Author Topic: Operations - A Personal Struggle  (Read 4638 times)

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Dave V

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Operations - A Personal Struggle
« on: March 16, 2008, 02:21:49 PM »
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I admit it; I'm mainly a 'roundy-rounder.

Oh, it's not that I don't have the means to operate...  I have bill boxes, waybills, car cards, and a staging yard.  But I've had maybe a total of 3 legitimate operating sessions on my layout since fall 2006.

What gives?

I think I get it now.  I like to railfan; no question there.  And sometimes "ops" seems like work.  But there's a much deeper issue behind it all:

My prototype.  It's the prototype's fault.

I chose the PRR's Middle Division to allow me to run virtually all of PRR's equipment, including passenger, intermodal, coal drags, mixed freights, and steam, all present in 1956 on the Middle Division.  But I tried to cram this onto a door layout.  The first casualties were 2 of the 4 main tracks.

The real Pennsy Middle Division of 1956 stretched from Marysville PA (north of Enola) to Altoona, and was, in most places, four tracks wide and saw over 150 trains a day.  And I'm modeling this on a hollow core door?  GACK!  Who has that kind of staging?  Who has that many trains?  Heck, you need 50 trains just for a single 8-hour trick!

To make matters worse, the majority of trains traversing the Middle Division were through-trains.  Yes, there were locals (including a very busy one working Lewistown and the Milroy Secondary) as well as interchange opportunities with the narrow gauge East Broad Top and standard gauge Huntingdon & Broad Top.  But locals can be handled with switch lists, and the through freights just barrel through.  Plus, my layout doesn't have room for the proper run-around tracks for switching, so I end up tying up both mains to do it.

So for now my layout is little more than a fun place to run the trains I build, all with the dream of a much larger future layout when space and lifestyle allow.  But I'm not going to fall into the trap of the "overwhelming prototype."

My current plans for the future involve a lesser artery of the Pennsy; something with 1-2 tracks and less than half as many trains.  Several lines are contendors right now, including the Northern Division from Harrisburg to Northumberland, PA, the Bald Eagle Branch between Tyrone and Lock Haven, PA, the Bellefonte Central RR between Bellefonte and the Penn State campus, and the most likely (as of this week, anyway), the Northern Central branch between Baltimore and York, PA.

The Northern Central branch was mostly single-tracked in 1954, and if I were to model it I'd do so in the 1956-1966 decade.  This gives me several passenger trains, at least 2 through TrucTrains, plenty of on-line industry, lots of locals, and interchanges with the Stewartstown RR, the Western Maryland, and the Maryland & Pennsylvania RRs.  There's even the Parkton local, a doodlebug commuter train.  The scenery was also great.  I think that if I were to model a more manageable -- yet still challenging -- prototype, I would be a whole lot more happy with operations.

Just a few rambling Sunday afternoon thoughts...!
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GonzoCRFan

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Re: Operations - A Personal Struggle
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2008, 12:05:25 AM »
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I know what you mean, Dave. I was having similar thoughts when I scrapped my ideas of modeling Conrail in the Altoona area. I love big industries and switching, and that stretch of railroad just doesn't fit the bill. Plus, the sheer scope of such a layout is a daunting proposition.

Ed will be THRILLED to hear you're contemplating the Northern Central...  ::)
Sean

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Re: Operations - A Personal Struggle
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2008, 02:15:05 AM »
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  You could hold a partial OP Session,just elect to switch certain industries while everything else runs roun de round. Seriously though switching what you want to model may be a good idea. I have found Op Sessions either on other persons layouts in various scales, or on my own to be quite enjoyable, of course I only need 4-5 persons for one on my railroad so I don't need a huge multi person crew,plus the car cards get turned at the end of each session so cars are ready for next one. Only problem I have is persons forgetting to come who said they would. My Feburary one was cancled because two persons who had been reminded the day before spaced it and did other things, then when reached on their Cel's were very apologetic, yet another scheduled operator did have a ligit last minute family crisis come up, he phoned me at the start time, I always ask one extra person incase this occurrs,so Jon the one person who did make it, and myself had a nice long hour visit and he got to run my new Big Boy as he now has an HO layout and no longer is modeling N.

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Re: Operations - A Personal Struggle
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2008, 09:55:40 AM »
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PRR had lots of interesting lines to model. For real mountain railroading, Keating Summit on the Williamsport-Buffalo line was the worst grade on the PRR, passenger service ran up to Amtrak. Then there's the GR&I from Grand Rapids North to Mackinac City. Summer Pullmans into the early 1960's. The pre-Kinzua Dam Rochester line. The Olean-Dunkirk line. The NC Ry from, Elmira to Sodus Point. The NYP&N.

