Operations Early Experiences: BNSF Down Under
|Intermodal depot at rear, 4 track yard at front.|
|Fuel Depot at Leeville|
- leave Intermodal Yard heading east.
- pass under Leeville and through the residential and city areas.
- Continue on mainline towards Summit.
- Check single track is clear to proceed through the mountains before Summit.
- At Summit use passing track and drop off one container at freight depot.
- Use local switcher to move container car to depot.
- Continue to main when track is clear. (with one less car).
- Proceed to Gleeville.
- Proceed to Beauville once single track main through mountain is clear.
- Proceed to HJ Yard and park in 1-4 track.
|Summit Gravel Mine|
- There needs to be an overall introduction to the layout. We have several ways of throwing turnouts. There are servo's with fascia push buttons, there are DPDT slide switches, there is one "push pull", and the majority of turnouts are manually controlled with swizzle sticks. All turnouts are Peco Electrofrogs.
- As part of the introduction the layout plan needs to be explained - where reversing loops are, where "pinch points" on the layout are where double track becomes single track and what to do when approaching that.
Town of Summit
- The overall rules need to be set: I have created my own rules based on many operating sessions I have attended. For example Amtrak has priority (not real for USA West Coast so may change). Through freight like double stacks, grain trains have next priority, LCL or mixed freights are lower priority. Local switching comes last etc. Speed rules are also key. It is surprising how experienced operators can run switchers like an express train - in both directions with a load. So Amtrak can get to 80mph, but gravel trains and double stacks mostly run at about 40mph. On open sections they may increase to say 60mph. Local freight runs at a similar speed.
- It is worth a 15-30 minute walk through of the above before every operating session.
Harley freight Forwarding
- My layout is set to a height to suit my 6 foot 1 inch (185cm) frame. Some of my colleagues are less vertically endowed, and so cannot see the layout completely. The layout track ranges from 125cm to 140cm. This is 49-55 inches above the floor. What to do? Mirrors can reflect the layout if properly placed but they detract from the overall scenery. My solution has been to make a number of portable steps - they are built on an aluminium frame with solid wood steps. This keeps the weight of the steps down and aids portability. Two steps are big enough for two people, or one operator to walk down a bit. But the lesson learnt is that people will have different requirements to you. Some may stand for 2-3 hours others will need a rest area.
Leeville city centre under construction
- Quality of the equipment is key. Many trains will run faultlessly for you but when a new operator appears that train may not run 100%. The reason could be speed and a different throttle action than yours. If a car does not run well, remove it and work on it later. Prototypically it would be ideal to drop that car at a siding or depot and create a work list for the owner to repair later.
Pulp Mill at Beauville
- My experience with couplers has encouraged me to convert as many as possible to Micro Trains couplers - they are the best in my opinion. Several great cars come with very poor couplers that should be replaced. I have found Kato equipment fine but coupling to other manufacture's cars can be difficult.
- Seek feedback from operators at the end of the session and encourage further feedback as they think of their experience.
My aim is when folks arrive and would like to do something, I can give them a schedule plus a controller, and after an introduction 1-5+ of us can be operating.
Then after that it is time for a beer and chat.