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Operating The 'Monks Island Railway'
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 Posted: Thu Jan 26th, 2012 10:37 pm
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CNE Runner
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Operations on the Monks’ Island Railway – Part I


It has always been my opinion that interest, in a model railroad layout, wanes unless there is a purpose for its operation. Watching trains ‘chase their tails’ gets very old – very fast. As the layout size gets smaller, or the switching opportunities get more numerous, the car card/way bill procedure can get overly cumbersome. This is especially true on the Monks’ Island Railway which is a compilation of two switching ‘problems’.

I wanted a system that was easy on the operator (even an inexperienced one as they tire rapidly watching you have all the fun). Adding in an element of chance made each operating session new and unique.

One of the ‘tools’ you will need for this procedure is an Industries/siding sheet. This sheet should list all the possible ‘spots’ [as in drop off or pick up] on your layout.  Below is a portion or sample section from my Monks’ Island Industries/siding sheet:














Please keep in mind that this is only a portion of the Industries/siding list (there are 10 ‘spots’). You can have as many ‘spots’ as you need…die are sold in many varieties of sides – check at a gaming store (or check on-line as there are websites that feature any number of ‘virtual’ die). The loads IN or OUT would also change – based upon your needs. Oh, I use MS Excel for anything requiring a ‘list/matrix’ format.

Having a drawn track plan – with numbers and/or names – can be useful…especially for operators that aren’t familiar with your layout. Try to keep the track numbering logical (sidings identified as: Brewery 1, Mill 2, etc. can be quite confusing).

OK, so your job for this post is to secure 3 dice (1, 6-sided white; 1, 6-sided red; and 1, 10-sided or whatever will work in your situation). Your second assignment is to generate an Industries/siding listing (with possible loads IN and OUT). This second assignment may force you to do a little research.

On a following post, I will use the materials above to generate a switch list.



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 Posted: Thu Jan 26th, 2012 11:00 pm
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NathanO
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When we were doing operations on one persons layout here in the San Antonio area we tried to come up with and 'industry to industry' type of 'switch list'.

This allowed for a car to be 'called' from the yard to location #1.  It stayed there for loading and then went to location #2.  Once unloaded if it could be used to take a load from that location to another location it would be sent to location #3, if not it went the nearest yard and was put in the 'available car' list.

Some locations were 'off line', the car would be sent to or come from a hidden staging area.  We also did some 'transfer runs' between yards when one started to get 'full', which was about 2/3 of the available storage track area.

In the Springfield, OR area we had a modeler that was a Dispatcher for the SP.  While his layout was small, all operations we by the SP rule book.  He even had a 'hot box detector' at one place on the layout and if it flashed you had to set the car out and the next train had to pick it up and deliver it to the destination.

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 Posted: Thu Jan 26th, 2012 11:20 pm
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Operations on the Monks’ Island Railway – Part II


In this post, we will discuss how the dice are read and how they relate to the switching list.

Materials needed:

·         A ‘set’ of 3 dice: 6-sided white, 6-sided red, and a 10-sided die (or whatever number matches your needs). Virtual dice are available on-line at numerous websites…do a search to find the one that you like best.

·         The completed Industries/sidings list for your layout.

Procedures:

·         Throw all 3 dice (I like to use the hallway floor…’drives the cats crazy).

·         Make note of each die and ‘decode’ as follows:



White} 1,3,5 = Load IN; 2,4,6 = Load OUT



10-sided die} the layout location of the ‘move’



Red} the contents of the load


For this example, let’s assume the following ‘throw’ was observed:



White = 3; Red = 6; 10-sided = 2




Please refer to the shortened Industry/Siding table from Part I in this thread. Since the 10-sided die rolled “2” we now know we are dealing with the Powerhouse. The white die rolled a “3” meaning our load is inbound. The red die (showing a “6”) tells us that the load consists of machinery. Given the nature of the load, we probably will want to ‘order’ a flatcar [FM], a gondola [GB] or (more probably) a boxcar [XM].

Armed with this information we can refer to our car inventory (you do have a car inventory?) and select the appropriate piece of rolling stock. Additionally we can now completely fill out a Switch List and take the throttle.

Since the Switch List is a topic unto itself, I will discuss that in another post. Hang in there.

