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Potomac Division members celebrated a day of trains with old and new friends during the first Potomac Operations Saturday on Saturday, June 29, 2019. Ops Saturday evolved from the prior Operations Initiative.
The second Operations Saturday is scheduled for May 16, 2020.  We will have at least two sessions on the Maryland side of the Potomac and at least two on the Virginia side that day.
You are invited if you are a new operator, a never before operator, or an old hand operator. You will be given the chance to sign up for one or two sessions - your choice.

Members are welcome if they had never operated, had a little experience, or were an old hand. They were also encouraged to sign up a friend or family member to come along, regardless of their ops experience and they didn't need to be Potomac Division members.

In 2019 we offered two layouts in Maryland and two in Virginia and had two operating periods that day - one from 9 am to 12 noon, and one from 2 pm to 5 pm. Members could sign up for any one session or one morning and one afternoon session.
(Click picture for enlargement.)
9 am to 12 noon

  Pete LaGuardia, Haymarket, VA — HO scale New York Central Western Illinois Division. He uses NCE DCC, and TT&TO operations.

Frank Benenati, Damascus, MD — HO scale Maryland Junction interchanges with N&W, PRR, B&O, and WM. Frank uses Digitrax DCC, car cards, a timetable, and a fast clock to simulate operations.
2 pm to 5 pm

  Bryan Kidd, Nokesville, VA  Alleghany on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad using Digitrax DCC.

Fritz Dahlin, Columbia, MD — The Broken Timber Subdivision represents a fictional Chessie System line in central Maryland. Control is NCE DCC. Car cards and simplified train orders are used.


Host Fritz Dahlin dispatches his railroad using a CTC panel (sadly, just out of sight) he built himself.

Rich Tobias (seated) and Jim Navaco switch Halfway Yard on Fritz’ Chessie System Broken Timber Subdivision. Fritz uses NCE DCC to control his railroad and Rich is using an NCE throttle for his switching moves.

Bill Mims and George Meyrick, both experienced operators, ran Cortana Yard on Pete LaGuardia's Western Illinois Division of the New York Central. Here they are
assembling a freight train for engineer Nick Kalis.

Bryan Kidd (in the C&O shirt) and Bill Mosteller are watching approaching traffic at White Sulphur Springs while Ernie Little (partly hidden) is switching passenger cars at the station mockup. Notice that Bryan's layout is operations-ready even thought scenery is still a work in progress. That's common on ops layouts allowing owners to run their railroads even while construction is ongoing.
More than thirty model railroaders ran trains during the Potomac Division’s first Ops Saturday on June 29th. Experience levels ranged from first timers to layout owners who have sessions on their own layouts.
First time operators and Old Heads were equally welcome. The one proviso was that if a participant signed up for two sessions and space was tight, they would only get one of their choices. As it worked out, those who asked to operate twice were able to.

A week or so before the sessions hosts e-mailed operators attending their sessions preliminary layout information. Once the crews arrived, they had time to walk the layouts and meet the host and his helpers. Then hosts gave short briefings and the trains started rolling.

Operators old and new worked together and the work to be done quickly sorted itself out. Hosts put newer operators with more experienced people or started them on less demanding runs. Within an hour or so, somebody just poking their head in to see what was going on would have had trouble spotting the new folks.

Typical of the operator’s day, in the morning Randy Ghertler ran on Frank Benenati’s railroad which uses Timetable and Train Authority to dispatch trains. In the afternoon, he was at Fritz Dahlin’s who controls his railroad using his homemade CTC panel (Centralized Traffic Control) to control signals. Randy said prior to the sessions he had limited operating experience but had no problems running freights on either layout.

Each host was thanked for their contribution with a Certificate of Appreciation from Potomac Division Superintendent Martin Brechbiel. Here host Pete LaGuardia is receiving his Certificate from Ops Saturday organizer Mat Thompson.

Bill Ward had read about using car cards, but never actually seen them before arriving at Pete's layout. Here Bill is switching the meat plant and ice dock so it is obvious the car cards were not a mystery for long.

Steve Strachein is running the helper at Allegheny on Bryan Kidd's C&O layout. Steve is preparing a room for his future railroad and had not yet decided which DCC system he will use. At Pete's Steve used NCE and at Bryan's he used Digitrax so now he has practical experience to help him make his choice.

Frank Benenati's camera shy operators were too busy to stop for pictures - that's Frank is the center wearing blue jeans. Frank built the layout around the walls in a smaller room. Now, with the layout reinstalled in a larger room, it is accessible from both sides and he was able to add a yard on the left where Ken Nesper is working.

This page was last modified on 19 September 2019 1:26pm