Author Topic: CAR CARD OPERATIONS  (Read 1954 times)

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Chris333

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Re: How about an .....
« Reply #15 on: April 26, 2020, 06:04:40 PM »
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I have the Malcolm Fulow book on the San Juan and there was an article in there about operating... it was the one I just looked at the pictures on  :trollface:

peteski

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Re: How about an .....
« Reply #16 on: April 26, 2020, 09:11:59 PM »
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I have the Malcolm Fulow book on the San Juan and there was an article in there about operating... it was the one I just looked at the pictures on  :trollface:

I forced myself many times to participate in OPS sessions, and I just never enjoyed them. I found switching cars frustrating and pointless.  I have to admit to resorting sometimes to some 0-5-0 shunting.  :) I'm ok running a passenger train from station A to station B, but that's about it.  That's why when I do attend OPS sessions, I'm the maintenance guy.  I can fully disassemble and reassemble N scale articulated steam engine with one hand tied behind my back, and I really enjoy doing that.

But I also appreciate the fact that some people find OPS sessions and switching puzzles addictively challenging and fun. But I get my kicks from mechanical puzzles.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2020, 09:13:30 PM by peteski »
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Dave V

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Re: How about an .....
« Reply #17 on: April 26, 2020, 09:22:55 PM »
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I have the Malcolm Fulow book on the San Juan and there was an article in there about operating... it was the one I just looked at the pictures on  :trollface:

Yeah, I have it.

Dave .. to make it work then, you need to have the "off layout" industries that send and receive stuff .. that can be a modeled with staging yards, a box where you put cars leaving the layout, or returning to it ..  it doesn't have to be very complicated .. personally, I like JMRI and the switch lists it generates ..


I've thought through that.  Very little traffic originating on the RGS terminated on the RGS.  It almost all went to the D&RGW either at Ridgway or Durango.
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peteski

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Re: How about an .....
« Reply #18 on: April 26, 2020, 09:41:01 PM »
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Dave .. to make it work then, you need to have the "off layout" industries that send and receive stuff .. that can be a modeled with staging yards, a box where you put cars leaving the layout, or returning to it ..  it doesn't have to be very complicated .. personally, I like JMRI and the switch lists it generates ..

In our round-robin ops session they took this to the next level:  Not only the layouts have staging yards and off-layout industries or destinations, they actually had destinations on the other layouts. So the at the end of the session a car woudl be physyally caried to the other layout and then sent to some industry on the remote layout.  I thought that was pretty clever.
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mu26aeh

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Re: How about an .....
« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2020, 10:08:44 PM »
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In our round-robin ops session they took this to the next level:  Not only the layouts have staging yards and off-layout industries or destinations, they actually had destinations on the other layouts. So the at the end of the session a car woudl be physyally caried to the other layout and then sent to some industry on the remote layout.  I thought that was pretty clever.

Reminds me of the Trains Across America series on YouTube.  I always enjoyed seeing the notification a new video was up from one of the participates

squirrelhunter

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Re: How about an .....
« Reply #20 on: April 26, 2020, 10:22:08 PM »
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Dave,

This may be a dumb question, but from what you have described, it seems RGS being a narrow gauge road with almost all of its business orginating/terminating  on the D&RGW, do you really need a very complex ops system?

It seems that any car that is loaded on your layout or that is terminating on your layout is headed to D&RGW at one end or the other. So you all you need is to know which interchange the car is coming to/from?

Plus, I'd assume the pool of cars on the narrow gague lines was probably small enough you dont need to worry much about cars constantly reappearing on the layout frequently? If there were a couple hundred C&S/RGS/D&RGW narrow gauge 36' boxcars circulating in Colorado you'd expect to see a fair number of them more than once at industries that regularly got them.

I've always felt that more complex car forwarding/waybill/switchlist systems are an effort to disguise the fact even a large layout might have a few hundred cars playing the part of a real life national fleet of hundreds of thousands of cars.

