Working through the maze of schedule conflicts this Fall, I held the one formal operating session on my railroad on Saturday. This has been an unusually active Fall, with many rail events, including several falling on my “First Saturday” position in the area operating session rotation. The wait was well worth it.
I had twenty-one operators join me for the session. Amazing to me is that my railroad still can absorb a few more operators beyond that, especially with two-man crews in use. I prefer to have two-man crews on the local freights and would like to have them on all of the road freights. A second crewmember is useful with long trains and handling the radio traffic associated with the Direct Traffic Control system in use. Further, I find it is best for everyone if new-to-the-layout operators are paired with a more experienced operator. Three of the road crews were paired for this session, as well as three local crews. Several other operators ran solo as road crew, as well as the two helper crews we used.
Fellow model railroaders note that I rarely operate during my own formal sessions. The reason for that is well known to fellow owners of larger layouts. We are on-call for any number of issues during the session. Though my railroad has settled down fairly well, I still experience minor physical plant glitches or control system problems that require my attention. Indeed, I had one switch point that required a quick re-solder job onto the throw bar as well as several other minor glitches.
In compensation for not operating during a formal session, I get to railfan! My enjoyment comes from seeing my vision come to life with my basement empire. As the session settled down, I got to sit down and watch several meets take place at Wicopee, with trains slowly snaking across my future Salt Creek Trestle site. Note this is the site for the inspiration photos that appear as the background of this blog and the inset photo at the top of the right side bar. My crews are doing a wonderful job of keeping the speeds within the 25 mph freight speed limit on the mountain grade.
A RR-East freight drifts down-grade and around the Salt Creek Trestle toward a meet at Wicopee. The RR-West train to be met is just visible underneath the trestle support. Mike B. and Brigg F. are guiding the RR-East. Helper engineer on the RR-West train Bob Y. is in the background. Bob has pulled the helper duty several times, so he runs as a one-man crew.
Another perspective on the meet at Wicopee, with Mike B. serving as engineer on the RR-East train coming down the hill. Standard practice on the mountain grade in the diesel era is to keep the down-hill trains rolling to conserve their braking ability.
Dispatcher John B. kept the traffic rolling with additional management assist to both he and me provided by retired SP Dispatcher Rick K. John is filling in train data on the Direct Traffic Control Block Authority Sheet. Above that on the desk is the Train Sheet. Where the Dispatcher records additional information about each train.
Conductor Mike B. (seated), helper engineer Dave C, and Road engineer Rick A. await a down hill train and meet at McCredie Springs. Part of railroading on a single track mainline is waiting for a meet.
Oakridge Turn engineer Bob S. (rear) awaits a RR-Westbound controlled by Ken R. (foreground) coming into Oakridge.
Oakridge Turn conductor Pete J. (left) watches and plans at Oakridge as helper engineer Bob Y. drifts down yard track 1 to be ready for the incoming road freight. The new Oakridge crossovers can be seen connecting the four yard body tracks. The mainline, siding and house track (right to left) are the three tracks closer to the depot and backdrop.
Ken R’s RR-West road freight enters Oakridge Yard, while the Oakridge Turn waits in the foreground. I issued an operating bulletin directing the use of Oakridge Yard track 2 as the preferred track for RR-West freights. The new crossovers best enable placing the helper two thirds of the way back in the train when using this track.
Jim M. and Greg P. work the first Springfield switch job. This job works the depot side of the mainline at Springfield. A second job works the aisle side.
Yardmaster David B. keeps his switch crews, Jordan D. (left) and Chuck C. (right) busy at Eugene. Over the course of the session, they must build five local freights and break down blocks of cars from arriving RR-Eastbounds destined for the modeled railroad.
Even though I could schedule only one formal operating session this Fall, it was a good session. It was great to have a full crew and keep everyone busy. Also good were the relatively modest number of glitches and trouble tags generated. Sessions like this were what my railroad was built for!