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Local Switching Operations. Steve Prevette PNR Vice President Burnt Hills and Big Flats RR http://users.owt.com/prevette Prevette@owt.com. Scope. How to do switching on a model railroad Common configurations of sidings Considerations for track planning

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local switching operations
Local Switching Operations

Steve Prevette

PNR Vice President

Burnt Hills and Big Flats RR

http://users.owt.com/prevette

Prevette@owt.com

scope
Scope
  • How to do switching on a model railroad
  • Common configurations of sidings
  • Considerations for track planning
  • Considerations for planning operating sessions
the challenge
The Challenge
  • Operations should be FUN!
  • Too simple can be boring
  • Too complex can be a headache
  • Need to consider what is right for you, and for your operators
  • Realism (following prototype practices) can add to the fun
why do we set out cars
Why do we set out cars?
  • Passenger trains can load and unload without setting out or picking up cars.
  • Cases of freight cars loading and unloading on the main are rare in the prototype.
  • Toy trains have accessories for loading and unloading cattle, pipes, logs, milk cans while in the train.
loading and unloading
Loading and Unloading
  • Fortunately for model railroads (and unfortunately for the prototype), loading and unloading of most cars takes time.
  • We can then have “fun” shifting and switching cars around, a cost the prototype would just as soon do without.
a simple siding
A simple siding

Siding

Mainline

Turnout

switching a simple siding trailing point
Switching a simple siding“Trailing Point”

The yellow boxcar is to be delivered to the siding for unloading

Siding

Mainline

Turnout

switching a simple siding
Switching a simple siding

Pull engine and car to be delivered ahead of turnout

Siding

Mainline

Leave rest of train on mainline

Turnout

switching a simple siding10
Switching a simple siding

Set the turnout for the siding, and back car into siding

Mainline

Turnout

switching a simple siding11
Switching a simple siding

Uncouple car, pull engine forward and set turnout back for the main

Mainline

Turnout

switching a simple siding12
Switching a simple siding

Couple up to the rest of the train, and proceed to next assignment.

Mainline

Turnout

what happens if the train is going the other direction
What happens if the train is going the other direction?

The yellow boxcar is to be delivered to the siding for unloading

Siding

?

Mainline

Turnout

This is “Facing Point”

options
Options
  • Double end the siding
  • Add a run around track
  • Only switch this siding when the train is going the proper direction (left to right)
  • Push the car ahead of the locomotive from a previous location
a double ended siding
A double ended siding

Siding

Mainline

Turnout

Turnout

double ended siding
Double ended siding
  • Can be switched from either direction
  • May be too easy
  • Can’t be used for other purposes (such as holding a train for a meet) without moving spotted cars
  • Takes twice as many turnouts, more length, siding must roughly parallel main
adding a runaround
Adding a runaround
  • The runaround can serve multiple sidings
  • The runaround may also be used as a passing siding if there are no industries on it
  • If the main must be used as part of the runaround, switching time may be impacted due to need to get clearance from dispatcher.
with a runaround
With a runaround

The yellow boxcar is to be delivered to the siding for unloading

Siding

Mainline

Runaround

with a runaround20
With a runaround

Pull train into runaround

Siding

Mainline

Runaround

with a runaround21
With a runaround

Uncouple from train, move engine forward onto main

Siding

Mainline

Runaround

with a runaround22
With a runaround

Back engine around train on main

Siding

Mainline

Runaround

with a runaround23
With a runaround

Back engine around train on main

Siding

Mainline

Runaround

with a runaround24
With a runaround

Move forward and couple onto back of train

Siding

Mainline

Runaround

with a runaround25
With a runaround

Pull train with car to be delivered back onto the main

Siding

Mainline

Runaround

with a runaround26
With a runaround

Push train towards siding

Siding

Mainline

Runaround

with a runaround27
With a runaround

Push cars onto siding, and uncouple car to be delivered

Siding

Mainline

Runaround

with a runaround28
With a runaround

Pull train with car to be delivered back onto the main

Siding

Mainline

Runaround

with a runaround29
With a runaround

Push remainder of train back onto runaround and uncouple

Siding

Mainline

Runaround

with a runaround30
With a runaround

Engine runs around remainder of train

Siding

Mainline

Runaround

with a runaround31
With a runaround

Engine runs around remainder of train

Siding

Mainline

Runaround

with a runaround32
With a runaround

Engine runs around remainder of train

Siding

Mainline

Runaround

with a runaround33
With a runaround

Engine couples to remainder of train, and departs

Siding

Mainline

Runaround

with a runaround34
With a runaround

Engine couples to remainder of train, and departs

Siding

Mainline

Runaround

more than one car per siding
More than one car per siding
  • Multiple industries per siding?
    • May make the industry too small (the building is smaller than the boxcar it is loading)
    • Does add challenge for switching
  • One big industry per siding?
    • May look more realistic, especially if against a backdrop
    • May have multiple “spots”
more than one car per siding36
More than one car per siding

Multiple spots for loading cars

operations thoughts
Operations Thoughts
  • Through trains are the money makers for the railroad and have priority (I’ve seen that backwards on some op sessions)
  • The local can get stuck for a long time as a parade of mainline trains go through town
  • It is no fun for the local crew to sit around endlessly waiting for a switching opportunity, only to clear up again five minutes later
helping out the local crew
Helping out the Local Crew
  • Add a separate runaround from the passing siding
  • Add a “lap siding”
  • Have one or both “tails” of the runaround off of the main
runaround separate from passing siding
Runaround separate from Passing Siding

Run around

Main

Passing Siding

lap siding
Lap Siding

A short runaround within a long passing siding shortens switching times and adds flexibility

