On Sheet – Train Order Boards Revisited

On Sheet – Train Order Boards Revisited

don’t want to get into all the details. Recently, when attending a huge TT&TO session at the La Mesa  Model Railroad club in San Diego, I thought I saw a train order board being misused. Later, while hanging out at another station with an old SP guy running it, I mentioned the “mistake” I’d witnessed. Turns out, as he explained it, I was wrong.

Great, and I’ve written multiple blogs and given two clinics (as well as did it on my Tuscarora) incorrectly.

So I’ll correct it now.

Train order signals (as shown in the photo to the right) tell an approaching train if copied orders from the dispatcher are waiting for them there. Depending on a lot of arcane rules, the train might have to spot and sign for them (Order 31) or pick them up on the fly from a hoop (Order 19).

If the signal is green, there are no orders. If the signal is red, there are orders.

Fair and good.

If there are no orders, the train rolls through the station. The signal must remain green until the train completely passes passes it.

A red signal, well, here’s where I was wrong. I thought that if the signal was red, the train would get orders and then the signal would be set to green – you got your orders and can now go. Wrong wrong wrong. No, if there are orders, you’ll see the red signal. Even after you pick them up, the signal stays red and you continue through. It remains red for the full train’s passage (and, sidebar, stays red since that is the default setting).

That confused me – why would you not just change it to green? I thought that’s what I read in the rule book.

As the old engineer told me, the signal stays in its initial setting because – of course – all member of the crew need a copy. That includes any helper engines and certainly the conductor in the back. And how do they know if they need to lean out for orders? Even back in the train, they will also be looking for that signal and, if red, will lean out to hoop up their orders.

I just sat there for a minute, feeling my misconceptions evaporate. Of course, that’s why they did it that way. The signal alerts the entire train about orders being collected.

Makes sense.