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I found this link

 

 

on this post http://bigbluetrains.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=4126&p=132621  4th post down

 

and thought it could make an interesting shortline project - real country switching, bouncy-bouncy trackwork, and quite some grades on those spurs!

 

There are a couple more videos of the line and more info is here http://www.greatwaltonrailroad.com/athens.html  and here http://railga.com/athensline.html

 

Google will give you more

Edited by shortliner
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Excellent video, Jack.

 

Like Colin says, inspirational.

 

However, we see these inspirational photos, videos etc and think what a fine model it would make. We build something based on that inspiration but then operate it for a bit and then sit back and think "OK, so what?" At least, I know I do with my efforts quite often! What is it that means we would stand by that prototype railroad and watch that loco switiching for 30/40 minutes, but when we try and emulate it in model from it doesn't quite make it?

 

Any suggestions, thoughts or ideas would be welcome.

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Nick, It's probably down to human nature......some of us get bored quickly. 

 

I guess you wouldn't want to watch the same switching action at the same spot on a real life railroad over and over. 

Probably we operate what we've seen too quickly so I guess we need to try and slow things down a bit like Lance Mindheim advocates? (and I'm not trying to turn this into a Lance Mindheim operating discussion).

 

At the end of the day it's down to why we do what we do, whether that be because you like building layouts, designing them, detailing loco's and stock, operating...whatever floats your boat I guess.

 

One of the things it took me a while to get my head around with US modelling, particularly smaller switching style layouts is the move away from trying to cram too much in to a given area.  Something which is probably ingrained from train set days.  It really is (for me) a case of less is more, and that is bound to reflect through to the operation.

 

Colin

 

PS I'll add to Nick's comment, Great video find Jack :)

Edited by Colinw62
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Nick - after we spoke I had a thought - I wonder if it is partly (at least) due to viewpoint and sight-lines?  If you think about it, nearly all videos of switching are taken from viewers eye level, with restricted angles of view, and lines of sight. Whereas most of our model renderings are done from a helicopter view where the whole scene is visible. Perhaps the scene would be best modelled with the viewpoint at the eye level of the operator/viewer sitting in a chair,  and with sighting restrictions like trees, buildings, vehicles in front of the trackwork interupting the viewers viewing of the operation, and preventing the whole scene being taken in at once

Edited by shortliner
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I agree with that, Jack. I always feel that the higher the viewpoint of the model the better.

 

I also feel that the bigger the scale (looking forward to seeing Jordan's O scale at TVNAM) the better it looks because you see less of the scene in one glance.

 

Another thing I think adds to the pleasure of watching the prototype (and other people's layouts at shows) is that you don't always know what is going to happen next. This adds to the interest. When you operate your own layout, you usually have a pretty good idea what's happening next so there is no element of surprise.

 

Despite the danger of opening up another can of worms I am still looking for a satifying means of operating my layouts as close to the prototype as possible. At the moment, I still use car cards and waybills which I know is a bit low tech these days and not everybody's cup of tea, but at least it gives that element of randomness so you know that every operating session is different.

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Likewise, JMRI lets you do a more modern version Nick, I do think it's more satisfying when you're getting a job done, and not just making up things to do...

 

(I'm currently working on the JMRI setup for our layout at Ally Pally this year...)

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Martyn - next time we meet, we must have a talk about how to set up JMRI. I have treid it recently and having input all the data (or so I thought) when I hit run all I got was an error in relation to the loco so I couldn't run it.

 

I'm one of those peeople who needs to be shown how - I read all JMRI help files but I didn't find them particularly helpful.



If you have an old PC laptop, I have a random switchlist generator that will make it even more so - you really don't know what car to expect until it is generated

 

Jack - e-mail it to me if you will.

 

Thanks in advance.

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I think you've hit on a point though Nick.

 

Often I see something and thing how great it would be to model , but in reality it probably wouldn't be - whilst it may be visually interesting or appealing , operationally it seems less so , and that's the enjoyable part for me , operation.

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Martyn - next time we meet, we must have a talk about how to set up JMRI. I have treid it recently and having input all the data (or so I thought) when I hit run all I got was an error in relation to the loco so I couldn't run it.

