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    • May 11, 2007 10:21 AM EDT
      • Burke, Virginia
         
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      Model Railroader posted a freebie on the top ten considerations for operations on a layout. It was originally published in 2002, but provides an interesting basis for a discussion of operations.

      10 ways to foster operation on your layout by Tony Koester

      1. Staging - Very few model railroads depict an isolated part of the continent's rail network, so most of our layouts should provide for moving traffic between our railroad and one or more other railroads that connect end-to-end with it or cross it at grade.

      2. Linear design - The days of sitting in a central control pit and watching the trains go around are mercifully over for those who enjoy operation. But even linear, walkaround designs can be compromised by having a track cut through the base of a peninsula, keeping the engineer from following the train.

      3. Walkaround control - Any layout design that doesn't accommodate walkaround control as a means for the engineer to follow alongside the train needs to be rethought. Command control has made walkaround operation much simpler to achieve. Radio and infra-red wireless throttles, which avoid "plug-and-chug" crew movement, are increasingly popular.

      4. Car-forwarding system - You can't "operate" unless you can simulate the work of railroading, and that means forwarding cars to their proper destinations. The Doug Smith-inspired car-card-and-waybill system still reigns supreme as far as I can tell, but today there are lots of options - both simpler and more complex ("feature-rich").

      5. Interchanges - Where railroads cross at grade, they usually construct interchange tracks so they can deliver cars to and receive cars from each other. An interchange track is often a quarter circle, more or less, in one quadrant of the level crossing. Since almost any type and quantity of car can be found on an interchange track, for us it's effectively a "universal industry" that offers more traffic variety than any other industry. Bonus: There are no industrial structures to build.

      6. Large industries - It's tempting to model a variety of smaller industries, but in so doing we often build industries so small that they'd be lucky to fill one semi- trailer a week, let alone several boxcars or covered hoppers per day. It's often better to model one large industry that can generate a lot of rail traffic using a variety of rolling stock. Some examples would be a glass or tire plant, a brewery, or a paper mill. These are typically big complexes with many structures, but most of the buildings can be depicted as flats or assumed to be located out in the aisle off the end of a truncated spur track.

      7. Switching - While I'm often found dispatching or out on the local, I lean toward more visceral jobs such as getting a heavy train up a long grade without doubling the hill. But I do appreciate the intellectual challenges and rewards of yard and industrial switching. Most modelers seem to prefer a lot of switching, and several veteran operators have recently built layouts that focus on industrial switching and yard work. Building-in lots of yard and local work is therefore a priority for most operators.

      8. Traffic control - Small layouts can get by without a dispatcher and/or train-order operators, but these are typically the most realistic and challenging jobs on the railroad - especially now that timetable-and-train-order operation is back in vogue.

      9. Branch or short line - A connecting rural branch or short line offers a chance to use older, smaller motive power (see photo) while offering low-key operation for those who don't want to deal with the intensity of the main line.

      10. Sound - Once a novelty, then nice-to-have, sound effects are now a must for many modelers. The realism Digital Command Control (DCC) sound imparts is phenomenal, and operators now use whistle or horn signals to support operations such as sending out a flag or alerting a train being met or passed that another section is following.

      I'd be interested in a discussion of the top ten for an outdoor railroad, as I don't think they're the same as those listed above.
      ____________________________________

      Bruce

      http://jbrr.com/

       

    • May 11, 2007 10:41 AM EDT
      • Your Host in Littleton, MA
         
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      I'm getting back into N scale lately, being out of it for years. One thing Ive noticed in EVERY layout (HO, N, S, O), there is the concept of "staging". I think that its a handicap for them because of the 'round and round' mentality, even today, of many many model railroaders I talk to at shows. But its also needed for someone modeling a large mainline, as the way freights are the only 'operational' trains..the rest run through.

      In Large Scale, however, we mostly model shortlines, with much online industry. Switching is our life blood, and many of us DONT model mainlines, so the need for run-through is less.