I have cobbled together a few T Trak modules to represent the OKT's Mockingbird Yard in west Dallas in 1988 or so. One of the industries I've got is a 6 spot Kroger warehouse. Even using an ORER to pick out groups of boxcars in assigned food service, like GTW's NSC 5277 boxes, trying to build a representative sample of the national pool of baxcars is food service and then make a pool of about 20-30 boxcars so the same car wont show back up for 5 or so operating sessions is a daunting

Dave V

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Re: CAR CARD OPERATIONS
« Reply #21 on: April 26, 2020, 10:34:15 PM »
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Not dumb at all.  It's actually pretty straightforward but every time I sit down to work it out I'm always worried I'm missing something.  The only real online start/finish is company coal from Hesperus to points along the RGS for engine and heating service or lumber from Dolores/McPhee to assorted RGS customers as well as ties for the railroad.  I don't model Hesperus or Dolores (both on the Second District) so it'd start at Rico having been dropped off by a Second District train.  In fact...anything coming from south of Rico may as well be coming from the D&RGW at Durango as it's transparent to a First District crew pulling it from the relay track.
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OldEastRR

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Re: CAR CARD OPERATIONS
« Reply #22 on: April 27, 2020, 04:29:10 AM »
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My feeling is that modelers design layouts specifically for the purpose they have in mind to use them for. Look at Lee's layouts. He had a monster spaghetti-bowl designed obviously for much industry and passenger ops. Now he's got one with 4 roundy-round tracks and it's perfect for that. Dave built his PRR layout for running major railroading action; this one is for the scenery and sparseness of Western narrow guage. If somebody's building a layout concentrating on the NYC High Line in its prime I'm pretty sure he has lots of industry switching in mind during track planning. My layout is three interconnected ovals with one small town and one 7-industry switching area with very short spurs. The layout was planned for running lots of passenger trains in transit, so no yards or passenger terminals.  It wouldn't provide very satisfying results for card ops to be a major facet of interest. my freight cars get picked up and dropped off by a local that continually travels the three ovals, merely rotating cars into and out of its consist to provide work for the industrial area switcher. 

Santa Fe Guy

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Re: CAR CARD OPERATIONS
« Reply #23 on: April 27, 2020, 05:09:22 AM »
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Well I did hold operating sessions on my fallen flag SFRSD one Friday evening a month for almost 20 years.
I moved to car card ops after the layout went DCC and we could walk around with the train.
 Four way, way bills with car cards that had an image of the car printed on the top for easy identification.
On some nights if my crew were all available I would have up to 12 guys all eager to grab a train and do the job.
Then I went full CTC with signalling and block detection and that took us to a whole new level, every one had a ball.
Several friends started before me and introduced the car card system to myself and has held clinics at N Scale conventions we held here in Australia.
Other friends started to host and operating sessions just grew.
Since meeting new mates in the hobby they too have taken up operations.
My layout was designed with industries and operating so was a good way to move into this side of the hobby.
We still do it on our new narrow gauge layouts.
Rod.
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LIRR

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Re: CAR CARD OPERATIONS
« Reply #24 on: April 27, 2020, 07:26:13 AM »
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Seems I am not the only one that thought an OPs forum may be a good idea. 

LIRR

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Re: CAR CARD OPERATIONS
« Reply #25 on: April 27, 2020, 07:46:52 AM »
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12-Cycle waybills.

For operations on my previous N scale RR I used a variation of the common 4-cyle waybill.  While the concept and application of the system is straightforward and easy to use, getting it started stumped me. I filled out a bunch of waybills – apparently a little too randomly - but couldn’t get things balanced. I’d have a typical 16-car train drop off cars and be leaving town with only a few cars behind 2 or 3 locos. Or too many cars. The yard would be overloaded….an industry spot would have too many cars at once. At the end of the 4-th cycle I’d need to reposition everything for the new 1-st cycle, but to where?  So with the N scale what I did was have only a waybill, not a car card. Each waybill was for a specific car. I also noted the initial location of the car on the waybill in case things got all mixed up so I could reposition cars and start over. On a large ping-pong table I moved them about car-by-car, train-by-train, move-by-move. By trial and error it was nearly perfectly balanced. Only about a half-dozen cars (of 150 total) out of place at the end of the 4-th cycle needed to be repositioned, everything else was where it started out, ready for cycle 1. (I had double-ended staging yards, so 6 thru trains were ready to go in the proper direction each cycle, I did need to re-block trains however). So although it worked for a few years it was repetitive and very predictable. The same car went to the same place every cycle. It reached the point where I could make half the moves from memory without looking at the cards.

