“Test” Operating Sessions


In the photo above, the island switcher is pulling up next to the warehouse at International Paper.  The second trick crew is delivering one hopper of coal to the bulk storage track on the left in the foreground.  The warehouse is on the right and is represented by the styrene core of what was to be the finished structure.  The buildings in the background are a combination of painted foam core mockups and another styrene structure core.

The layout isn’t anywhere near being ready to host visiting operators, but now that the track, turnout controllers, wiring, and DCC system are set up, I’ve taken some important steps toward that goal.

I’ve made three attempts at simulating an 8 to 10 hour shift consisting of set-outs, lifts, and shuttles of about ten to fifteen cars in total. With the fast clock set at ratio of eight hours represented in one hour, it appears to be working out.  I have no idea if I will keep that ratio for the fast clock.  I just needed starting point.  Anyway, there have been some valuable lessons learned in just three sessions.

Before I scribbled out the first crude switch list, I sketched a schematic map showing the various spots.  For now, I’ve marked some of the spots with a  small “X” on the benchwork, to make sure that I’m consistently placing cars during these trial operating sessions.  I’ve had to make adjustments to the exact location of some spots in order for coupling and uncoupling to be manageable.


In just three operating session, I’ve discovered that my planned warehouse building is about 25 to 50 scale feet too long to be practical.  I probably could have figured this out ahead of time, had I not been focused on making the building large.  I designed the building to with the capacity to spot four cars on the “A” track and four cars on the “B” track inside the warehouse, which made the building over 200 feet long.  The geometry of the track and the placement of the building don’t allow for enough tangent track before the cars enter the building.  I’m already planning a new and warehouse building to replace the styrene building core in the photo above.

All of this playing with trains is interrupting construction.  The next big project on the list is to mount the turnout controls on the facia of the layout.  Of course, I’m also still working on the rolling stock that will eventually populate the layout.


3 thoughts on ““Test” Operating Sessions

  1. Hunter,

    Thank you for posting the up date. Operating will get in the way of construction any day of the week, I’ve found, I’m glad you can now do that. Your track and ballast looks spot on for the location you are modeling, I like your techniques.

    Best, Scott

  2. I have a small switching layout that I haven’t done hardly any work on in quite a long time. And it’s still not quite operational either.

    Building freight cars and structures (for my someday ACR layout, not the little generic switching layout) has been my modelling focus of late.

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