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Operations on the B-and-M Eastern Route

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  • An exchange of messages with Pete led me to type enough that I felt it worth saving here. He'd noted my comment on signal viewing angles and suggested repeaters. He's planning a repeater using position-lights and wondered if I'd had any operator issues due to color blindness:

    No operators have mentioned being color-blind. I could do position-lights, if I had room/time to install separate signal drivers for each repeater: 50% cost increase and double the wire for each signal repeated (4-6 LEDs per head repeated). Operators would also have to have some acquaintance with both sets of aspects.

    Searchlight repeaters might be simpler, but only if the Circuitron and Paisley drivers I'm using are current-regulated. If so they can run two LEDs in series. I'll need to ask the vendors. Even so, I'll need identical LEDs if the Yellow/Caution aspect is to be recognizable in both places. And it seems I can't get any more of what Oregon Rail Supply was using.

    But the underlying issue is putting the repeater where operators will think to look for it. One important signal could be repeated in a unique location on the fascia. But my layout is mostly double track and has several interlockings with limited or no fascia space. All the others with limited viewing angles would need to go on control panels. I've gotten used to questions from operators who aren't good at mapping a schematic on a control panel to the track in front of them. I expect signal repeaters on control panels would have the same issue.
    James

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    • RailRun 2019 Action Report: Six operators new to the Eastern Route, one experienced Helper and me. Ran the whole 12 hours, missed a couple of commuter trains in the afternoon rush. No photos as I was too busy.

      1. Re-doing most of the weighbills with 11 point/bold blocking codes was helpful. I was asked about the few remaining typed weighbills several times, also about a couple of blocking codes I'd mis-typed.

      2. Erich brought a couple of MRC wired throttles, so I didn't have to schedule throttles.

      3. Nobody except Erich was experienced at WiThrottle or EngineDriver, so the MRC 1530 WiFi interface went largely unused.

      4. Rewiring Bexley Yard was definitely worth it: no blown fuses and few FEEPs I had to intervene in. One did take me a minute: A short when the Yard 1 turnout was reversed. Turned out to be a loco across the block gap up the ladder on Yard 4. Painting ties for 'fouling points' will probably help,

      5. The Train Cards were helpful for the switchers and local freights, so I'll complete them. But one visitor got bollixed up westbound in Newburyport and ran quite late. However, he sorted out his Bexley setout correctly so only complicated things there for 15 scale minutes.

      6. I/R detectors, possibly with some automation, are needed now that I'm splitting one of the long 'Saugus' staging tracks.

      I managed Draw Operator (staging) fairly well among my other duties. I did the two 'move a train up' operations before they were needed. I'm still not completely happy about how visitors interact with my layout, though - it's fairly complicated compared to most other RRs I've operated. Having more op sessions this year will help me, personally, as local operators will get more familiar with the Eastern. Materials improvements on the Punch List will help too. And maybe my 10-y-o will get to the point where he can be a 'pilot' too. I'll find out next year, fate willing.
      James

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      • Sounds like a success to me. Nice!

        Jim
        Take the red pill

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        • I agree with Jim! Successful gathering, Good Time had by All, and a 10-y-o Up and Coming.

          For the record, my 11 y-o grandson is a better operator than some of the local "Operators" are, and is ready to be a "pilot" for my railroad. But he lives about an hour from James and a two-day drive from me....

          Pete

          in Michigan

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          • Another op session this morning: Four experienced operators, one 2nd timer and one newcomer. I was crew caller, Draw (staging) operator and Bexley Train Director (a B&M title for towermen managing CTC segments). A somewhat late start led us to stop the clock at 10:30 AM, so the last two morning passenger trains didn't run. But we did run the whole weekday rush hour.

            1. Running the Bexley Goat is a complicated job, even with the blocking codes on the re-issued weighbills. Quite a few misroutes today.

            2. The Portsmouth Freight ran near its 12-car limit, but Erich had plenty of time to do Newburyport once he oriented himself.

            3. Bexley managed to handle a passenger train turning in the yard while both the Goat and the Camel (Boston - Bexley hauler turn) were in the yard, but the session would have been more balanced if I'd enforced the 7:45 quit time for the 1st Bexley Goat and 8:15 start time for the 2nd. I'll think about modest shifts of freight activity away from the morning rush.

