Once a year, Silicon Valley Lines does an inventory of all rolling stock to ensure that we know which cars are present on the layout and the actual location of each car is consistent with where the computer thinks it is. With 1300 cars on the layout this is a lot of work for our train master, so a few folks helped out.
How can it be that cars are not where they are supposed to be, you ask? Simple. We’re all humans. We make mistakes. We take an extra car on a train we’re not supposed to. We forget to take all cars we’re supposed to. Sometimes a planned train doesn’t run as scheduled for a variety of reasons. For operating layouts using computer-based paperwork, this drift between reality and what the computer thinks is quite common. Here are all the cars I found in Nowheres and Jasper Jct that didn’t belong. This is quite a bit more than expected. We determined that one of the freights from Nowheres to Bakersfield must not have run in a recent session.
By the way, layouts using car cards & waybills have similar problems where due to human error the pairing between car card and car is lost, resulting in cars without a card, or cards without a car. On small layouts this is usually resolved easily and quickly, but ends up being just as much of a challenge on large layouts, and owners usually have a system to keep things in sync.
TSG Multimedia has released a remastered version of the layout video they did at Silicon Valley Lines last year. We think John did an outstanding job depicting the layout, and we really enjoyed putting together the story of Operations shown in the video. Enjoy the show!
Every now and then, we add a special twist to our operating sessions. This time it was night ops, where we run part of the session with the work lights in the layout room turned off. The layout lighting is set to night mode (a dark blue light setting), and operators use flash lights and head lamps to read their paperwork and do switching chores.
Many places on the SVL layout are illuminated and they really “pop” at night. Some members commented today how the mood on the layout is much more serene and peaceful when it’s dark and lighted trains are traveling through cities or dark stretches of scenery in the middle of nowhere, but see for yourself.
Most months of the year Silicon Valley Lines has an operations session on the last Friday or Saturday of the month. The dates can be found in the sidebar on the right. Today’s session was well attended, both Yard Masters and Dispatch had their hands full. Over the course of 3 hours we ran all scheduled trains, plus a few additional passenger trains.
Train crews communicate with Dispatch using FRS radios to get clearances. The Yard Masters are called using a telephone located at yard limits. A few photos from the session are below.