      End of rant..now for my list of whats needed in large scale

      * Car/Freight forwarding. Both on and off layout should be modeled.
      * Remote control. I've never liked the 'drive a train from the cab' mentality.
      * Interchange tracks
      * Traffic Control. Only needed for a large layout, as opposed to a single operator, but I'm a CTC junkie.
      * Branchline off the main layout. Be it a logging line, or a branch to serve a mill or a mine or two. This takes the linear aspect out of the railroad, and adds variety.
      * Large *AND* small industries (see list above).

      Er, thats my list so far.. have to ponder more.
      ____________________________________

      Bob, your Site Host and Benevolent Dictator.

    • May 11, 2007 11:03 AM EDT
      • Coldstream, British Columbia, Canada
         
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      Bob McCown said:
      I'm getting back into N scale lately, being out of it for years. One thing Ive noticed in EVERY layout (HO, N, S, O), there is the concept of "staging". I think that its a handicap for them because of the 'round and round' mentality, even today, of many many model railroaders I talk to at shows. But its also needed for someone modeling a large mainline, as the way freights are the only 'operational' trains..the rest run through. In Large Scale, however, we mostly model shortlines, with much online industry. Switching is our life blood, and many of us DONT model mainlines, so the need for run-through is less. End of rant..now for my list of whats needed in large scale * Car/Freight forwarding. Both on and off layout should be modeled. * Remote control. I've never liked the 'drive a train from the cab' mentality. * Interchange tracks * Traffic Control. Only needed for a large layout, as opposed to a single operator, but I'm a CTC junkie. * Branchline off the main layout. Be it a logging line, or a branch to serve a mill or a mine or two. This takes the linear aspect out of the railroad, and adds variety. * Large *AND* small industries (see list above). Er, thats my list so far.. have to ponder more.
      Bob, On the small industry, how small is small i.e. how large would it be in order to have a siding? Remember all the Micro-Industries on layouts (any scale) back before "Operating" really took hold? Lots of traffic to a structure the size of a single family house! Not very realistic. OTOH each station should have a team track and a freight facility for LCL traffic. Add-on: Just like in the smaller scales, placing loading facilities for large industries with the very basics at the edge of the layout saves a lot of room and structures, since "that stuff" is off the layout. That's what I do in many of my layout plans, generates traffic without having all of it in 3D.
      ____________________________________

      Cheers

      HJ
      ---

      Coldstream, BC  Canada


      Inspire­d by the r­eal world

       

      English language hobby website 

      highly RhB centric, but most of it can be applied to other railway projects

    • May 11, 2007 11:38 AM EDT

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      One thing that LS'ers do more of than the dinky gaugers is model narrow gauge. In most cases that does cut back on the interchange aspects of modeling. This does allow us to focus more on a single industry and the movement of the product through the stages of production. The logging industry is a good example...by modeling the logs coming from the forest to the mill...and then from the mill to the lumber dealer. Here I would say that most LS layouts come short because they tend to model the trains without modeling the industry.

      I would like to see a reasonable car/card system or other easy to use system that can handle ongoing car ops and is a 1 man system. The last method I used was a shuffled deck of index cards. The major problem with Tony Koester's ideas about operations is that he thinks in terms of layouts with hundreds of turnouts, dozens of industries and numerous trains. Most of us are lucky to be able to get more than one train running on our layouts at one time.

      There is a major aspect of railroading that the dinky gaugers fail to model that is an absolute must for any outdoor layout and that is the MOW crew. Just to keep this in control, limits the size and complexity of our layouts.
    • May 11, 2007 12:28 PM EDT
      • Coldstream, British Columbia, Canada
         
