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  • Op Session #17 is history. Five operators who'd operated here before, one was elsewhere on business; We didn't run much of the passenger schedule. And there was a lot of conversation before we actually started the clock, so we only ran noon - 7:30 PM. Some operators were a bit rusty after a year or more away from car cards and timetables but everyone had a good time. No photos because things kept coming up. Nothing too serious: a couple of turnouts acting up, a couple of DCC firmware crashes, car routing questions etc.

    One thing I think I have to address: of about 45 cars moved, I found at least 15 mis-routes as I started to clean up. My layout is just an oval, but there are five different ways freight cars can enter and leave the 'stage', each representing a different routing. I suppose I could just let it be; eventually it ought to straighten itself out. But with 1/3 mis-routes and only a few sessions a year, that will take a very long time. Plus, all my real RR paychecks came from service planning, and my 1954 Terminal Division Make-Up of Trains book makes it clear that good service was a goal then.

    I put considerable time into my car cards: I researched plausible values for Contents, Shipper, Origin, Consignee, Destination, and Route. There are also alphabetic codes for the on-line destination and area within the destination. But I am beginning to wonder if I am assuming too much about people's vision. The spreadsheets I started from were developed for a Boston-area club, and had color codes in addition to the text fields. They got in the way when I only had a B&W printer, but now I could try restoring them. I suppose if "Put each color together, Green goes in the Casco, Orange in the Narragansett..." gets the results I want, I can accept that...

    Between the holidays and a bunch of model events, the next op session probably will be after January, so I have time to think before I touch up and re-print.

    James

    Comment


    • James,

      I think the important part here is the "Good time was had by All" aspect of things. Most of the stuff I see and hear about resuming Op Sessions is related to the joy of gathering again and the "Let's see if it still runs and we know where to find stuff" aspects of getting going again. We're going through that process around here, and are enjoying the camaraderie, perhaps more so than the actual operating!

      Your color codes issues might be able to be resolved with a pack of Sharpie colored markers from a stationer, which would eliminate the need to reprint everything. A stripe across the top of the card should do it....

      In any case, I'm glad that #17 worked... I'm up for #2 here (after twenty-one months) next week, so the clock is running!

      Pete
      in Michigan

      Comment


      • Hi,

        When I see you have a new post on this thread, I often wait until I can relax and read it through at leisure, taking time to cogitate upon what you've written.

        As Pete said, having fun is the main idea. But beyond that simple goal, those of us who put together op sessions like to see them work out.

        So, what was the nature of the misdirections? From what you've written, it sounds like people didn't understand how to route cars so that they reached their destination.

        I've seen color-coded hints on car cards as to routes cars should take, but I've never worked on a layout that did that. I'm sure it's easy but hard to fully grasp in theory (at least for me.) Maybe it takes a little experience to work smoothly. I like Pete's suggestion; it was certainly the way it was done before we all had color printers.

        Maybe you should do some switching runs to put cars in the right places. It might help you figure out the problems.

        Mike

        _________________________________________________

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

        Comment


        • Pete, I printed my spreadsheet weighbills on green cardstock, so I need to experiment with markers, highlighters etc. I know if I keep the current bills, I can't code Maine Central/Rigby Yard in Portland as the mnemonic "Pine Tree Green". I'm not so sure about "Warm Orange" for New Haven/South Boston routes either. Another thing is some operators are colorblind - one Mill City guest reminded me of this; he didn't find my signals very useful.

          Mike, when an op session doesn't run till noon/midnight, I switch the remainder of the day in the process of re-staging. I mentioned wondering how many of my operators can read all the text on my bills. But underlying that is wondering how many of them appreciate or even care about the routes, cargoes and priorities. Employees from the 50s and 60s were often pretty familiar with what they were moving and for whom; Trainmasters and Freight Agents were both involved with getting and keeping business. I've studied it, and I enjoy working with what I printed. But I have a feeling I should keep my layout open to people closer to the "run some trains, switch some cars" end of the spectrum. If I do add colors, there won't be more than 5, and they'll only appear on weighbill faces that move cars 'offstage'.
          James

          Comment


          • James,

            One simple "car forwarding" scheme I've seen is to give engineers instructions like "drop two boxcars at location X, pick up 2 boxcars." etc.

            Yes, familiarity with routes and customers helps on model railroads just as it does on the real ones.

            Mike
            _________________________________________________

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

            Comment


            • Just getting caught up here.... The green card issue will indeed monkey with my Sharpie stripes process, but the colors could be applied to dot stickers or a cut piece of paper taped to the car cards. As to the signals and the colorblind, again, I'm thinking I'll need some fascia-mounted position light signal repeaters.... YMMV.

              Please keep the comments coming! We all learn from this stuff!

              Pete
              in Michigan

              Comment


              • Regarding "TT&TO" operation on double track, in most cases they operated two main tracks as "double track" (an actual operating method in the rules) where the tracks were signaled for operation in one direction on each track, the signal indications superseded the superiority of trains an the signals authorized the trains to move. The only time you needed train orders were if you operated against the flow of traffic on the "wrong" main. A lot of places had center sidings and either a message (not a train order) or a train order was used to tell the trains to take siding and let another train pass.
                Dave Husman
                Modeling the P&R and W&N in 1903
                Iron men and wooden cars.
                Visit my website: www.wnbranch.com

                Comment


                • Do you have a picture of your car cards? That might help in understanding why the routing was an issue.

