Layout Operations

Discussion in 'Operations' started by Rick McClellan, May 2, 2010.


Do you operate?

Poll closed May 7, 2010.
  1. Yes, I operate on layouts frequently

    17 vote(s)
  2. No I do not currently operate but would like to learn

    10 vote(s)
  3. I only operate my layout and that's good enough for me

    8 vote(s)
  4. Operations is not for me

    1 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Rick McClellan

    Rick McClellan 2009 Engineer of the Year

    Please let me know if you operate or would like to operate by voting in this quick and easy poll.
  2. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Rick, you know my feelings; a model railroad can be a thing of beauty (very high quality modeling by highly skilled craftsmen), but if it just lays there and doesn't come to life, it's just a limp piece of art. If it comes to life in operations, then you have a true masterpiece.
    It doesn't take a room full or rooms full of track to operate - it can be as simple as a very small staging area and a few industries to switch - something that fits a large shelf, or several dioramas linked together by a common theme but with the ability to move "stuff".
  3. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    I operate on my layout a lot, and on others when I get the chance.
  4. wpmoreland719

    wpmoreland719 Member Supporter

    I selected "Yes, I operate frequently", because I felt that was the most fitting, but truthfully, I only operate my own layout, which is DC cab control. I love to some day check out a DCC layout and see if it's worth making the conversion. But DCC is not in my budget right now, and likely won't be for a long, long time:(.
  5. FRISCO4503

    FRISCO4503 FRISCO4503 Supporter

    I am getting close to being able to operate a small portion of my layout. I know it is big and I am making great progress. I have an outside main line that has no turn-outs or anything, it just runs in a big square, which will change soon with the arrival of my double crossover soon. But other than that, I have been taking it a 2 foot section at a time and laying track, adding scenery, and details, and then testing to see how it does. For the first time I am taking my time ever since I was turned on to the realistic side of model railroading, I wont turn back to my days of an oval track on a grass mat. I am looking forward to operating my own layout, but wouldnt mind operating on some others as well.
  6. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    I guess I'm the lone wolf but I enjoy creating scenery and building structures and rolling stock more than operation. I would rather just sit back and watch the local sway and clatter it's way past me as I take in the scenery. My interest in railroading is not so much in it's business of operation but I will work the two sidings on my branch as they would have been in the late teens to late 20s. I've been this way for over thirty years but we are a diverse group for sure. I still consider myself a model railroader but maybe more bridge gang than engineer or dispatcher.
  7. Rick McClellan

    Rick McClellan 2009 Engineer of the Year

    One of the best aspects of this hobby is that you can go where you want to go. There is nothing wrong with not operating or operating your railroad alone (I have always thought that I would have a shelf layout in the nursing home or the prison I spent my final days in.). We would not be as well informed as we are today without the authors, photographers, memorabilia collectors, etc. who help preserve the railroads that we like and model. Most of these folks that I have come across don't care for operation that much which is fine.

    For me, operating with others gave me all kinds of great ideas and inspired me to copy items on their layout. I'm not that creative so I steal the best from everyone I can. :D

    I was in the hobby for some time before realizing that I really liked operation. Now I can't stop. :eek: There's just something about getting my assignment, getting on my engine and getting the work done. I see it as a challenge.

    I am hoping that all those who indicated a desire to operate would contact me and let me know when they might be in KC so I could arrange a tour or, better yet, an operating session. :cool:
  8. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Supporter

    I view myself not as a model railroader, but as a railroad modeler.

    My main passion is to learn about, and model, railroad motive power and equipment - mainly Frisco of course. I love the little details that when added to the model make it scream Frisco! I'm just as happy looking at and admiring a great model of SLSF 1522 on a shelf, for example, as I am seeing it and running it on a layout.

    I just do not have the same passion about designing, creating and building a layout, nor do I think I have the talent. I've talked with Rick, Keith, Don, Doug and others about this.

    I have limited operating experience on sophisticated layouts - most recently at Rick's Northern Division and at Don Wirth's Newburg. I had a great time, and would certainly look forward to more when circumstances allow.

  9. wpmoreland719

    wpmoreland719 Member Supporter

    Here's how I operate the "Moreland Pacific":):

    There are a total of four "locals" in each direction. The first is a consist made up of primarily of transition era 40 ft. boxcars handled by an F3 (Athearn Genesis) and a steel caboose. Train length is typically seven to ten cars.

    The second is made up of equipment of about the same era, maybe a little older, but mostly outside braced wooden cars, including a GM&O wartime hopper. Train length is seven cars, and is usually handled by the same F3, but sometimes I substitute it with an IHC 4-4-0 that I decaled myself just for the heck of it. A wooden Walther's caboose brings up the rear.

    The third is made up of seven Proto 1000 hoppers, all Frisco. Eastbound trains (counter-clockwise) are managed by the new SD45, while westbound trains use the old blue-box SD40-2. I'd use the '40-2 in both directions, but it has an annoying habit of derailing on a certain curve while running short hood forward counter-clockwise.

    The fourth is a more modern consist, nine cars long, including two piggy back flat cars, four 50 ft. boxcars, one flat car with a load of cable spools, Santa Fe tank car, and a single 50 ft. covered hopper. When trains are westbound (clock-wise), I use the new SD45. All that "horsepower" isn't nescessary, but I can't help it, I like running it. Eastbound trains are handled by the more conservative Trainline GP15-1, and this train interchanges traffic with the Salem Branch.

