We get a lot of issues with the layout shutting down. These shut downs seem to be caused by two things, both of which are classed as “operator error”.
The first problem is people running (or attempting to run) through points that are set against them. Whilst this may seem like a pretty dumb issue to have, it’s more of a case of people leaving one point towards another and they encounter a set of points that has not been changed back by the previous operator.
With a lot of idea swapping between Jade and myself, we’ve decided that we need to implement four systems in place on our layout to make things run smoother.
- Train Numbers
- Driver Qualifications
- Train Orders
- Train Purposes
The idea of train numbering will be pretty straight forward and will essentially give an overview of where the train is heading… In exactly the same way as the real thing (funny that).
The Driver Qualifications for the layout is an idea we want to borrow from what some of the American layouts use. All operators will start out with the simpler trains and as sections of the layout are used they will effectively upgrade themselves to operate more varied trains.
The train Orders will be a simple sheet of A4 or A5 paper that lists which locomotive, wagons or coaches they have on the train. Where they are starting from and running to, as well as the eventual times they are running… Again, in exactly the same way the real ones do.
Train purpose I think is possibly the most important of the lot. This will (hopefully) ensure that wagons are not set out on roads that are designated as “run around” roads. This sort of thing can bring the entire layout to a standstill for a fairly lengthy period of time. It is also the primary cause of people just “working around it” to get the “job” done. This leads to the initial issue of layout shut downs due to running against points as their path is being made up as they go to avoid a blockage that should not be there.
The theory seems to work in our heads but there is obviously a lot more to go into it so we shall have to see how we go. The overall impressions we’re getting from our barbeques is that this layout is far better to operate than our previous one and has a far greater capacity for more people to operate around each other. So that’s one little dream of mine satisfied… 99,999 to go.
We’re now at the point of fine tuning the operating side of things somewhat to eliminate problems. The one satisfying thing we’ve learned is that nine out of ten issues are caused by operator error or at least lack of route knowledge or train purpose. Armed with this, we can work on it to try and make sure everything is laid out in a simple and logical manner to allow people to just turn up and after a few minutes, be running trains. Well that’s the theory anyway.
Getting back to something I mentioned in the previous chapter, with the Brisbane Show, we had our usual Saturday Night Dinner. Again it was at the Cleveland Sizzler and we had a group of about a dozen of us there for it. As usual we had an absolute ball. Wade McLaren, Hayden Lynch, Dallas Trembath, Andrew Matt and Tyler and Lauren Meiklejohn. Also there was (obviously) myself, Jade and my brother Craig. My mother and the kids came along too.
As usual we had an absolute ball and were still chin wagging as the staff tried to usher us out 20 minutes after closing time. This (obviously) led to further discussions in the car park for another hour until we all decided to retire.
Thanks to those whom could make it this year. It’s always the personal highlight of many of the shows for me as we can kick back and discuss everything and anything and simply have fun. It’s also one of the places where I get a few ideas for possible future products or ideas for the layout.
On our return trip from the show, we decided to drop into Mick and Anita Thornes’ house for a long overdue coffee. This obviously turned into several coffees and eventually into us spending the night there, talking until, one by one, everyone retired to Bedfordshire to check their eyes for light leaks.
As with everything on Planet Jandowae, the layout and it’s operations are a work in progress. The Wuiske Models barbeques are designed to be a relaxed forum for people to get together and just play trains and help us find out where or what needs to be modified or improved on our layout. If you’d like to attend our barbeques, please have a look at our Faceplant Page as this is where they are usually posted about a week prior to the actual event.
Coming up this weekend, we have the Toowoomba Show on the 4th and 5th of June. As usual it’s on at the Toowoomba Show Grounds and it will be a great weekend. Hopefully we’ll see a lot of you there and we can catch up. Being a smaller show, we can actually take the time to talk more with people too. This is why the Toowoomba Show is always one of our favourites – because we can relax and actually exchange ideas and gain feedback about the things you, the modeller, would like to see us doing.