Operations on a Maintenance Centre Layout (Part 7 – Op till you Drop)

Welcome to the final instalment of the Operations on a Maintenance Centre Layout series. In this post, we’ll run through the game using the layout as the game board, the train sets as the pieces and using the cards offered in the last post as the modifiers and randomisers for the game. Let’s begin.

Setting Up

If you have not already read through the series, I suggest that you do so, You really need to have the background and knowledge of the previous posts to make the most sense of this. Still, it’s your electrons, so let’s get started on operating the layout as Rob Chant has envisioned for Aaron.

Please keep in mind that the following four steps (which are all paperwork related) can be done well before your next operating session once you have your train sets built, and the paperwork bundled together (as I posted in part 4). Now you see why I say you need to read all the previous parts to simplify this final post.

Step 1 – Set up your train sets

As we’ve already discussed a train set consists of a locomotive, a cab car and one or more trailer cars. This is the smallest (whole piece) in the game. Each train set needs to be stabled on the layout. Where it is doesn’t matter, it must be on the modelled section of the layout to matter at the start of the operating session.

Step 2 – Set up your train set paperwork

Using a train set holder (see part 4 for more information), that contains the basic set data, match your locomotive cards, cab car cards and trailer car cards to the locomotive and cars in each train set. Once this is completed you can now determine the state of the train set before the start of the running day in step 3 below.

Step 3 – Using dice for randomness

Each train set has to be cleared before leaving the yard for the mainline. This requires a dice roll (I’ve referenced this in Part 4) which I’ve decided can be a 6-sided dice. Keep in mind that if you’ve skipped the previous parts, what we’re doing is looking for switching opportunities (that is operations) within and without the yard. The dice assists in allowing chance to determine what train set is fit to run out of the yard, and what needs servicing or maintenance.

Step 4 – Consulting the card packs

With the die cast for each train set you now work through the results of the die roll to see whether the train set runs out as expected (which should be the bulk of outcomes), or maintenance on a loco, car or set is required.

Where a loco, car or set requires servicing, you consult the specified card set and follow the advice thereon. (Part 5 contains the downloads that allow you to print the cards in PDF format)

Minor delay cards mean just that. A set may not be clean and ready to run out. Or lights might not be functioning on a car in the train set. Sometimes no fault is found by our maintenance and train staff (represented by the die roll). I’ve skewed almost 43% of the cards toward this outcome because it is quite common that while a fault is reported by the train crew during use, maintenance staff either clear it on first touch or the fault has cleared by the time they get to it.

Medium delay cards work in the same manner, as do the major delay cards. The difference with these two card packs is that they provide for switching operations of “spare” cars and locos between sets, and require in some cases that cars and locos be moved to a higher level maintenance centre (for resolution of the problems) and thus you now have switching moves to complete.

Step 5 – Generating a switchlist

I suggest using a switch list as it allows me to enjoy the switching without the headache of remembering what goes where (click this link for an example I built using Excel in a new tab). You can keep it super simple and write everything you need to do using a pad of paper and a pen or pencil. Whatever floats your boat.

Once you understand what you need to do from the switchlist, it is time to get playing (or switching if you prefer). Among the things that you may need to do to train sets on the layout could include:

  • Moving train sets to service tracks,
  • Cutting locomotives off train sets and replacing them with another loco, or
  • Cutting a car, or cars out of a train set and moving them to maintenance tracks, before cutting a replacement car or cars into the train set, and clearing it for service (to staging),
  • Moving trains sets from service tracks to storage tracks when ready for service,
  • Building trains to be moved to upstream maintenance centres, and finally
  • Moving trains (of cars, of locos, or mixed consists) off the layout to those service centres.

After your first operating session, you will also be receiving cars and locos back after they’ve been fixed by the upstream maintenance centres (staging). These will require switching to either storage roads or into train set consists. And so the operations will go from there onward.

Final Thoughts

For small layouts built around maintenance centres, the hope of long term use and enjoyment at home or for exhibition use requires an easy means to make the layout work for you. Through the use of switching activities, randomness and an adversary (as mentioned in a previous post)  you may find that you have more than enough to keep your interest using my method here.

I hope that you’ve found this series of benefit to you and your layout. Perhaps you can adapt what I’ve described to your own use and situation. Perhaps you can use it as is. If it gets you thinking about how you can use a system like this to improve your small layout operation then I’m a happy man. Let me know in the comments or on Facebook (link at the bottom of the page) how you have put it to use.

Till next post.

Resources

Where to buy stuff:

Australia:

Overseas:

  • Head your Office Depot (or similar retailer)

The series so far:

Staying in Contact

Interested in keeping in touch or discussing posts, pages and ideas?  You can do that in several ways:

Recovery, Delayed Posts and the flat-out best Chain-Link Fence tutorial ever!

I wrote back in December 2021 that I caught “the virus” and was hoping to be over it in short order. Yeah, well that didn’t happen.  Read on…


Recovery and Delayed Posts

What doesn’t kill you gives you a set of unhealthy coping mechanisms and a dark sense of humour” – Unknown

So, what started out as an optimistic case of COVID-19, turned into a 7-week absence from work, including 5 weeks (solid) of 24 hour-a-day coughing fits, being as weak as a kitten, and 2 plus months of continual work to get back to my fitness level. I get that everyone’s story with COVID is different. I was lucky not to have ended up at the hospital, but it was a close-run thing. Thankfully, Australia’s public health system held up and is outstanding; I had a fantastic team on my side made up of my GP, The Royal Melbourne Hospital‘s COVID triage team, Nurse-On-Call, family and friends to help out. Seems that raising a child is not the only thing that requires a village.

I’m still finding that overwhelming tiredness at the end of the day remains. Each day that goes by, thank the fates, I am still here and getting back toward normal. While my wife caught COVID, it was less aggressive with her than with me. It would have been better not to have caught it at all. I’ve now had my 3rd vaccination and hope not to catch it again. Let’s just hope that it turns more benign as time goes on and as we become used to having it in the world at large.

If you’ve been through it I hope that you are O.K. and that your family and friends likewise are on the mend.

Needless to say, posting has been delayed as life, in general, has taken priority. I hope that you will stick with me as I get back on track to work on finishing the last post in the “Operations on a Maintenance Centre Layout (Part 7 – Op till you Drop)” series. In this post, which I’ve begun working on again will take us through an op session on the layout. I aim to finish that soon.


Chain-Link Fence Tutorial

Boomer-Diaries on YouTube has been a must-watch, that I found during my time watching ‘everything’ on YouTube during my convalescence. He recently posted what I feel is the best Chain Link fence tutorial I’ve ever seen or read. I’ve linked it below. Watch and enjoy as you get a masterclass in how-to modelling, painting and dressing a great scenic item.

Once you go down this rabbit-hole though, you may be some time, to misquote Capt Robert Oates (of Scott’s doomed Antartcic expedition) as Boomer diaries has a big collection of outstnading videos on the current layout build.

Talk more to you all soon.

Andrew


Resources

This series so far:

Staying in Contact

Interested in keeping in touch or discussing posts, pages and ideas?  You can do that in several ways by:

    • Commenting on this post (I read and answer each one)
    • Sending me a note using our About page (email)
    • Connecting with us on Facebook at Andrew’s Trains