My PRR will be a combination but basically a secondary main serving a lake port.

asciibaron

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Re: Operations - A Personal Struggle
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2008, 12:50:43 PM »
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There is a reason I've always tried to model lesser mains or branches - they can be more accurately portrayed as a model railroad.  The Buffalo line is a great one - single track in many places, helper district, and several branches off it. 

I picked the Panhandle between Mingo Jct and Trinway - Mostly through freights, a few locals, a few mine runs between Cadiz and Mingo, and a few dozen lineside industries in the 70 miles.  it's a big chunk of railroad, but most of that is empty farmland or rolling hills. It does not require a huge number of operators and can be fun to work with a pair of roundy rounds on the main while i work the Cadiz branch coal prep or the industries in Coshocton.


I still like the idea of a Sunbury to Wilkes-Barre PRR line - Buttonwood Yard is visible and Harrisburg/Buffalo are a single staging yard.  You get several branches and plenty of coal traffic, plus traffic to and from New England - think potatoes!

There are many lesser lines to pick from, like the Uniontown branch from Connellsville that ended up in Brownsville.  Or you could model the line to Oil City or do the Marietta Branch or the line to Cincinnati - there are plenty of PRR lines not smack dab in the middle of PA that need through freights and 4 mains.

-Steve
« Last Edit: March 17, 2008, 12:54:08 PM by asciibaron »
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Dave V

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Re: Operations - A Personal Struggle
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2008, 01:13:07 PM »
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Steve,

Great points...

I'm inclined, however, to model portions of the PRR with which I am personally familiar; that includes, of course, the mainline east of Altoona, anything in Lancaster & York counties, and the Northern Division as far as Northumberland.  I've visited family or gone railfanning with my father in all of those places.  I even rode the Stewartstown back when it was operating.

I also rode the Bellefonte Historical on the Bald Eagle Branch...  Sometimes I come back to that as a prototype.

Then sometimes I think to myself "Just do a 'vignettes of the Pennsy' generic layout, and capture everything you like about it."  But that makes ops so much harder because I can't base it off real train sequences or schedules.

Someday I'll have to sit down with some of you smart folks and hash out givens and druthers and figure out for sue what I should be modeling.
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wm3798

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Re: Operations - A Personal Struggle
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2008, 01:54:05 PM »
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My layout is basically a "vignettes" layout.  I'm striving to represent certain prototypical scenes and/or operating points, (some at the mutual exclusion of the other) and that's the result of shoe-horning the proto operations I want to model into the space I have available.  No matter what you do, there will be an element of compromise.

The NC is really no panacea either, as Gregg pointed out, most of the really cool thru traffic used the Port Road, and if you've ever read Ed's endless treatises about modeling the NC, you quickly come to realize that it's a much bigger line that it might appear.  Some bending of light is always necessary to develop the mix of traffic you'd like to see on your layout.  I.E., I invented a quarry west of Cumberland so I have an excuse to run all those lovely Atlas WM stone hoppers (the grey ones).  The real ones ran between Hanover, PA and Bethlehem Steel's Sparrows Point plant in Baltimore, rarely if ever straying from the east end...

I spent years diddling around with a variety of track plans and ops schemes in an effort to "plan for the big one", but the simple fact is, until I bought my house and came to grips with an actual room in which to build it, I had no idea what I would end up doing.  Even once I had secured the real estate for the layout, my concept changed and evolved on paper several times.  In the mean time, I renovated the room, and built a small layout equivalent to your door.  On it I experimented with scenery techniques, ran some trains, built a staging yard and worked out just what it was I was looking for in a permanent design.

So much of what we ultimately build is driven by the available physical space you end up with.  It's never too early to think about what you'd like, and do your reading and research.  But it probably is too early to lose sleep over your track plan...
Lee
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asciibaron

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Re: Operations - A Personal Struggle
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2008, 01:58:52 PM »
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Steve,

Great points...

I'm inclined, however, to model portions of the PRR with which I am personally familiar

wouldn't want you to learn anything new or discover something way cool would we... 8)

-Steve
Quote from: Chris333
How long will it be before they show us how to add DCC to a tree?

Dave V

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Re: Operations - A Personal Struggle
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2008, 02:13:34 PM »
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Steve,

Great points...

I'm inclined, however, to model portions of the PRR with which I am personally familiar

wouldn't want you to learn anything new or discover something way cool would we... 8)

-Steve

WE FEAR CHANGE...!

Silver San Juan Scenic Line

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asciibaron

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Re: Operations - A Personal Struggle
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2008, 02:47:48 PM »
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i expected a picture of Elmer Fudd

FUD = fear uncertainty denial

but Garth works too.

-steve
Quote from: Chris333
How long will it be before they show us how to add DCC to a tree?

