Operations Questions from a Confused Coyote

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GrandpaCoyote

Wiley Old Dog
Hello Gang,

Let me start off by apologizing if this post is in the wrong place; if it is please feel free to move it where it belongs, this just looked like the best place to me.

As a lot of you probably know by now my OL and I are currently building an HO Scale layout set in 1953-54, in northern Arizona and is the old AT&SF main running through a small town.

I've read through a lot of various material on operations and think I have come to understand it enough that I've been able to make a reasonable, decent plan... but after all this time I still have no idea as to how operations -work-.
Let me try and explain what I mean by this, I understand that basically we are talking about layout picking up and moving cars and then taking them to yards and breaking them up, sorting them out and remaking them into trains to be sent here or there. What I don't get is how to actually apply that thinking to our plan.

I have the tracks and know the industries and I think (and hope) I've put in proper trackage for run-arounds and other needed movements and set out my spurs in proper facing or trailing manner accept for one that has a run-around provided because of that.

That all said what I lack is the understanding of just how it all fits together... meaning what sort of cars should go and come from where, what sorts of materials are typically moved to and from such industries and how often etc. I know it may seem strange that someone can get to this point in a layout and not have a clue as to these things but I started off in the hobby totally pig ignorant about trains, in fact I'm sure that some pigs that live near the tracks might actually know more than I do! :)

So I am wondering if the gang could give me some ideas... To help out along that vein I have provided our track plan below and a key to the tracks and industries.

Honestly gang I don't even know if I'm making any sense here :eek: so if I'm not or haven't provided enough information or details please let me know and I promise to try and either provide the info needed or clarify my question ASAP.

Looking forward to any input you all have to offer.

Thanks in advance for your time and aid.

Peace.

Coyote

View attachment 5388

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IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
Hi Coyote,

If you want a good, easy-readin' intro to the concept of "operations", allow me to recommend:

Realistic Model Railroad Operation by Tony Koester

That book opened up a whole new world for me, as far as being able to plan and stage meaningful ops on my own layout.

BTW - great selection of towns and industries you got there!:cool:
 
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SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
There is no easy way around this, You have to take each industry and research what they need to operate, determine which of those items come by rail, and what they ship out by rail. Then it is a matter of finding cars that can fill that function. You set out the cars and pick up the empties.

Then it is just a matter of creating a system of car control.
 

OldGettysk

Running the MC & Buffalo
Yes Coyote you have to determine what a certain industry manufactures, what raw materials it needs to make the product, and what it ships it's product out in , Take a Vinyl industry which I worked at . It had tankers of certain products brought in. It shipped it's material out in bulk hoppers and also in boxcars. It had other raw materials brought in by boxcar. Also machinery used to manufacture stuff was also brought in by boxcar and flatcars. So you see lots of different rolling stock can be involved with certain industries !!! we also had industrial Switchers which moved everyting around our yards
 
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If you can find it "How to Operate Your Model Railroad" by Bruce Chubb is another good resource. It was published by Kalmbach.
 

CP9302

Member
Hi Grampa Coyote that's a very nice looking layout. Lots of operational possibilities.

Here are some examples of cars going to and coming from your industries. I will make some sample car cards and trains to try and illustrate how I'd do it. Hope it will help.

You may want to look at the car card system available from Micro Mark. My club uses this system and it works very well.
http://www.ares-server.com/Ares/Ares.asp?MerchantID=RET01229&Action=Catalog&Type=Product&ID=82916

Scrap Yard
IN: Gons of scrap metal (from off line)
OUT: Empty Gons (back to interchange)
OUT: Gons or flat cars of bailled scrap metal (maybe) (to interchange)

Fuel Supplier
IN: Empty Tank cars (from oil field and off line)
IN: Tank cars of chemicals for fuel refining (if done here) (from off line)
IN: Occasional flat or box car of machinery (from off line)
OUT: Empty chemical tanks cars (back to interchange)
OUT: Full fuel tank cars (to oil field and off line)

Shipping Warehouse
IN/OUT: Box cars and flat cars (loads and empties to/from interchange)

Bolt and Screw Factory
IN: Empty box cars (from off line)
IN: Gons or flat cars loaded with Coiled steel bar (from off line)
OUT: Empty Gons/flat cars (for interchange)
OUT: Box cars loaded with Bolts and screws (for interchange)

Station
IN/OUT: Passenger cars

Concrete Plant
IN: gravel hoppers (from gravel co.)
IN: hoppers loaded with sand (from interchange)
IN: chemical tank cars (from interchange)
OUT: empty cars (for interchange)