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      Bruce Chandler said:
      Model Railroader posted a freebie on the top ten considerations for operations on a layout. It was originally published in 2002, but provides an interesting basis for a discussion of operations. 10 ways to foster operation on your layout by Tony Koester 1. Staging - Very few model railroads depict an isolated part of the continent's rail network, so most of our layouts should provide for moving traffic between our railroad and one or more other railroads that connect end-to-end with it or cross it at grade. 2. Linear design - The days of sitting in a central control pit and watching the trains go around are mercifully over for those who enjoy operation. But even linear, walkaround designs can be compromised by having a track cut through the base of a peninsula, keeping the engineer from following the train. 3. Walkaround control - Any layout design that doesn't accommodate walkaround control as a means for the engineer to follow alongside the train needs to be rethought. Command control has made walkaround operation much simpler to achieve. Radio and infra-red wireless throttles, which avoid "plug-and-chug" crew movement, are increasingly popular. 4. Car-forwarding system - You can't "operate" unless you can simulate the work of railroading, and that means forwarding cars to their proper destinations. The Doug Smith-inspired car-card-and-waybill system still reigns supreme as far as I can tell, but today there are lots of options - both simpler and more complex ("feature-rich"). 5. Interchanges - Where railroads cross at grade, they usually construct interchange tracks so they can deliver cars to and receive cars from each other. An interchange track is often a quarter circle, more or less, in one quadrant of the level crossing. Since almost any type and quantity of car can be found on an interchange track, for us it's effectively a "universal industry" that offers more traffic variety than any other industry. Bonus: There are no industrial structures to build. 6. Large industries - It's tempting to model a variety of smaller industries, but in so doing we often build industries so small that they'd be lucky to fill one semi- trailer a week, let alone several boxcars or covered hoppers per day. It's often better to model one large industry that can generate a lot of rail traffic using a variety of rolling stock. Some examples would be a glass or tire plant, a brewery, or a paper mill. These are typically big complexes with many structures, but most of the buildings can be depicted as flats or assumed to be located out in the aisle off the end of a truncated spur track. 7. Switching - While I'm often found dispatching or out on the local, I lean toward more visceral jobs such as getting a heavy train up a long grade without doubling the hill. But I do appreciate the intellectual challenges and rewards of yard and industrial switching. Most modelers seem to prefer a lot of switching, and several veteran operators have recently built layouts that focus on industrial switching and yard work. Building-in lots of yard and local work is therefore a priority for most operators. 8. Traffic control - Small layouts can get by without a dispatcher and/or train-order operators, but these are typically the most realistic and challenging jobs on the railroad - especially now that timetable-and-train-order operation is back in vogue. 9. Branch or short line - A connecting rural branch or short line offers a chance to use older, smaller motive power (see photo) while offering low-key operation for those who don't want to deal with the intensity of the main line. 10. Sound - Once a novelty, then nice-to-have, sound effects are now a must for many modelers. The realism Digital Command Control (DCC) sound imparts is phenomenal, and operators now use whistle or horn signals to support operations such as sending out a flag or alerting a train being met or passed that another section is following. I'd be interested in a discussion of the top ten for an outdoor railroad, as I don't think they're the same as those listed above.
      Bruce, My comments: 1. Mostly applies to standard gauge. Narrow gauge operations may connect to a SG railroad but then they have to load from one to the other (in most cases), but in the main they are insular. 2. Linear design depends in the garden much more on what space is avalable than on an indoor layout in the smaller scales. But even a continous loop could be operated as point to point. With a bit of imagination! What is IMHO more important is the accessability of the features which are used in operations. Which to me means placing the tracks close to the outside and/or a walkway. 3. Goes without saying 4. I've operated on one layout where the routine was, drop a car, pick up a like car. Easy on the brains but not r4eally interesting. 5. OK for SG mainline running 6. Mentioned in the previous post. 7. It also helps if the railroad lends itself to continous running, while one does the switching. That can make things very interesting. ;) :) 8. That surely depends on the period and type of railway modelled, NG at the turn of the century (1900) with dispatching ... not that likely.Timetable op can bring traffic to a grinding halt if the meets have to be at this place, substitute radios for telephones or telegraphs. 9. Chances are the whole layout is a branch line. ;) :) Depends on space, but too short a branch isn't logical either. 10. That has been overtaken but progress in the hobby. But IMHO an OFF-switch is mandatory! As mentioned, just my take. PS Now just to get a feel for things: How many here operate? How many just run (not necessarily in a circle!)? And how many have people over to operate trains?
      ____________________________________

      Cheers

      HJ
      ---

      Coldstream, BC  Canada


      Inspire­d by the r­eal world

       

      English language hobby website 

      highly RhB centric, but most of it can be applied to other railway projects

    • May 11, 2007 3:19 PM EDT
      • Deer Park, Washington
         
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      On my last layout, I did some ops where the local commuter came through about every 5 or 6 minutes. It made life very interesting!

