Operational entertainment...

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Flymo748
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Operational entertainment...

Postby Flymo748 » Sun Mar 15, 2015 9:29 am

I'm not quite sure whether "Operating in Practice" is quite the right spot for this, as it seems the antithesis of prototype practice. However this very much has to do with operation at either exhibitions, or indeed at home, so I thought that I would share it.

A thread on the 2mm Association email list has been discussing layout operation, and ways that it can be made interesting. I think that anyone with a small-ish layout and the prospect of a two day show may identified with the challenges of not being bored after shuffling that van into the siding for the 247th time that weekend...

A comment that grabbed me as being absolutely inspired was this:

"There is always shunting scrabble (usually played at shows to avoid
boredom)

Wagons have a letter tacked on the non public visible side. Trains of wagons arrive and the goal is to send back completed words with the highest score. Wagons are also arranged so that common wagons have common letters while Z, Q etc are unusual one offs."

The idea tickled me...

Cheers,
Flymo
Beware of Trains - occasional modelling in progress!
www.5522models.co.uk

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steve howe
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Re: Operational entertainment...

Postby steve howe » Sun Mar 15, 2015 6:20 pm

Flymo748 wrote:
"There is always shunting scrabble (usually played at shows to avoid
boredom)

Wagons have a letter tacked on the non public visible side. Trains of wagons arrive and the goal is to send back completed words with the highest score. Wagons are also arranged so that common wagons have common letters while Z, Q etc are unusual one offs."

The idea tickled me...

Cheers,
Flymo



Oh dear.....that opens up all sorts of dubious opportunities..... :twisted:
Steve
(bored with shunting)

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Noel
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Re: Operational entertainment...

Postby Noel » Sun Mar 15, 2015 8:07 pm

Commercial US traffic generation software is available from a number of producers, although cursory inspection suggests that they are for large multi-operator layouts:

http://home.cogeco.ca/~trains/rrsoft.htm

There's also a UK commercial product:

http://www.trainflow.com/wagflow.htm

I don't know anything about this software except what it says on the site; basically I wanted a random traffic generator, with controllable parameters, and it didn't seem to match my requirements. So I wrote something that did. It seems to run OK, but I really must finish testing the latest version.

Noel
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Noel

Terry Bendall
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Re: Operational entertainment...

Postby Terry Bendall » Mon Mar 16, 2015 9:00 am

steve howe wrote:Oh dear.....that opens up all sorts of dubious opportunities.....


Yes it does to some extent. A small, or even a medium sized layout, with a limited amount of stock, and limited siding space, can tend to become boring for the operators. However, rather than playing shunting scrabble or just random shunting, probably a more prototypical approach, and therefore arguably better is to work out at the planning stage what the purpose of the layout is. What are the warehouses or sidings for? Where does the freight traffic come from, and where does it go? In other words try to set the layout in a prototypical context. This should work regardless of the period in which the layout is set.

There is of course the problem of loading and unloading. Vans can come and go easily but it is more of a problem with open wagons. Perhaps some subterfuge is possible. Can the open wagons be shunted into a building, or behind a building and the loads removed, or even the wagon swapped for an identical one which is empty? Can they be shunted off scene and unloaded or replaced? If it is a through layout it is easy to arrange for removable loads that can be taken out in the fiddle yard, and the empty train worked back in the opposite direction.

Another point is that whilst the operation can be boring for the operator, we are at an exhibition to entertain the paying visitors, so perhaps we are duty bounty to try and do so. What is boring for the operator, because they have done the same move 17 times already that day, should be new to the visitor, unless of course they have come back for another look and see the same thing again. Another way of entertaining the visitor is to run the unusual wagons that are not often seen. The one with the experimental suspension system or the special purpose wagon, or the one from the pre-grouping company far away, but which may have got to a distant location once. Such things may be a bit too sophisticated for the "average" visitor but hopefully the enthusiast will appreciate such things.

Terry Bendall

John Duffy
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Re: Operational entertainment...

Postby John Duffy » Mon Mar 16, 2015 9:18 am

As someone who has followed the US modelling scene for many years I think my preference would be to follow some of their practices, with things like "Switch Lists", rather than develop what appears to simply be a game. In 4mm our wagons will have readable (I know - glasses on, glasses off!) numbers, so we can use these to identify the individual vehicle. Our layouts, even the smallest will usually represent the 'rest of the world" in some way, through a fiddle yard or the likes and our on-layout facilities will represent specific purposes. I therefore see no need, nor advantage in a random shunting game, when it is quite simple to create a shunting list that requires the operator to place the correct vehicle into the correct siding.

