Category Archives: Operations

Focused on operational aspects of layouts

Site Seeing – December 19, 2019 – The Open top car loading edition

Ever wondered how you should load an open top (think gondolas, flats, pulp wood racks, etc…) car. Well now you can answer that question thanks to Douglas Harding. Read on for more.


You’ve got to be a member

To get Doug’s file you have to be a member of the Ry-ops-industrialSIG at groups.io. This group’s primary mission is to discuss railway operations and industries and how to model them and  is the primary discussion list for the Operations SIG of the NMRA and the NMRA’s Industries SIG. So there are some operations heavy hitters here with the answers you won’t find elsewhere. It can get a little esoteric at times, but well worth the time spent here. If you are modelling the North American scene then this group is a worthwhile addition to your modelling resources.

Click this link to head over to the group home page. Complete the sign-up process and once you’re done click the link in the “Get the PDFs section below to download.


Get the PDFs

OK so now you’re a member, it is time to get the 2019 XMAS Goodies. Before you blindly start downloading though here’s what’s covered in the AAR Car Codes Open Top Car Loading Rules as supplied by Doug:

  • Section 1 Rules 1988.pdf
  • Section 2 Loading pipe part 1 1987.pdf
  • Section 2 Loading pipe part 2 1987.pdf
  • Section 3 Road Farm Equipment 1987.pdf
  • Section 4 Misc Machinery 1987.pdf
  • Section 5 Forest Products 1983.pdf
  • Section 5 Forest Products 1987.pdf
  • Section 6 DOD Military 1984.pdf
  • Section 7 TOFC Containers 1987.pdf

If you’ve not fallen asleep yet from too much eggnog, or the technical nature of this post, then Click this link to get to the PDFs. Happy reading and modelling.


Resources

This time around all of the resources are mentioned in the section above. Don’t forget to take part in the reader survey right now! Your thoughts and feedback will assist me in writing and presenting more of the content you want to see.

Click here to take part in the survey.

Interested in keeping in touch or discussing posts, pages and ideas? Connect with us on the Andrew’s Trains page on Facebook

Site Seeing – The Operations Gold Mine Edition

Seeing how others conduct their operations, and their session is a valuable learning tool. Visit the Burnt Hills and Big Flats railroad for some great ideas and examples.


The Burnt Hills and Big Flats Ops Site

Steve Prevette’s layout is a great layout in its own right. Beyond that he’s made it a great example of how to operate also. Of more importance, I think, is his willingness to share his operating information online.

His site (listed in the Resources section below) shows thoughtfulness and planning. There’s overviews, details and instructions and in all it is an excellent site to see how things “should, and “can” be done for a layout large or small.

I hope that you enjoy reading the information presented by Steve as much as I have.


Resources

Interested in keeping in touch or discussing posts, pages and ideas? Connect with us on the Andrew’s Trains page on Facebook

Evans Hollow Industrial: Build Update

Yeah. It’s been a while. Don’t worry, it’s me, not you.

So what’s been happening on the layout of late? Not a whole lot to be frank. We’re in the middle of packing prior to a move back to Melbourne (Vic not FLA). As a result I’ve been clearing, cleaning and packing, books, models, tools and so on, while still trying to fit in holiday time and work.

I’ve not been completely idle; just short of available time to write and blog and post stuff. I’ve yet to complete Part 3 – building trestles – but it’s close. For now I’d love to give you a quick update on where I’m up to: putting down cork and track laying.

As shown in previous posts the track outline, feed points, frog wiring and so on is drawn on the foam prior to lifting all of the track and prepping for cork to go down. A couple of weeks ago I got the mainline, and the spur into scrappy’s completed one day. Then sanded the entirety of the laid cork to get it smooth.

Here’s an overview of what that looks like to date:

Click on the image to go full size. The spur into Scrappy (lower right) had two separate heights of cork laid. The higher one for the mainline and the thinner one for the spur itself. They were then sanded (power) to blend them in so that the spur drops from the mainline to the spur height and on the end of the spur I sanded it right down to the foam height as I want to have the track disappear into the scenery here.

You’ll note that I’ve dug the trenches in the foam for the wire-in-tube switching for the turnouts. These will be operated by double pole – double throw switches from beyond the end of the baseboard. These will be wired from under the board and will switch frog polarity also. Some more images of this below:

I’ll sign off for now. I’m expecting an enforced period of recovery later in the week, where I hope to get more work done on the layout. I aim to be at running status before we move in late november so I’d better get my tail in gear.

Later gator

Andrew

 

 

 

 

 

Site Seeing – Books on Operations (Real and Model)

I talk a lot about operations for model railroads. There are many reasons for this. Primarily I urge railway and railroad modellers to consider this aspect of the hobby because it allows greater play value – no matter the size of your layout space.