 

No probs, will do. My suggestion to start with though would be to not put the loco's in to it, just let it do the freightcars.

 

An interesting thought coming out of this video i.e. the long rake of old piggyback flats and de-racked autoracks though, i'd not thought of car storage as an "industry" before - but it's no different operationally to any other - deliver some cars to a spur, and a few "turns" later pull them out and send them away. No need for any structure modelling...

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However, we see these inspirational photos, videos etc and think what a fine model it would make. We build something based on that inspiration but then operate it for a bit and then sit back and think "OK, so what?" At least, I know I do with my efforts quite often! What is it that means we would stand by that prototype railroad and watch that loco switiching for 30/40 minutes, but when we try and emulate it in model from it doesn't quite make it?

 

I think that's a potential argument for the modular - you've no real need (in fact, you might not even be able to if you wanted!) to assemble the same layout again, ever, your bit forms a small part of a whole, and the "work" can be simultaneously less time-pressured, a little longer and more involved, have a different scope to when it's used standalone, and with more variation (over a given weekend) than just running your own layout...

 

At the end of the day it's down to why we do what we do, whether that be because you like building layouts, designing them, detailing loco's and stock, operating...whatever floats your boat I guess.

 

I agree, and I think we sometimes buy the fallacy that this is one hobby that can be enjoyed in one way - and that if you don't do it all you're somehow "not a real model railroader"...I do think that working out the bits you like best, doing more of them, and less of the bits you don't like isn't a bad thing, it's a hobby, and it's non-fattening...

 

Even if (for example) you just enjoyed modelling and superdetailing loco's and didn't even bother have a layout, or just enjoyed building layouts that you ran for a month or two and sold, or just enjoyed switching using reconfigurable setrack on a plank...

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Thanks for posting that Jack, looking at their website the two roads look like a class act, with Southern green Geeps.

 

I suspect the Flatcars in the video are a car storage thing rather than having been unloaded there as there didn't seem to be a piggyback ramp. That line curving off to the right with the boxcars and center beam looks interesting

 

Nick

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No probs, will do. My suggestion to start with though would be to not put the loco's in to it, just let it do the freightcars.

 

An interesting thought coming out of this video i.e. the long rake of old piggyback flats and de-racked autoracks though, i'd not thought of car storage as an "industry" before - but it's no different operationally to any other - deliver some cars to a spur, and a few "turns" later pull them out and send them away. No need for any structure modelling...

 

Oh yeah, storage is a big moneymaker for shortlines like that.  We interchange with the Piedmont & Northern and we've sent them at least 10 old diesels they're storing on a spur.

 

This one was mixed in with a string of old CN's.

 

GYUfDrF.jpg

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Hi Nick, I have to agree, great bit of inspiration, but your reservations do remind me of the following: 

 

I think the most powerful question in regards to designing your own layout is 'why' ? 

We've recently 'all' jumped on the Miami themed switching layout (thanks to Lance Mindheim's excellent modeling) , 30 years ago we were hauling coal trains in eastern US states, and before that (and before I was born), people were mountain railroading inspired by John Allan. Others are now diving into New England in the late winter, perhaps inspired by Mike Confalone's beautiful Algash RR layout.

What you end up with are copies of other people's work, not your own, and you have to ask yourself if that is rewarding in the long run. It will work for some, not for others.

 

I'm not playing down the importance of the above, you could/can learn a lot from these sort of layouts/themes etc , but ask yourself if it is really what YOU'd like? 

 

the above is a revelation I recently learned myself (amongst others thanks to the blogs by Mike Coughill) , and I'm looking at my own layout through different eyes.

So far, I have been able to answer most questions with a YES, I'm doing what I want, but it could have been different, because I also rushed headlong into buying boards, finding a trackplan that I adapted a little, and started building.  In my case I did initially get influenced by Lance mindheim and Pele Soeborg (causing me to buy a couple of UP GE's initially), but I've since found a different theme, and all I've taken from Lance are pointers on operation , layout design and some scenery tips, and Pele also scene composition and scenery techniques. Lucky for me, my track plan happened to fit 90% into my current theme, and I didn't have to make too many changes.