John

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Noel
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Re: Operational entertainment...

Postby Noel » Mon Mar 16, 2015 10:32 am

John Duffy wrote: I therefore see no need, nor advantage in a random shunting game, when it is quite simple to create a shunting list that requires the operator to place the correct vehicle into the correct siding.


I would add that the consist of goods trains should change each time they appear, and account should be taken of outbound traffic as well as inbound, and the different times taken to unload different incoming traffic, so that the operator has a different problem to deal with each time and viewers see something different each time. It isn't only operators who can get bored at exhibitions. Hopefully, what viewers will see is shunting done in a railwaylike manner, with different traffic arriving and departing and with the minimum necessary number of moves...

Computers are quicker and more flexible, and easier to use, especially in an exhibition context, but card operation systems have been available for decades. Realistic operation, and provision of freight stock, still seem, however, to be the least important aspect for most layout builders.

Terry Bendall wrote:What are the warehouses or sidings for? Where does the freight traffic come from, and where does it go? In other words try to set the layout in a prototypical context. This should work regardless of the period in which the layout is set.


Agreed. It will also work regardless of scale and gauge.

Terry Bendall wrote:There is of course the problem of loading and unloading. Vans can come and go easily but it is more of a problem with open wagons. Perhaps some subterfuge is possible. Can the open wagons be shunted into a building, or behind a building and the loads removed, or even the wagon swapped for an identical one which is empty? Can they be shunted off scene and unloaded or replaced?


So far as loads are concerned, some compromises will be inevitable. Fully secured loads on/in flat or open wagons are not really compatible with removability, so either 'unloading' and 'loading' have to be hidden somehow, or loads added or removed on scene. Items such as ropes and securing chains will probably have to be omitted, and the same questions will arise as in the choice between automatic and manual couplings. All modelling involves compromise; this is another area where modellers have to make a decision on what is most important to them.

Noel
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Noel

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Paul Townsend
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Re: Operational entertainment...

Postby Paul Townsend » Tue Mar 17, 2015 7:31 am

Noel wrote:
So far as loads are concerned, some compromises will be inevitable. Fully secured loads on/in flat or open wagons are not really compatible with removability, so either 'unloading' and 'loading' have to be hidden somehow, or loads added or removed on scene. Items such as ropes and securing chains will probably have to be omitted, and the same questions will arise as in the choice between automatic and manual couplings. All modelling involves compromise; this is another area where modellers have to make a decision on what is most important to them.
Noel


One way to deal with fully secured loads (or indeed plain vanilla loads) is to build 2 identical waggons but only load one of them. You can now do the full monty with ropes & chains. The out of sight sleight of hand now requires to swap the entire waggon between loaded and unloaded versions. You can improve on this by swapping a cut of waggons together. I am not insane enough to try this with too many 3-link couplings.
The most challenging part might be to get pairs of waggons weathered identically so punters won't notice!

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Noel
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Re: Operational entertainment...

Postby Noel » Tue Mar 17, 2015 10:21 am

If Paul's approach is used, duplication of all of the wagon stock is not necessary. As indicated earlier, vans do not present a problem, mineral loads such as coal can be made removable, and some loads in open wagons either were not secured, or were held in place by, for example, timber baulks or scotches which could be made removable with the load. So duplication may not be such an expensive option as it might at first appear. Hiding the swap is fairly straightforward for an offscene industry, especially since the wagon would not be expected to reappear for a while [loading/unloading time], but might be more difficult in a goods yard, given the open nature of most goods yards.

Noel
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Noel

nigelcliffe
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Re: Operational entertainment...

Postby nigelcliffe » Tue Mar 17, 2015 12:01 pm

Flymo748 wrote:A thread on the 2mm Association email list has been discussing layout operation, and ways that it can be made interesting. I think that anyone with a small-ish layout and the prospect of a two day show may identified with the challenges of not being bored after shuffling that van into the siding for the 247th time that weekend...


In the yard on Copenhagen Fields (half way along, above the tunnels), one shunting pattern is to assemble the credits for "The Ladykillers". The wagons being private owners for the well known coal merchants Lom, Sellars, etc..

- Nigel

martin goodall
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Re: Operational entertainment...