      As my layout is in the still growing stage, I have had industries simulated by cardboard boxes with the industry written on the side. I had an oil refinery represented by a 10/30 wt oil can. I even had a grain storage facility represented by a Quaker Oats Old Fashioned Oatmeal can. I had to put some rocks in it to keep it from blowing away.

      The layout I'm building will have a loop, but I am stealing Dave's idea of a point to loop to point. There may be more than two points, however. I think Dave has more than 2 points, too.

      I'm still trying to figure out how to model an interchange in the garden without it looking like the track comes from nowhere and goes nowhere. Any ideas?
      ____________________________________

      Not only does my mind wander, sometimes it walks off completely.

       

      Some people try to turn back their odometers.  Not me.  I want people to know why I look this way.  I've traveled a long way, and some of the roads weren't paved.  Will Rogers.

    • May 11, 2007 3:30 PM EDT
      • Coldstream, British Columbia, Canada
         
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      Steve Featherkile said:
      ............................. I'm still trying to figure out how to model an interchange in the garden without it looking like the track comes from nowhere and goes nowhere. Any ideas?
      Steve, Yes, do you have a gardenshed? Any place that is not readily visible? Put in a loop for the interchange line, with a simple passing siding hidden away and one or two stub-end tracks. Twice a day the train comes by and sets out and picks up from the interchange track. That would be the working version, keeps an extra person busy. The more static version would be just having an interchange track that goes into a gardenshed. This preferably from the opposite end of where the staging trains exit, but it could in fact be a through track as part of staging. Need a basic drawing, let me know. ;) :)
      ____________________________________

      Cheers

      HJ
      ---

      Coldstream, BC  Canada


      Inspire­d by the r­eal world

       

      English language hobby website 

      highly RhB centric, but most of it can be applied to other railway projects

    • May 11, 2007 3:55 PM EDT
      • Ottawa/Nepean, Ontario, Canada
         
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      As some of you may know; the IPP&W uses RailOp, and operates as a point-to-point railroad. We have two seperate operations; each on a different day.
      One week the pike is used as a SG railroad, with 1:29 equipment, while other days it is a NG operation using 1:22.5 equipment.

      There is a bit about it at: www.ovgrs.org/
    • May 11, 2007 7:06 PM EDT

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      Another operations excample was , [ and I watched this for years and years ] the C&EI Wansford yard , at Evansville IN . From across the Pigeon creek bridge and town , comeing to the Wansford yard on the far outskirts of town , was the interchange from the Southern , and the IC , and the L&N , so from this yards you would see the locomotives of 4 rrds . As HJ mentioned , a small yards , with 3 different rrds bringing their interchange cars , and then leaving with their cab , returning to their yards and tracks . Then the C&EI switching all of this and what cars they gathered in town to go North , and what the C&EI delived to the other 3 rrds yards for interchange . A really good operation that can be modeled well .

      I am currently operating traction , which now has 3 stations , for passengers and milk eggs , newspapers , etc , and 5 flag stops also in use . Things get busy with passenger ops and a freight twice a day .
      Ric G , gave me the re-infection for ops again .

      My family has looked at me and smiled , when I operate and get everyone to work and etc in the morning , and again after supper , to get them all back home again . Being retired , thats my job now twice a day ......!
      Darlington Railway service .
    • May 11, 2007 7:37 PM EDT
      • Burke, Virginia
         
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      Very interesting discussion. I've been on Fred's IPP&W and it's quite a bit more than the average garden railroad. (I'll have to bring my odometer car up there and run it!)

      Anyway...my thoughts:
      My outdoor layout is only part of my railroad.
      1. Staging - To me staging allows me to have trains that are coming from another part of the railroad and appear on my layout. I really only have one staging track at this time, but it can hold a train and have it appear when needed. Then, it can be used as the destination for another train coming from the opposite direction.

