Setting up the next session

Some brief notes on setting up a session. In the process, we need to cycle waybills everywhere on the layout, build all the staged trains, build the locals in Orchard yard, and prepare the appropriate paperwork for each train and the Dispatcher.

Cycling waybills

Basically we need to cycle the waybills of cars at their final destinations, representing the cars being loaded or unloaded; set up the through trains in staging, and build locals for the next operating session. This will involve cycling the waybills in nearly all situations. Cycling waybills means moving them from the 1 position to the 2 position, or from the 2 position to the 3 position, and so on. Generally, this will reveal an appropriate next destination.

Important general note on waybills: Although the traffic patterns are generally set up so that cars will flow smoothly in the system, random chance and chaos theory may combine to create temporary imbalances. For example, after cycling waybills in Orchard yard you may find that you do not have enough cars billed to on-layout destinations to build all the trains you need. In this case, check some of the waybills that show off-layout destinations to see if cycling them once more (e.g., from 2-to-3-to-4) reveals the on-layout destination you require. Itís best to go forward rather than backward (2-to-3 rather than 2-to-1, for example) so that cars donít obviously repeat their movements so quickly.

Waybills on spotted cars

The first step is to go around the layout checking the various tracks and industry spots. If cars are in the locations specified on the waybill, we consider them delivered or loaded and the waybills are cycled (turned to the next destination). I normally do this first just to be sure I donít forget. This is also a good time to set up some operating challenges in the form of some cars that donít get moved. This is done simply by not cycling the waybill. If you feel charitable, these can be cars at the far end of a track, so that the switch crew doesnít need to disturb them. If you want to offer the switch crew more of a challenge, pick a car that must be pulled so that other cars may be switched and then the original car replaced.

Waybill secrets

In order to provide challenging operations, there a few car-cards that temporarily carry 2 waybills in the pocket. The front waybill is a "special" waybill that has specific instructions on two or three cycles. We use these for creating some specific traffic flows such as Ďhot" transfers from the SN to the Valley Super C or special reefer loads which originate on a local that we donít run yet. These special waybills go in front of the normal waybill, run their course (typically depositing the car in Orchard yard for reclassifying), then are pulled, revealing the "normal" four cycle waybill underneath. At this point, the car reverts to its typical cycle.

The special waybills are necessary because the normal flow of traffic does not permit us to create these operational possibilities. A box is kept in the Dispatcherís area with these special waybills, which are referenced in the set-up instructions below.

Setting up staged trains

In general this involves cycling the waybills on cars already in staging, then making up trains to meet the next operating sessionís requirements. At the start of the session, the following trains are set-up. Trains in Valley staging and Portland staging are complete with engine(s) and caboose. At least one of the locals should also be complete with engine and caboose to allow it to get out of the yard early in the operating session.

Staged trains at session start

Valley staging

Orchard Yard

Portland staging

Valley Super C

Westbound Pick-up

Sacramento Northern Inbound

Southern Pacific Inbound

Chico Local

Los Molinos Local

Sambone Local

The Valley Chief (passenger)

Sierra Fruit Express

Wood Products Expeditor

Eastbound Pick-Up

 

Letís start at the west end of the layout in Portland staging. Weíll talk about each train individually.

The Valley Chief

For now we are using the same cars and engine for both runs of the passenger and for each session. This train set ends up headed-in to Portland staging. It should be backed across the layout, around the Sacramento Northern Loop, and then backed all the way back into Portland staging. Because the cars are so long, itís perhaps a little easier to put it into tracks 2 or 3 in Portland staging.

Sierra Fruit Express

Because we are somewhat short of reefers right now, itís easiest to simply back this train out of Valley staging all the way back to Portland staging. At that point, I usually look through the waybills and shuffle some cars around for a little variety and for other operations needs. We will need 2-3 empty reefers for the Los Molinos Local to deliver to the packing sheds. If there are not empty reefers in Orchard yard already, we need to place them there for building the local. Just cycle the loaded waybills fo the cars you select until the "MTY" L.M. destination is shown. We also would like to have the SFX pick up a hot load or two of perishables in Orchard, so youíll need another reefer or two with the proper waybill. (These represent loads delivered from the imagined Hamilton City local.) There are a few "Ham City" origin destinations on the waybills, but usually you will need to draw one of the "special" waybills from the box on the Dispatcherís desk and place it in front of the regular waybill. In the end, you want to leave the SFX in staging with at least 8-10 reefer loads billed to leave the layout eastbound. So far, the SFX doesnít carry any on-layout loads, so thereís no special blocking. If an on-layout load was to appear, simply place it at the back end of the train for easy handling in Orchard yard.