 

So if this Country style simple switching scene is what you like, model it, but if you rather switch a big yard and you have the space for it, then it would be silly to even start on a country type switching layout.

Ask your self WHY ( a very powerful and annoying question, which requires to dig deep and being honest with yourself), and if you have been able to answer it all to your satisfaction, you will end up with a nice layout that fits your space and will give you satisfaction (perhaps not anyone else, but that is not important) for many years.

 

Koos

Edited by torikoos
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interesting comments , and also of note is that Lance Mindheim in one of his recent blogs seems to have decided that the Downtown Spur layout is perhaps a bit too much ,and has come up with a smaller idea for the next layout.

 

What this does illustrate perhaps is a common issue , certainly one I've made in the past of biting off more than I can chew in terms of layout design and what I want to achieve - taking away the dithering and changing of mind with regards to interests and locations , I've certainly been guilty of over-reaching in terms of my skills and abilities and what I originally set out to achieve, which only ends up in disappointment and frustration,

 

In a way , the Freemo principle is a good solution to this issue , however , certainly from my perspective , it does present other issues , again relating to striking a balance between ability and theory. The latest layout idea I'm currently thinking over is more of a simple switching layout , although set more in a country location (and to an extent following an actual prototype). Whilst it could be built to the RS Tower specs , I'd then be hamstrung with one of the scenic elements which I really want to incorporate , namely a tree-lined embankment , as it wouldn't be able to start from the edge of the layout where a conventional scenic break fits , so I've been deliberating over whether to just build it as I'd like , rather than to the RS specs , even though I really want to become involved with a modular set-up at some point - perhaps the answer there is to build to my original spec , and then at a later date build a small adapter board to enable it to fit into the RS system?

 

I've taken on board words from Lance and others regarding starting simple and building up skills , and for me personally , this is the way I feel I need to go , so whilst a simple country switching layout may appear "boring" , I'm hopeful that there is enough in it to keep me happy as I progress , and certainly , North Haston of this parish , in it's original spec whilst fairly basic , has shown that it's quite operationally interesting .Obviously , there are negatives to such an approach , and certainly not all interests of mine can be catered for with such a design , but again I suppose part of the learning curve is coming to terms with the fact that you can't have it all , and certainly not in the limited space that most UK modellers have.

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For those who aren't fed up with Georgia shortline-ing in the woods, do a search for nikosjk1  on youtube - he has 400 videos on there - You might like the Georgia & Florida RR, and there are a lot more Athens RR videos too - either link should take you to suitable items
 

Edited by shortliner
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I notice I've been "mentioned in Dispatches" - hope my layout doesn't disappoint at TVNAM now!!!!

 

There's something about these 'simple/rural/"Mindheim" operations that's not been noted yet as far as I can see - & it had a direct bearing on my choice of HO for my loft layout when O might have fitted....

What 'makes' these ops is length of run. Even Lance's most basic 1-turnout plan was 10ft scenic section; in the OP the moves might be simple & the trackplan basic but they take forever to carry out because of the simple physical distances involved. I went for HO in my loft because a simple 2-switch plan stretches over 17ft, so it can easily take 30 to 60 minutes to do some simple moves, even without going as slow as I really should.

Length of run, chaps - that's the missing ingredient... :D

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Yes, point taken Simon; I was only thinking in terms of this Thread not mentioning length of run - recent you-tube links (somewhere here) of Mike Confalone's Allagash layout showed simple moves but quite a length of run.

As for John Allison - I have always been a big fan of his layouts; he had a knack of making a little look like a lot.

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Dear Simon,

 

That's an interesting observation. Of course, the definition of "convincing" is a moving target... ;-)
(Convincing who? Of what?)

 

For myself, I tend to focus on a single "inspirational photo",
(It grabs me by the shirt and won't let go),

 

and go after that scene like mad. The surrounding has to be "in keeping",
but by identfying and focussing on the the (critical/in-the-viewers-face) key visual and operational elements of the scene in question,
constructing a model which consistently prompts "yes, I recognize the scene" comments from even non-train viewers, is actually relatively easy to do.
(It's amazing the visual and operational murder you can get away with, as long as the key elements combine at the appropriate position and size to "match the proto pic".)

