July 11, 2013

Instructions for Operators

The following is an instruction sheet I prepared for operators of our portable layout. If you plan to operate, reading this ahead of time may be useful. 

Instructions for Operators on McCook’s Landing Model Railroad

1.       General
1.1.         Please read this complete document so you understand yours and the other players’ roles.
1.2.         If you notice a problem, please bring it to our attention. If you derail a car, please re-rail it carefully.  If you are unsure about something, please ask.
1.3.         The rails on the layout are dead. There is no power on the rails.  The engines use battery power. There are no electrical blocks, reverse sections or gaps to consider. The engine cassette in the fiddle yard can also be used as a charging track. We will take care of that for you in between sessions.
1.4.         Have fun.
2.            Conductor
2.1.         You are in charge of the train. You will instruct the engineer and brakeman on what to do.  Your task is to arrive at McCook’s Landing and deliver the cars you are pulling to the appropriate spots. Then you must prepare the outbound train by pulling cars and assembling the train. Before you leave make sure the locomotive is serviced at the engine terminal.
2.2.         Movements on the layout are controlled by early 19th century Time Table and Train Order rules, which are simplified versions of the currently used rules. You will find some train orders and a schedule for the trains in the packet you receive. The train orders will provide any special instructions. You should consult the schedule to understand any meets with other trains or other events you must consider.
2.3.         In the packet you will receive a replica copy of the USMRR Conductors Report.  Please fill out the top with the names of the operators on the train. This form will act as your switch list. It will tell you how many cars are in your train (probably 4) and where they should be spotted. It will also list cars that you must pick up. You should verify that the cars you are pulling are correctly listed on your sheet. Make any corrections as needed.
2.4.         Any cars not listed on the papers but found at the terminal must remain in place though they can be shuffled around if necessary as long as they end up where they started.
2.5.         As you work you may mark up the switch list and add notes. When you are done, please turn in the switch list for our records.
2.6.         Do not use the extended link on the cow catcher for switching. Make all your switch moves from the rear of the tender.
2.7.         Your train should display proper signals. In daylight, white flags for a single scheduled train or red flags if an extra is following. At light, signal lights will be used instead of flags.

3.            Engineer  
3.1.         You are in charge of the locomotive. You will control the throttle, bell, head light whistle and engine servicing. Please familiarize yourself with the throttle and the special functions.
3.2.         You do not have to run with the headlight on in daylight, but you may if you wish.
3.3.         Ring the bell when passing or near the depot.
3.4.         The engine decoders have momentum programmed in, so be aware of that when starting and stopping.
3.5.         The brakeman will signal you when to move during switching with hand or verbal signals
3.6.         Use the appropriate whistle signals when moving the engine.
1 Short - Apply brakes2 Short – Release brakes3 Short – Backing train4 Short – Call in flagman (McCook’s Landing is in terminal limits, so you need not flag your train.)5 Short – Wood up1 Long – Danger.
3.7.         To service the engine you must park by the wood rick and water tank to replenish water and fuel. Use the sound effect function to simulate the water filling operation. You do not need to move the hose or lever on the tower. Wood loading is simulated by a 2 minute wait by the wood rick. You do not have to actually load the wood.
3.8.         Do not exceed 5 miles per hour when crossing the bridge. Do not use excessive speed when switching.
3.9.         You will turn the engine when necessary on the turntable. It is manually operated and aligned.  We will handle turning the engine on the fiddle yard cassette.
3.10.      Please turn off the throttle and return it to us when you are done.
3.11.      If the engine stops running during operation, it could be a dead battery. Please let us know if that happens and do not continue to operate. We have a spare engine in case this happens.
4.            Brakeman
4.1.         You will couple and un-couple cars, set the switches, and operate the brakes in accordance with instructions from the conductor. You will guide the engineer during these moves with hand or verbal signals.
4.2.         The cars use link-and-pin couplers. We use magnetic pins and laser-cut paper links.  They will take two hands to operate. You will be given a brake staff to use. It has a rare earth magnet on one end to grab the pin and a taper on the other to help manipulate the link.  Use the magnet end to pull and place the pins.  If you are careful the magnet will only grab one pin when you go to pull the pin on adjacent cars. If you accidently pull two pins, replace the one you did not wish to pull.
4.3.         It may be necessary to use your fingers to set the links. That is OK. Just make sure they don’t get crushed when coupling the cars.
4.4.         Place the unused pins and links in the plastic bag we provide. Try not to lose them, but we do have extras.
4.5.         You will throw the switches using scale sized switch stands. Do not force them. They should operate smoothly and lock in place. Visually inspect each switch to insure it is properly set.
4.6.         Some of the cars have working brakes. Make sure these are all released. We will not use the working brakes in these operation sessions.
4.7.         Please make sure you return the brake staff when you are done. We do not have many extras.

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