Model Railroading Pre-OPS

Mike at the computer CTC Board

Mike at the computer CTC Board

The Eagle River Division is hosting an operations session this weekend. Our ERD sessions are known as Deadheads and Donuts.

That always means I have lots to do to prepare for it, because in between sessions I create messes on the layout and in the layout room which need to be cleaned up before I can allow anyone back into the basement safely.

Since the last OPS session, I’ve ballasted the steel mill area and most of the brewery. Track had to be thoroughly cleaned and inspected, tools put away, and rolling stock had to be placed back into position. There are multiple packages of various scenery materials and adhesives to put away.  The camera tripod and lights are still up from the last operations videotaping – those have got to go before Saturday.

JMRI Operations software is used to generate manifests and switch lists for the Eagle River Division. Since the previous ops session, one of the locals became a turn so that resulted in changes that needed to be made in the software. And a new scrap yard was added at South Park, necessitating changes to that area’s switch lists.

Some of the signage on the layout was in need of updating and improvement, so one of the activities of this past weekend was to take care of that.

A locomotive and a few pieces of rolling stock was run over the areas of newly ballasted track to check for connectivity and rogue ballast.

Manifests were printed and checked against rolling stock locations yesterday, and assembly of staged trains began. That took care of most of the day it seems.

There are a couple of evenings and one full day before the session. That should give me enough time to finish staging trains and make sure all the paperwork is in order for the session. I can expect to get distracted once or twice between now and then and decide to weather another boxcar, or ready another new piece of rolling stock for the layout. Who knows what else might cause me to waiver from those tasks I need to be sure are taken care of before Saturday morning? There’s sure to be a locomotive or a consist that could use some momentum adjusting or a coupler replaced.  Heck, there might even be a short blog to write lamenting how much work it takes to prepare for an OPS session.

Yes, it takes a lot of work to host a successful OPS session, but it is all worth it to see 6 or 7 other guys bring your layout to life and have a great time doing it.

I’m sure I probably forgot something – oh yeah, gotta remember to get donuts for Saturday morning!

Keep on Trainin’



Mike enjoys family, music, computers, photography, travel, trains and most all facets of model railroading, especially ops.

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