For my new HO scale RR I wanted to give it another try, this time using both the car card and individual waybill. But I was still stumped as how to get things balanced. And if I did balance things for the first 4 cycles it would still be repetitive. Supposedly pulling the waybill and replacing with different one is the way to go, but then I’d be right back to the unbalanced situation. And waybills couldn’t be randomly placed, they’d need to match car & industry type. Maybe there’s an incredibly easy & obvious way to do this that I’m missing and/or I’m over thinking it….

This time I made car cards for each car. I listed the car’s initial location as the “EMPTY CAR – Return To” location. Then I put blank waybills (scrap paper) in each. Then I operated casually the way I have been the last 2 years since I completed track work. All along I’ve been moving cars based on what car is where, basically winging it, logically forwarding to a suitable industry, interchange, pick-up / drop-off by thru trains at the yard, etc., keeping train lengths and track capacities proper as I go. So what I did was as I made each move, I wrote it on the car card for the 1st cycle.  Then flipped to start the next cycle.

Nearing the end of the 4th cycle, it occurred to me I’d still have the repetitive and predictable situation. And replacing with a different waybill to avoid repetition would result in the unbalanced/not-proper-car-for-the-industry situation. So what I did is I wrote a number on the back of each car card and the same number on its waybill before removing for the next cycle. Then I placed new (scrap) blank waybills (numbered to correspond to the number on the back of the car card) for cycle 5,6,7,8 instead of 1,2,3,4. I repeated the casual op thing again, filling in waybills along the way. Then a third time with blank waybills, numbered on the back, numbered cycle 9,10,11,12. I then started over with the original (1,2,3,4) waybills for the first 4 cycles. After the 4th cycle I pulled waybills and using the number on the back of 5,6,7,8 was able to get the specific waybill to the proper car carsd. Same procedure after cycle 8, etc.

I was satisfied with the result and will be filling out more permanent waybills. I also made a mental adjustment. I didn’t worry about continuity between cycles. For instance, a loaded boxcar headed to an off-layout destination that is picked up and left ‘overnight’ in the yard at the end of a cycle could be considered an empty – or a load - headed back to a different on-layout location at the beginning of the next cycle, although these ‘leftovers’ mostly go off-line to the interchange on the first early morning turn at the beginning of each op-session. This helps simplify as well. No need to coordinate off layout moves/locations. I also don’t dwell on off-layout shippers. I figure if I’m the guy on the ground, I don’t really care where the care came from, or what’s in it. I just need to know where I need to send it. Also for simplicity, I do not use a request-for-empty card. The waybill already notes ‘empty’ and its destination, the ‘empty’ order theoretically having been taken care of off-line at a larger yard.  (My layout has a small 3-track yard, thru trains in each direction drop/pick-up cars. I run a turn in each direction to serve a few towns and an additional turn to swap cars at an interchange)

Although I do need to restage after the 12th cycle, repositioning each car at the “EMPTY CAR – Return To” location, it’s not that bad. When I was setting up cycle-12, I tried to send cars back to their “EMPTY CAR – Return To” location. About half the car are still out of place, I can restage all in about 30 minutes. That’s every 12 cycles instead of every 4. This could be after 3 or 4 months, so it’s not really a chore, and each cycle is only repeated every 3 or 4 months so it won’t seem as repetitive.

I write switch lists for the locals and switching the yard.

« Last Edit: April 27, 2020, 07:48:52 AM by LIRR »

John

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Re: CAR CARD OPERATIONS
« Reply #26 on: April 27, 2020, 08:57:24 AM »
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I've been tinkering with Operations for quite some time .. I got hooked in the late 90s when I participated in a couple of ops sessions in south - central PA round York and Harrisburg ..

