Wednesday 23 April 2014


Basic Train-ing For Operations - 2

It is apparent that only a few model railroaders are familiar with the rules concerning the use of bells and whistles by train crews.  Perhaps this is a result of sound-equipped locomotives only becoming available in the last few years.  In an attempt to further enhance our enjoyment of model operations, here are a few of the basics according to our reading of the rulebook.  We do not seek perfection in these details nor are we totally consistent in our use of the Train Signals.  This is partly due to the short distances of our mainlines which necessarily require just as much compromise and moderation as in our other modeling efforts.  Ever seen a fully working brake system in N-scale or working cut levers in HO?

These "motion pictures" are for illustrative purposes only.  They are not meant to present an exiting rail-fan experience so the quality of the images is mediocre due to a camera rated at a mere 6 Megapixels.  My thanks to Engineman Green who patiently followed the grumpy director's instructions on many takes.

Probably the most familiar signal to railfans and model railroaders is the "Fourteen L".  This is the signal used at public grade crossings which are guarded by white cross-bucks.  Rule 14 (l) describes this signal as --- --- o --- meaning that two long blasts are followed by a shortish toot followed by one long blast.  This signal is sounded 1/4 mile from the crossing and is "to be prolonged or repeated according to the speed of the train until the crossing is occupied by the engine or cars".  Other occasions for the use of this signal are "where the view is limited" by such things as the curvature of the track or when approaching a tunnel.  In these situations, there is usually a whistle post planted at an appropriate place on the engineman's side.  Our first cinematic spectacular illustrates the use of Rule 14 (l).  Here we see No. 806, a third class mixed train, a k a the "Jitney" from Spences Bridge and Merritt "powered" by dinky little Engine 443.  Note the use of the bell which must also be sounded "until the crossing is passed" (Rule 30).

In the next sequence a train is approaching a station. Rule 30 again applies:  "Engine bell must be rung... while moving about stations."  

Also note that a long blast of the whistle was sounded on its approach.  Admittedly, this is a great deal shorter than the stipulated "one mile from stations, watering and fueling points, junctions...and railway crossings at grade." (Rules 14m, 31) But a scale mile is hard to model and operate.  On the other hand, we could say that this engineman is being extra safety conscious.  And it does help our Station Operators to hear of a train's approach.

In this next sequence, the same train is leaving the station.  The bell is rung "when an engine is about to move..." (Rule 30)  And in this case the train is also about to enter a public crossing at grade so another clause of the same rule 30 applies as well (requiring the sounding of the bell until the crossing is passed). 
The sounding of the whistle of two long blasts means "Release brakes. Proceed" (Rule 14 b).  And if a trainman, porter or passenger is lingering on ground, he/she better climb aboard pronto. The grade crossing is being guarded by the head-end brakeman as the engine begins to enter the crossing.  He is hard to see but he is there - at least he should be.

I hope you have enjoyed this cinematic experience.  There is more to come.  Our camera and train crews spent many hours on location and will continue to edit the many hours minutes of film in our studio.  Next up is a Way Freight sequence.  See you next week.

Coquihalla Man

Wednesday 16 April 2014


1951 Edition
On our version of the Kettle Valley, we earnestly try to emulate the prototype without losing sight of the whole purpose of an operating session.  And it needs to be said that the purpose of an operating session is to have a good time in pleasant companyAs with any game, there are rules which serve to define and enhance the play.  Railroad rules and standard practices are adapted to the models for realism and enjoyment.  Basically, we indulge in a role-playing game that somehow connects us to the men and the machines that in some undefinable and mysterious way appeal to us for a variety of reasons.  Many of us have had the passion for trains since we were young and while it may subside for a while such as when we were getting our family and/or careers started, it often reappears later in life when there is a little more time for leisure activities.  Certainly that is my situation and I know I am not alone in this regard.  
A well-used 1949 Edition
We could hang out at the local hobby shop or join a club, attend periodic train shows and conventions or help a friend on a regular basis build his layout.  And these are all good and valid ways of participating in the social aspect of the hobby.  For a number of people, an operating session is another way.  In this post, we will look at some basic terminology that can help to enhance one's enjoyment of the operations experience.  Rule book references are included. 

1962 Edition
Our main reference work is a 1951 issue of the Uniform Code of Operating Rules for the CPR shown at the top.  We also have a 1949 version and the 1962 Revision.  In effect, we borrow from all three books for several reasons which we will eventually discuss but for the most part, there are only minor differences between them.

An on-line copy of the CNR rulebook is published here:  It has the same date of publication as our reference work for the CPR and on first glance seems to be identical.  This resource could be downloaded or bookmarked.
For American Railroaders, try this link for an on-line version of the rules used on the Great Northern and Milwaukee Railroads in 1959:  There are a some differences in the USA version but it is largely the same as the Canadian versions.  For example, Bell-ringing as laid out in Rule 30 in the USA is the same as that in Canada.

It should be noted that all of these UCOR books have been obsolete for many years now.  Dispatchers are called RTC's (Rail Traffic Controllers) and modern Computers and Communications have led to the extinction of Train Orders and Operators.

A Few Basic Definitions and Rules from the Rulebook  Comments are written in italics.

Train—An engine or more than one engine coupled, with or without cars, displaying markers.  [ordinarily caboose markers.  Markers are displayed on the rear of the tender when an engine is running light and forward]

This is a train.  Without those little kerosene lamps, it would not be a train!  It is an extra train as evidenced by one of two flags just visible on the engine's boiler front.  Extra 3747 East.

