One operation that I frequently include in operating sessions is swapping a full ash car with an empty one.

IMG_2652The ash train begins in staging when the Assistant Hostler consists the under-layout SoundCar prior to moving off.  Service trains are kept in the lower level of the staging elevator.  When ready, the train moves onto the layout’s service track and crosses over onto roundhouse Inbound 1 track.

IMG_2653The train moves slowly under the coaling tower, bell ringing.  We stop and pause a few seconds at all switch stands if the points need to be aligned.  This simulates the brakeman dismounting the car and throwing the switch.  When the entire switching operation is only about 7′ one way, we like to maximize the experience.

IMG_2655The empty gondola is brought onto the ash track and coupled to the full one.


The train is then backed to clear the switch so that the full car can be parked on the steam plant track (to the right).  If there are coal cars present, the full ash car can use the roundhouse Inbound 1 track just to the left of the ash track.

IMG_2658The full car is left on the spur and the empty switched to the cinder conveyor.

IMG_2660Our Teakettle then backs to re-collect the full car.  We continue to stop and pause to reset the switch points along the way…

IMG_2663…to return to staging.  SoundCar is then released.

Doing this in a nice prototypically slow pace takes about 15 minutes.  I enjoy it very much.