Eastbound Pick-up and Wood Product Dispatch East ("Woodie")

I build the Eastbound Pick-up EPU and the Woodie WDE at the same time, using the cars from the WPU and VSC, which ended-up in Portland staging. Typically, every "long west" waybill has an on-layout or "long-east" destination as the next "cycle". To build the new EB trains, cycle the waybills from the last sessionís WPU and VSC and sort them into long east and on-layout destinations as well as "hot" and normal priorities. From these, you can assemble a "hot" train, which becomes the WDE and a normal priority train, which will be the EPU. If you like, you may use the same engines, putting the "hotter" two axle power on the WDE. If you use the same engines, remember that you must kill the consist and then re-establish a new one so that forward and reverse directions are properly preserved.

The WDE only stops in Orchard yard, so blocking it is simple: put all the "on-layout" destinations at the back (west) end of the train, since they will be worked from that end in Orchard Yard as shown below. (These tables read the same way the train would appear in front of you in Portland staging when it is ready to go Ö engine on the left, caboose on the right. Numbering is from caboose forward.).

Wood Products Dispatch Eastbound (WDE)

 

2

1

 

Engine(s)

"Long east" off-layout (except transfers)

Chico, Sambone, Los Molinos, Red Bluff, SP/SN transfers

Caboose

 

The EPU drops Los Molinos and Red Bluff traffic in Los Molinos. These cars should be blocked directly behind the engine. Next come the "long east" off Ėlayout destinations, and finally the Chico / Sambone cars (including transfers to the SN or SP) as shown below.

Eastbound Pick-up (EPU)

 

3

2

1

 

Engine(s)

Los Molinos / Red Bluff

"Long east" off-layout (except transfers)

Chico, Sambone, SP/SN Transfers

Caboose

 

Valley Staging Set-up

The easiest way to build these trains is probably to back the trains that have gone "long east" (EPU, WDE, transfers) into Orchard yard to do the set-up. (Youíll also want to back out the "engine+caboose" SP and SN consists that were the inbound transfers). First, cycle all the waybills. This should give you a batch of on-layout and long-west destinations. Looking through these, youíll see the cars you need to build the locals, the SP and SN inbound transfers, and the Valley Super C and Westbound Pick-up through trains.

Valley Super C

Use the "hot" on-layout and "long west" loads to make up the VSC. These waybills should have VSC shown, along with a yellow highlighter. The VSC stops in Orchard to swap "hot blocks", so there will likely be a few local cars included in the consist. The Orchard yard crew will add hot cars left in Orchard yard after the last session, plus any that come in on the SN inbound transfer (more about this later). Blocking the VSC is simple. Behind the hottest two-axle power available, line up the "local" loads first, followed by the "long west" off-layout traffic as shown below.

Valley Super C (VSC)

 

1

2

 

Caboose

"Long west" off-layout

Chico, Sambone, Los Molinos, Red Bluff

Engines

 

Westbound Pick-up (WPU)

The rest of the trains use a balance of on-layout and "long west" traffic. The WPU swaps cars in Orchard yard only (although it picks-up more WB traffic in Los Molinos), so the make up is exactly the same as the VSC, except that the loads are not "hot".

Westbound Pick-up (WPU)

 

1

2

 

Caboose

"Long west" off-layout

Chico, Sambone, Los Molinos, Red Bluff

Engines

 

SP and SN Inbound Transfers

Currently, the SP Inbound Transfer (SPI) should contain primarily on-layout traffic. The SPI is not blocked in any particular order, simply built with the SP Geep on the head end, 8-12 (or more) cars, and a Sierra Western caboose (pinch hitting for an SP crummy). If you would like to be slightly more authentic, try to keep the concentration of SP cars fairly high.

The Sacramento Northern [WP] Inbound Transfer (SNI) is slightly different in that we are modeling expedited connections from the SN/WP to the VSC. A few cars on the SNI should have "hot" waybills showing routing via the VSC. These are extra waybills, again added in front of the normal waybill. These are found in the box on the Dispatcherís desk. Two or three cars out of the SNI should have these "hot waybills". The balance of the cars will have on-layout destinations. Use the WP F-unit and (for now) a Sierra Western caboose.

Sacramento Northern/Western Pacific Inbound Transfer (SNI)

 

1

2

 

SW or WP Caboose

Normal priority on-layout

"Hot" cars to transfer to the VSC

WP Engine

 

After finishing building these trains, back them into Valley staging. Again, if you use the same power on the VSC and WPU that came in on the WDE and EPU, you will need to kill and rebuild the engine consists to get them headed in the right direction.

 

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