Postby martin goodall » Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:35 pm

I have always had reservations about randomised methods of determining wagon movements on a layout, because on the prototype comparatively few goods movements were random. They tended to follow a pattern on each route, with fairly predictable flows of goods in most cases. There were, of course, some one-off movements, which did introduce a random element, but these were probably a minority within the overall mix.

Empty wagon movements would probably have been similarly predictable, though much reduced after common user arrangements were introduced during and after the First World War. There were bound to be occasional exta demands that would produce a need for empties to be delivered to particular stations, and so here too there might be a case for introducing some random element into the operating pattern on a layout.

But on the whole, it would probably be more realistic to work out the pattern of goods movements that could be expected on the line being modelled and to devise a pattern of wagon movements based on that. Some 'Chance' cards could perhaps be used to introduce the random element, but these really ought to be a fairly minor feature in the overall pattern of wagon movements.

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Noel
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Re: Operational entertainment...

Postby Noel » Tue Mar 17, 2015 7:36 pm

martin goodall wrote:They tended to follow a pattern on each route, with fairly predictable flows of goods in most cases. There were, of course, some one-off movements, which did introduce a random element, but these were probably a minority within the overall mix.


If you are discussing the main traffic flows on a main line, Martin, this is correct. However, what turned up at, or left from, a local goods yard, or a small sorting facility, or even a private siding, on any given day was fairly random, both in number and type of traffic, although possibly dominated by particular traffics, such as blankets, coal, or whatever. A class 9 goods might start out with 30 wagons one day, and 5 the next, and arrive at its destination with 3 and 15 respectively and quite different proportions of outbound loaded wagons and empties. Some traffics were seasonal as well, of course.

Noel
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Noel

Terry Bendall
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Re: Operational entertainment...

Postby Terry Bendall » Wed Mar 18, 2015 6:56 am

Noel wrote:mineral loads such as coal can be made removable


We have done this on Elcot Road and have a way of removing the loads whilst the wagons are on the layout. Those who come to Scalefour North will be able to see it in action.

Terry Bendall

martin goodall
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Re: Operational entertainment...

Postby martin goodall » Wed Mar 18, 2015 6:43 pm

Noel wrote:
martin goodall wrote:They tended to follow a pattern on each route, with fairly predictable flows of goods in most cases. There were, of course, some one-off movements, which did introduce a random element, but these were probably a minority within the overall mix.


If you are discussing the main traffic flows on a main line, Martin, this is correct. However, what turned up at, or left from, a local goods yard, or a small sorting facility, or even a private siding, on any given day was fairly random, both in number and type of traffic, although possibly dominated by particular traffics, such as blankets, coal, or whatever. A class 9 goods might start out with 30 wagons one day, and 5 the next, and arrive at its destination with 3 and 15 respectively and quite different proportions of outbound loaded wagons and empties. Some traffics were seasonal as well, of course.

Noel


I should have made it clear that I was not suggesting that the pattern of wagon movements would have been the same every day. As Noel says, there could be considerable variation between one day and the next. But over a month or so, I suggest that at most stations (except perhaps those that had very little traffic at all) the goods being moved both in and out would generally have shown a fairly regular pattern, but with some random movements over and above these, although not perhaps all that number of the latter.

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Noel
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Re: Operational entertainment...

Postby Noel » Wed Mar 18, 2015 9:27 pm

We are basically in agreement, Martin. I was just suggesting that our layouts tend to be a bit vague about time, usually with only one non-specific 'day', 'Groundhog Day' if you like. But like the film, we can, and should in my view, change what happens on each iteration where possible [which will be primarily in the freight traffic arriving and departing], so that we have a random variation in which of the many possible daily patterns is presented each time, rather than the same mythical average day every time.

Noel
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Noel

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Tim V
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Re: Operational entertainment...

Postby Tim V » Wed Mar 18, 2015 9:39 pm

I think you have to consider if you are representing what happened on one day, on say 12 September 1932 (a Monday) for example, or are you trying to represent what happened in one week, or in one month.

What is wrong with shunting the same wagons all the time? At least you will know they will work flawlessly (well I hope you know this).
Tim V
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Dave K
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Re: Operational entertainment...

Postby Dave K » Thu Mar 19, 2015 7:29 am

Tim V wrote:I think you have to consider if you are representing what happened on one day, on say 12 September 1932 (a Monday) for example, or are you trying to represent what happened in one week, or in one month.

What is wrong with shunting the same wagons all the time? At least you will know they will work flawlessly (well I hope you know this).

