Last week Ken Borowski made it to town and I hosted my first ops session. Ken has helped me understand and appreciate ops over the last half dozen years on his Clinchfield Blue Ridge Subdivision. Ken knew going in this was the first run, so I had paper ready to take notes for fixes.
Mechanically the layout performed well. I had a couple of switch points that weren't getting juice, a little cleaning/soldering will remedy that. The engines performed well and I had no rolling stock issues. The session lasted 2 hours and 15 minutes. When I get everything tuned in, I think it will consistently run between 2 and 2.5 hours. It's amazing how busy you can be with only 44 feet of main line.
I added an additional 18"of track in Hinckley to extend the interchange track. It gave just enough room to get the BNSF/SCXY space to swap trains.
The scenery at Tiller is in need of some improvement. Buildings are coming.
1) More Labels. I will be labeling all of the switches and derails. I also need to tune my instructions and maps for operators (i.e.: There are Hazmat rules: buffer cars between the engine and HCl cars and flour cars need to be cleaned before they are spotted for loading). Just because these things are in my head doesn't mean operators will know.
2) Get The Derails In. There are 4 derails I need to install. 2 for the Ardent Mill, one for Tiller and one for Zinpro. They will all be key operated and functional. Details to come. Opening and closing derails is an important item that shouldn't be overlooked.
3) I Need More Cars. Not really more, just the right ones. I have Trinity Hoppers filling in for PS Flour Cars. I have my pre-order in, all I need is for BLMA to get them here.
4) I Need More Sound: I have sound in the SD40M-2s. I already ordered the sound decoder for the GP set. It is more fun to run with sound, how did I overlook that pair getting it. When switching the flour mill, there are 2 grade crossings to contend with. The airhorn must be used.
5) I Need More Track: I had a small extension off Tiller to allow switching, it was only 2 feet long and that is not enough. I'll build another corner (4 feet of track) and that will let me add another straight module with a short run around and maybe part of Peterson Mill in North Branch. This will also add more industry as there will be places to spot fertilizer cars, magnesium chloride cars and defect sand cars.
6) Unit Trains: The Skally has started sending a large amount of the sand out in BNSF Unit Trains. I have some BNSF -9s I am working on to handle this duty. They will be dropped in Hinckley and the SCXY crews will bring them to Rush City, where they will start the session.
7) Build More Buildings: It looked odd to spot cars in fields. Tiller and Zinpro are labeled, but the buildings are not there. I need to either build some stand in buildings or get cracking on building the styrene versions. This session did jump start me to get cracking on my Tiller sand tower. The loadout shed should be a one day project. It shouldn't take much to make the unloading stand for Zinpro either.
8) I'm sure there is more, I'll have to go over my notes again to see what I find.
I think I have a couple of weeks until my next ops session, I'll see what I can get fixed before then.