Today while packing for our upcoming move I got to my operations section. Two books on my shelf stood out and I wanted to share them with you. One focuses on the prototype, the other on the model. Both enlighten on their own the mysterious world of operation. Together they provide a great insight (at least to me when I was learning) and compliment each other in helping you understand how operations works.

The Railroad – What it is, and What it does (The introduction to railroading)

By John H Armstrong

Everything you ever wanted to know about railroads (*or railways for that matter) is in this book. Ans as a railroader primer, it gets you inside the industry quickly and explains the why and what in clear easy to read language.

Starting from the absolute basics of how trains evolved to using the flange, through train speeds and the reason for trains, and not individual cars, you’ll soon find that you are on the inside, rather than struggling to understand.

Keep in mind that this is only the beginning of the rabbit hole, that is the railroading industry, but what a great way to start your journey. My version covers me though to my operating period.

The newest version (which I have yet to buy – waiting on some of those books to sell!) covers equipment to procedures and marketing to maintenance.  Amazon’s blurb says: “This book is ideal for novices and experts alike. The easy-to-read narrative presents a brief history of railroading from the coal-fed ‘iron horses’ that helped build a nation to the latest generation of EPA-compliant locomotives. You’ll also find current information on new technologies such as ECP brakes and computer-assisted transportation systems. The fifth edition is a resource for anyone wanting to learn about modern day railroads. The book delves into many facets of the railroad industry including such topics as freight cars, locomotives, track, signal and communication technology, intermodal traffic, operations, labor relations, and design engineering.”

If you don’t have a copy – go get one. Simple as that. It will make your understanding of the railroad and your ability to see beyond the layout so much better.

Operation Handbook – For Model Railroads

By Paul Mallery

This book is (in my opinion) the best of the readily available model railroad operation books. Are there others out there? Sure there are. Tony Koester has one, but I feel it is merely a glossary for the better works of Paul Mallery and Bruce Chubb.

Paul Mallery’s books provides a complete handbook for running a realistic model railroad. It covers every aspect of operations, including timetables, orders, signals, waybills, communication, passengers, freight, locomotives, and MOW.

At 200 pages with a full index I highly recommend it to you if you want to put the learning from the first book, onto the layout.

Resources

The other book to which I’ve referred above for the modeller is:

  • How to Operate Your Model Railroad by Bruce A. Chubb.

I believe that this is the best of the model railroad operations books available. Getting a good used copy is difficult, very worthwhile though.

 

Evans Hollow Industrial: Build Update (A name finally)

It’s nice to have the time to allow ideas to form in their own way, and in their own time. Deciding on a name with the new layout has been one of those journeys…


Finding a name

Tonight after dinner the family and I caught the end of my favourite movie ‘Field of Dreams’. I believe this movie is the ultimate Dad and son movie. The constant refrain in the movie is: ‘If you build it, he will come’. I’m under no illusion that my Dad will walk out of the corn field any time soon to spend time to operate with me. (I don’t have a cornfield, and I’m avert to cornfield meets in any case.) On the odd chance that he does walk out of the corn he’ll have a great time working the layout. So you know – there’ll be a complete post covering everything you’ll want to know about operating the layout in a future post – never fear.

I doubt that I would have my love of trains and transportation if it were not for my Dad. We were not a well to do family but my father made sure that I had a train set or two, including a Triang 00 scale Dock shunter set. We had our issues he and I, but then which father and son do not? Without his early influence I doubt I’d have had my life long passion of railway modelling and transportation.

My Dad (Evan Louis Martin) was a World War 2 veteran, suffering silently all of his life after service with PTSD. Passing through the veil in 1993 I will be celebrating him in October 2021 on his 100th birthday.

It’s fitting then that the man who started it all for me should have this layout named after him. After my ‘Field of Dreams’ moment last night I’ve decided instead on celebrating the man who bought me to my passion. So I’d like to welcome you to the Evans Hollow Industrial.

There’ll be another post on the layout soon, Part 3 covering the building of the trestles. All the best until then.

Site Seeing – The Little Critter that could edition

It’s not often that you get to see internal (in-plant) company railway operations today. Thankfully “Saginaw Terminal Docks” (Facebook and YouTube) posted a video from Reid Machinery in Lansing, Mi showing how they use old freight cars to store valuable machinery on their site prior to sale.


Reid Machinery’s internal railroad

Reid Machinery Inc of Lansing Michigan have specialised in moving machinery, primarily in the forging industry, throughout North America since 1992. And while that may not seem like the most worthy thing to write about on the third Tuesday in July – I urge you to hang around a moment longer. You see they also hold their large (as in big – not lots of) inventory on and in their own railroad assets.

Yes – they have their own switching layout.

