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Size to Operator Ratio
 Moderated by: W C Greene
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 Posted: Sun Jul 29th, 2012 12:44 am
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titus
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So here's something I don't see discussed a lot but that I've been wondering about: Is there a good sq. ft. to operator ratio? Iain Rice gives a warning at the start of "Mid-Sized and Manageable" that building too large of a layout becomes a burden both in terms of maintenance and in setup for operations. Several studies have been shown that demonstrate the majority of model railroaders operate their layout by themselves. The huge basement layouts that are seen in magazines clearly demand several operators and people maintaining it. Is there a good square foot size to target for 1-3 operators? As in, at what point does a layout get too big for one person to manage?

Thoughts?

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 Posted: Sun Jul 29th, 2012 12:05 pm
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W C Greene
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I have heard of 4 by 8 HO layouts being operated by 4 guys, large HO layouts (like my buddy Mopman) which can be run with 5 or 6 but he operates by himself. I would think that maintenance would be a big deciding factor, how many guys and brite boys are needed before trains can run? How many throttles are available for operators? There are more considerations I am sure. Going back to John Allen's G&D, it was large, but not as large as some seen today, and he had several fellows who ran his trains on a regular and irregular basis. Allen had "dragger" cars in every train (track cleaners) but I am sure the layout could be run by him alone. How big for one person? You would need to know the person. The truth is-I DON'T KNOW! Hopefully some operators will chime in on this one.

Woodie



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 Posted: Sun Jul 29th, 2012 12:15 pm
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Herb Kephart
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The question of the number of operators, is one to be answered by the owner. A large layout CAN be operated by a single person, walking along with the train, doing switching-- or by a number of operators, each doing a different thing. One thing to think about--with a single operator, the expense of DCC doesn't (to me) make much sense.

Now to maintaining the large layout.

IF YOU DO IT RIGHT WHEN YOU BUILD IT_MAINTENANCE AIN"T AS MUCH OF AN ISSUE

Cant say that loud enough. At one time I had, what most visitors considered a large trolley layout. It was in a loft, where there were great temperature extremes. Maintenance was limited, to the most part, to cleaning track
with an occasional joint in the overhead wire needing re-soldering, because of the large amount of temperature variation.

After 15 years, I decided that I had had enough of being cold or hot--but that alone was the reason for the layout's demise.

Herb 




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 Posted: Sun Jul 29th, 2012 05:55 pm
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rogerssantafe
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For me it is a personal issue. My outdoor LS POOL RR is a 40' X 17' oval that is 3 and 4 ft wide. If I were to do it over some of the 4 ft wide sections would only be 2 ft wide.
As Herb said building it right does eliminate most but not all maintenance. You still must clean track unless you follow Woodie down the path of RC/batteries. I'm only partway down that path. I still have to clean leaves and cut a very invasive vine back.

Roger
Caddo Mills, TX where it only hit 104 today



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 Posted: Sun Jul 29th, 2012 09:19 pm
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Lost Creek RR
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One of the pleasures in this hobby for me is having mates come over to run trains. Most of my layouts have been built with this in mind.

Building it right the first time didn't just happen as I went through a huge learning curve and as I got better my layouts improved over time. I guess I am now into my 6th or 7th layout and making it better each time from a maintenance point is a top priority.

In my shed (outside train room) I have insulated all the walls and ceiling (we get temp variations from 1deg C to 42 deg C ) sealed all of the joints and put a weather strip around the door to keep heat and dust out all to keep my workload to a minimum.

It seems to be working pretty well. I started on this version in 1996 and really only need to clean the track about once every three months or so.

I can run on my own, with my 10 year old grandson or up to 11 of my mates when we operate.

So I guess kinda knowing what you want out of it will help one to decide what size they want to build.

Rod.

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 Posted: Fri Aug 3rd, 2012 09:43 am
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CNE Runner
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The Monks' Island Railway is a layout that is composed of two connected modules. The entire layout is something like 10' long. 'Module' 1 (Molena Point) is 11" wide by ~5' long whilst the Sweet Haven 'module' is the same length but is 15" wide. I mention this because having more than 2 operators would be impossible (they would be in each other's way). Operator A does all the off/on loading of the car ferry and makes up the Sweet Haven run. He then moves the train, through the scenic divider, to the Sweet Haven side. Both operators have to plan their moves such that the 'delivering locomotive' is able to run around the train and head back to Molena Point...leaving Operator B the job of solving the Sweet Haven switch list puzzle with the Sweet Haven based locomotive. [It goes, without saying, that 99% of the time this layout is comfortably operated by one operator...yours truly.]

Now on to your original question: I would think the size of a layout is related to the owner's ability to maintain said layout...and pay for it. Remember, the larger the layout the greater the maintenance requirements - and the greater the cost (more track, rolling stock, structures, locomotives, etc.). I guess it depends on how deep into the 'pool' you are comfortable 'swimming.'

Ray



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 Posted: Mon Oct 15th, 2012 07:50 pm
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ClinchValley
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Size matters I suppose.   For my op sessions 15 seems to be about the perfect size.   I can do up to 20 (a bit crowded) and as few as 10.   In our round robin group, we have layouts of all sizes and some of the best (most fun to run) layouts are smaller with smaller crews.   Just be sure to allow wide enough aisles to allow people to pass easily.

Some photos of the last op session
http://s527.photobucket.com/albums/cc354/ClinchValley/Ops%20092712/

Other op session photo folders at
http://s527.photobucket.com/albums/cc354/ClinchValley/

Some videos of ops at
http://www.youtube.com/user/ClinchValleySD40?feature=watch





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 Posted: Tue Oct 16th, 2012 04:28 am
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Blackcloud Railways
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At home I operate my sections of the Ferrocarril Internacional (five modules, sandwiched between a pair of staging yards) single handed but the breaks required to turn the stock in the staging yards after five trains have run does not really matter here.

At shows we usually operate the layout in a longer formation and with a more intensive service so the best way of working in this case is to have three operators, one looking after each staging yard, turning the trains as required, and the third driving the trains. At home and at shows the trains are run using analogue DC and a radio control handset enabling the driver to walk alongside.

We have tried DCC but it does not work for our layout, too many buttons to fiddle with before anything moves, it is easier for us to have switched sections to isolate trains as required. We're not fans of sound or fancy lighting effects and we can still run "flights" of trains one after the other by timing the releases from the staging yard to ensure that the trains do not catch up with each other before they get to the other end of the line.



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 Posted: Tue Oct 16th, 2012 09:28 am
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Herb Kephart
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"We're not fans of sound or fancy lighting effects"


Gee Woodie, he's one of us!


Herb 



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 Posted: Tue Oct 16th, 2012 12:22 pm
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W C Greene
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Herbie-who'd a thunk it? I don't have sound because it would interfere with the sound of breeze in the trees, the birds, the dogs, and the hollering of the operators when (after a couple of beers)they gripe about the stinkin' link & pins. Awww, they get used to it!

Woodie



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