      2. Walk ways: When laying out my design, I made sure I had walkways, not only to each of my switches, but where I thought I would need to reach in an uncouple cars.

      3. Walkaround control: My layout could not exist without it. I follow my trains. ALL of my switches are hand thrown.

      4. Car-forwarding system: Needed. I've looked at a number of computer programs, but they all seemed designed to handle something a lot larger than I'll ever build. They are too hard to use and too complex for my needs. Car cards outside just seem like a disaster waiting to happen. I do enjoy the switchlists we get when we operate on the IPP&W using RailOp. (I just think it's one of the ugliest programs I've ever seen.)

      5. Interchanges: They don't necessarily have to be interchanges with another railroad, though in my world I do have that. Think of it also as a place where cars destined for the rest of your railroad can go; for me, this is a track in my yard. I can get cars from there and deliver them as well. My yard is stub ended, but in my mind it's double ended - not the end of the line.

      6. Large industries: Quite frankly, we can't do them very well. My Matheson Textile building almost overwhelms my garden. And it's only 42" long x 24" wide. In 1:20, that's only 71 feet x 40 feet ...2840 square feet of factory: some of you have houses larger than that. Nope, I'll stick to smaller buildings.

      7. Switching: This is the bread and butter for single operator sessions. No sense having a through train on a small layout.

      8. Traffic control: Again, not really important for the majority of us. It's only when you get more than 3 or 4 trains running at a time that you will even consider adding a dispatcher.

      9. Branch or short line: I've always like short trains, and it's a good thing with a mainline of only .626 scale miles ;).

      10. Sound: I do have it and it's great for single operator sessions. I also have volume control on each of my locomotives - I would hate to have more than 2 or 3 running with all the sound at full blast. I'd make it so each engineer can JUST hear their own locomotive.
      ____________________________________

      Bruce

      http://jbrr.com/

       

    • May 11, 2007 11:47 PM EDT
      • Ottawa/Nepean, Ontario, Canada
         
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      Bruce;
      The IPP&W is NOT a Garden Railway. It is a model railroad that happens to be out in what there is of a garden.
    • May 12, 2007 8:29 AM EDT
      • Burke, Virginia
         
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      OK, so it's not a traditional garden. It does have some nice shady spots to sit with folks and relax after the ops session.

      But, my point is still true - it's a lot bigger than most outdoor railroads!
      ____________________________________

      Bruce

      http://jbrr.com/

       

    • May 12, 2007 9:39 AM EDT
      • Coldstream, British Columbia, Canada
         
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      Hi all, Here's the drawing explaining the concept I mentioned with the interchange.

      Class 1 going East - West, Independent RR (IRR) interchanges. Since Steve is intrigued by the "diamonds" I added an industry that's across the Class 1 track but served by th IRR, it just so happens that the Class 1 was late getting there and the IRR has another interchange with a different Class 1 which used to get most of the interchange traffic of the IRR. The IRR is just a loop, "dotted tracks" to be added as and if required. The IRR could be a separate "Empire" with a bit more track, call it the "training grounds" for the new crews! ;) :) PS Aristo track used!
      ____________________________________

      Cheers

      HJ
      ---

      Coldstream, BC  Canada


      Inspire­d by the r­eal world

       

      English language hobby website 

      highly RhB centric, but most of it can be applied to other railway projects

    • May 12, 2007 11:41 AM EDT
      • Who Ya Gonna Call?, Ft Gay, WV
         
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      Wow HJ....that is almost exactly what my layout looks like........

      Staging was a built in requirement from the start, cause it allows me to build a much larger railroad on a smaller layout....I'm with Fred...I'm not a Garden Railroader.....I'm a Miniature Railroader who practices outdoors....

      My line simulates the end of a NArrow Gauge feeder line that runs to an interchange with a Standard Gauge......I would liken it to modeling Robertsdale on the EBT......and having staging represent all other points. Yes theres a functioning branchline that will Deliver cars to "Universal Industries" a spur in the town of Tangent on the far side of my loop. This allows me to build, have, and run cars that I really don't have a place for in my regular operating scheme, like a tank or a reefer.