Oil Field / Oil Tanks
IN/OUT: various tank cars loads and empties (to/from fuel supplier and interchange)

Freight House & Team Track
IN/OUT: Box cars, flat cars and gons loads and empties (to/from interchange)

Stock Pens (cattle) (not sure if this is receiving cattle or shipping them sorry)
IN: empty cattle cars (from interchange)
OUT: loaded cattle cars (for interchange)

Agri Co-op
IN: empty Covered hopper cars (from interchange)
IN: occassional box or flat car of machinery (from interchange)
OUT: Loaded covered hoppers (for interchange)

Gravel Company
IN: empty gravel cars / open hoppers (from concrete plant and interchange)
IN: occassional box or flat car of machinery (from interchange)
OUT: loaded gravel cars / open hoppers (to concrete plant and interchange)
 

CP9302

Member
If you use the Micro Mark system, or your own similar version you'll have to set up car cards for each car on the layout. These cards id the car and have a pocket to hold the way bill.
The way bill is the instruction on where to car is being shipped from, where it is going and how it will get there.

Here's an example car card for a CSX Gondola

Kind: car type, in this case Gondola
AAR: what ever the code is for an open gon (don't know off the top of my head)
RR/No: Railroad name and car number as they appear on the car: CSXT 12345
Desc: description of car to make it easier to find: Black with yellow lettering

Empty Car Return to: this is the instruction for dealing with the car when empty, in this case we'll say return to CSX Via nearest interchange.

Again, you'll need one of these for each car on the layout and you need unique car Id's. So you may need to change some car numbers to make it work.

A Waybill for this car may look like this: (the micromark waybill has 4 steps)
(sorry for the poor shipper addresses, I don't know the area you're modelling)

Consignee: who is receiving the car
Address: where they are located
Routing: what railroad are they served by
VIA: the order other railroads handle the car
Shipper: who sent the car
Address: where it was sent from
Lading: whats in the car

STEP 1

CONSIGNEE: Scrap Yard
ADDRESS: Piedmont
ROUTING: AT&SF
VIA: CSX
SHIPPER: Acme manufacturing
ADDRESS: Flint Mich.
LADING: Scrap steel

STEP 2
CONSIGNEE:
ADDRESS:
ROUTING:
VIA:
SHIPPER: Scrap Yard
ADDRESS: Piedmont
LADING: EMPTY
The information for handling an empty car is on the car card, so we don't need to re write
it here. When empty this car is returned to CSX via the nearest interchange. (your yard)

STEP 3
CONSIGNEE: Scrap Yard
ADDRESS: Piedmont
ROUTING: AT&SF
VIA: CSX
SHIPPER: Ford Motor Co
ADDRESS: Detroit Mich.
LADING: Scrap steel

STEP 4
CONSIGNEE: Acme Recycling
ADDRESS: Columbus Ohio
ROUTING: CSX
VIA: AT&SF
SHIPPER: Scrap Yard
ADDRESS: Piedmont
LADING: Bails of Scrap steel

This car would move from your yard (interchange) to your scap yard (step 1)
Scrap yard to interchange yard (step 2)
interchange yard to scarp yard (step 3)
and from your scrap yard back to the interchange yard. (step 4)
When you complete a step, you flip the card over for the next step the next time you operate.

I'll make some trains and switching lists later as examples.
Hope I'm not running on too much and confussing you more!
 

GrandpaCoyote

Wiley Old Dog
Hi Coyote,

If you want a good, easy-readin' intro to the concept of "operations", allow me to recommend:

Realistic Model Railroad Operation by Tony Koester

That book opened up a whole new world for me, as far as being able to plan and stage meaningful ops on my own layout.

BTW - great selection of towns and industries you got there!:cool:
Ken L,

Thanks for the recommendation! I picked up a copy of Realistic Model Railroad Operation back 2005 and I've read through it 3 times so far and it still confuses me something fierce! :eek: Just something about the style in which Mr. Koester writes I think or maybe my own lumber yard of a mind. However, what the hey! I'll give it another go, who knows maybe -fourth- time is a charm. ;)

Thanks for the compliment, I think they are going to work out for us. :)

Peace.

Coyote
 

GrandpaCoyote

Wiley Old Dog
There is no easy way around this, You have to take each industry and research what they need to operate, determine which of those items come by rail, and what they ship out by rail. Then it is a matter of finding cars that can fill that function. You set out the cars and pick up the empties.

Then it is just a matter of creating a system of car control.

*nods*

I hear ya Chip... back to the books for me, thanks for the advice buddy.

By the way, is there any particular car forwarding system that you'd recommend over any others?

Peace.

