took his train from East Babel Yard to the town of Marshal where he
moved cars from industries to the Marshal Yard for future departure and
spotted cars at industries as specified in his Instructions. He also
moved a few cars among industries.
took his train from South Babel to Vienna, did the pick-ups and
drop-offs as specified, and returned to Babel. Cars
for Carnegie and Carol Gardens are left on an interchange track by a
through freight. Dave performed some local moves among industries,
moved cars from the interchange track to industries, and vice-versa. Herb
[left-hand picture above] took his train out of North Babel to the town
of New Rochelle and Bergen, switching industries in each town, before
returning to Babel.
This session was Bob’s first experience with operations [right hand picture
above]. He ran a through freight from Marshal to Babel, where he
spotted the cars as specified in his instructions. He then ran an
Amtrak, which helped familiarize him with the layout. Herb
wrote: “I very much enjoyed operating on the ARE. The
provided in your introductory email was very valuable and gave me a
good insight as to how your railroad would operate. The
of using Employee Instructions for routing makes operating on an
unfamiliar railroad much easier. The RailOP feature made
and selecting cars to be picked up or set out straightforward and
eliminated the confusion that can be experienced when interpreting the
routing on car cards. I liked the way the turnouts were wired
stop a train if the turnout was thrown against it. The
was also a big help. “Above
all, I appreciated your tolerance of my mistakes.”
A large contingent of enthusiastic model railroaders (shown above, Shawn Hogan, Bill
Mosteller, Robert Prosser, Alban Thiery, Bill Lyders, George Meyrick, John Huntzinger,
and Roger Boyce) participated in a well-organized and enjoyable operating session on
the afternoon of April 12, 2014 at the home of Pete LaGuardia on his New York Central
Western Illinois Division (WID). This session, part of the Potomac Division Operations
Initiative involved personnel from two MER divisions, Potomac and James River. Pete’s
operations choreographed an 18 person crew into the roles of Engineer (4) & Brakeman
(4) and WID location staff (10), Superintendent, Dispatcher, Yardmasters/Assistants,
Hostler, and Operator.
Pete LaGuardia's New York Central’s Western Illinois Division (WID), in Haymarket, VA,
is set in 1953, is HO scale, and operates from Kansas City, Omaha, and Des Moines on
the west, through Moberly (MO) and Hannibal (MO), to Danville (IL) and Indianapolis
(IN) on the east. Bench and track work are 99% complete and scenery was started in
January 2013. The WID fills a 35’ x 32’ room. The DCC control system is radio NCE with
7 power districts. We operated the WID using Pete’s throttles under Timetable & Train
Orders (TT&TO) with Car Cards and Waybill system available from Albion Software, Ship
It Car Cards. Crew communications to the Dispatcher was done using a PBX phone system.
We operated under a 3:1 fast clock for an 8 hour session that lasted around 3 hours
completing 11 train schedules. Operational activities had each major yard (Crotona,
Hannibal, and Beaumont) managed by a Yardmaster and an Assistant Yardmaster. Each
train had an experienced Engineer and a less experienced Engineer (operating as a
Both my journeys as an Engineer with Brakeman Bob Harmon started in Kansas City (West
End Yard) once with a freight train and next with a passenger train. For Bob, from
James River Division, this was his first operations session. So I took the opportunity
to mentor him on the TT/TO process and operating on the WID. Bob couldn’t believe my
patience answering all his questions, but it was FUN for both of us. In our first
stop, we dropped off 20 cars and picked up 22 in the Crotona Yard under the complete
control of Yardmaster (YM)/Assistant Yardmaster (AYM) Bryan Kidd/Shawn Hogan, shown
above, as they made up new trains advised by Superintendent Pete LaGuardia. Leaving
that yard, we journeyed around the layout until Hannibal YM/AYM Roy Gurnham/Robert
Prosser, coordinating with Operator Bill Mosteller, directed us to drop off/pick up
cars in Hannibal Yard. We completed our journey to Danville leaving our train in East
End Staging Yardmaster Phillip Raymond’s capable hands.
On our second train journey, we took our steam passenger train NYC 6001 around the WID
roundhouse on the way to Crotona to drop off a coach and get an observation car. Later
we passed a train coming from the other direction run by Engineer/Brakeman John
Huntzinger/Marie Moyer and working the industries at Calamia. The largest collection
of train cars and human participants was at Crotona Yard, as it quickly fills up with
cars requiring yard switching operations. Overall management of the session was
performed by the Dispatcher, Mat Thompson. He oversaw east bound trains and west bound
trains to make sure train meets were not a problem.