            4. 4:1 fast clock is about right for the number of freight cars and moves in a typical session, but the passenger timings are pretty slow. Maybe I'll try trimming the freight car population by 10% next time and see if I can speed up the clock. Experience to date suggests that increasing load/unload times alone won't simplify much.

            5. Recent improvements to operating documents have helped, but I missed opportunities to have the two least experienced operators read them before their jobs started.

            6. Three operators used phone/WiFi throttle apps for the whole session without any trouble from the MRC 1530. I gave wired throttles to others running in the north half of the room, and wireless to Bexley and West Lynn engineers. There was some congestion around the two Bexley plug-in locations, none elsewhere.

            7. None of my visitors had the combination of cab ride/rule book experience and comfort with other aspects of their job to put any energy into prototypical whistle & bell use. The most experienced were paying attention to the signals. And this crew is getting the hang of keeping the passenger trains more or less on time.

            I'll be trying another in June.

            James

            Comment


            • Excellent summary, James! Sounds like an enjoyable session, with some lessons learned and catalogued (and to be applied out here when the time comes), and that's a Good Thing!

              Keep Training, and please keep us posted!

              Pete

              in Michigan

              Comment


              • James,

                Interesting observations.

                I think it’s hard to build a timetable that works well for both freight and passenger trains. Do you run all your trains from a timetable?

                Mike
                _________________________________________________

                Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. James Baldwin

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                • Thanks, Pete. Mike, I have 'on duty' times for my freights and I've done some planning trying to avoid congestion at yards & sidings. But the freights don't appear on the passenger timetable - only First Class trains are scheduled all the way.
                  James

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                  • James,

                    As 'crew caller' are you taking on the role of Dispatcher? Have you set up any O.S. check-in locations? Sounds like you are having a good time with it.

                    Jim
                    Take the red pill

                    Comment


                    • I'm the closest thing to a Dispatcher the Eastern has. Freights get the moral equivalent of a Clearance Form A at origin but not Train Orders. Freights run per the train card and have to clear First Class. On a railroad where you can see three of the four stations from any point, this has sufficed. I'd try Train Orders and a Dispatcher's Phone if my crew wanted, but to date few, if any are interested in following the prototype that closely.
                      James

                      Comment


                      • Rebuilding my links to threads for the new RR-Line.

                        As it turned out, I had no operating sessions in Fall 2019, and then came the virus. So after more than two years I'm getting organized for two sessions as part of the NER Mill City 21 convention Columbus Day weekend. I may try to get an experienced crew for a warmup beforehand, but I have lots of other things to fill the next four weeks.
                        James

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                        • Action Report, Two Mill City 21 op sessions: Everyone survived being masked throughout, weather allowed open window ventilation.

                          #15 had 6 operators with me Crew Caller, Towerman etc. Most had considerable experience, a couple much less. Nobody had tried to run freight mixed with 14 passenger trains in 3 real hours. Bexley Yard was relatively hard work, particularly when something distracted me and I didn't get the 2nd Lynn Goat started on time. A few misroutes because it wasn't obvious what to do when a car arrives at its 'blocking code' (look at Destination and Consignee). I told the operators not to worry about the Humpyard levers breaking but that might have led to less care about the machinery behind them - a couple of connections pulled apart at inconvenient times. I stopped the clock for a while. One operator arrived late, and some had to leave early, so we only ran 0001 to 1030. My punch list includes reprinting weighbills whose laser printing isn't wearing well and rebalancing off-line destinations (way too many cars via South Boston). I was up late fixing the turnouts and mixing re-staging with running the freights that hadn't been completed.

                          #16 today only had 4 operators originally, one told me he wouldn't make it, another didn't. So I managed the layout while the other two ran most of the morning freight trains. I have one more to run before I re-stage.

                          I believe everyone had fun, don't know if I'll get more feedback. Once I'm ready again, I'll try to get another one in before Thanksgiving.
                          James

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                          • Sounds like it was a lot of fun, operations sounds like a real railroad operations with, all the going on's and maintenance issues.


                            Louis
                            Pacific Northwest Logging in the East Coast

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