Well a major milestone in the five year history to date of our layout was reached on Tuesday 8th of December...
We had our first Ops Session!
Well you could call it an expression session, or test ops session actually because it was all free time for the four operators. My good friends Noel, Brendan & Darren came over and together we gave the layout a proper workout.
The main aim for the night was to check for any immediate electrical problems, dead track or sidings including the now finished Tortoise Fascia Control Panels, block wiring, turnout operation, track alignment and the general feel of the layout.
The guys had several options to start with, there was several cars spotted and stored around the York Haven Pulp & Paper Mill with a MP15 Switcher on call. A pair of RDG SD45's ready for a local or hot shot train. And a two small locals that could be spotted anywhere around the layout.
Below (from right to left) Darren, Noel & Brendan start from the York Haven - Pulp & Paper Mill (YHPPM)...
The guys were quickly off into different areas of the layout and testing out various locos and rolling stock.
One very quick issue arose with one of the crossover turnouts with the YHPPM area which was quickly identified as dirty point ends on the point rails. This will be fixed once I add the remaining power feeds to the PECO turnouts.
Also one of the push buttons controlling one of the Harrisburg - Fascia Control Panels wasn't working but was changed out very quickly.
The layout sustained the four of operating for about 2.5 - 3 hours, and we estimated that once the industries are set up and the remainder of the track work is completed the layout could sustain 6 - 8 operators and a dispatcher easily.
The next evolution for the layout will be designing and testing a more formal and prototypical operating scheme for future Ops Sessions. The design and development of a car card system, paper work, and the programming of the detected track, turnouts & signals into JMRI and our Panel Pro - Panel.
The guys have already began to supply some great feedback and ideas and a dedicated night (Tuesday night) has been locked in as our monthly Operating night. The Christmas break period is going to be very busy beginning to implement all of the infrastructure for Ops Session along with finishing off the detection & signaling too.
Below Noel running the RDG SD45's 7602 & 7603 through Mannheim & Rutherford...
A special thanks must go out to Noel, Brendan & Darren for being the first to operate the layout, and for helping out with testing it and for being such great company for the night!
Onwards & Upwards now...