After the operations session, the crews relaxed in the crew’s lounge with a cold drink
and cookies and peppered Pete with questions for about 30 minutes on how he conducted
operations and future WID plans. I have since talked to some of the less experienced
participants and they all really enjoyed the operations experience and looked forward
to doing it again. The mood was always relaxed and friendly and everyone worked
together to get the “work” completed. In fact, due to Pete’s organization of the
session, most trains arrived on-time.
Roger Sekera's The Clinch ValleyLines
This past weekend I attended another enjoyable and informative operating session and had the pleasant opportunity to meet other
model railroaders. The attendees were Bob Shepard, Bob Sprague, John King, Herb Biegel and Jared Jacobs. Our host was
Roger Sekera and his Clinch Valley Lines point-to-point layout is designed for operations. Set in 1959, the Clinch Valley Lines
hauls coal and general merchandise through Appalachia with first generation diesels up front.
Operation is TT&TO which adds to the realism and kept John King at dispatch. The Clinch Valley Line is well
marked with a separate dispatchers desk and lots of space for the five operators. Quite a bit of switching and one run
I made lasted over an hour. As I design my layout attending operating sessions provides valuable information to
incorporate into the design.
Tom Broderick - Providence and Worcester
fresh from an operating session at Tom Brodrick’s Providence and
Worchester (aided by Marshall Abrams) where Bill Ataras, Bob
Muilenburg, Bob Rosenberg, and I spend the afternoon running the
railroad. The crew was evenly divided, two novices and two
experienced operators. A good time was had by all.
our number noted that switching an industrial area is an intellectually
challenging task. I certainly find it so. I was
with how I was handling another area on Tom’s layout when I realized
that I was about to push three cars into an industry in exactly the
opposite order of what was called for!
in on the fun.
also spent Sunday afternoon working on Tom Broadrick’s P&W. It
only my second experience in model railroad operation, and while there
were some improvements over the first time there were a few things
that, had I known them up front, would have made my life that day much
easier: Locating all the cars that I had to switch, for example,
(especially the one that was hidden in the building) before I actually
started moving them around would have helped a lot. Taking 5 cars from
the interchange track and spotting them at different industries while
removing the existing 5 cars from those same industries and leaving
them for pick up back on the interchange track may not seem like that
big a deal, but you might be surprised if you’ve never done anything
like that before; think of it as a puzzle with the trains as the
pieces. But I did have a lot of fun doing it and I’m looking forward to
the next time I get a chance.
Brian Sheron - Long Island Rail Road (LIRR)
On March 9, 2014 I spent a fun and informative afternoon at an
operating session hosted by Brian Sheron on his Long Island RR Port
Jefferson Branch layout. Bill Demas assisted Brian in working
operators - Herb Biegel, Glenn Downing, Jared Jacobs, Alban
Thiery and me.
The layout is based on the Long Island Rail
Road, Port Jefferson branch, circa 1964. It occupies two rooms in
Brian's basement. The original layout and Long Island portion of it is
in a 13' x 19' room. The newer part is in a 12' x 12' connected room,
and in there Brian models the Long Island's Pennsylvania Station
terminus in New York City. The mainline is a double track
folded-dog bone, so on the straight stretches it appears to be a 4
track mainline. There are various industries located around the layout,
and the layout has two major yards, Holban and Sunnyside.
layout is quite impressive both in size and in the significant scene
detail. The layout is well marked so that operators can
navigate and find locations. For a novice like me this was
essential. Although I must admit that I did make a couple of
pilot errors (oops moments such as not verifying that I had the correct
cars before leaving the yard and making switching moves more difficult
This was a good learning experience for me
since I am in the process of designing a layout for both operations and
running. I would like to thank Brian for hosting this session.
I am looking forward to attending the upcoming operating sessions.
Andrew Dodge's Colorado Midland Railway
by William Mosteller
I keep discovering variations in operating model railroad’s schemes
that surprise me. Andrew Dodge, MRR, is an accomplished and published (Model Stock Pens Along a Fascia, Model Railroader,
May 2017) modeler. A key to understanding his Colorado Midland Railway is that the locomotives are the focus.
This makes perfect sense, as Andrew built all the steam engines in his basement shop.
He’s a bit of a throwback to days of yore in model railroading, a real craftsman.
He built the railroad to Proto 48 standards, and thus has proved you can run trains to such standards.
The railroad scenery is beautifully. (Use Natural Soil and Rocks in Scenery, Model Railroader, September 2017)
The operating instructions include mandatory stops not merely for water, but also for coal, sand, and cool-down after a hard run.
(I only remember hearing about such for New Haven EP-5 “Jet” electric locomotives.)
The couplers are prototype scaled and operate with realistic latch pins. So yes, you must open both knuckles before coupling.
Trains are short (mine topped out at four cars), so there is switching, but the locomotives are the focus.