The engine terminal side of the layout operates quite well.  I have nine more steam locomotives to build/prepare and the service train only needs a drop-bottom gondola for sand delivery.  I am very happy with how this has turned out. The coach yard, not so much… All the diesel switchers are currently non-operational: the two ALCo HH600’s, incredibly co-incidentally, had their decoders pack-up on the same day after an operating session.  These are very nice Atlas models with factory-installed QSI DCC & Sound.  I’ve had it with QSI anyway.  I will install Soundtraxx Tsunami 2 ALCo decoders to get them going. I have … Continue reading A SHAMBLES!


Operating allows us to find inadequacies within our scheme.  One such inadequacy was found on the passenger/express car switching side of the layout. In my previous switch lists I had failed to show in what order, direction-wise, the cars needed to be made up for taking them from the passenger car service building or REA platforms to the passenger platforms (staging).  As seen below, the new switch lists indicate the direction (east/west) and order.  This also helps me staging the cars properly because they are stored away in boxes. Also, as originally intended, the switching on the passenger/express car side is … Continue reading REVISED SWITCHLISTS


To add a bit of variety, the switching of passenger cars and express cars can be done with an 0-8-0 Switcher.  While generally the operations remain the same, there is one specific operation that is different: turning observation and solarium cars. Unlike performing this operation with an Alco HH6oo, the turntable is not long enough hold a steam switcher and a heavyweight car together.  So a special movement is needed.  Here is how it is made. Above we find Class U3a Heavy Switcher NYC 7821 and Pullman Solarium car “Toronto” on a coach yard lead.  This train crosses-over to another … Continue reading PASSENGER CAR OPS WITH STEAM


There are some things I just won’t compromise on.  One of those things is diaphragms on my passenger and express cars.  I want them.  Of course, they make coupling and uncoupling more difficult. I did do some limited testing with Sergent couplers made for Walthers heavyweights, but was relatively unsuccessful.  I had trouble with aligning them and getting the Sergent passenger car uncoupling tool in below the diaphragm above the coupler.  I haven’t given up although I have come to a compromise as I had operations looming at the time.  Here is my temporary solution…. For passenger & express cars … Continue reading PASSENGER & EXPRESS CAR UNCOUPLING


Where space permits, I attach a label for operators on the back panel of my throttles.  I also have limited and standardized the function buttons for all locomotives.  I feel having this commonality is good since operators on the engine terminal side will handle many locomotive models of differing manufacturers during an operating session.  These re-mapped functions are listed along with the whistle/horn discipline. Continue reading HELPING OPERATORS


Along with the servicing of passenger cars, express cars can be switched at the REA platforms.  A permanent switch list is available to follow. Much the same as in passenger car ops, the consists are assembled by operators (Switcher Conductor & Switcher Engineer) at the fiddle yard.  The switcher is run onto staging to collect the string to be switched (below). To offer variations to the operators, there are two routes into the REA platforms (see track plan). In our sample operation, the string is brought into the layout on the southern-most track.  The consist is broken at the second … Continue reading EXPRESS CAR OPS


The staging on the the passenger car switching side of my layout is a help-yourself affair.  Consists of 3 cars are set-up in the fiddle yard by the operators and operations are more leisurely than on the engine terminal side.  This is the place to be for a relaxed self-paced session.  There is no clock to follow; operations are directed by permanent switch lists. The cars are set-up  as shown in the switch list above.   They can be placed in any order to make it different.  Any designation “PLATFORM X” is staging.  Cars can be set-up on any of … Continue reading PASSENGER CAR OPS


Fillmore can support up to six operators, with enough for everyone to do. Here are the jobs: Switcher Conductor – conducts the switching operation on the passenger/express car side using permanent switch lists.  Uncouples cars, throws turnout switch points, guides the locomotive engineer, and decides on car movement strategy. Switcher Engineer – operates the locomotive on the passenger/express car side. Lead Hostler – in charge of hostling from inspection pits to ready tracks, moving locomotives from servicing station to servicing station.  Also, delegates work to the Assistant Hostler as needed.  There is not enough room in my apartment to have … Continue reading JOBS