Mainline

Runaround

lap siding41
Lap Siding

Two long trains may also meet

Mainline

Runaround

lap siding42
Lap Siding

Note – a long passing siding with a crossover is also a lap siding

Mainline

Runaround

the switchback
The Switchback

The length of this tail must be at least

one engine plus one car long clear from the turnout

Siding

Siding

Mainline

the switchback44
The Switchback

These cars are to remain here when done

Siding #2

Mainline

The Yellow Car is to be delivered to Siding #2

the switchback45
The Switchback

First, these cars must be moved out of the way

Siding #2

Mainline

the switchback46
The Switchback

Siding #2

Mainline

the switchback47
The Switchback

Siding #2

Mainline

the switchback48
The Switchback

Siding #2

Mainline

Shove the two gray cars forward and leave on mainline

the switchback49
The Switchback

Siding #2

Mainline

Shove the two gray cars forward and leave on mainline

the switchback50
The Switchback

Siding #2

Mainline

Backup, uncouple rest of train

the switchback51
The Switchback

Tail Track

Siding #2

Mainline

Pull car to be delivered into tail track

the switchback52
The Switchback

Tight Fit!

Siding #2

Mainline

the switchback53
The Switchback

Push car into siding

Siding #2

Mainline

the switchback54
The Switchback

Uncouple, return to tail

Siding #2

Mainline

the switchback55
The Switchback

Return to Main

Siding #2

Mainline

the switchback56
The Switchback

Siding #2

Mainline

Now to return the gray cars

the switchback57
The Switchback

Siding #2

Mainline

Now to return the gray cars

the switchback58
The Switchback

Siding #2

Mainline

Pull back the gray cars

the switchback59
The Switchback

Siding #2

Mainline

Now to return the gray cars

the switchback60
The Switchback

Siding #2

Mainline

Almost Done!

the switchback61
The Switchback

Siding #2

Mainline

Go back, get rest of train

the switchback62
The Switchback

Siding #2

Mainline

Go back, get rest of train

the switchback63
The Switchback

Siding #2

Mainline

Done, and ready to leave town

the switchback64
The Switchback

Siding #2

Mainline

problem
Problem!

If we had to pick up the blue car, we’d be in trouble

Siding #2

Mainline

The Yellow Car is to be delivered to Siding #2

solution 1
Solution 1

We’d either need a longer tail track

Siding #2

Mainline

solution 167
Solution 1

Longer tail track

Siding #2

Mainline

solution 2
Solution 2

Siding #2

Mainline

Or another siding to remove the blue car to before setting out the yellow car

switchback advantages
Switchback Advantages
  • A switchback can work well for a set of industry flats on the backdrop
sidney switchback71
Sidney Switchback

Room for engine and two 40 foot cars

Two D&H Staging Tracks under buildings

caution
Caution
  • A switchback or two can be fun – but a little bit goes a long ways
  • If every town is a switching puzzle, it can get tedious
  • Switching a large number of cars to a simple track layout can still be fun!
the timesaver
The Timesaver
  • Was timed rather than counting moves
  • Five cars and one switch engine
  • Engine moved at fixed speed, controlled with a center off toggle
  • Two cars were started connected to the switcher which needed to be delivered, and two cars were designated as pick ups
comments on the timesaver
Comments on the Timesaver
  • It makes for a nice, small layout if you only have a desktop worth of space
  • Some folks build them into larger layouts, but you’d really never see the prototype do something like that
  • The track pattern could be used as a reasonable town on a layout if the runaround is extended to a train length
switching puzzle thoughts
Switching Puzzle Thoughts
  • If you are going to have a “puzzle” town, do give the local room to work, completely off the mainline
  • Consider the lap siding, or a separate runaround for busy towns
  • Consider putting “puzzle” town at the end of a branch
slide79

Delaware Breaker

E-L Interchange

Mainline

General Electric

Runaround

McCormick’s Coal Lead

switching on both main and passing siding
Switching on both Main and Passing Siding
  • This town will be tough to switch, especially if lots of through traffic to clear up for.
an easier alternative
An Easier Alternative
  • Sidings on mainline side near one end of town and are in the same direction. Can do some switching completely from the passing siding
strategies for the operator
Strategies for the Operator
  • Upon arrival in town, segregate setouts into trailing and facing point setouts
  • Try to minimize the number of runarounds performed – setout and pickup the trailing points first.
  • Run around the facing point setouts
  • Finish setouts and pickups
  • Run around pickups and organize train to leave town
op session considerations large layout
Op Session Considerations – Large Layout
  • Limit number of cars for industrial switching to ½ the capacity of the sidings
  • Schedule open time for locals to do switching.
  • At busy towns add additional capacity for car sorting, runarounds and leads separate from the main
op session considerations small layout
Op Session Considerations – Small Layout
  • With smaller crew sizes and less main line, you may want some difficult switching in order to prolong the time a train runs
  • The Timesaver is a traditional puzzle, but is geared towards short tracks and small industries
  • A single large industry may be more realistic and offer more switching opportunities.
op session considerations chokepoint towns
Op Session Considerations – Chokepoint Towns
  • Have a train in each direction service the town, only doing trailing point setouts
  • Station a switching crew and have through trains setout and pickup cuts of cars
  • Minimize interference from other trains
  • Only have a minimum number of cars designated for pickup
conclusion
Conclusion
  • Operations can be fun!
  • Some forethought in track planning can keep it fun.
  • Sometimes simpler is better, not every town has to be a switching puzzle
  • Visit operating sessions to get ideas
  • Keep practicing