                  Sometime people just don't pay attention, sometimes they get lost, sometimes the documentation isn't as obvious as we would like to think it is.

                  In the three major terminals I put a little green tab in the pockets of the cars I want spotted that session. The one exception is that at the steel mills, the switcher has a message to spot so many empty gons to each loading track in the various mills. I leave it up to the switcher to choose the empty gons based on what's available. In one of my last sessions, the switcher didn't spot any empties to any mills because none of the empties had a green spot tag in them. They got the part about the spot tag but missed the empties even though they had written instructions telling them how many empties to spot in each track. Sigh.
                  Dave Husman
                  Modeling the P&R and W&N in 1903
                  Iron men and wooden cars.
                  Visit my website: www.wnbranch.com

                  Comment


                  • Mike, an N scale layout in my area uses printed train work lists. The owner's directions are much as you describe: "At Mattawamkeag, pick up all covered hoppers, leave all wood chip cars" etc. That's fun, but I wanted to tell a more detailed story on my own layout.

                    Pete, you could do your 'position light repeaters' with 4 LEDs in a pseudo-semaphore arrangement (like a PRR position-light dwarf).

                    Mr. WN, the B&M made a lot of use of 'Proceed on signal indication with Form A' (Clearance Card) on direction-of-travel double track. I started out with Micro-Mark weighbills, typed. But I wanted to be able to change things without re-typing all four faces. And I wanted more information, like the blocking, than I could fit with the typewriter:

                    MM envelope, spreadsheet waybill

                    My cards are 2" wide by 3 1/8 high, roughly the same as MM's. I am thinking about a spot of paint next to 'Waybill' to avoid re-printing.
                    James

                    Comment


                    • You said you wanted to include "blocking". In the waybill example shown above, what tells me what the blocking is? For example if I was on a train with that car and waybill, on move one I would set the car out at West Lynn. On move two I would take it to Bexley and that's all the further I would take it on that move.

                      I also use a color code with the blocking instructions. I also had used colored paper for empty car waybills (prototypical) but instead went to standard manila paper so I could use colored stripes on the waybill. I have a poster on the wall with the blocking/color code and the text block names. Each yardmaster has a train building sheet that shows how trains are supposed to be blocked. If you are interested I can post pictures of them.

                      For my "yard blocks" I have different block names in the same color code. For example, the major terminal at the south end is Wilmington. The color for Wilmington is yellow. I have several switching areas in Wilmington: Maryland Ave. (MD), Dela. River Extension (DRE), Harlan & Hollingsworth Shipyards (H&H), the car float to Carney's Point, NJ (Float), 6th Ave (6th) and the PRR interchange (PRR). For all of those the stripe will be yellow, but the block code will be "Wilm" plus the area code, as in Wilm-MD, Wilm-DRE, Wilm-H&H, Wilm-Float, Wilm-6th and Wilm-PRR. The crews everywhere but Wilmington know to send those cars to Wilmington because of the yellow stripe and "Wilm-..." prefix. Once they are at Wilmington the Wilmington yard crews can then use the detail block (-DRE, -H&,H, -MD, etc) to figure out which area in the terminal they will be going. Has been pretty successful so far.
                      Dave Husman
                      Modeling the P&R and W&N in 1903
                      Iron men and wooden cars.
                      Visit my website: www.wnbranch.com

                      Comment


                      • Yes, the 'W' at the top left duplicates the 'To:' line, the word 'West Lynn' or 'Bexley' is the yard that handles the 'To:' destination. I added the W and N for those having difficulty with small print, I am thinking about colors because the larger letters weren't helping.

                        I am trying to squeeze a lot into a limited quantity of staging, so I do all the bill flipping between sessions. I'll also try annotating a picture of a bill and printing out copies 4x life size.
                        James

                        Comment


                        • James,

                          Yes, I find that simple op scene a little too simple for my taste. Really, it's only appropriate for very inexperienced operators or a very low-key session.

                          I prefer the sense of getting work done.

                          Maybe cut-down colored price stickers would work rather than colored markers. Or has that been suggested? I suppose they might peel off but that's not been my experience. They can be the devil to remove. On the other hand, that would be a lot of little stickers to put on waybills.

                          Mike

                          _________________________________________________

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

                          Comment


                          • James, Your PRR-like dwarf repeater suggestion is exactly what I am thinking about. Lots of other stuff to do prior to that, though....

                            Pete
                            in Michigan

                            Comment


                            • You have a LOT going on on that waybill. It could be that the answer isn't adding something but removing some things or moving the the critical things to the top and the same line.

                              Am I supposed to be following the letter in the box, am I supposed to be following the station on the 2nd line, am I supposed to be following the "To" line. On move 1 they are consistent (all W Lynn), but on move two they aren't (2 are Newburyport, 1 is Bexley).

                              Here is an example of my car cards and waybills. They are "non-standard" because they represent a "car ticket" or memorandum waybill that was in use in my era. The blocking code and the color code are all on one line, the "Via" line. The "To" line is the final destination. I tell yardmasters and crews to block trains by the Via line. Whether they go by the color or the block code, there is only one line that they have to pay attention to if the car is not at its blocking destination.

                              Click image for larger version

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                              Dave Husman
                              Modeling the P&R and W&N in 1903
                              Iron men and wooden cars.
                              Visit my website: www.wnbranch.com

                              Comment

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