Monday, September 12, 2016

Operating on the DB&AJ Railroad.


This past weekend we took a trip out to CA for a Dierks Bentley concert at the Irvine Meadows amphitheater on Saturday night. Well I got an email from a friend  Bill Meyer inviting me to play trains on his HO DB&AJ RR, which is a freelance layout depicting the Santa Fe railroad in the Fullerton area mid 1980's. I have been helping and operating on Bills layout since the mid 1990's.

A few U boats that I got to run this weekend.

If I remember correctly, he is now on his 115 operating session and he can host at least 6 operators with one playing as Dispatcher and the rest being either Road Crews or Local Switcher crews. There are about 25+ jobs to run during the session and takes about 3.5 hours for each session. Now I have operated many times in the early days and at that time we did self dispatching, meaning we just ran trains in order on his Job list.

Extra 6378 West bound.
 But now Bill is using a true Dispatcher (who sits in another room all together separate from the layout) and track warrants issued by the dispatcher. Meaning you must use a radio to call the dispatcher to get a track warrant to operate on certain sections of the layout. I will confess, I was rather flustered by operating like this but it does make it feel more like the real thing. With saying that, their is a lot of paperwork to fill out and waiting around to actually operate. At one point I got to sit and wait for a local crew to clear the main for about 15minutes. Like I said, it felt very much like the real thing.

Extra 2866 Sweeper train
 The nice thing about the layout is that Bill is always adding new things for his operators to challenge them. Bill uses a Waybill system that tells you where everything needs to go, this session he has added Blue Flagged cards that say Do not move Unloading, which is something that real railroads use when cars are not meant to be moved, the really railroad would fire you if you moved a blue flagged car, Bill just would make you buy him a Pint afterwards!

He has also added Re Spot cards, which means you can move the car, but have to put it back where it was at. These little things make the layout much more realistic and fun to operate. Most operating layouts do this, it was just new for Bill's layout.

The Colton CA ATSF station I made for Bill years ago, I am the Station Agent!
All in all I had a great time operating on this layout and I am lucky that Bill still invites me whenever I am in the area. For all of my non Model Railroading friends, picture operating a layout like a game, except that the playing pieces are HO cars and locomotives. If you ever get a chance to operate, take the chance and do it.


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