 

Admitedly, this does not overcome the basic issue that even a "visually engaging scene" may not be backed up with proto-interesting or frequent operations
(wasn't it Cyril Freezer who lamented the visually appealing GWR branchline terminus having literally "one train daily"?),

 

but neither can we say that all such "visually engaging" scenes are by-definition "operational blackholes".
(If a train physically runs thru the scene, it is "operating".
Whether it stops/switches/changes tracks/drops or picks up cars/terminates/turntables/etc is just "forms of operation")

 

The key, as with many things in modelling and Real-life, is to be able to identify and go-after the "engaging scene" which does also offer ops of the format the layout-builder particularly enjoys.

 

One example is my "Brooklyn : 3AM" layout which is admittedly a touch larger than the Carl A "cannonical Micro Layout" surface area, but forfils all of the other criteria. 
It hosts up-to 4 trains "staged" for show work,
(IE can "keep the trains running" smoothly and at a reasonably frequenct pace, while staying strictly at scale 10mph street-running speeds, to keep the crowd entertained)

 

and can emulate the full range of proto ops between the NYCH's 51st St yard and 39th Interchange with the SBK, 
(IE forfils "emulates actual proto ops" criteria)
 

as well as local switching of over 10 carspots, all on a 2x4 HO layout.
(Ie provides enough "play value" for home ops, without becoming the dreaded shunting puzzle or tile game)

 

Point being, both visually and operationally, a "micro" can be well in contention IMHO.

 

Another example I have on the boil atm is a midwest grain town. This layout will both visually and operationally showcase;
- prototypically-supported local shortline co-op switching of a grain elevator
(with elevators and silo arrays stretching almost the entire width of the scene, no "onesie" model-sized straight-from-kit elevators here),
- and high-horsepower contemporary mainline ops (8-40CWs, SDx0s, mile-long lines of coal and grain hoppers, and maybe the occasional intermodal clomping past)

 

...oh, and did I mention that the actual model scene will only be 1x4?

(how this subterfuge is achieved is a topic for another thread, but rest assured that from a "standing trackside" P.o.V, the scene is entirely plausible ;-) )

 

I agree, controlling the sightlines (and related viewer eyeball altitude relative to scene) is critical, but then again it has been since cavemen did "performance theatre" to put their kids to sleep (or give them nightmares, either/or... ;-) ).

 

Furthur, with "full proscenium" foamcore modules as my go-to, it's a lot easier to limit "high level" and "view from the wings" angles, and thereby subconsciously funnel the viewers eyes (and ears! Always think "layout sound"!) right where you want them to be, than it is with the (poorly and derogatarily-named) "shunty plank".

 

(NB that a "shunty plank" does not necessarily = "Micro layout",

 

and neither does a Proscenium format module somehow by definition become incapable of being "Micro").

 

Happy Modelling,
Aim to Improve,
Prof Klyzlr

 

PS consider the "Blue Herron Papermill" ops at Oregon City. This particular industry and switching-critical-elements can fit on a 8 x1 in HO, and emulate the proto ops of this particular industry circa late 1990s/early 2000s to a T.

 

- (with apologies to Jeremy Clarkson) Some may say "spotting the same cars on the same spurs, in the same basic patterns, every session, will become boring".

 

- Others however will thrill to the operational spectacle, every time, of those paired SW1500s blocking Rt 99e,
sitting in the middle of "Main Street", and "doing the razzle dazzle" on the Interurban-curve-tight "short spur" track, in the drizzling rain beside the Willamette River...
(kind of like watching your fave performer play your fave song.
You know the song, you know the nuances, you've heard/seen it performed a million times,
but you still enjoy it every time they "play it again Sam").

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I think it was Cyril who observed on more than one occasion that if you model a location where not much happens in the prototypen then, if you do a faithful rendition, your model may not be that interesting either.

 

If I had the space, I'd probably model Brunswick ME on the MEC Lower Road between Augusta and Portland. I visited the location quite frequently in the late 70s. The pattern of operations was something like this. During the hours of darkness a Bangor-Portland train would pass by. Around breakfast time, a Portland-Augusta road switcher would drop cars for the two branches that joined the main line, and continue on its way to Augusta. The two branch line jobs (from Rockland and Lewiston) would arrive mid-morning, swap their cars for the cuts left for them and go back whence they came, the road switcher would come back, pick up the cars left for it and take them to Rigby, and later in the day another through freight would come through.

