Saturday, March 28, 2020

Thoughts on operating a show layout

I'm considering taking the modules I'm building to the Eurowest show this summer as a stand-alone layout. Of course, this assumes that the Coronavirus pandemic is under control by the end of July, so that the show will actually happen. It also assumes that the modules are sufficiently presentable that I'd be willing to show them to a broad audience. I still have work to do on that front.

It will be a small setup, only 3 modules: Slim Staging, Kurve, and Untergroeningen. Slim Staging and Untergroeningen are made up from multiple segments, so six segments in total. The arrangement will be in an L-shape with both legs about 12 feet long (3.5 meters).  Untergroeningen will be the focal point of the arrangement, with a shadow box and built-in lighting that extends all the way over to Kurve. The hill and cut I built a few weeks ago will hide the transition to staging.

The Untergroeningen operator needs to run trains from the visitor side of the layout, because all turnout controls are built into the fascia, and the shadow box doesn't allow access from the side or the rear.

To make this a little bit more interesting for the operators, and hopefully visitors, too, I want to use car cards and waybills for the freight trains, to show reasonably realistic operation at a busy, but rural station at the end of a branch line in southwest Germany.

The staging operator builds a local freight train (Ng, "Nahgueterzug") with up to 5 cars from the supply in staging. The Untergroeningen operator runs the train to Untergroeningen and switches cars according to the way bills. Including the saw mill track, Untergroeningen has 12 car spots. If car spots are occupied, a car will need to stay off-spot and be switched to its destination in the next round. The Untergroeningen operator will pick the 5 oldest cars in Untergroeningen that had been spotted at their destination in the previous round or earlier, and assemble the return train. There should be no more than 10 freight cars on the visible portion of the layout at any one time to avoid turning this into a Timesaver-style puzzle.

On some regular schedule, there's also a passenger train to Untergroeningen. Using a Schienenbus will be a simple out and back operation. If running a regular train, the locomotive needs to run around it's train for the return trip.

Rolling stock and setting is in Epoch IVa, i.e. early 1970's Germany. For passenger service, I could run a BR64 or BR86 steam engine with Umbauwagen, a BR 798 Schienenbus with Beiwagen, or a BR211 / 212 Diesel engine with one or two Silberlinge cars. The same locomotives would be appropriate for freight service. I could even keep a Koef at Untergroeningen station, which would perform all the switching moves between runs of the Ng, instead of the Ng engine.

These are some rough ideas and I'll fine-tune them over the next few months as we get closer.

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