On Sheet – you can’t know it all

On Sheet – you can’t know it all

kay, I really like TT&TO (Time Table and Train Order) operations. I run that on both of my layouts. I also fly all the way across the country to run at La Mesa under this method. Ever since Steve King invited me to his layout and gave me a write-up on it, I’ve been a fan.

I’ve even given a clinic about it at the Protorails convention and been asked to re-give the clinic at private layouts. I’m getting ready to dispatch it in June on the Western Bay RR. I thought I was pretty clever.

One place where I was clever was my belief that in TT&TO, you put your train number into the over-the-cab number boards. For instance, if your engine is 4449 yet you are running the Noon Daylight, train 99, your number boards read “99”. An order to other trains involving you might read…


This way, other trains would know it was you as they passed you by the number you displayed. That was something I thought was universal, and that’s what I taught.

I don’t remember where I heard this but – I think it was at La Mesa – when an actual engineer told me that wasn’t true. No, on some railroads if you are running a numbered train, the train number is included in the orders. In our case above, they would read…


So on railroads  that ran like this, your number boards would ALWAYS be your engine number, and other crews would refer  to their orders to determine if it was you.

You know, even as I write this, a question comes up – so say it’s a quiet night and you are running against 99 (what a day-train like 99 is doing out at night, I have no idea). But say you are bombing along down double track and engine 4449 goes by. You don’t have any orders tonight – the dispatcher is lazy and relying on the timetable to keep non-extras apart. Without any paper, how do you know it is Train 99? There might be other trains running – how can you keep track of which you’ve met without the train number displayed?

I don’t know.

Which is just another item in the many out there that I don’t know.

I’d like to know. Anyone got an answer here?