The Maryland and Ohio Railroad -- which I've been building and rebuilding for over 20 years, is a double deck around the room "L" 30'x20 shaped very fictional railroad based very loosely on the B&O.  The lower level can be run roundy-roundy.    About 5 years ago I added upper and lower level staging to provide off layout destinations. 



Starting in lower East Staging (PHilly/NJ/Points east) a train arrives in "Baltimore" where there is an intermodal terminal, several local industries and a steel mill complex (Sparrows Point) -- there is a yard for the steel mill, but ops there consists of nothing more than coal / coke and lime trains arriving loaded and empty from mines further west.   Moving west -- the main yard is Brunswick (10 tracks) where most trains to the east and west would be sorted, originated and terminated.  At present, there are no other industries.   Moving west on the lower level a flood loader fills coal cars moving from staging to the loader back to staging.  The lower level will have additional sidings some day, (if I dont tear it down) for more switching.  At "Tygart Junction", trains can transition to the upper level, or continue to "Wheeling" which has a 4 track yard, and a number of industries, engine service, and access to the lower west staging.

Trains going to the upper level, have a long run (10 minutes at scale speed) and pass through a number of towns -- the first being a coal mine at Tygart (new river mine), then Leesville (2 industries -- grain and gas dealer), then Mt Airy (cold storage warehouse) -- up the helix to "Hanover" where there is a quary, UTZ Foods, and another food dealer. Moving further west, we come to "Coventry" which has an Auto Plant (with a politically incorrect name) that receives and generates a bit of traffic.  Next  moving west is Ohio Jct -- a military loading ramp, an interchange track, a number of warehouses on the backdrop, and cement place.  Next is Cambridge (currently no industries but an Amtrak stop), then to Kiser where there is a saw mill, a cold storage warehouse, an packaging material plant that needs pellets. Further west, we come to Chillicothe -- with a stub end 3 track storage (staging) yard .. and the WESTVACO paper mill. Next is upper west staging (5 tracks)

On the lower level, at Tygart Junction, lower level trains continue "west" -- Flood loader (West Chester Mine)  then Wheeling -- in Wheeling there is engine service (2 shop tracks, sand track, a long team track that can load /unload commodities. *4 Lumber (from Lee Weldon), Con Agra, Federal Cold Storage, Foxx Container Corp, Myron Steel, Red Wing Milling, WV Pump and Machine -- then to lower west staging.

I use JMRI and CATS (http://cats4ctc.wikidot.com/) for signaling and automation.   

I am using JMRI operations program which also doubles as an inventory program and is integrated with CATS.  My implementation is not very refined at the moment, but I've been tinkering with it for the last 10 years or so.


LIRR

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Re: CAR CARD OPERATIONS
« Reply #27 on: April 27, 2020, 11:41:48 AM »
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how does CATS work? does it generate traffic flows and car routings ?

railnerd

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Re: CAR CARD OPERATIONS
« Reply #28 on: April 27, 2020, 04:31:45 PM »
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I'm an operations junkie.  I'm in an HO club and also take part in a few "round robin" operating layouts here in CA.

I find that car cards work better for small layouts— my HO club has gone the computerized route for dealing with car movements and each operator gets a printed switch list for their train.  Has its downsides in that you are a slave to the computer at setup time.

There are benefits to either switchlists or car cards— but car cards can be more flexible when you want to bomb another yardmaster mid session by flipping the waybills. ;-)

-Dave

Santa Fe Guy

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Re: CAR CARD OPERATIONS
« Reply #29 on: April 27, 2020, 07:55:40 PM »
+1
Here is some of my car cards and boxes we made.
A good friend did the puter work for the cards and waybills and downloaded the images of my rolling stock.
Then I cut out the boxes made of 3mm MDF using my table saw for about 6 of us for the boxes on our layouts.
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This system is still used and having the car image sure did help especially when I weathered my cars and obscured some of the road numbers oops.
If you have an out and back layout this will not work as on some cars the images is different from side to side. Ie CN, early Santa Fe and I am sure others.
Rod.
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