Sunday, November 8, 2015


Coming back after a “vacation” from the model railroad following the NMRA National Convention in August, I held the fifth operating session using the full mainline November 7.  We had a full crew of twenty on hand.  Based on the convention operations session (ops session 4), I concluded the layout could absorb up to twenty operators.  From my initial call list, I received several additional requests for invites.  Figuring I could use up to twenty folk, I agreed and made those invitation additions.  This railroad has become living proof of the statement: “Build it and they will come.”  I had no idea it would happen so quickly!

The wonderful operations organizing assistance provided by former SP Dispatcher Rick K. made it possible to keep everyone fairly busy.  In addition to crew training—Dispatchers—Rick added a Crew Caller position.  I have envisioned this role belonging to my “Santa Clara Tower” operator position, but it helped to have an additional person performing this role.  We used two-man train crews—a conductor and an engineer.  Two-man crews helps with the communications load and provides for two pair of eyes watching the ends of the train.  I had always figured two-man crews would be good with the local switch jobs, but we have seen it is useful with the road crews, as well.

Ken R. and Dave H. work the first Springfield switcher job.  This job works on the depot side of the mainline.  A second Springfield switcher works the aisle side of the mainline.

With the Crew Caller position created, we could manage crews off of several “Boards.”  The first was the regular road crew board for the road freight trains.  A second board was set up for Amtrak and the helpers.  Both of these jobs were declared to be single man crew jobs.  An “Extra” Board had crews that could be called when the regular road crews were fully engaged or if the helper and Amtrak Board needed augmentation.  Additional jobs on the railroad included the Eugene Yard crew: Yardmaster, west and east switchers and the Santa Clara Tower Operator.  Finally, we had a Dispatcher (plus a trainee or observer), the Crew Caller, and finally, the “Superintendant”—me!  Especially true of large model railroads, but also very true of most any model railroad in its infancy and development, the layout owner ends up taking care of all sorts of tasks (trouble-shooting) and providing overall direction or explanations. 

The railroad was quite busy throughout the session.  A few crews got stuck in sidings for a while, but that is real railroading.  One helper engineer noted he made six trips up and down the mountain!

A meet at Oakridge.  Jim M. looks at Oakridge as his RR-East train descends into town behind him.  Greg. P. has a RR-West train in the yard (yard track four) waiting for the RR-East train to clear so he can pull out into the Salmon Creek block and have his helper entrained.  Helper Engineer Jordan D. is pulling his helper power set out of the Oakridge engine facility.  John B.  is the engineer for the Oakridge Turn, still working in the yard with cars on yard tracks one and three.

An earlier view at Oakridge with the Oakridge Turn crew of Mike B. and John B. strategizing on how best to get their work done. 

Jim M. looks on as his train rolls through the RR-East end of Oakridge.

Meanwhile, up on the Hill. Dave C. guides Amtrak Number 14 down grade toward Cruzatte.

Overseeing all, “first trick” Dispatcher Mike Y. receives an OS (“On Sheet”--train location report).

Crew Caller Rick K. confers with Eugene Yardmaster David B. while Eugene East Switcher Pete J. works and Santa Clara Tower Operator Jan K. assists with switch routing.

Former Conductor Dick K. reprises that role on my railroad as his train drifts down through McCredie Springs.

The important mid-session break for “beans”—literally, as we usually serve chili.

Engineer Gene N. guides his RR-West train into RR-East Springfield as his conductor, Jim M. confers with the crew of the Oakridge Turn.  The Oakridge Turn is on the Springfield siding and awaits the passage of the westbound train.

By late afternoon, we had a happy but tired crew.  Though there are potential schedule issues during the holiday period, the crew strongly desires continued operations.  It brings me great joy to have a large group of folk arrive to help bring my vision into reality, especially for the “raw” state of the railroad.  I have mostly built it and they are coming!

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