This post and the next two will serve as a primer on setting out cars and illustrating the benefits of “slow operations” or better put, “realistic operations.” I like slow operations because it is more realistic and makes a small or medium layout like mine seem big enough.
To illustrate the above, we will once again hang out on B. Smith’s outstanding LCN RR layout.
Ready to ease into realistic operations?
Then let’s follow the LCN crew on the East Job in the fall of 1990. Be careful out there. It is dry. Be careful with fire and also keep an eye out for rattlers. Better wear some sunscreen too. It is a scorcher today. As is often the case, there a thunderstorm in the forecast, but we’ll believe it when we feel the cool rain and smell the countryside awaken.
The captions will give us the narrative of Jim, the Director of Operations for the LCN who will accompany us.
We catch up with the train as it approaches Sanderson. The Lazy W ranch has requested a couple of empty box cars to load with bagged manure. As luck would have it, two empty box cars are on todays train from Pecos and the crew has instructions to spot them on the Lazy W Ranch spur in Sanderson next to the freight house, which is leased to the Lazy W Ranch for storage. Here we see the conductor dropping off the engine as the train rolls ahead slowly. Not all railroads permit train crew to dismount moving equipment.
The conductor radios the engineer to bring the train to a stop when the place to make the cut in the train gets to him. He may have to ask for some pin (slack) if the engineer has the train stretched dragging it to a stop with the train brakes set. The conductor had better remember to close the angle cock on the last car being cut off or everything will go into emergency when he pulls the pin lifter and tells the engineer to take’em ahead.
Proceeding into Sanderson with a loaded covered hopper and two empty box cars, the conductor brings the train to a stop, closes the angle cock on the engine, lifts the pin lifter, and cuts the engine free of the three cars.
An angle cock (below).
See angle cock at the top of the rubber (black) air hose. It is open on this car so it cannot move. The brakes are engaged since there is no air to disengage the brakes. This is why you need to pump up the air whenever you couple up to a train car. This pumping up the air permits the car’s brakes to disengage. Taking time to pump up the air, especially on a long train, adds realism to your operating sessions. Taking time to think what you’d do as a brakeman (and engineer), enriches your operation sessions.
The light engine moves ahead over the road crossing, the conductor lines the switches of the crossover and brings the engine back down the passing track and flags the crossing.
The conductor has lined the engine into the Lazy W Ranch spur track and is directing the engineer to couple into the first of two tank cars that need to be moved so the empty box cars can be spotted.
With the air hoses connected and the angle cocks opened between the engine and the tank car, the conductor releases the hand brake on the tank car.
Now both tank cars are coupled to the engine, the air line hoses connected and the angle cocks opened between the two tank cars and the conductor releases the hand brake on the second tank car. The angle cock on this end of the tank car should be closed but no one makes HO scale air hoses with closed angle cocks.
Just as Jim told us, the angle cock would be closed on the end car on the above photo because that creates the pressure to keep the brakes disengaged. If you saw the above scenario in real life, this train would never move because all the air pressure would escape out the end air hose.
The tank cars are moved to the passing tack. The crew could have held on to the tank cars (kept them coupled to the engine) but there wasn’t enough room on the main track where the rest of the train had been cut off from and the switch for four cars. The reason the crew did not was to leave enough room was to avoid blocking a road crossing.
We will take a break for now, and get back with Jim in our next post as we continue checking out the East Job.
Until next time…