to start building my train.


Of course, now I have to put caboose #501 back on the caboose track.


I need to get hopper #10, but it's behind a flat car, so I pull both cars off of that yard track.
http://www.lscdata.com/users/thejoat/Operations/Train2_GS/IMG_5095.JPG

I drop the hopper off and couple to the caboose. The flat car goes back to the track it was on. I need the tank car and the boxcar on the next track, so I pull them off and couple them to the hopper. My train is complete and I leave the yard.


My first stop sounds easy. I've got to drop boxcar #105 at the mill. So, I break the train and back #103 up the siding to the mill.


The only wrinkle here is that I have to pick up the boxcar #110 at the mill, and the boxcar on the interchange siding.


So, I couple box #103 to #110, and pull forward to the interchange siding, where I drop #110. Now the mill siding is clear and I can drop box #105. I now can go back and get the two boxcars that I left on the siding.


I put the train back together and proceed up the steep grade, finally crossing the trestle before reaching the hill's peak.


We head down the grade towards Jackson, and I start thinking about the next maneuver. The hopper is on a trailing point siding and it has to be moved to the facing point siding at Miracle Chair. I break the train and leave it on the main line. Fouling the main isn't a problem on my layout. :D The main does have a problem here: it's on a steep grade. So, if I leave the cars here, they will roll away on their own. When I was out at Dave Goodson's in April, he showed me how he dealt with the problem - he used a railroad spike to hold the train in place. I liked this idea, so I have a couple of spikes laying near the grades.


With just the locomotive, I back down the siding and pick up the hopper.


I couple the hopper to the front of the train and then I use the passing siding to run around behind the train.


Once behind, I first remember to remove the spike and then push the train forward.


I push it so that the hopper clears the siding that leads down to the Chair company.


I pull the train back and replace the spike, then run around to pick up the hopper. With the hopper coupled, I back down the siding towards Miracle Chair.


Unfortunately, there's a boxcar at the Chair Company. I need to move it out of the way, before I can deliver my hopper full of coal.


I pull forward and pull the boxcar off the Chair Company siding.


Once I clear the switch, I pull forward and drop the boxcar, leaving the way clear to locate the hopper next to the Chair Company.


I go back and grab the boxcar and put it back on the Chair siding.


My last pickup is at Matheson Textiles. This one is easy - I just need to back up and couple to J&B boxcar #121.


I head up the siding and rejoin my train. Before leaving Jackson, I stop for water.


My switching is done and I head out of Jackson to the rest of the (unmodeled) railroad.
 

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A nivce bit of running with some great photos Bruce. And the J&B RR looks wonderful.

While we were away on our recent trip chasing eastern ng steam, I drove Bruce crazy with switching puzzles ... it must have helped as Bruce and Jean made a good team for all the switching during the Invasion!

Regards ... Doug
 

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Bruce, real nice photo's as well as story line. There are quite a few "operators" on this website. My outdoor railroad is also a "shortline" operation. The single track main is 235' from Lone Pine to Montgomery with 2 towns and 1 interchange in-between. At Lone Pine my M&CC RR has running rights on the ex SP now UP main 25' to a 30' branchline that services a gravel pit and log loading facility. The normal operation calls for the Lewiston Local to come on duty at Lone Pine, pull cars off the UP interchange and the get a route to the branch to pull the gravel & log loads back to LP. There the local switches the 2 local industries and departs south with cars for Cripple Creek and Lewiston. Does all switching at Lewiston (5 industries) leaving southbound traffic on the passing track while making up its northbound train to return to LP stopping at Cripple Creek to handle any necessary switching for the 3 industries there. When arriving back at LP, gets route on UP to the branch to spot the empties at the pit & log loader, delivers cars to thr UP interchange as well as spot any cars at the 2 industries at LP. Before putting the engine away he gathers up the cars for the outbound southbound Montgomery Turn which carries cars bound for Interchange Pointe (interchange with buddie's Leamington & St Clair RR)and Montgomery which has 6 industries. MT departs LP stopping at Lewiston to pickup the southbound cars setout earlier by the Lewiston local proceedin on south to Interchange Pointe to work the interchange track leaving any northbound cars from the L&STC on the passing track to be picked up on the return trip. The MT then leaves south for the end of the line at Montgomery which is a "reverse loop". After doing all the local work there, the crew starts back north stopping at Interchange Pointe to deliver any more cars for the L&STC that were picked up at Montgomery and to get the northbound cars off the passing track that were left earlier. After departing there the next stop is Rockdale where there is a small coal loading facility which supplies a car of coal to the power company at Montgomery. train then departs for Lewiston where this time he delivers any cars to the industries there before proceeding on to Cripple Creek where he spots any cars there that he got from IP or Montgomery. Finally he leaves CC for Lone Pine where he switches out his train delivering cars to UP interchange as wll as the local industries in town. This whole operation usually takes a little more the 2 hrs to perform. The 2 frt trains each normally carry 8 cars or less. I currently utilize the color-coded card order system liked I had used on my HO layout for over 20 years. I do use a clock (real time) just to monitor length of times it takes me & the various visiting crews to perform the work. Normally there is only 1 train operated at a time but tourist psgr trains do operate on the weekends. I really enjoy "operation", just don't care for all the weed pulling and the sweat from the hot sun!
 

