Did I get everything done on my check list? No, I did not. But probably the best thing I did was send out invites on June 1st, setting a target date of 6/24. This helped me use the time available to just focus on the must-haves - the absolutes that would otherwise prevent trains from running.
I had to scale some things back, and eliminate certain trains, like the Central Vermont runs 537/538, St. Albans to Richford and return, because of missing track in Sheldon Jct. to make them serve any real purpose. But all in all it was enough to fill more than 3 hours, and left me with 3 trains out of 28 scheduled that did not run at the end of the ssession. Some schedule adjustments and better informational aids for the crews will help address this, allowing all trains to run and keeping the session at a reasonable length.
Once everyone assembled, we went over some basic info, and I explained the waybills and the train cards to the operators. A lot of good feedback regarding operational aids was received, things like linear maps, additional info on the yard instruction sheet and the like will be easily implemented to help.
I assigned 2 people to the St. Johnsbury yard position. This was a recent idea, and I am glad I did. It is very busy there, and having a yardmaster as well as an engineer really helped keep things flowing well.
|Joe Calderone (front) and Mark Fryzstacki (back) volunteered for St. Johnsbury duty.|
|John Rahenkamp operated a number of road and local freights.|
|Bruce Barrett (left) and Bill Howard (right) working together in Morrisville, VT.|
|Jim Homoki (left) checks his waybills for CP job RS-1 before switching Lyndonville, VT.|
|John waits while the yard crew reviews the train that he just brought in, MEC TY-2 from North Stratford.|
|With the 3 road crews occupied with other jobs, Bill ran the LVRC freight to St. Albans, VT, which included switching the feed mill (with the stand in elevator, until I build a more appropriate New England style elevator!)|
|Bruce ran the Maine Central local YQ-1, which is shown here switching cars at Giman, VT.|
Initially this train left too late as I did not indicate it's importance properly to the St. J yard crew. And then, because of switching work, it takes a long time to operate. This is not an operator issue, it is just the reality of having to do a lot of back and forth, throwing of switches, dropping and picking up cars. On the prototype they had something like an 8 hour window to do the work. Most of this time was not running between towns, which on a model railroad is scaled down. It is the switching work that takes so much time, and same thing on a model railroad. Meanwhile planned trains get stacked up waiting for YQ-1 to complete.
So the solution I will implement is to establish a Gilman paper mill switch job, This job can do advance work to gather outbound loads, and then handle drops that will get left by YQ-1. This will allow YQ-1 to proceed to Whitefield and do work there. On the return trip as QY-2, the Gilman switch job will have spotted all outbound cars on the passing siding for a quick pickup.
The benefit will not only be a shorter time period for YQ-1/QY-2 but also a new operating job for the Gilman paper mill. It will need collaboration with the road crew, which also adds fun and interest. This was not what the Maine Central did in 1980, but for my model railroad, it will work better.
All in all it was a great experience. The layout ran really well, which was a relief. There were some issues that were put on the hit list, but that was to be expected. A few cars need couplers or trucks adjusted, but again, expected.
But I also have a long list of things to address to make for a better session, outside of the physical layout. Schedule change, paperwork, operational aids, some crew comfort items, and staging adjustments that I make to balance freight cars, will go a long way to making session 2 an even better experience. I plan to try to get that one scheduled sometime in August, so no time to waste on getting things started!