Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Ops Update

Ah - Summertime! and while the livin' may be easy, it isn't the most popular time for model railroading for good reason: you'd often rather be outside than in your basement. But Summer 2016 has been an especially hot one, and being indoors in the A/C has been nice. Especially when you're able to do some modeling.

And that's what I've been doing for the most part. If you've been a regular follower of my progress, you know I've been doing more modeling than working on the layout lately. Click here for the posts - I finished the GTW boxcar (finally) and am within striking distance of completing the detailing on my DERS-2b (RS-2).

Other than modeling, the other big story of the season - for me at least - has been the return of regular operating sessions to the Valley Line. And those sessions have produced my "to-do"/punch list for any additional physical progress which needs to be done on the layout itself. As a direct result of operator input, not only have I extended track in Saybrook and totally reworked the entrance to the west end staging yard, but I've also modified the track in Wethersfield for what must be the 100th at least the third time. More on that in a future post, but suffice it to say things have been percolating right along this summer, despite the season's distractions.

One thing I haven't done a lot of though is documenting my now-regular ops sessions. In fact, as I reviewed the blog for my last ops session entry, I discovered only a little teaser titled "Getting Ready" - and no actual report on that session. Well, the very short story on that last (June) session can be summed up as follows:

  • PROS
    • We ran all 4 local freights successfully;
    • Randy acted as agent, which allowed me to operate for a change;
    • John Wallace joined me on the crew;
    • Everything ran well.
  • CONS
    • The Valley Local (which happened to be the train I was running) outlawed again - this time only getting as far as Middletown before we had to stop the session.
    • We (I) need more throttles and additional backup motive power (the R-1 is still OOS);
    • It took a LONG time to set up the session (about as long as the session itself!).
  • To Dos
    • Extend Track 6 in Old Saybrook to allow PDX-1 to do its switching without fouling the main.
    • Extend the Bulk Track in Wethersfield to provide some additional breathing room for spotting, working, and storing cars.
We didn't operate in July and the August session is later this week. Fortunately, as I mentioned above, the major "to-do" items are done now so we can see how those improvements work out later this week.

The other major thing I'm working on - and which is taking, and will continue to take, a surprising amount of time - is trying to balance the work that the locals do, while remaining as true to prototype operations as possible. This will address the major, persistent problem I'm having with the Valley Local which always seems to have much more work than all the other trains.

So I'll be running One More Session this week, using the same setup I've been using, to see if the problem persists. And maybe, since it'll be "Monday, August 25th, 1947", I won't have the local go to East Haddam. That's only served on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, at least according to the prototype info I have. Other than that, I may need to tweak my spreadsheet a bit, to balance things further.

But these last lazy days of summer are the perfect time for such tweaking. The Main Modeling Seasons of autumn and winter are coming up and I hope to have the operations nailed down by then.

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