Here’s what I do to set up for an operating session…. We operate on Sunday mornings, and mid-week prior I review the blackboard (engine terminal schedule).  The blackboard is just a dressed-up spreadsheet that I broadcast on my flat screen tv.  I save a copy of each one we use, so I have a number to choose from. But I find it is an evolutionary process and I typically take the latest one, copy and modify it.  Here is an example: On the blackboard, we’ll begin at 10:00AM and operate until 12:30 (with a ten-minute break at 11:00).  There is no … Continue reading SETTING UP FOR OPS


Way back in June I read a post on Eric Hansmann’s excellent blog regarding blue flags.  Here is a link to that post (HansmannBlueFlags).  This inspired me to make up some and incorporate them into Fillmore operations.  The obvious places for blue flags are at the REA platforms, the passenger car service building, and at the roundhouse dock beside Garden Track 1 – anywhere where men would be working in, under, or around spotted cars. I made two sets of flags.  One set is more robust and is used like gaming pieces during operating sessions while the other is finer for … Continue reading BLUE FLAGS


Whenever I get to operate on a switching job, like the Ash Service Train, I’m the Conductor/Brakeman.  I like to use hand signals to direct the train movement.  Obviously, it is of great importance to review the hand signals with the locomotive engineer ahead of time.  This is best done during the briefing prior to commencing ops. To keep things simple, I have five basic hand signals which can be placed into two categories: Movement Control and Movement Direction.  This makes communicating with a new operator as easy as possible.  I always stand at the end of the train where … Continue reading HAND SIGNALS