Last edited on Fri Nov 29th, 2013 08:25 pm by CNE Runner



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 Posted: Fri Jan 27th, 2012 12:33 am
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Operations on the Monks’ Island Railway – Part III


In this post, we will display a sample switch list and give a little idea of how it is used. Switch lists can be saved and reused at a future date. I frequently ‘clear the board’ and set up an operation from the past – trying to complete the task in a more efficient manner. Should you desire even more stress, all this can be done on a schedule and with the use of a fast clock…just have some Prozac handy.

Materials needed:

·         A list of all industries and/or sidings indicating what car loads come IN and what car loads go OUT. [Required]

·         A blank copy of the switch list form. [Required]

·         Results from the dice rolls in Part II. [Required]


Think of a Switch List as a set of directions for the ground crew and runner (engineer if you prefer). Since the car movements will be many, and short in duration, car cards/way bills are difficult to keep in order…hence the simple switch list. Above is a completed switch list. It indicates each car and its location or destination. Each switch list builds upon the one preceding. [List # 07-02 AM builds upon the moves made in list # 07-01 PM…and so forth.]

The sample switch list starts with the title and number (07-02 [T - AM]). This tells us that the particular switch list displayed is from the 7th week group, day #2 - morning run. The ferry services Monks’ Island twice a day…hence 2 switch lists (AM, PM). The major difference between the morning and afternoon lists is the addition of the Sweet Haven run on the bottom (there simply isn’t time, or need, for two Sweet Haven runs). This is another area that you will probably want to modify to meet the needs of your layout.

Running down the left side are all the possible sidings on the entire layout (sidings @ Sweet Haven aren’t numbered – but take the name of the industry they serve). The second column has the actual car number and the third column lists its AAR classification. The fourth column lists the load (if any – “MTy” if not); while the last column lists the destination (or present location) of the car. Most of this data is derived from the chance rolling of 3 dice...easy peasy!

You may have noticed the addition of symbols? Their purpose is to keep the handling instructions within the bounds of the cell. The symbols I use are:






 








Naturally you may have other ideas of symbols…just keep them logical for new runners. The symbols illustrate other ‘moves’ for specific cars such as: transfer within district limits (ex. a boxcar transferred from the brewery to the Marine Supply or within the limits of Molena Point), transfer outside district limits (a car transferred from Marine Supply to Island Lumber in Sweet Haven…which is in another district).

At the bottom of the form are the “Notices to Trainmen” section. This valuable section alerts the train crew of special instructions, or moves that might otherwise be overlooked. Not every switch list requires this section.

Track #3 is the staging track for the ferry traffic and deserves special attention. All outgoing cars must be staged on #3 before the ferry arrives. The train crew must complete a ‘dance’ to off load the ferry, stow the incoming cars on #3, before loading the outgoing cars on the ferry. Time is of the essence as the ferry crew can get ‘agitated’ by any delay. No train, leaves for Sweet Haven, without first spotting the afternoon’s outgoing (ferry) cars on #3.

Believe it or not, this is the simplest explanation I can come up with – given the space available. I know some of you will have questions. If possible I will answer more specific questions off line. If you choose, I can email you completed forms and much more detailed instructions. Start simply and slowly and ‘tailor’ this system to your needs. Trust me; the days of ‘less than exciting’ railroading will be over. Referring to the track plans in my Monks' Island Railway thread (in the micro section) will help in following my 'directions'.

Regards,

Ray

PS: Due to [my] inability to directly import MS Word documents, and their tables, I had to resort to photographing some of the included tables. The Photobucket link handles files too large for normal Gallery importing...very cool.



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 Posted: Wed Feb 1st, 2012 12:23 am
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A Day in the Life of the Monks’ Island Railway

Several of you have requested that I go through a typical day on the Monks’ Island Railway – illustrating how switch lists are used. I will be using two switch lists for this discussion: # 07-02 AM & 07-02 PM. The purpose here is to show you how one list segways into the next.