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Great post Bruce and your railroad looks wonderful. A lot of nice plant growth since I last saw photos of it. I'll probably never get that far east again but if I do I'll be sure and twist your arm to do some ops on the J&B. And....I'll bring the beer!!

Of course one thing was missing in your ops session....


Tell the truth now...don't you miss the nice cooling rain running down your neck? ;)" border=0> :D" border=0> :)" border=0>
 

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Hi Bruce,
This is not the first occasion that I have seen pics of your magnificent railroad. I have also seen them on this Forum and in GR. I must say that you seem to have got things well perfected and it was a joy to look at the pics. Thanks for the posts.

After two years my RR is still a small affair, around 180ft. with a long siding. This runs around my garden mainly at dirt level. There is not much scope to extend but I have just managed put in a short spur.
Now - and this is where the cookie crumbles -;) your operational methods have given me some ideas. If I can get the Head Gardner to move her shed a few feet (my son and I can do the shifting) I could build a small area for switching operations. This would be at the end of the spur on an area which is slightly elevated, about 2ft. in fact.
So if it ever happens I will post some details. /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/laugh.gif
 

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When I visited with Bruce a month ago, we had a similar set of switching moves set up that we worked as darkness fell and a t storm approached.

The problem is disarmingly simple but complex enough to make an operator think. A passing siding on the main provides a runaround ... a long siding off it and which gives a trailing point spur from the passing siding in the normal direction of travel ... then along this spur a second spur which is a facing point siding.

The move in question was to lift a car from the trailing point siding and spot it on the facing point siding ... what is the most efficient way to do this?

Perhaps someone would explain the sequence of moves especially considering the positions of both the headend and tailend brakemen who must be positioned to throw switches and couple/uncouple cars.

Regards ... Doug
 

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Doug,
The quickest way to make you're move would to make a drop. Drop off one brakeman at the switch to the siding, have the engine couple on to the car to respot, pull forward, pull pin, throw switch, have other brakeman be riding car and tie hand brake down. This is slightly illegal on most Class I's today, but depending on the location it may still be legal.
The other option in my opinion, would be to have one brakemen at the switch from the siding/spur and other other one at on the power to run around the train. First step, tie on to pull car and drag car onto the passing siding, just clear of the turnout to the spur. Step two have one brakeman run around the pull car on the main, throwing two switches, to put the power on the opposite side of the car. While this is happening the first brakeman would be walking up from the industry were he made the hook to were the pull car was dropped off. He then throws the spur switch back to normal on the passing siding, allowing the power to tie on. After the switch is thrown, he then walks back to the spur switch to line. Meanwhile the power has been running around the car. The second brakeman makes the joint, and pulls the power over the switch, lining it back into the spur to be respotted. The first brakeman then stops the power, and the respot car, lines the switch, and rides it into the spot. Move completed.
This is how I would do it, but I'm sure there's other ways.

Craig
 

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Craig

Your second approach is what I think has to happen in the model ... the first approach is not really possible! I never think about where the brakemen have to be on the ground to make it all happen so I likely often make moves which would not really be the way it is done.

In your example, the train presumably would have been left on the main clear of the passing siding so that the runaround movement could be made without moving the whole train. In the model world we never worry about making the brakemen walk imaginary miles while also blithely leaving the conductor in the caboose in the middle of nowhere or alternately moving the whole train during switching knocking the coffee pot on the caboose floor with rough coupling.

Regards ... Doug
 

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Bruce, great pics and operations! Looks like loads of fun :) I'm going to have to set up a switch yard in my next layout, space is currently very limited where I am now. But it's on the list for the next layout. I do have one siding so I can start with that.

I agree it would be nice to have a forum for folks to post Model Railroad Operations.
 

