Friday, June 10, 2016

Friday Fun: Another Shake-Down Ops Session

After my month's worth of progress since the previous ops session, it was time to see how all my improvements and fixes would fare. So I had a quick pick-up/shake-down ops session on May 26.

Bill working PDX-1 (Cedar Hill to New London Local) while the New London/Haddam Local (PDX-2) waits on the east leg of the wye in Old Saybrook.
The Rest of the Gang: Crews of the Air Line Local (Tom & Roman on HDX-12) and the Valley Local (Pete & Pieter on HDX-7) meet in Middletown, just as on the prototype. Roman giving the "thumbs up" despite there being no O'Rourke's Diner to grab lunch at (very UNlike the prototype).

It was another good session - certainly not perfect or without its share of gremlins, but issues are becoming less common and we're approaching that point where we can just see on the horizon that Happy Place where our biggest problem will be coordinating schedules, both personal and model.

But like all sessions - even good ones - this session highlighted a few persistent, and a few new, issues:
  • A couple couplers need to be changed or replaced
  • Need more operator "helps" - track arrangements on fascia (especially in Saybrook), operating instructions for individual engines, all industries labeled (whether there's a building or not), all grade crossings labeled, etc.
  • A few turnouts' points needed to be filed/smoothed.
But these are all pretty minor things - and no matter how good the layout gets or how many ops sessions we do, there will always be some minor nagging things to address afterwards.

The biggest overall highlight/problem of this session, though, was paperwork/carforwarding. As we evolve from "shakedown sessions" (which are primarily to highlight physical issues that need fixing) to "formal operating sessions" (which are primarily to simulate running a railroad) this issue will become an increasingly big deal.

And whether we're doing a "shakedown" or "real" ops session, there's always an opportunity to try out something new. This time, I tried "short" skewers for uncoupling. The long ones that you typically get were a little long for my liking. So when I saw short ones at our local grocery store (about 1/2 the length - 5" long), I bought a package. I have to say - they weren't really a hit. So, experiment done - result noted. We'll go back to my (not yet) patented coffee stirrer/dental pic combo for uncoupling next time.

So I have my punch list of things I need to get to by the next session. All in all though, we got together, the railroad ran fine, and we had a good time. And with a model railroad, that's what matters most.

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