When we were showing Pulborough it was always Wednesday as this was market day.

Dave

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Noel
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Re: Operational entertainment...

Postby Noel » Thu Mar 19, 2015 11:01 am

Tim V wrote:I think you have to consider if you are representing what happened on one day, on say 12 September 1932 (a Monday) for example, or are you trying to represent what happened in one week, or in one month.


I would suggest that very few layout builders/operators set out to represent the traffic on one specific date, Tim. If taken literally, this would result in absolutely no variation ever in the program of train movements, which, again, I suspect is not what most people want and would soon become very boring for viewers and operators... Each to his own. Some people build layouts so they can watch trains going round and round, some to show off their modelling skills, or those of other people, some to show railway operation in minature, some just because they like building and displaying models, or any combination of these... There are probably other reasons I haven't thought of as well.

Tim V wrote:What is wrong with shunting the same wagons all the time? At least you will know they will work flawlessly (well I hope you know this).


Surely they all should, Tim, not just a select few?

Noel
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Noel

shipbadger
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Re: Operational entertainment...

Postby shipbadger » Thu Mar 19, 2015 1:13 pm

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Harry Drummond's Wagonflow as a way of organising wagon movements. It seems to cover many of the requirements that have been outlined in previous postings.

Tony Comber

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John Donnelly
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Re: Operational entertainment...

Postby John Donnelly » Thu Mar 19, 2015 1:24 pm

shipbadger wrote:I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Harry Drummond's Wagonflow as a way of organising wagon movements. It seems to cover many of the requirements that have been outlined in previous postings.

Tony Comber


Noel provided a link to it in post 3.

John

shipbadger
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Re: Operational entertainment...

Postby shipbadger » Thu Mar 19, 2015 5:06 pm

Noel provided a link to it in post 3.

John

Thanks John, hadn't spotted that, knew my brain was on a go slow today.

Tony

Terry Bendall
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Re: Operational entertainment...

Postby Terry Bendall » Thu Mar 19, 2015 5:13 pm

shipbadger wrote:I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Harry Drummond's Wagonflow as a way of organising wagon movements.


Harry Drummond was one of the founding members of the Mid-Sussex area group, but is no longer listed as a member. Good to see that he is still around.

Terry Bendall

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dcockling
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Re: Operational entertainment...

Postby dcockling » Sun Mar 22, 2015 12:35 pm

Terry Bendall wrote:Harry Drummond was one of the founding members of the Mid-Sussex area group, but is no longer listed as a member. Good to see that he is still around.


Was number 1036, so a founding member of the Society, but left sometime between 1988 and 1992 (the five years that I don't have subscription payment records for)

All the Best
Danny

essdee
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Re: Operational entertainment...

Postby essdee » Mon Mar 23, 2015 10:20 am

Nice to see Harry surfacing again; I remember his epic surveys of wagon and coach kits for 'Model Railways' in the late 1970s/early 1908s? It was 'MR', notably with Iain Rice's 'Tregarrick', that was instrumental in getting me interested in modelling again, and Harry's series were also very helpful in guiding me down the route of historical modelling. I think he built at least one example from each range (many of them now extinct of course). Clearly he needed something to make good use of all those wagons!

Steve

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beast66606
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Re: Operational entertainment...

Postby beast66606 » Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:01 pm

steve howe wrote:

Oh dear.....that opens up all sorts of dubious opportunities..... :twisted:
Steve
(bored with shunting)



The software I wrote for WFRM is called The MILF :shock: It handles fiddle yard trains - randomises them to make things more interesting for the operators.
DAS
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BrockleyAndrew
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Re: Operational entertainment...

Postby BrockleyAndrew » Sun Mar 17, 2019 11:24 pm

Watching video of exhibition layouts online and looking for a starter 00 kit for my 11yo daughter (she did put it on her list-I really couldn't have imagined she would but am trying not to show any reaction positive or negative lest I spoil her enthusiasm). I found online one of the generic starters kit called "The Station Pilot" - this set me thinking about layouts in general rather than beginners packs - I am very aware she wants a train set to run in an oval on the floor and am very pleased about this and will get something appropriate.

But it did make me wonder about proper layouts - steam age stations would have been busy busy, but a terminus layout where an 0-6-0 sorts out coaching stock doesn't really exist does it? Rakes of coaches don't make for shunting puzzles and what's the point of your mainline locomotive only appearing briefly to steal the stock away!

Idly wondering.

Andrew


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