Coyote
 

GrandpaCoyote

Wiley Old Dog
Yes Coyote you have to determine what a certain industry manufactures, what raw materials it needs to make the product, and what it ships it's product out in , Take a Vinyl industry which I worked at . It had tankers of certain products brought in. It shipped it's material out in bulk hoppers and also in boxcars. It had other raw materials brought in by boxcar. Also machinery used to manufacture stuff was also brought in by boxcar and flatcars. So you see lots of different rolling stock can be involved with certain industries !!! we also had industrial Switchers which moved everyting around our yards
Paul;

Thanks a lot for the example it was a good one and helped a lot!

Peace.

Coyote
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
*nods*

I hear ya Chip... back to the books for me, thanks for the advice buddy.

By the way, is there any particular car forwarding system that you'd recommend over any others?

Peace.

Coyote
Fred has done a lot of your work for you--if you want to leave it there.

AS for a system, that's up to you. Once you determine what the businesses need, and how frequently they need service, you can set up a schedule of pick-up and delivery. These can be as frequently or infrequently as you want. Then use a system that matches your needs.

A sort of random, but effective method, if you want to jump in, is color-coded it buttons. They are essentially a removable rubber sticker that usually has two colors on them that match a particular industry. You take your chart of needs into staging and start slap stickers onto the top of appropriate cars. Then you bring the trains onto your layout and take them to the industry they have been assigned. As you do, you pick up empties and take them back to staging. No paper work.

The next way would be to do the same thing with a switch list. You take down the number of the cars (the number on the side of the car) in staging and determine which ones fill the needs on your layout. You then switch those cars according to your list, picking up empties as you go

The third way, car cards and way bills, has you tracking each card through 4 moves. The cards follow the car. Once the car is spotted, the card is flipped to it's new side (the card has two sides top an bottom like a playing card, You flip it over so a new side is up.) In one op session you do all the number 1 moves. Op session #2 you do the number two moves, etc. You pick up empties if the car card tells you. This system can vary in sophistication form easy to very complex. It can grow with you.

I chose the car card system. It gives you the most flexibility I believe. Unfortunately, my track started messing up before I could really get the system down. The beauty of this system is you know the "why" of everything. You know that this car carries corn syrup used in making Kellogg's Coco Puffs, and that the empty box in their siding that brought in barrels of BHT is needed by the distillery to ship out bottles of scotch. It says right on the card.

At the local larger tracks around here (clubs etc.) they use the color code, because the person doesn't have to know what the industry needs to have fun. They just take the car with the color code to the matching industry, and drop it off, picking up as many cars as they drop off. Each industry, or corresponding colored button, can only be used on the appropriate type of car for that industry. After a certain period of time during an op session you can just walk around pick up buttons and reassign cars and do it again.

We've experimented with switch lists at our club, but once we've determined a route, it was too complicated to vary. that means that at the start of each op session, someone had to go around and make sure the exact car was in the right location to do the picking sequence. So for several op sessions we did the exact same routes, but different people did the different routes.

Start simple. Grab a few cars the you think are appropriate for your industries and switch them out. Notice what happens to the cars. Then look again at the systems. You don't have to get it right the first time. Let your self grow into a system.
 

GrandpaCoyote

Wiley Old Dog
If you can find it "How to Operate Your Model Railroad" by Bruce Chubb is another good resource. It was published by Kalmbach.

Keith;

I had not heard of that book, thank for the info I will look for it. I have found article in older MR Mags by Mr. Chubb to be highly informative. I'll check it out.

Thanks again.

Peace.

Coyote
 

GrandpaCoyote

Wiley Old Dog
Hi Grampa Coyote that's a very nice looking layout. Lots of operational possibilities.

Here are some examples of cars going to and coming from your industries. I will make some sample car cards and trains to try and illustrate how I'd do it. Hope it will help.
Fred;

Thank you for the compliment Sir... and that being said... WOW! :eek:

This is exactly the sort of examples and clarification I was looking for. This is incredibly helpful information. I find that I often learn better from specific examples rather than hypothetical ones and this explains clearly what I was puzzled over.

I am printing this out and adding it to some other examples I got across the street and will be studying them all intently.

These examples are help far above and beyond the call. I am deeply indebted to you.

Thank you greatly again.

Peace.

Coyote
 

GrandpaCoyote

Wiley Old Dog
Dang Fred, you did all the work for him. How's he going to learn?

*coughs loudly and waves his arms between Chip and everyone else*

Nothing to see here folks!!

*pushes Chip towards the copies of SHOOT! Magazine and the bottle of Tequila he set out*


Ignore that man behind the Curtain!!!


