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O gauge model trains

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10 O G A U G E R A I L R O A D I N G J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 6 There's a whole lot of tonnage in the main yard on David Minarik's layout waiting for operating crews to begin their daily assignments. David's layout, designed for operations, was featured in Run 249 (April/May 2011). His primary road of interest is the Union Railroad, an interchange partner with the Bessemer & Lake Erie. Smooth Operators In our model railroad hobby there are basically two approaches to designing and running a layout. Some hobbyists are commonly referred to as "loop runners." Others, a somewhat smaller subset when it comes to 3-rail O gauge railroading, con- sider themselves to be "operators." I admit to being in that group of loop runners for most of my decades in the hobby, but in just the past couple of years or so, I've definitely become more inter- ested in the operating potential of model railroading in O gauge or any of the other scales and gauges. By operating, I mean running model trains with a purpose just as the prototype railroads do. Real railroads exist for just one reason: to move people or goods to or from one place to another in the most efficient, economical, and fastest way possible. You don't see them running in endless circles or loops, and, truth be told, I don't know of a single major railroad that could operate that way even if they wanted to. Now don't get me wrong. It's perfectly fine to sit back and watch our model trains continuously operate in a closed circle without human intervention or interaction, but over time that can become...well...somewhat boring. And boredom can sometimes lead to frustration and a loss of interest in the hobby. A fairly simple solution for layouts large and small is to develop some operational challenges of the type real railroaders deal with every day. at involves incorporating a few sidings into your track plan, with each spur serving one or more customers. You'll quickly find quite a mental challenge and a lot of fun in taking a train to point A, setting out specific loads and picking up empties, and then continuing to the next destination where the action can be repeated with the fewest moves and least amount of lost time. And with command control being so prevalent in O gauge today, the need for a whole lot of block wiring and uncoupling ramps is pretty much negated. Increasing numbers of O-gaugers are exploiting the operating capabilities afforded by command control: Lionel Legacy/TMCC and MTH DCS. One such layout is the one built by Bob Bartizek, our cover feature in this issue and also featured in our recently released Great Layout Adventures, Volume 11 video (available at www.ogaugerr.com). I can't admit to having much experience with being an operating crew member on such a layout, but I do admit to being increasingly intrigued with the potential. I will soon be dismantling my modest-sized home layout, which is still in its formative stages, and then redesigning it to make it far more of an operational challenge. It won't have a point-to-point track configuration (that's how most real railroads are set up), so I'll still be able to have trains run continuously when desired, but I will be eliminating the current spaghetti-bowl track network and going with a single main line, several passing sidings, and a number of spur sidings of various lengths to accommodate customers along the line (most of whom provide goods to a military installation). In future issues this year, I hope to present some how-to arti- cles—perhaps even a series of them—describing how you might develop interesting operational scenarios for your own layout. Some operators use a card system while others use computers, and there likely are several other methods as well. Large layout or small, give some consideration to making your trains earn their keep by giving them some work to do.

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