Monday, September 7, 2015



Operations Special Interest Group Ops Session

The second major activity involving my layout for the NMRA National Convention in Portland in August, was an operating session conducted under the auspices of the Operations Special Interest Group (OpSIG).  After the formal convention bus tours cleared away ( ), my helping crew and I had a brief moment to catch dinner before fifteen guest operators arrived.  Fortunately for my anxiety level leading up to the convention, half of this group was composed of friends from my days working in California.  It was great to show off what I had accomplished in my move north.  Many of these “guests” had participated in discussions leading to the layout’s design, its operations design, and the electrical system supporting it.  The remainder of the guest operating crew became new friends, willing to operate on a “raw” model railroad.  The operating session was only the fourth operating session using the full mainline.

I had a great crew helping me, including Dave H., who had trained under ex-SP Dispatcher Rick K., to perform that duty for this session.  Rick A. and John B1.  participated in all or most of the test operating sessions leading up to this event.  Friends from California days also joined in, as they had for the formal bus tour:  Richard C. and John B2.  John B2 was my “height gauge” as he stands even taller than me at 6 ft-10 in.  The probability that he might operate this railroad some day kept me honest about my overhead clearances for the overhanging sections of the layout plan.  John B2 used my camera to record the images contained in this post.  Follow along with the operating session as seen through the eye of the camera.

As seen here, I am doing the initial briefing before turning my operating crew loose on the railroad.

Mark S. served as Yardmaster at Eugene.  Here he is organizing the work for his two switch crewmen: Howard G. and Reid K.

Around at Oakridge, Principal Helper Bob S. advises Scott. C. on operations at Oakridge while Don. M. and Helper Engineer Dennis D. prepare to cut in a helper locomotive set.  Dave T. (using the operator platform behind him as a desk) is preparing to work with the Oakridge Turn.

Dispatcher Dave H. works with departing crew Norm A. and John M. as they prepare to depart staging.

I am fiddling with the headset connection to an FRS radio to help Mat T. and Hilding L. get ready to take their first train.  They were called for Amtrak Number 14, the northbound (RR-East) Coast Starlite.

Don. M. (foreground) and Helper Engineer Dennis D. guide their train uphill around the loop at Salt Creek Trestle.

Richard C. gravitated to the ill-defined role of “Santa Clara Tower Operator” controlling the switches in and out of the Eugene Arrival/Departure Yard on the lower level and “Crescent Lake Yardmaster” controlling actions at the upper level staging yard.  Though I had thought about the need for this job, I had not formally defined it nor briefed it.  Thank you Richard for jumping in to fill an obvious need!

Conductor Mat T. and Engineer Hilding L. are underway with Amtrak No, 14, seen just behind them at Wicopee siding.

Don M. confers with Richard C. about departure from Eugene.

Mark G. and Dave F. took the Eugene City Switcher job and are seen here conferring with West-End Yard Switcher Howard G.  In the background, two members of my local helping crew, John B1 and Rick A. were called for the Second Springfield Switch Job.  At this point in the operation, we had nineteen folk operating.  When I build the engine facilities within the Eugene staging loop, I can add a hostler position making a full crew of twenty on my railroad.  I had thought a full crew would be fifteen, but with two-man crews in use for both the local switch jobs and the road freights, it is clear the railroad can absorb twenty crewmembers quite productively.

Action is heavy at Eugene!  In the back, Hilding L. and Mat T. are taking the Marcola Turn out to work the Marcola Branch out of Springfield.  Working forward, Yardmaster Mark S. observes the activity, ready to provide further instructions.  Eugene City Switcher Crew Mark G. and Dave F. have pulled a car out of the switchback into Rubenstein’s Furniture in the corner notch to the left.  West End Switcher Howard G. is looking on, ready to do further classification work.

A couple of my guest operators, Jim B and Steve W., were “camera shy”—actually, the photos of them just did not work out.  Further, my intrepid photographer was on the other side of the camera—of course.

This fourth operating session of the full railroad was a success.  Yes, there  were a few glitches noted, but the railroad ran well enough that all could see how operating sessions will develop as I lay the remaining track and further develop the control system.  The layout tours and this operating session are what I worked toward for the past three years.  I just made it with the help from many friends for this “graduation exercise.”

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