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.

Operator Instructions

Watch the video to get a better idea of how the layout operates. Then read the 
instructions below.  Thanks.

USMRR Operator Instructions
1. General
1.1. Welcome to the USMRR Richmond Fredericksburg and Potomac Line, called the Aquia Line for short. We hope you enjoy your visit and experience a sample of what railroading  was like in the Civil War.  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.  You are welcome to bring snacks and drinks into the basement. Please don't put them on the layout.
1.4 You are welcome to take hand held snap shots of the railroad for your own use and on social media. Please do not submit photos to magazines or books without my permission.
1.5. Have fun.
2.    Conductor
2.1. You are in charge of the train. You will instruct the engineer and brakeman on what to do. 
2.2. Movements on the layout are controlled by early 19th century Time Table and Train Order rules, which are earlier and simpler versions of the currently used rules. You will find a schedule for the trains and sometimes telegraph messages on the clip board you receive. The telegraph messages will provide any special instructions. You should consult the schedule to understand any meets with other trains or other events you must consider. There are no clearance forms. You run according to schedule or telegraph if so instructed. All trains must stop at every station.
2.2.a. You can arrive at a station early, but you cannot leave a station early.
2.2.b. No Train having the right to the road must leave any station or passing place, where by the schedule it should pass a train, until ten minutes after its own time per schedule; and this ten minutes (allowed for variation of watches) must be observed at every succeeding station until it shall have passed the expected train; and no portion of the ten minutes allowed for variation of watches must be used by Trains running in either direction.  Meeting times and locations are shown as bold text for the time numerals on the printed schedules.
2.2.c. Conductors will report the departure of their train at each Telegraph Station except when arriving at the end of their run. Then you will report arrival at the terminal station.. Use the selector dial to match your train number, then push the appropriate button for regular or extra train. The light will flash. The light will stop flashing when the dispatcher acknowledges the message. If the light is flashing when you wish to report, that means the line is busy. You must wait until the light goes out before you can report. 
2.2.d. All conductors and engineers must read and sign the bulletin for the day before operating on the railroad. The bulletin has advisories on any unusual situations for that session. 
2.3. On the clip board is 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.
2.4.a. Each car starts the session with a memorandum waybill (called bill from now on) in a plastic sleeve. The sleeve includes a piece of paper that lists the contents and destination of the car. The conductors will examine the bills at their starting station and build their outbound train. They will add cars, up to 10 per train including caboose,  to their switch list, and take the bills with them clipping it to the board. If a train has no scheduled meets, it may take more than 10 cars. If you are leaving Falmouth and you have a scheduled meet at Brooke, do not take more than 8 cars including caboose.
2.4.b. As trains progress across the layout, if they find a car at a trailing point siding, they will flip the coin provided for each car. If the coin flips to "loaded" it is still loaded and they leave it where it is. If the coin turns up "empty", the car is now empty. The conductors will add that car(s), up to their 8 or 10 cars per train including caboose limit,  to their switch list, and take the bills with them clipping it to the board. Remove the slip of paper listing the contents from the bill and leave it in the box at the station. This indicates that the car is now empty and the load has been transferred. They would also remove modeled loads from flat cars and place them on the siding to indicate that the flat car is empty. Box cars do not have loads actually modeled, you will rely on the switch list and the piece of paper to indicate whether it is loaded or unloaded. 
2.4.c. When you spot a car, leave the bill and sleeve in the appropriate box.
2.4.d. At Falmouth, the random process to determine load or unloaded is the same, even though some trains originate at Falmouth. The conductors will examine the bills of the cars that were there when they arrived. They will do the coin flip process for each to determine which ones are empty and ready to return to Aquia Landing. Yes, it is conceivable that a train will return with no cars, and that did happen on the prototype too.
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 the official records.
2.6. You may use the extended link on the cow catcher for switching but you are limited to pushing 2 cars max and pulling 10.
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 night, signal lights will be used instead of flags.
2.8  Special Rule for tunnels. When your train enters a tunnel, stop the train as soon as the tail end disappears. You now have several minutes to safely and carefully move to the other end of the tunnel. You may depart the tunnel in accordance with the schedule.

2.9  Scheduled trains will run with a conductor's car. The conductor's car may be placed anywhere in the train. The conductor's cars will be set out at the depot track at Aquia Landing when not in use.

2.10 The car float at Aquia Landing has 8 tracks, but we will only use the 6 stern-most tracks. This is because the stern of the float overhangs the benchwork when loading the two forward tracks. During a session, we will switch two tracks at a time. The car float will be repositioned by QM personnel each time the two tracks are loaded or unloaded. Generally we will take all the cars off, before loading any more cars back onto the float. The float usually makes one round trip a day. The USMRR and QM Corps did have more than one float.  

2.11 Using the Telegraph. Conductors will report the departure at every station by using the telegraph. Set the dial to your train number and push either the regular or extra button as appropriate. If the red light is flashing, wait until it clears before pushing it for your train.

2.13 Random events Every time your train enter  a  tunnel you must draw a random event card from the box by the Stares Tunnel. The card will provide you with further instructions. Most of the time the effect is minimal. Some cards call for events that are more drastic. 

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 brakes
2 Short – Release brakes
3 Short – Backing train
4 Short – Call in flagman
5 Short – Wood up
1 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, either F9 on the T1300 throttles  or FCT 2 and 6 (press sequentially) on the Stanton throttles. 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 but does have an auto-reverse circuit to control the polarity.
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.
3.12 When operating a battery powered locomotive, please try to keep the radio throttle near the engine for best radio reception.
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. Setting switches is the most important job on the railroad. Improperly set switches are the most common cause of derailments on the railroad. 
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 accidentally 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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