*pulls the curtain closed fast and smiles nonchalantly*


Soooooo you all were saying?
 

GrandpaCoyote

Wiley Old Dog
If you use the Micro Mark system, or your own similar version you'll have to set up car cards for each car on the layout. These cards id the car and have a pocket to hold the way bill.
The way bill is the instruction on where to car is being shipped from, where it is going and how it will get there.

Here's an example car card for a CSX Gondola

<SNIP>

I'll make some trains and switching lists later as examples.
Hope I'm not running on too much and confusing you more!

Fred;

Again thank you sir! This is showing me exactly what I was wanting to know.
I'll be adding this into my new Operations Folder I'm starting.

Thank you again very much Fred these are Grade A examples and information.

You're not running on too much or confusing me; it is making clear and concise sense.

Peace.

Coyote
 

GrandpaCoyote

Wiley Old Dog
Fred has done a lot of your work for you--if you want to leave it there.

AS for a system, that's up to you. Once you determine what the businesses need, and how frequently they need service, you can set up a schedule of pick-up and delivery. These can be as frequently or infrequently as you want. Then use a system that matches your needs.

A sort of random, but effective method, if you want to jump in, is color-coded it buttons. They are essentially a removable rubber sticker that usually has two colors on them that match a particular industry. You take your chart of needs into staging and start slap stickers onto the top of appropriate cars. Then you bring the trains onto your layout and take them to the industry they have been assigned. As you do, you pick up empties and take them back to staging. No paper work.

The next way would be to do the same thing with a switch list. You take down the number of the cars (the number on the side of the car) in staging and determine which ones fill the needs on your layout. You then switch those cars according to your list, picking up empties as you go

The third way, car cards and way bills, has you tracking each card through 4 moves. The cards follow the car. Once the car is spotted, the card is flipped to it's new side (the card has two sides top an bottom like a playing card, You flip it over so a new side is up.) In one op session you do all the number 1 moves. Op session #2 you do the number two moves, etc. You pick up empties if the car card tells you. This system can vary in sophistication form easy to very complex. It can grow with you.

I chose the car card system. It gives you the most flexibility I believe. Unfortunately, my track started messing up before I could really get the system down. The beauty of this system is you know the "why" of everything. You know that this car carries corn syrup used in making Kellogg's Coco Puffs, and that the empty box in their siding that brought in barrels of BHT is needed by the distillery to ship out bottles of scotch. It says right on the card.

At the local larger tracks around here (clubs etc.) they use the color code, because the person doesn't have to know what the industry needs to have fun. They just take the car with the color code to the matching industry, and drop it off, picking up as many cars as they drop off. Each industry, or corresponding colored button, can only be used on the appropriate type of car for that industry. After a certain period of time during an op session you can just walk around pick up buttons and reassign cars and do it again.

We've experimented with switch lists at our club, but once we've determined a route, it was too complicated to vary. that means that at the start of each op session, someone had to go around and make sure the exact car was in the right location to do the picking sequence. So for several op sessions we did the exact same routes, but different people did the different routes.

Start simple. Grab a few cars the you think are appropriate for your industries and switch them out. Notice what happens to the cars. Then look again at the systems. You don't have to get it right the first time. Let your self grow into a system.

Chip,

Wonderful post my friend and helped pull together some other info I had gotten from old MR Mags from the 60's and 70's that talked about the exact same color coding buttons or chits.

This helped put that information into a frame work that I now clearly understand. I'll definitely be adding this post as well to my growing Operations Folder.

Thanks again buddy great help as always.

Peace.

Coyote
 

grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
Coyote, you've got a neat trackplan with many operational opportunities. As others have said, you'll need to do a little research into what each industry needs in the way of rail cars.

I like the way your trains can leave staging and go in either direction. That will add some spice to the mix. One thing you might consider is running a local in addition to the thru freights. The thru freights could pick up/drop cars at Garnet and the local switch crew could could do the same to switch the industries. In other words, the thru freights leave loads on the siding and the local leaves empties on the siding. It's fun to have the local out there contending with traffic on the main...

Keep in mind, many of you car origins/destinations can be "off layout", meaning staging. Some may be actually switched between industries by the local switch crew.

Happy operating! :cool:
 

HaggisKennedy

Coal Shoveler
OTOH, if you want something really random, but simple, here's a program I use to generate waybills.

http://home.att.net/~cycleriders/Mad_River_Waybill.htm

It's very simple and straightforward. Once you figure out how it works, a little imagination sets up a number of different possibilities.

I run two versions of it (loaded in two separate subdirectories), one for Modern, one for Transition.

Kennedy
 




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