Monday, March 30, 2009

Operations at Jack Merkel's

I'm the guy behind the guy (who is Charles)
I'm the guy behind the guy (that guy is Charles)


Upcoming Operating Session

This coming weekend is an operating session at Jack Merkel's. He has a really fun, low-key and challenging operating scheme on the Santa Fe between Houston and Temple. Sealy and Brenham provide lots of switching opportunities as well as the Southern Pacific branch line that connects to the Santa Fe at Giddings. NCE controls with about 30% of the motive power sound equipped. Everything is landscaped with a smattering of buildings still in mock-up cardstock. (A good way to populate the layout until you have time to finish all your structures.) Centralized Traffic Control and radio dispatch with an analog fast clock.

Pictured above is the town of Brenham where I am switching in the town and Charles is entering the town on the main. It kind of looks like he is waiting on me, but he's not, he is aligning the main in front of his train. The trick with Brenham is that there is a house track within town that gets clogged on occasion with set outs, and getting back to the upper industries can be a bit challenging at times.

A nice operating element is that the passenger trains service REX as well as drop dining cars and sometimes coaches in towns for service. This keeps you busy (and thinking) on those mainline jobs. Thru-freight is mostly just that, but there are a couple of exchanges that happen in Houston's New South yard. The double-ended staging makes it possible to restage the railroad in about 30 minutes, so Jack has two back-to-back-sessions on the Saturdays that he operates. It also makes it really easy to run extras all day long if there are crews that are just sitting around.

Always a fun time.