The only variations in this routine would be work trains, the occasional north bound through job when the Back Road was closed due to a derailment or track work(MEC had two routes between Portland and Waterville, north bound went via Lewiston, southbound came through Brunswick) and the Augusta job might drop an engine to swap out with the branch jobs. Otherwise it was pretty predictable since the shippers on either branch stayed the same day in day out. That bakery in Lewiston got a hopper full of flour every other day, the cement plant got empty hoppers in, loads out and so on. Once in a blue moon a merchant who sold small boats got a car load of them, they were a bit of a wildcard in the scheme of things, and would get no traffic in winter when nobody buys boats. The LPG distributor would probably get served more frequently in winter than summer. But if you take a long enough view, it's all predictable.

I don't think it's boring at all, to me part of building a model world is replicating sensible flows of traffic, what the railroad was there to do. The trains ran to serve the customer, which is probably a statement of the obvious but sometimes overlooked.

This extended to passenger trains. In the 50s on the MEC, there were still a good number of passenger trains, but in many cases and certainly on the branch lines that still had passenger service their main function was not really moving people. Head-end traffic (mail, express parcels and milk) were what kept that boat afloat on the MEC, so a passenger train would probably consist of milk cars, baggage/RPO and a single combine or coach. Milk traffic was usually a one-way affair, the empties usually came back on a freight train, it was only the loads that had any urgency. The end of passenger service was hastened by the US Post Office deciding to move mail from Portland to Boston by truck, and the decision by the B&M to use Budd cars. You couldn't haul express traffic with a Budd car, and you couldn't run a Budd car on the MEC because they didn't short the signal circuits unless you coupled two together, which made no commercial sense. It all seemed a bit random until you looked at all the aspects of it. And that's what makes it fascinating. The information put down in print by those who were there at the time is priceless.

My point is that operating patterns usually have a consistency about them rather than any randomness. Some traffic might appear to be random, but it's really just a less frequent occurrence.

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- Others however will thrill to the operational spectacle, every time, of those paired SW1500s blocking Rt 99e,

sitting in the middle of "Main Street", and "doing the razzle dazzle"

 

Something like this perhaps: 

 

 

 

Koos

Edited by torikoos
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I notice I've been "mentioned in Dispatches" - hope my layout doesn't disappoint at TVNAM now!!!!

 

There's something about these 'simple/rural/"Mindheim" operations that's not been noted yet as far as I can see - & it had a direct bearing on my choice of HO for my loft layout when O might have fitted....

What 'makes' these ops is length of run. Even Lance's most basic 1-turnout plan was 10ft scenic section; in the OP the moves might be simple & the trackplan basic but they take forever to carry out because of the simple physical distances involved. I went for HO in my loft because a simple 2-switch plan stretches over 17ft, so it can easily take 30 to 60 minutes to do some simple moves, even without going as slow as I really should.

Length of run, chaps - that's the missing ingredient... :D

 

I'm sure it won't disppoint!!

 

Totally agree with the length of run argument. On my latest project in my 8ft x 8ft spare room/office I actually have a chance to run a train between locations, albeit only a few feet, but what a differnece to pushing cars around on a micro/switching layout.

 

 

 

Admitedly, this does not overcome the basic issue that even a "visually engaging scene" may not be backed up with proto-interesting or frequent operations

(wasn't it Cyril Freezer who lamented the visually appealing GWR branchline terminus having literally "one train daily"?),

 

Absolutely nothing wrong with one train daily if that train is modelled well and runs on a well executed layout and performs tasks in line with what the prototype would do.

 

Another question - how far do we go in pursuit of authenticity? Some of the latest ideas like having a small wheel to simulate setting the handbrake, unlocking a padlock to simulate the unlocking of a turnout, etc. Certainly food for thought and something I have been considering, but if we are not careful, are we not in danger of the operation of the layout becoming too much like going to work? Surely hobby time is for enjoyment and relaxation!

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