My HO scale SP Cascade Line hosted its first operating session with operators other than myself. In my working career, this would be a “first flight” event, a major milestone. This was a critical step, as it subjected the layout systems to objective users who were unfamiliar with any details of its construction or equipment installation. Preparing for this event meant working through many small tasks that had been set aside while pursuing some “larger” objective. “First Ops” was the first time the railroad (layout) fully came alive.
First operating session with (left to right): Joe B., Rick A., John B., and Dave H.
I am happy to report that although I have a list of action items to check out and correct, trains ran over the full railroad as it currently exists. My group of four testers ran through all turnouts, usually by pushing light cars through the switches—a tough test.
As I placed freight cars at industry spots typical of regular layout operations, I discovered just how large a railroad I am building. This layout will consume many cars on its industry spurs. The photo shows the situation at Springfield where one or two cars stand in for three or four. I will be looking for specific cars and car types in my collection that were packed away long ago for moving and storage. Some car types such as tank cars have been flagged as needing additional purchases.
My First Ops session did exactly what I hoped it would, revealing strengths and weaknesses of the operating core of the railroad. It took nineteen months to reach this milestone. Onward toward the “Golden Spike!”
First Ops Crew (left to right): Myself, Rick A., Joe B., John B., and Dave H.