Thanks to Saginaw Terminal Docks we have a front row seat, and a cab ride on one of these switching moves. I asked him about connections to the rest of the world. He tells me that the in-plant line connects to the JAIL/Adrian & Blissfield on over a mile of old track through Lansing’s south side.

And this is so modellable…


YouTube video

Some of the things to watch out for in the video are:

  • The three person crew (Engineer, conductor, and digger – and yes it’s a guy with  a shovel)
  • Slow switching speeds
  • At around the 18 minute mark – opening the boxcar door with the forklift forks (we often model the result but the actual operation is rarely filmed)

So sit back, turn up the volume and enjoy the show.


Resources

Site seeing – the Second Hand Inglenook edition – September 20, 2018

I admire modellers who can get to the meat of a project, quickly and with vigour. Gazmanjack (Gary) on RMWeb used second-hand track, wood and other parts from his modelling left-overs to create a stunningly good small layout for operations. Read on for more.


Linden Ford – the second-hand layout

Gazmanjack (his handle on RMWeb) back in 2014 built an outstanding layout from left over bits and pieces, as an adjunct to his current layout, to give himself something to operate on during the other layout’s longer build. I’ve only just found it and wanted to share the forum post with you.

And what a cracker this layout is. I won’t go into too much detail here, as I think the adage of a picture telling a thousand words is true on this occasion. There is plenty of information in the post too on the build including scenery, tree armatures, and so on.

Image 1: Linden Ford – an outstanding small Inglenook layout

I hope that you find inspiration in the post. So much with so little that turned out so well. Well done Gary!


Resources

Site seeing – Op till you drop – Blue flag “Video” edition – August 26, 2018

In my August 18 post we looked at modelling and using Blue Flags for your operating sessions. Thanks to Charles Malinowski’s timely reminder, there’s an additional video for context.


MRR Video Series – Taking Care of Business

Model Railroader magazine has a series of videos (most are pay to play). However some of the best of them are free for you to watch. One of these focuses on the SMS Rail Lines industrial park in New Jersey.

I did try to embed their video (as they offer this as an option – like YouTube) however, it didn’t work. Instead you’ll find below the link for the video. THis will take you straight to the page and then play away.

The video is narrated and professionally shot and edited. It is really well done and shows the operations in the Industrial Park and the blue flag in action. Thanks to Charles for reminding me of the video. I hope that you all enjoy watching and learning.

Don’t forget to comment on and share this post with your friends.


Resources

Taking Care of Business: SMS Rail Lines

Site seeing – Loco dead line edition – August 20

Locomotive dead lines make fascinating modelling subjects. One layout idea that has percolated along for the last couple of years relates to a locomotive rebuilder. A recent post by one of my favourite modellers, Mike Confalone, over on the Model Railroad Hobbyist forums, provides a great starting point.


Modelling a deadline

One layout idea that’s been percolating along for the last couple of years relates to a locomotive rebuilder. One aspect of that design is the deadline, that is, the line of locomotives waiting for work to begin on their rebirth, parts removal for donation to other units, and for some the final indignity – the cutters torch and a change of state to scrap metal. Fortuitously, a small project by Mike Confalone over on the Model Railroad Hobbyist forums has been focused on a deadline too.  Mike writes in the post that:

On the proto-freelanced Allagash, we have a caboose track at Madrid. With the move to 1984 a few years back, the caboose track is used less and less as cabooses begin to become less common. We still run them on most of the road jobs, but most of the locals go without, per the prototype in that era. So, I’ve converted the caboose track to a diesel deadline. Its a bit tight but it’s the only available real estate in the yard and I didn’t want to put them on a remote siding. I wanted the deadline near the engine house. Seemed to make sense.

Click the photo above to go straight to the MRH forum post

There’s five pages of comments and information there as of my writing this post. Being a fan of Mike’s work I may be biased. However, I find his work to be of the highest quality and well worth the time to review. I hope that you feel the same way after you’ve read through the thread.


Resources

  • There is a Megastructures documentary (Mega Breakdown – train overhaul) that is worth watching for an overview if you haven’t seen this type of operation before:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Site seeing – Saturday morning video watching edition

It’s been a while since I’ve had the time to post. A range of reasons you’re all familiar with – work, tiredness, time pressure and the needs for others among them. And then that this is at the moment a hobby and not my primary income source (sigh).

While taking a little time out for myself in the early morning (before the sun came up on a very chilly day in Ballarat) I rediscovered the video produced by the folks over at Model Railroader on model railroad operations. Hosted by the late (and greatly lamented Andy Sperandeo) this video is a great introduction to operations, without all the paperwork, and other stuff that can hamper your entry into the realm.

I hope you enjoy, and it is great to share with you Andy’s wit and personality. I miss being able to chat with him as I did every now and then online about operations and the finer points he knew from a lifetime of modelling. Have a great weekend.