      The loop itself is sorta a nice to have feature for constant running....but not an imperative must have. I foresee the loop as a means of running locomotives to keep batteries comfortably cycled when not operating. Or to show off for Non Railroading guests.......I'm not even placing the North half of the loop as a priority at this time. Operationally the loop will be physically truncated, one end being the branchline, the other an industrial spur.

      Operationally, I think Kevin Strong has the best ideas on operating a small layout with limited rolling stock I have seen. I've tried car cards, and various switchlists and programs, and all are really like trying to drive a finishing nail with a sledgehammer. Kevin's idea of what I call a "switching matrix" seems to work best for me. It works far enough ahead to be pretty random, Based on a 7 day cycle, and provides me with a ready list of where cars need to be at the start of a session as well as planning for where they need to go next. I printed out the article from MLS back in 2005, mebbe Kevin can link it up for us, or has a version of it ready to go in his new site updates on his personal page...

      I'm looking forward to 2007 as the Summer Trains First Ran.......
    • May 12, 2007 2:59 PM EDT
      • Bartlesville, Oklahoma USA
         
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      Not into "operations" myself, but it's a lot of fun to visit Ric Golding and goof up train orders a couple times a year. Maybe if I ever get a garden again...

      He used Rail Ops to generate these train orders, and it's working pretty smoothly.
      ____________________________________

      In that awkward stage between preschool and death. 

    • May 12, 2007 3:19 PM EDT
      • Woodhaven, Michigan
         
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      HJ, Mine is similiar in that the end of my shortline is located next to a UP (ex SP) line that is represented by a 22x28 foot loop and a connecting interchange track. This allows me to have a continous running track for the UP and a point-to-point line for my M&CCRR.
      Fred, mine too is an outdoor railroad built with some plants and such as scenery.
      I'm also interested in "operations' more than any other aspect of outdoor railroading.
    • May 12, 2007 3:22 PM EDT

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      HJ and Bart , thata a great plan with lots of possile operations , especially with a stageing yard off somewhere .
    • May 12, 2007 7:13 PM EDT
      • Coldstream, British Columbia, Canada
         
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      Dennis Paulson said:
      HJ and Bart , thata a great plan with lots of possile operations , especially with a stageing yard off somewhere .
      Thank you Dennis, It is funny how close one can get to someone's track plan without ever having seen it. But that's just part of my job, come up with trackplan ideas. I even get paid for that kind of "stuff" ;) :) To elaborate a bit more on that "Garden Shed" idea, taken to the next stage. Steve wrote how much space he has, it will be a piece of cake to make this idea work in several different ways.

      Adventureous people could make the Class 1 staging multi-level: one for East, the other for West and on the wall plenty of shelves that can be used as Fiddle tracks.
      ____________________________________

      Cheers

      HJ
      ---

      Coldstream, BC  Canada


      Inspire­d by the r­eal world

       

      English language hobby website 

      highly RhB centric, but most of it can be applied to other railway projects

    • May 14, 2007 7:09 PM EDT
      • Southern Illinois
         
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      Bruce,

      I printed off the listing of Tony's today and tried to compare or justify my railroad against it. The KVRwy did okay with the list and agreed on most items.

      Many people know that I enjoy "Operations" and switching or running trains with a purpose. I don't want to put down anyone with their idea of how they enjoy the hobby, but the continuous running of a train in a circle is difficult to tolerate hour, after hour, after hour.

      I've called it the dreaded "Roundy Rounds" and really the only known cure I've found is "Roundiousis Interruptous". Sometimes the only chance to get some switching done is if you schedule an unplanned derailment. Yes, getting track time can take drastic measures.
    • May 14, 2007 9:00 PM EDT
      • Burke, Virginia
         
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      One of these days I'll make it out to one of your sessions, Ric.

      I think I'd add at least one item to that list: The ability to change direction. Whether that's a wye, turntable, or return loop, I think it adds a lot to be able to change the direction. I like having a train leave town and return from the same direction it left.

      And, as much as I like ops, for me, I found it's nice to have the ability for continuous running.
      ____________________________________

      Bruce

      http://jbrr.com/

       

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