Operating Session

This afternoon I decided to stage a simple operating session as a way of assessing the current functional state of Comstock Road. I have run the loco back and forth once in a while but haven’t really operated at all. My plan was simple, get all four of the operational (aka couplers on both ends) cars in the fiddle yard into a train, number the industrial spots on the layout, randomly generate four numbers and put the four cars wherever the numbers said. And identify any issues as I went.

Overall, it went surprisingly well considering how little maintenance I have performed in the last year. Once I was set up, it took about30 minutes to complete the setouts. The pink foam wasteland has train service!

I did encounter some issues that I will need to address. Here are the ones I remember because I am not yet systematic about it to write them down as I go…

  • Layout need to be vacuumed to remove metal swarf. Proximity to milling machine makes this a recurring problem. Not a lot of bits but how many little bits of aluminum spanning a gap or steel sticking to a motor does one want? Plan is to acquire a plastic shower curtain and hang it between mill and layout.
  • Wireless throttle battery was flat. I thought I had it set up to charge off the general shop circuit but that has not worked. Investigation required to avoid operating while plugged into charger on end of extension cord.
  • DCC base station had been unpowered long enough to lose date and time settings. Although the default 1970 date was appropriate for Comstock Road, that would not be how I would do it. Need to either power up the layout more regularly or move that unit onto another circuit that is.
  • No uncoupling tool ready to hand. Scrounged a small flat bladed screwdriver which I kept losing track of. A dedicated swizzle stick or something is in order.
  • A couple of derailments happened, all in the same place and with the same car. Subject car is very light and was coupled to the loco which is very not. Loco coupler is the stock Atlas O one with a spring designed to toss diecast cars around on three rail tinplate layouts. Car has San Juan plastic wheelsets. Is likely some combination of those.
  • Banged head on lighting valance leaning over to align the transfer table. Stepper powered operation will fix that. Work in progress.
  • Pink foam wasteland and pint paint cans to not an attractive photo backdrop make. Motivation for scenic aspects of layout construction increases.

And that is it, other than a general desire for more cars to push around. Not perfect but mostly things with well defined and reasonable solutions. Perhaps I will schedule a regularly recurring op session for myself as a way to get me moving on some of this list.

6 thoughts on “Operating Session”

  1. Love it Mark, the first time you bang cars on your layout is definitely an exercise in joy and agony at the same time! You’re running trains on your layout…and finding every possible snag for your repair/to do list at the same time!

    Great progress though!



  2. What a terrific update. As Stephen notes, there’s this amazing feeling of powering the layout and running those trains. As I wade into first operating sessions here on the latest layout project I’m trying an operating scheme that feels a lot like yours (in my case: find enough cars up in the loft to support basic op’s). Current operating sessions are almost like a way of collecting issues to address as I observe how smoothly operations go asking questions like: “Geez why does that car kind of bounce there?” or “do I need a better way to uncouple things?”

    I like this phase of layout construction because from here it’s an interaction with the layout itself. In the early periods I’m making the decisions and everything starts from nothing where from here out it’s like a conversation with the layout, what it needs, and how I can nurture it along to the next stage.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. More cars is a must. And all the ones are have are way too old for the target time period. I may be the only modeller in the world with more on layout storage than rolling stock to occupy it. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

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