    The Salem Branch uses an Athearn GP35, although I should probably went with a GP38-2, and is usually only three or four cars long. One 50 ft. boxcar is spotted at Wesco for the nearby Floyd Charcoal plant, while the others are for lumber products in Steelville. A single covered hopper is used for shipments of plastic pellets to Polysystems in Steelville (although Polysystems does have a spur to their facility, I'm pretty sure it didn't come along until the BN era).

    In between the operations of these trains, I run a modern Amtrak P42 with three coaches. I know it doesn't make any sense, but my boy loves it. It's based on the Missouri River Runner that operates between StL and KC.

    Finally, I gather all the freight cars in the yard, sort them with the GP15-1, put 'em all out on the mainline and hook up the SD40-2 and SD45 for my rendition of Train nos. 32 and 33, the freight version of the "Texas Special". This train is 30 to 32 cars long, plus a steel off-set caboose.

    It's probably a little goofy to some, but that's the way I run my railroad! I'd be open to suggestions and ideas from other modeler's, though.

  10. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Here's how ever I operate the Iantha Branch.....
    Put a train to gether, and hook it up to my main power consist (which right now is an SD45, followed by a B30-7 and a GP38AC in reverse) and then run it round and round in circles! Actually the Iantha Branch is under construction right now, but will be back shortly.
  11. FriscoFriend (Bob Hoover RIP 4/12/2018)

    FriscoFriend (Bob Hoover RIP 4/12/2018) Passed Away April 12, 2018 Supporter

    Well, years ago we had the "Birdman of Alcatraz". Now maybe we will have the "Trainman of Leavenworth"!
  12. w3hodoug (Doug Hughes RIP 03/24/2021)

    w3hodoug (Doug Hughes RIP 03/24/2021) 2008 Engineer of the Year Supporter

    Ken, you do have the talent.

  13. Rick McClellan

    Rick McClellan 2009 Engineer of the Year

    As that great philosopher Smokey Robinson sez, "I Second That Emotion.":cool:
  14. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member Staff Member

    A couple years after I got out of the service, 25 years ago, built a small MRR in a spare room. It was 12x12 duck under type. I had more fun on that little RR, 5-10 car trains small yard, good memories. Then I got the idea to build a RR in a old mobile home so I gutted the thing it was a 12x40 I think, larger trains, larger yard great fun, but was lacking in block control or multiple cab operations, we moved so I sold it.
    Ended up here in GJ, got another mobile home MRR 12x 50 more or less finished it and then I got crazy, and decided to sell it too, sold it to some friends here and they have improved it greatly and are still enjoying it. When I say I got crazy, I mean I built a 30' x 50' building and filled it up with a MRR, which are the pictures some of you may have seen here on this site.
    This RR has 9 cabs, DC block control, several yards, the main one has a operational hump, 6 bowl tracks holding 20-25 cars each, 2 outbound tracks, 1 inbound track holds 65-75 cars each, this yard handles around 450 cars, including the intermodal facility. Have couple more yards holding 150 cars each, 2 reversing loops, I tried to include a great deal of staging track and switching operations on this one.
    We usually try to run 3-4 mainline freights 50-70 cars each, West trains run counter clockwise, 2-3 locals, a hump engine and yard trimmer. Mainline Dispatcher, and Yard Master. Scenery is about 1/4 done, it is my least favorite of the project. 48"-72" mainline curves Westward trains climb a 2% ruling grade for 350'. East climb 400' 1 1/2% ruling grade to the top.
    It is allot to keep track of, and can get overwhelming in a hurry, familiar operators are always welcomed, we have 8-10 people that come over when we get together, 1-2 times a month. Mainline Dispatching is by far the most challenging "job" in an op session.
    All cars have KD metal couplers, metal wheels and are weighted to at least double NMRA specs.
    As far as fun, that first small RR was great, what I am trying to say here is a small RR can be just as good as a big one, A big RR is fun if you have good friends to run it with. This big RR I am building now can be more of a job sometimes that it is fun, sad to say but true.
    If I had it to do over (and I might ;)) I would greatly simplify the things, probably getting rid of 3/4 of my power and rolling stock, problem is when I paint decal and weather the things I like them so much I cant get rid of them.
    Oh well, If any of you make it out this way, let me know. If I'm around we'll turn a wheel or two.
  15. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Supporter

    Interesting to see the diversity of our answers to Rick's poll. I voted in the second category - i.e. "no, don't operate, but willing to learn".

  16. Joe Lovett

    Joe Lovett Member


    I do'nt know the first thing on how to setup for operations. What is the the most basic system for one person operation setup and how to run it? Is a fast clock used in this format and if so what time frame is best? Also need samples of documents needed for this system. I have 235 locos, frieght and passenger units, half are Frisco. Your help is Greatly Appreciated!!!

  17. Ozarktraveler

    Ozarktraveler Member

    LOL... :) You guys make my day.
  18. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Joe, and all others interesting in finding out about operations:

    I have started a thread which we will use to introduce the group to beginning operations, complete with advice, documents, links. etc.

    I encourage everyone that operates to chime in to help spread the joy at this thread:
  19. Joe Lovett

    Joe Lovett Member


    Would you plese post an example of a car card and waybill filled out. It will greatly help seeing data in work.

    Thank you for the documents and links in previous posts.

  20. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

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