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Operating Plan

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  • Member since
    April 2018
  • 130 posts
Operating Plan
Posted by Outsailing86 on Sunday, May 2, 2021 11:26 PM

Question for the group... 

how do you set up your operating plan? I have a HO scale layout, similiar to the Scott Perry Heart of Georgia. 
car cards? Waybills? Sequence ops? Random?

  • Member since
    May 2002
  • From: Massachusetts
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Posted by Paul3 on Monday, May 3, 2021 12:32 AM

At my club (before the pandemic), we use car cards for our 8 local freights.  These are 3 x 5" index cards inserted into 3 x 4" bags (available at Michael's, etc.).  The waybills are roughly 2.5 x 2.5" and just slip into the plastic sleeve with the index card.

The club mainline trains are run via timetable and a 6 to 1 fast clock.  Over a 2-hour session, we'll run 16 passenger trains (10 of them commuters) and 14 freights (plus the aforementioned 8 locals).  Operaton sessions could have as many as 25 people, and as few as 10.

On my former home layout, I also used car cars & waybills.  However, I had no timetables; all my mainline trains ran on a turn-based system.  I had four mainline freights, 4 locals, and 13 passenger trains.  The local freights were not turn-based; they all ran at the same time.  But the other freights ran in order; timing didn't matter.  The passenger trains were also run in order, and while the first 4 trains were pre-set before the session, the remaining 9 trains had to be made up by the operator using cars from the previous trains plus what was in the coach yards.  My home layout could run with as few as 2 or as many as 6 people.

  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, May 3, 2021 12:50 AM

Outsailing86
how do you set up your operating plan?

I designed my next layout entirely for solo operation.

It will have two loops. The outside loop is for display of passenger trains. One can run, one on a siding, and one in staging. The inside loop with interchange with the main yard. This loop will have twelve staging tracks.

Then I have the out and back sequence for Centerville, Port Anabell, Great Divide, and Manchester. I call this the "local" loop. This loop is where 90% of the switching activity will take place, and where I plan to get most of my operational enjoyment. The sketch just shows this part of the operations.

The local loop connects four imaginary cities; Centerville, Port Annabel, Machester, and Great Divide. Manchester and Great Divide are represented by shared hidden staging tracks. The two mainline loops just represent the North/South mainline operations through Centerville.

There are endless operations possibilities on the local loop, or I can just watch trains run on the mainline loops (not pictured).

No schedules, cards, waybills, or rules. Just having fun with trains.

I hope this helps.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 21,206 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Monday, May 3, 2021 12:56 AM

SeeYou190

No schedules, cards, waybills, or rules. Just having fun with trains.

+1   Yes

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Omaha, NE
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Posted by dehusman on Monday, May 3, 2021 1:20 AM

Outsailing86
how do you set up your operating plan?

I start at the locals and work up.  This of course assumes that you have some sort of staging where you bring cars onto the layout, then have a yard put them in locals and the locals go spot them.

If I want each local/switcher to spot 8 cars and I have two locals, then I neeed to bring 16 cars onto the layout from staging each session to supply cars to spot.  Staging can be interchanges of staging yards.  If an industry supplies another industry, then that might go down.  Pulls roughly equal spots.

Then I add the number of "overhead" cars I want to operate.  Those are cars going from staging/interchange to staging/interchange that don't get spotted to an industry.

The spotters plus the overhead cars is the number of cars the through freights need to handle.

Divide that by the size of the through freight and that gives you how many through freights you need to have.

At Wilmington I serve 4 switching areas and the number of cars that get spotted per session are :

Maryland Ave - 6 cars

H&H/6th Ave-8 cars

DRE -6 cars

Car Float - 4 cars

AT Coatesville - 12 cars

At Birdsboro - 10 cars

A road local spots 8 cars

Total of 48 cars.

I can hold 48 cars in north staging, 16 on the B&O, 8, 10, 2, 4 on the 4 PRR interchanges on the layout for a supply of 88 cars to cover 48 spots, so I have plenty of room to run overhead cars.  If I run one 8 car road local and 4 freights in each direction with 10 cars, I can move 88 cars.

After that I actually schedule the operators, when they will be available for trains (figuring on two or 3 road crews plus three yard/industry jobs) to make sure I don't run too many trains at the same time.

I use car cards and waybills for my car forwarding and then either verbal authority or time table and train order (depending on the operators) for train authority.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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    February 2008
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Posted by kasskaboose on Monday, May 3, 2021 6:49 AM

 No car cards or waybills yet here.  Perhaps I might do them with my kids, so they can get off their devices and appreciate trains! 

I like the "free style" or running cars alone, but might slowly do the way bills and car cards.  Along those lines, perhaps a kind soul can provide a simple guide on using and making waybills and car cards.

  • Member since
    August 2020
  • 3 posts
Posted by MrMe on Monday, May 3, 2021 7:18 AM

JMRI's OperationsPro.

LOTS of options to determine car movement, but they're additive in the way you implement them. In other words, you can start out by creating very basic trains and completely ignore the more involved stuff until and unless you want to use any of it.

Excellent support via the JMRI list on groups.io by both the developer (Dan) who writes the Ops code, as well as several very experienced users. I once even suggested a small "improvement" that he incorporated into the code!

