Ever feel perplexed at trying to figure out a switching situation during an op session on someone’s layout? You’re not alone. Most modelers covet switch jobs on a layout for the mental challenges. The catch is that we only operate 12-24 times a year with the typical monthly or twice monthly session and, even that is a stretch for modelers with busy lives. This means we often start from scratch with each session, which leads to undue stress and frustration over not getting everything done.

Real railroaders tell a different story. Their pace tends to be more relaxed (though not always) because they do the work 200+ days a year instead of our measly 12, so they are intimately familiar with the moves. Further, the track arrangement is usually designed to support efficient working as opposed to needless complexity in the name of “operating interest.”

Volume 05 of The Missing Conversation looks at these factors and more in telling the story of switching a local plastics plant. There’s an in-depth interview with Greg Amer, a BNSF locomotive engineer about what switching cars is like from the cab. Also included is an interview with Lance Mindheim about how operations and layout design need to be considered together. TMC 05 is available now.

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  1. Simon

    Another excellent, thought-provoking read.
    Invaluable insight into how real railroaders think about and conduct switching operations.

    Thanks, Mike: worth every ounce of effort you put into producing it.

  2. mike

    Thanks Simon. Glad you enjoyed it.


  3. Matt


    Another well done issue. Thank you for sharing your experience with the crew of L84.


  4. mike

    Thank you Matt. Glad you enjoyed it.