We have already discussed how a switch list is generated (see the previous thread in the “Operations” section of the forum for more information). Let us assume that the ‘dice rolling’ procedure has already been completed for these two lists and all we have to do is switch the cars. Remember, each switch list is ‘fed’ by the preceding one – and in turn will ‘feed’ the next (and so on). The Monks’ Island Railway does not operate on weekends; so each group (week) is divided into 5 days – each containing an AM and PM list.

The day begins at 0700 hrs:

·         The crew (consisting of Otis, Willie, Joe and myself) climbs aboard #4, outside the engine house. After the usual inspection (the hostlers have already fueled and moved the locomotive out) we are ready to ‘take on the day’. The crew pays particular attention to any Notices to Trainmen instructions (if any) on the switch list.

·         No. 4 moves to the dock area and picks up the idler car in its spot - landward of the ferry apron. Otis heads to his small office, on the dock, to get his morning paperwork in order – leaving the rest of us to complete the work…typical.

·         With Willie and Joe ‘bending the iron', we move the idler car to track 3 and couple to the outgoing cars (TCSM 9601 [XM] & NCSTL 19005 [XM]). [Track 3 is the staging track for ferry traffic.]

·         The outgoing cars are brought to track 1 in readiness for the ferry ‘moves’.

·         The ferry deck crew gives us the "clear to back" signal and we slowly move backward…coupling to the two inbound cars on the ferry (NH 121408 [HM] & AWP 38022 [XM]). These cars are then moved off the ferry.

·         Each car is separately spotted on track 3 (in the ‘game’ there isn’t enough room to move both cars at the same time…’gives another opportunity to switch).

 ·         After spotting the inbound cars we now move the outbound cars onto the ferry.

·         The idler car is uncoupled and spotted in its usual place near the ferry apron.

·         Ferry departs for the mainland.

·         The recently spotted inbound cars are re-spotted on track 1- leaving track 3 clear.

·         The crew collects, and spots, the PM outgoing cars on track 3 (CEI 97489 [HM] & MSTL 66767 [HM]). We now have everything set up for the PM ferry…should we be running late from Sweet Haven…’trust me it happens.

 Setting up the Sweet Haven run:

Due to the facing of turnouts on the route to Sweet Haven (as well as any ‘moves’ when we get there) our Sweet Haven cars must be arranged in a specific order (from the rear of the train – forward): Molena Point/Powerhouse, Abbey/Winery, Island Lumber/Sweet Haven team track, Cannery/Sweet Haven Fuels. This is demanding and requires quite a bit of thought…not to mention some ‘fancy’ moves.

·         The crew arranges cars in the ‘correct’ order. In this case (from train-rear): AWP 38022 [XM], CPR 90456 [XM], RDG 5600 [XM] (really a transfer from Molena Point track 9 > the Molena Point team track) and NH 121408 [HM] behind the locomotive.

·         First stop: Molena Point team track & Powerhouse sidings. Drop off RDG 5600 & NH 121408. Pick up MSTL 53010 [XM] @ M/P team track and place to the rear of the train.

·         At the Abbey/Winery siding (mid island) pick up WFEX 71034 [RS] – which now becomes the rear car.

·         Arriving Sweet Haven: Drop off Sweet Haven cars. No pick-ups @ Sweet Haven for this run (unusual). We just have to find overnight ‘homes’ for the cars we picked up on the outbound trip.

·         Return to Molena Point.

After arrival at Molena Point:

·         Assuming there is sufficient time before the PM ferry arrival, all Sweet Haven run cars are spotted as per Switch List 07-02 PM. If there isn’t enough time, we’ll leave all cars on the main and switch the ferry traffic...handling the Sweet Haven returned cars later. 

·         Ferry arrives and the process begins again. The only difference is that there is no PM Sweet Haven run…but the crew has to find spots for the PM ferry inbound cars (as well as spotting those pesky S/H returns).

·         Engine is returned to outside the engine house for overnight servicing. Crew heads to O’Donnell’s Pub for a couple of tall ones.

That is an abbreviated typical day on the railway. It would help if you checked the track plans on my thread in the Micro… section of the forum. Unfortunately the tracks aren’t numbered in that view. Track 1 (main) runs from the ferry across the front of the layout toward Sweet Haven. Track 3 is the first track after the ferry slip (towards the back of the layout).

Ray



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"Keeping my hand on the throttle, and my eyes on the rail."
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