The Missing Conversation Vol. 5: Switching
Who Is It For?
This book is for modelers who enjoy switching operations most of all.
I’m among that group, even though the process of sorting out cars and working efficiently has always baffled me. I suspect I’m not alone. How do you know which cars go where? Professional railroaders have the advantage of working the same job every week. The moves become second nature, even though traffic levels may vary widely. Modelers are disadvantaged since we only operate once a month or less. There’s not enough practice for us to internalize the work.
What’s The Difference?
This book features the work involved in switching a plastics plant. The track arrangement is simple and allows the crew to do their work out of the way of mainline traffic. The surprising aspect of this simple plan is the amount of time required to sort loaded cars in order for multiple spots. It can take hours when the workload is heavy.
A Satisfying Layout Doesn’t Have To Be Complicated
The lesson this book teaches is simple: a satisfying layout doesn’t have to be huge or complicated. We’ve grown accustomed to overcrowding our designs in the belief that we’ll get bored. Watching a professional crew doesn’t get old, so why do we inflict a bunch of “model railroad” ideas on our thinking?
I believe a switch job like this one would make a satisfying standalone layout for a modeler who wants a high quality operations experience.
Because operations doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone.
Because a bigger layout isn’t always possible.
Because your layout should reflect your interests
Can You Picture This?
Imagine the pleasure of watching a finely tuned locomotive creep along realistic track.
(“Ease back 38; three car lengths to go.”)
Picture the engine creeping up on a car and watching the pin drop upon coupling, then listening to the idle while the brakeman hooks up the air.
(“One car, half car, four feet, easy; whoa, good contact. Hold steady while I connect the air.”)
He signals he’s ready and you pull out to the sound of a prime mover flexing its muscle. There’s no rush. You have the track space and time needed to work safely.
(“I’m onboard 38. Pull forward and drop me at the switch. You got three cars.”)
If realistic switching is what you enjoy from the craft, you don’t need an acre of layout. If a simpler approach is what you’re looking for this book will help you see the potential that’s waiting for you. Got your switch list sorted out? Let’s get to work.