ell, this was a first. We ran ops on my tiny layout with four people!
We ran with two operators on the trains (the scheduled and the extras). We also had a full-time dispatcher (who moves trains in a sequence that minimalizes the delays). And we ran with an interlocking tower operator, which essentially did nothing save set the Train Order signals and hand up orders to pausing trains. In this (and since we don’t have the panel up) two “paper signals” (shown below) flagged trains to pick up orders. I had that position and it really gave me some better ideas how to run it.
Greg Wells was the first people (besides me) to try to run the dispatcher job. I’m going to say he did a wonderful first attempt, other than that moment of pause when a westbound freight (that had to run around his train to push it up the LM&O branch) rolled into Tuscarora and found an eastbound coal extra sitting there (also needing to run around its train for the push into the power plant). Suddenly everything stopped and Greg looked over to me and said “Um…”. But we managed to clear one track and unsnarl the mess. We had a couple of trains end up running rather late but it wasn’t too bad (maybe three-four hours) and I think he figured what he was doing by the end of the session to give it a true fight in another go. Me, I made all these screwups earlier when I ran solo and am well-versed in them. You learn by doing, right?
Otherwise it was a great session and we might set up another one soon. We actually turned an operator away, we were so overstaffed. But that’s how I want operations to be – I don’t want to pay like plasma centers for warm bodies.
Thanks to Greg Wells, Jerry Dunn and AJ for the great fun this afternoon!