A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

November 18, 2015

PoLA Op Session 3.5

 Mike Spoor visited the layout tonight. Last we saw Mike on this blog he was getting ready to go to Korea.  He is now stationed in Ft Hood, but is in town this week for Army intel training.

Mike loves to operate, especially switching style layouts. So I set up a op session for him. He is also an excellent operator, so this would be a good test of the layout and ops scheme.

Before he arrived I drew up an "official" switch list document. I copied a Sante Fe style sheet, but modified it for the Pacific Harbor Line. On the right side of the sheet is a track plan showing the track, industry names and the switch spots.

The Sante Fe switch list has a column for "tons" but I changed that to "P/ S " for "pick up" or "set out" to simplify things a bit for the conductor.

I printed the switch list on heavy stock. With a fold in the middle it is easy to hold in your hand or stuff in a pocket.

I filled out sheet with the cars that Mike would be working. Unfortunately, I forgot two cars, but I added them later.

I made a hand written note on the top for the horn signals. Seems like all my  locos have different decoders with their own horn signals. I plan to modify the form with blanks for the horn signals so I don't forget to add them.

Mike seemed to have a good time. He said he "liked the layout." He couldn't stay too long as he had to pick up his boss at the movies. It was nice seeing him again. Hopefully he can get some pictures of Beaumont for my next book once he is back in Texas.

While Mike was operating, I worked on the monitor roof for the pier shed.  I made the pieces from bass wood with laser cut windows. The roof is flat compared to the prototype that has a slight slope. I started to add a slope, but it was so slight that it was barely noticeable. So I opted to keep things simple and made the roof flat.

I glued black construction paper to the roof surface, as I did not want to paint the foam core underlay. I have had painted foam core warp in the past. I did not extend the monitor to the right side of the structure. I think I should, at least as a flat against the wall.

I also tried making some Jersey Wall barrier sections. The prototype photos show lots of them in various locations.


  1. Nice write up, Bernie! A couple of things to share:
    1) BLMA and a few other mfrs make those Jersey Wall barriers. I have some and they are great, easy to paint, and with some textured paint and yellow markings, look like older, concrete barriers, that have seen some years of service.
    2) I could certainly use your help, in setting up an Ops plan for my little switching layout; if you and the Missus, or if even you want, the guest bedroom is open for another visit... I have the RF&P's proto switch list, so I'm part of the way through your steps, but could use help with the diagram.
    3) I've been recently working on my Soundtraxx Tsunami equipped locos, and found several features that may help you make all your locos work a little better and similarly with sounds and lights. Drop me a note, and I can share, if you're not aware of them.
    Otherwise, another great post, of an amazing project layout.

    1. Norm,
      1. Yes, I have some BLMA jersey barriers on order, but time is running out so I tried making some myself. Ditto for fencing. I may need to make my own.
      2. Be happy to help with your switch list and track plan. Send files when available and i will take a look.
      3. Send the Tsumani data when available. I do not have any Tsumani diesels. I have one TCS and two Loksound. I do have Tsunami steam decoders. The TCS WOWSound with keep alive is really great. It also has a brake function which makes switching a lot more fun.

    2. Thanks, I'll send you the send you what I have and let's set up a Skype call one evening. Bob Sprague is updating the visual side of the track plan, but the current version has the tracks in correct config.
      Will send you the link for the Tsunami Tech Manual download as well as list the pages you'll work from; easy enough for a dumpkiss like me to do - you'll have no problem and can probably show me a thing or two. I have recently installed a WOWSound diesel decoder and motherboard into an IM U18B, but haven't played with it much, so I don't know how that works; certainly would like to try.
      Biggest thing the Tsunami 'discoveries' has helped with, is getting the locos all to behave a little more like each other, and for a small switching layout. There will be slight differences, to give each a little individuality and character.