Sunday, October 2, 2016

Pre-Ops Session

Saybrook Tower Control Board all tested and paperwork ready to go.
Well, I'm all set for another operating session on the CT Valley Lines of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, circa October, 1948.

Friday night MikeR (of spreadsheet fame) came over to help set up the layout for the next operating session and to further tweak the spreadsheet that generates my car movements. Since it had been originally developed for just one train on a switching layout, he, Randy, and I have been further developing the 'sheet to work with my four independent trains. I really like how it's been evolving and the latest version is already a significant improvement over something that was pretty darn good already. Even with the spreadsheet though, it still took about 3 1/2 hours to do all the paperwork and setup, but future versions of the 'sheet promise to automate the process even more.

But I don't really mind the paperwork - it's like "an ops session before the ops session" where I, as the Agent-Operator (the most realistic job on a model railroad, IMO), do all the work-a-day tasks of keeping the traffic on the railroad running smoothly. So, once the spreadsheet is printed out, and I further massage it with additional info (car numbers, cars to be transferred between trains, off-spots, etc), it's time to complete the switchlists, train orders, and clearance cards for each of the trains.

Remember, you can always click on the image for more a more-detailed view.
I also have to produce an up-to-date Bulletin Order indicating any changes to the layout, as well as to highlight any special operations notes for the session. And - finally - I have the fun of finding an era-appropriate calendar - in this case, one from October, 1948. I'm still trying to find an original 1948 calendar (I have ones for 1947 and 1949), so in the meantime, I grab what I can off the 'net. Fortunately, this one has Missus' full approval (unlike the calendar for last month's session, which barely made it).

And, new for this session, is some additional paperwork for the A-O to complete . . .

On the left is a listing of all the local freights and the towns they work. I'll use it to record the time each train enters a town (both "prototype" (fast) time as well as actual/real time), and the number of cars the train has at that point in the session. This info will help me balance the work for each of the trains and ensure 1) that my crews are all working about the same amount of time, and 2) that my trains aren't TOO long or unmanageable (the typical "local" freight on my layout is 12-18 cars long!).

The paper on the right has a listing of ALL the trains that go through Old Saybrook during the session. This is just a subset of the 71 trains that go through during a 24hr period. I use this sheet - along with the fast clock - to know when I, as the tower operator, can clear local freights to foul the main. As each train passes, I'll mark through it simulating the operator's duty of "OS-ing" trains - as well as simulating the traffic through Saybrook until I have actual trains running through there on schedule.

Now that all these tasks are done, the Crew Call has gone out, and everything is set up, all I have to do is wait for the guys to arrive and sign the register. Should be another fun day of railroading in the CT Valley.

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