Oct 2011

P&EBR Running Again

I had quite a bit of work to do this summer in order to prepare for the National Narrow Gauge Convention in September. As a result, I cut the power to my model railroad for two months so I could focus on my modules and the clinic I had to present.

After the convention I turned the power back on to the Piedmont & East Blue Ridge only to find it had petrified. The Command Station had to be restarted several times before it would acquire or dispatch a decoder address. The stationary decoders were slow to start throwing the turnouts. I had to smack the Frog Juicer board under Winwood to wake it up.

Several hours were spent deep cleaning and testing track before the railroad was back to its old self.


Doug pulls flatcars bound for the quarries in Dust Mill Yard.

To celebrate the re-opening of the line, Phil and Doug came over to run trains for a few hours.


Phil runs a train out of Shops Yard to work Piedmont Mill.

I had already created a car card and waybill system for managing the movement of cars on the layout.


The white car card has a pocket containing a yellow waybill. Once the forwarding instructions shown on the waybill are completed, the waybill is cycled in the car card to show the next set of instructions.

For this operating session I decided that I would not give the car cards to the crews. Instead I wrote up switch lists to serve as a list of instructions for the crews to follow in order to forward cars to their destinations. I was still using the car cards to keep track of things, but just transferred the information from the car cards to the switch lists.


Quite a bit of paper was required to run the railroad for about two hours, but it was fun for everyone involved.

The extra step of writing up switch lists added considerable complexity to the job of managing freight movements, but it made the crew’s job simpler, as they had clearer instructions for doing their jobs. And as Dispatcher/Agent, cranking out the paperwork kept me busy, too. I actually enjoyed it. The operation of the layout is not so complex that it requires a lot of effort to manage.