Unlike other aspects of JMRI, Ops does NOT need any sort of connection to the layout so you don't need to worry about interface devices, cables, etc. In fact, the computer doesn't need to be anywhere near the layout. You can create and print your trains upstairs in your office and carry the paperwork down to the layout.

Speaking of paperwork, Ops creates printed manifests and switch lists, so no deck of cards to drop, keep in order, or lose. And another Ops user has designed Excel templates that you can use to tailor the look of that paperwork to your liking. But again, like the advanced features in Ops itself, that's optional. If you don't want to use it, you simply ignore that it even exists. You don't have to learn it to set defaults or anything.

In my case, I'm mostly a lone wolf with sometimes a very occasional visitor. I have about a half-dozen trains set up, with I think two of them using one of the more advanced features. Otherwise, just the basics, but it works wonderfully for my purposes!

https://www.jmri.org/help/en/html/apps/OperationsPro/index.shtml   

  • Member since
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  • From: NC
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Posted by pt714 on Monday, May 3, 2021 7:38 AM

I don't have the luxury of continuous running (but neither did my branch line prototype.) My small rural switching layout only has four industries, and I only have ~15 pieces of rolling stock, so ops sessions are generally an hour or less of stress relief. I made up a flexible 7-day schedule (whatever days I choose to operate, it's always the next day, so if I leave the layout on layout-Monday, the next ops will be layout-Tuesday even if it's weeks in between.) I don't label by car cards, but rather what type of car to drop or pick up at each industry, and also how many cars to stage for the session. This is an older picture from when I was working it out, the team track LCL also allows for some other cars at the roll of a die. 

Obviously this only works in a situation where you want some structure but not very much, and if the layout is of a small enough size.

 

Phil

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: In the heart of Georgia
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Posted by Doughless on Monday, May 3, 2021 7:51 AM

On a small or simple layout (mine is simple but not really small), I'm building in a plan to switch cars at industries.  My main concern is to have enough space to swap out cars and for the layout to hold all of the cars I will need to operate it.  Between interchange, storage yard, and individual spurs.

Trains will consist of the cars needed to swap out certain industries.  Probably to simulate one train a day, but switching different industries on different days.  There will be a schedule of which industries need their cars on which day (not complicated, the cement center takes cement cars, the corn syrup transload takes corn syrup cars etc.). 

I don't know if this "schedule" fits into any established model railroading terms.

Exactly which cars are being switched, IOW their roadnumbers, won't be relevant.  No need to keep track of the cars that precisely.

My plan is to have twice as many cars as the industries requires.  The vegetable oil recycling plant will have three tank cars.  I will need six tank cars for this industry (three at the industry and three at interchange/staging to swap).  I don't care what the roadnumbers are, just want to be sure I have no duplicates.

Then the number of industries I have, and the number of cars at each industry, allows me to determine how much total storage space and empty switching space the layout needs to have.

Hopefully this helps to answer your question.

- Douglas

  • Member since
    November 2020
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Posted by CGW103 on Monday, May 3, 2021 8:00 AM

I have a switch list generator. Make one for westbound and one for east bound

 

  • Member since
    June 2020
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Posted by Lukas ATSF on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 3:52 AM

I would start out by drawing a diagram of the layout defining what's west-east-north-south. You include all your towns, staging, branch lines, interchanges, yards and so on. In a next step I would figure out all my industries (bear in mind universal industries like RIP tracks or an interchange with another railroad) and note what types of cars you'll need to serve these industries and where those cars might come from.

In a next step I would look at my diagram and think about where trains on my layout originate and terminate and what places they visit in between and what work they do there.

Once you got all of that set up, you decide on the schedule of those various trains and you can go run some trains and do some switching just for fun.

Once that gets a little boring you can decide if you want to use digital solutions like JMRI or ShipIt or its analogue counter parts with tab-on-car or waybills & car cards to forward your cars. Once that's figured out you might look into how you want to authorize train movements: Timetable & Trainorder, Centralized traffic control, direct traffic control, track warrants, and so on.

I would suggest you buy Tony Koester's book on operations and might also considering getting the OPSIG's operations compendium (I just finished this, absolutely amazing book on operation!) to get you started.

 

  • Member since
    September 2020
  • 105 posts
Posted by JDawg on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 7:35 AM

pt714

I don't have the luxury of continuous running (but neither did my branch line prototype.) My small rural switching layout only has four industries, and I only have ~15 pieces of rolling stock, so ops sessions are generally an hour or less of stress relief. I made up a flexible 7-day schedule (whatever days I choose to operate, it's always the next day, so if I leave the layout on layout-Monday, the next ops will be layout-Tuesday even if it's weeks in between.) I don't label by car cards, but rather what type of car to drop or pick up at each industry, and also how many cars to stage for the session. This is an older picture from when I was working it out, the team track LCL also allows for some other cars at the roll of a die. 

Obviously this only works in a situation where you want some structure but not very much, and if the layout is of a small enough size.

 

Phil

 

 

I really like that scheme. I might implement it on my secondary, smaller layout.

JJF


Prototypically modeling the Great Northern in Minnesota with just a hint of freelancing. Smile, Wink & Grin

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