Large Scale Central

JMRI Anything New?

I keep looking at JMRI for operations. Jon, have you decided which route you are headed?

I’ve kind of put it on the shelf for now. The last few times I ran ops with JMRI, it seemed to repeating the same moves over and over leaving cars sitting that have been there for many turns.

Lately I’ve just been running randomly put together trains out to the wye and back, sometimes spotting some cars on the sidings. I’ve been thinking of just doing manual train orders. I don’t have a ton of cars and only 6 industrial sidings. Those 6 have lots of individual spots that require moving cars to reach the last industry on the siding.

Lots of folks have much better luck. I think my setup needs some work, but I’ve not been very motivated to spend any time on it. The program is updated regularly. I’m probably several builds behind by now.


JMRI has a lot of updates. I keep going back and forth about it but I think for a small layout like many of us have it’s a lot of prep work.

I’ve been slowly playing with a simple method.

Short version.

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Yes, it takes quite a while to input all your cars, locos and cabooses (cabesse ?) And then you need to measure all your track and input that as well and finally create routes then trains. That does take quite a while, but it’s a one-time thing.

I’m going to check that video on Ops Buddy.

I haven’t tried it yet but the Ops buddy seems like a good in between a "hey let’s spot a boxcar today and JMRI.

I don’t have any 20 sided dice but a random number generator works just as easily.

It’s not the first time I’ve heard of folks using a 20 sided dice in the hobby. One guy used to to determine the number of ties to weather and how much on his handlaid S scale track.

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I’m going to take a look at this!

I haven’t watched the video all the way through yet, but it looks pretty interesting.

I was first exposed to model railroad operating by Ric Golding who gave several seminars on the subject at ECLSTS many, many years ago. His system was very simple. No paperwork needed, just a pair of six sided dice.

In Ric’s system, you built the train using the dice to select cars. For example, roll a three, add a tank car to the train. Roll a pair of 4’s, add a Boxcar! Once the train was built, you just exchanged the same car types at whatever industry you wanted to work.

Watching the video on you tube…. Hard not to like it since his RR is based on eastern Washington, northern Idaho

We are still using “RailOps”, although it isn’t “Supported”, it still works for us…but then, we have two fleets of over 200 cars each (one is “NG”, and the other is “SG”), and keeping the paper work to a minimum is essential.
We OPERATE once a week, alternating between NG, and SG, week to week. The gauge of our track doesn’t change. We just change the type of rolling stock…
You can check us out at:…look for the links to Mike’s railroad blogs.
By looking around, most people find an operating scheme that suits them best…even the old car cards with 4 sided way bills…or paper clips…!!
A lot depends on the number of industries served, and the length of your railroad. We all tend to have too many locomotives, but some also have few cars to do much non-repetitive switching…trying to operate in any way as a model of a real major railroad is always a challenge; watching modern railroading almost always seems like all you see is endless unit trains, and seldom see any switching…leading to watching a 25 car train in LS circling a big loop (Roundy-roundy) is a form of modelling what you usually see these days.
The option if you want to enjoy a more hands on modelling is to model the operation of a short line/branch line, connecting at a small junction/interchange point with a major road. At the junction, you can “Hide” a fleet of cars (In a cupboard/shed) as if they are off on a connection with the rest of the world…!!
Once you have a small fleet of needed locomotives; you can instead start collecting cars from all over North America, and have them appear with loads from all over the maps. Cars are less expensive than un-needed locomotives to collect. (Not by much these days it seems !!
The word “Operations, or Operate” seems to not be popular with some…but it does actually bring people together, and allows for HANDS ON involvement…instead of just sitting around watching a train run in circles.
I like to watch a train run around while enjoying the socialization, but like me, some like to be more involved, throwing switches or manning the throttle, awaiting orders from an RTC, or dispatcher…we all find our areas of interest within this GREAT LS Hobby…Happy Railroading, everyone.
Fred Mills

Thank you Fred, I believe i was asking about what is new with JMRI if you have any input about that software……

Sorry; I got carried away, and was just trying to describe, an example of an OPERATING system that has provided success for many in the past, and neglected to go further into what many have used as a replacement for RailOps…which is JMRI.
When RailOps became “Unsupported”, many went over to JMRI.
We did take a very good look at it too. It is/was in many ways comparable with RaiOps.
The feelings of our three main “Train Masters”; the guys that maintain our operating system; was that RailOps was working fine for us, and if we ever run into problems, we would probably revert to JMRI…
I hope this reply will help anyone considering one of the operating systems, and show that I was not trying to ruin the original question, or subject line.
Fred Mills

I’ve run JMRI here for several years and I will echo what Jon (and the late Ken Brunt) found out. It will get into a situation where certain sidings or even whole towns will not get switched, and I have to manually move cars out of the sidings into a yard, and then rebuild the train. I like the way it works, as Fred said, it’s very much like RailOps, but it’s frustrating when I’m running a weekend and suddenly no trains are serving a town.

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Thank you Bob, yes I’ve been toying around with the various systems on the railroad and so far it looks probably the best.

I do recognize the hobby is full of a zillion operating scenarios, layout sizes, prototypes, eras, you name it. Recently after some re-enforcement, I’ve decided to better “light” the railroad and structures for after dark operations. Which adds a whole new dimension to the operating scenario for sure.

To keep things prototypical, I adhere to US Rule G both on the railroad and the website…….