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That was great Bruce, thanks so much for the post. As I develop the LP&W I'd really like to start getting involved in Ops sessions. I'm not aware of anyone in our club that does them. I may have to start, but I have no experience at it. Thanks for opening the window a bit and giving me a peek at how things happen.
 

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Bruce,
That was GREAT. I love ops, and the Meadley Branch I am building is a switching layout. One staging track a run around and a few industries. I can't wait until I finish the track and can started switching just like that. I did not notice in the photos, which couplers are you using and how do you uncouple the cars?
Richard,
That photo was just plain mean:mad:" border=0> Why don't you go ahead and remind us how much easier it would be if we all had layouts raised up that high for operations.
 

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Posted By Dr G on 07/24/2008 9:08 PM

Richard,
That photo was just plain mean:mad:" border=0>" border=0> Why don't you go ahead and remind us how much easier it would be if we all had layouts raised up that high for operations.




Well....that's why it's called the S.O.B. ("Smith Outdoor Benchwork"..thanks Jim) system!
/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/blink.gif:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks guys. It would be nice to have a model RR operations section.

It could be an interesting place to discuss the various aspects of running a train.
 

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Doug,
That was too easy of a question! I remember when I went to the NMRA convention in Seattle, and a local club had a switching puzzle to solve and I thought to my self that it would be easy to solve. The club looked at me weird when I asked to play the game, but they didn't like the fact that I stored cars at various industries to make more room. They said I couldn't do that, but I replied we do it all the time:D" border=0> I solved the problem in no time, but I soon found my self giving hand signs to the imaginary engineer! Old habits die hard/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/laugh.gif" border=0>
It's kind of hard to make a gravity or active drop move in the model world. /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/doze.gif" border=0>
Craig

Lets have another puzzle!/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/whistling.gif
 

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Switching puzzlers set out to stymie the operator are one thing, the normal moves in routine switching are another. For the most part, with a busy mainline on the IPP&W in our regular operations, we would not want a crew stuck as it would back up traffic ...

there seems to be just enough complexity in our various towns to make crews work without making the whole affair a brainteaser. And just ask Bruce - while we were travelling together recently I plied him with switching puzzles till he was sick of them!

Regards ... Doug
 

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Bruce,
One area that I seldom see modeled or allowed for, is communications when crews are switching cars. Unless you model 1970+ most crews didn't have a radio. I'm not to sure on the date when handheld radio's came out, but when they did, the conductor or foreman was the only one with one. Passing hand signs to the engineer is one critical aspect of RRing that we don't see.
Another area that is important is allowing for time for the train to do proper airbrake inspections. Simply coupling on to the car, and lacing the cars is not enough.

Aspects of running a train? What would you like to know?

Here's something to chew on for a while also. This week at work, we had to spot 2 tank cars at an industry, and pull 2 cars. Simple enough right?/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/unsure.gif
The problem is this the industry lead only can handle 2 cars plus and engine. So how do you spot and pull 4 cars? Spot cars could be labeled A, B, pull cars C, D.

Craig
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Craig,
Neat points.

Not sure how to best handle the communications aspect. I've made a little flagman, but I can't get him to talk. :D" border=0>" border=0>" border=0>

For the brakes, I do have to make sure that the hoses are connected.

Both back...


and front...


I think that especially for single person operations that the points you bring up are extremely important and contribute to the fun of an operating session.

P.S.
Edit: I HATE putting in image tags for my pictures....forgot all about it...again! /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/sad.gif" border=0>" border=0>

Edit of Edit: I hate seeing these dang border=0 tags show up after editing. Sheesh. /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/sad.gif
 

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Just thought of another idea that would be simple to model and add to the operations. When industries or car men work on, near or under rail cars they must have blue flag protection. I don't know when this rule came into effect, but it would be something simple to make. Take a piece of brass wire, solder a square of brass, and paint blue. Stick between the rails before industries or yard tracks were people are working. Before you can pull the cars, you have to have the flags removed. If thier was more then one operator, you could leave some flags up on industries that require a pull, and have the second crew do work that was assigned to a different job.
Thinking along these lines, it would also be easy to make temporary slow orders, or slow sections of track. Say that bad hail or rain storm washed out some ballast and you haven't had a chance to replace it yet. Stick a yellow flag at the start of the slow order, followed by a green flag at the end. Before the yellow flag, place a red/yellow flag up to warn of the approaching slow order. These flags would be place on the right hand side of the track.
Craig
 
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