I have had to be creative to maximize operations.  The reason for this is because I do not have the full compliment of locomotives prepared, yet.  However, the terminal must operate and operating sessions are 2-1/2 hours long. Using real time (no fast clock) a normal busy through-put of locomotives is four per hour.  It takes one hour to go from inspection pit to roundhouse.  The longest servicing stop, the ash/wash pits, requires about 25 minutes and there is an additional five minutes safety factor.  So, with two roundhouse inbound leads, each hour we can service four locomotives (ten engines … Continue reading OPERATIONAL TRICKERY


We don’t operate often, only once a month, so it is easy to forget some of the detailed operational minutia.  On occasion a new operator will work Fillmore too.  To help on both counts, I’ve added key operational actions at each service station. Here is the one at the first station, water & inspection… -“DISPATCH LOCO” is a Digitrax command for releasing the DCC address.  Since the Staging Master, representing the road crew, drops the locomotive at the inspection pit, he must release it for the hostler, after turning on and off the locomotive-equipped tender water fill effect. – Fault … Continue reading OPERATING REMINDERS


Pictured above is the upper level of the engine terminal staging elevator prior to operations many, many months ago (there have, unfortunately, been no ops since!) .   There are eleven locomotives squeezed in place.  This is obviously the maximum amount for staging.  However the lower level, which contains the terminal service trains (coal, ash, etc.), has plenty of extra trackage where some more locomotives can be staged. In practice, though, the lower level is typically used to get traffic off the layout in an emergency.  This usually means that the elevator is up to let off/take on a service … Continue reading PRE-OPS


So I finally have ATS receivers mounted on some of my locomotives.  It was an interesting project where I learned about Automatic Train Stop on the New York Central and 3D printing via Shapeways.  Also, while doing my research, I discovered that I could add an additional prototype operation which was actually performed in New York Central engine terminals that served locomotives from a main line which had ATS. Even though the checking of the ATS electrical circuits was part of the routine inspection performed inside the roundhouse, before an engine left the ready track, the ATS was tested again.  … Continue reading ATS PT3


The job I usually get to do is the Roundhouse Foreman. Basically, this job is very much like the real one – troubleshooting.  As locomotives are inspected at the pits, I assign the stalls for lubrication via the blackboard.  If a fault is discovered, I assign a repair stall and adjust the expected time to be at the ready track and when the locomotive is called for service.  I stage the Fiddle Yard which is close by.  Of course, I have to be ready whenever we run into a snag.  However, I must say that all of my operators here … Continue reading ROUNDHOUSE FOREMAN


An interesting operation performed is the refuelling of the Alco HH600 switchers.  Usually, about half-way through the operating session, the coach yard switcher (one of two HH600’s) is scheduled, via the blackboard, for refuelling.  This operation takes about 15 minutes of real time (we don’t use a fast clock here).  Here’s how it goes… We find Class DES-7A working the REA platforms when the crew prepares for the refuelling of their locomotive. The local Standard Oil Company of New York (Socony) dealer, being conscientious about providing good service to a good customer, has their tanker truck ready at the concrete … Continue reading DIESEL REFUELLING


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


This post explains the operations involved for servicing steam locomotives on the engine terminal side of the layout. The Staging Master, representing the road crew, moves Hudson 5366 (above) from staging onto the layout and halts the engine when the water column is in line with the filling hatch in the tender.  This is the inspection pit and, while that is being done, the tender can be refilled.  He releases the locomotive address (Digitrax “Dispatch”) so that a Hostler can take over.  He also trips the timer shown in the picture below. A label on the fascia reminds operators how … Continue reading ENGINE TERMINAL OPS


Engine terminal operations are driven by a black board, just as was done in the era of my interest.  The black board is a Numbers (Apple) spreadsheet made up to look like an old-time black board.  It is broadcast on my flat screen tv for operations. Above is a typical operating session black board, although a little lighter than we operate currently.  We usually start at 10AM; note there has been action since 8:15AM.  Locomotives are constantly cycling through Fillmore Avenue Roundhouse, so one may find one at the pits, or coaling tower, inside a stall, anywhere.  I draw up … Continue reading THE BLACK BOARD


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