Dave V

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Re: Operations - A Personal Struggle
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2008, 03:02:51 PM »
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Hell, I wonder if I just found a new avatar!
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Wlal13again

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Re: Operations - A Personal Struggle
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2008, 04:14:39 PM »
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I know the feeling Dave, When I started my door layout a few years ago, a guy at the LHS told me "you`re wasting time, you cant model Conrail on a door... Well, yes and no, Maybe I cant have the Curve, The Reading Line etc, but what I was after was the Conrail I saw almost every day, A GP38-2, maybe two of them, switching out a few small industries a few times a week in the small Pennsylvania towns I lived in. So thats what I went after..
You`ll never find a Philly cheese steak on a menu in Philadelphia. It`s called a cheesesteak and we all know where it`s from...

keystonecrossings

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Re: Operations - A Personal Struggle
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2008, 07:39:18 PM »
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I hear you, Dave. I was very close to getting the 50 trains I needed for an 8 hour trick to model the mainline. As you know, it is all coming down.

Tell you what, you can have my 18 track by 35 foot staging yard if you can figure out how to get it out of my basement in one piece!!! That'd be a heck of a lot of staging for your door, huh?  ;D

I figure it will take me up to another 9 months to sell off my N scale and tear down the layout. Through that time, and probably well beyond, I will just be an operator on several other layouts in the area.

IF I build another layout, it will likely be HO. I've considered many venues, including something with the Northern Central, a well-funded buyout of the Huntingdon & Broad Top Mountain, and even (coincidentally) something around State College, Pa.

However, my focus in now nearly entirely on Lewistown Junction and the Milroy Branch. Lewistown had a pretty decent size mid-point year, complete with a 100' turntable. I've learned they serviced steam all the way through M1's there and performed a lot of running repairs. The main line would be modeled through LEWIS interlocking mostly for vignette purposes. The focus would actually be the 15 mile long Milroy Branch. Surprisingly, it had a ton of traffic. A limestone quarry near Milroy was pumping out 30 carsloads a day. Standard Steel in Burnham was moving 50 cars a day. Most branch power was H-class. Quite a bit of operating possibilities.

The PRRT&HS did a book on Lewistown and it might be worth you taking a look also. A smaller rendition may be found in The Keystone circa early 1990s.

Keep the faith. Your future will come clearer to you. And keep that door intact... it's awesome!
Jerry Britton, PRRT&HS #6111
PRR Middle Division in HO Scale - http://jbritton.pennsyrr.com
Keystone Crossings - http://pennsyrr.com

Dave V

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Re: Operations - A Personal Struggle
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2008, 08:08:01 PM »
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I hear you, Dave. I was very close to getting the 50 trains I needed for an 8 hour trick to model the mainline. As you know, it is all coming down.

Tell you what, you can have my 18 track by 35 foot staging yard if you can figure out how to get it out of my basement in one piece!!! That'd be a heck of a lot of staging for your door, huh?  ;D

I figure it will take me up to another 9 months to sell off my N scale and tear down the layout. Through that time, and probably well beyond, I will just be an operator on several other layouts in the area.

IF I build another layout, it will likely be HO. I've considered many venues, including something with the Northern Central, a well-funded buyout of the Huntingdon & Broad Top Mountain, and even (coincidentally) something around State College, Pa.

However, my focus in now nearly entirely on Lewistown Junction and the Milroy Branch. Lewistown had a pretty decent size mid-point year, complete with a 100' turntable. I've learned they serviced steam all the way through M1's there and performed a lot of running repairs. The main line would be modeled through LEWIS interlocking mostly for vignette purposes. The focus would actually be the 15 mile long Milroy Branch. Surprisingly, it had a ton of traffic. A limestone quarry near Milroy was pumping out 30 carsloads a day. Standard Steel in Burnham was moving 50 cars a day. Most branch power was H-class. Quite a bit of operating possibilities.

The PRRT&HS did a book on Lewistown and it might be worth you taking a look also. A smaller rendition may be found in The Keystone circa early 1990s.

Keep the faith. Your future will come clearer to you. And keep that door intact... it's awesome!

Thanks for the kind words, Jerry!

I have that book.  Standard Steel in Burnham would make an awesome model.  You could also tweak history and keep the KVRR running in from Belleville after WWII.  I love those D16sbs!
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Re: Operations - A Personal Struggle
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2008, 08:08:35 PM »
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Jerry,
You oughta build an N scale door... Keep your hand in it so to speak.  You were just starting to do some scenery, it would be a good opportunity to work on building some skills for that next Big One.

Lewistown would be a pretty cool subject, too.
Lee
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Lee Weldon www.wmrywesternlines.net