Extra train—A train not authorized by a time table schedule...[e g Extra 3747 East]

Regular train—A train authorized by a time table schedule. [e g No 11, the Kettle Valley Express]

Superior train—A train having precedence over another train.

Two first class trains meet at Romeo at 2:45 in the morning.  No. 45 has taken the siding for No 46 because it is inferior by direction to the oncoming No. 46.  The Timetable specifies Eastbound trains as superior to Westbound trains of the same class.  CPR practice for passenger trains was to issue a train order for the meet even though it was scheduled.  This added another level of safety.   

Main track—A track extending through yards and between stations, upon which trains are operated by time table or train order, or both...[yardmasters/crews have no jurisdiction over the main track within yard limits but can use it under certain conditions]

Siding—A track auxiliary to the main track for meeting or passing trains.

Yard—A system of tracks provided for the making up of trains, storing of cars and for other purposes, over which movements not authorized by time table or train order may be made...

Time table—The authority for the movement of regular trains subject to the rules. It contains classified schedules with special instructions relating to the movement of trains and other important information.

A page from our "Employee Timetable" highlighting the meet pictured above.  Class and direction are specified.  Any of these schedules can be annulled or superseded by a train order. Note that the time, 2.45, is in bold print in both columns to denote a meet.

Superiority of trains

Rule 71. A train is superior to another train by right, class or direction.
Right is conferred by train order; class and direction by time table.
Right is superior to class and direction.

71a. (Single track) Direction is superior as between trains of the same class.

72. Trains of first class are superior to those of second class; trains of second class are 
superior to those of third class; and so on.

72a. (Single track) Trains in the direction specified by time table are superior to trains of the same class in the opposite direction.

73. Extra trains are inferior to regular trains.

Note how the word "permission" is not used.  The dispatcher does not give permission, he confers "right over" to a train through train orders.

An interesting illustration of this was that on the KV, it was not unusual for a Dispatcher to confer right on a lowly drag freight to continue the struggle up a steep grade uninterrupted while a first class passenger train was made to take the siding.  The passenger train could easily make up any time lost with her relatively light consist whereas the freight could have trouble getting under way again after taking the siding, thereby tying up the line.

Until next week, when we will possibly include some "movies" to further illustrate operations on the Kettle Valley model Railway.  

Coquihalla Man

Wednesday 2 April 2014


After last Wednesday's post, I had some questions percolating in my mind over the Train Orders described in the text.  Sure enough, my nagging hunch proved to have some foundation.  After a close examination of dispatching documents and queries to our resource person, the result is this partial revision of the previous post.  I should mention that this format is somewhat simplified and adapted for Model Railroad application.  It is not exhaustively prototypical but more than close enough.

Extra 3747 West is waiting "in the "hole" for Extra 5101 East.  It is early evening so the headlight of Extra 5101 East is displayed but dimmed (Rule 17).  Since the two trains are running as extras without the benefit of a schedule, some sort of arrangement must have been made for this meet.  In fact it was the Dispatcher in a little office 132.7 miles away in Penticton.  He telephoned his Station Operators at Odlum and Brookmere.  After both Operators came on the line, he issued Train Orders through them for the 3 train crews involved in this meet.  The first crew was the Conductor and Engineman of Extra 5101 East who received their TO's and Clearance at Odlum.  Copies of the "flimsies" were also given to the Conductor of the Extra East intended for the Pusher crew on engine 3629 which had been waiting at Hope to assist the Extra East.  Finally, copies of the TO's were issued to the crew of Extra 3747 West at Brookmere, their Originating Terminal.  On our layout, we have three Opr's who are the eyes, ears and hands of the Dispatcher.  Their activities are quite realistic during an operating session and the Dispatcher's job even more so. 
Here we see Train Order No 211, as written up by the Odlum Operator.  In the address is to be found the Road Engine 5101, which receives the order at Odlum.  Conductor Green who is in charge of the Extra 5101 East, will carry copies for the pusher Engineman waiting at Hope, a few miles to the east of Odlum.  A second order will also be given and a clearance card.  Here is the Clearance for Extra 5101 East. 

Turning to the other train involved in the meet, here is the same order as written up by the Brookmere Operator.  The Body of the order is the same but the address is different.  Below is the Clearance Card that that was issued to the Extra 3747 West with copies of Train Orders 211 & 212.  (Order No 212 is not illustrated here).

The next item is the relevant page of the Train Dispatcher's Record where one can see these orders from the Dispatcher's hand.  This is a revision of the page from the Dispatcher's Record of last week's post.

The first entry is the "19" order creating Extra 5101 East.  It is TO No. 211.  This is called the "run order" and is addressed to:
  • ENG 5101 at Odlum (J) (J is the station call sign for Odlum as noted on the Timetable)
  • ENG 3629 at Hope
  • Westward Extra Trains at Brookmere (call sign BR)
The wording of the orders is the same as that found on the pink Form 19's shown above.  The order is signed "MJC" which are the Dispatcher's initials giving the order its authority.  In this case, the eastbound has "Right Over Westward Extra Trains" and that is why the Westbound is in the hole for the meet.

The second TO is No. 212 and is addressed to the same trains.  This order creates Extra 3747 West (the run order) and includes a "meet order", telling the two trains concerned to meet at Romeo. Finally, two of the three red boxes at the bottom of the page are a record of the Clearance Cards approved by the Dispatcher which a crew must have before they can leave the station where they received the orders.  In this case, all three crews received orders 211 and 212. 

Going back to the beginning of this train's run, we see the Extra East which is pulling up to the Hope depot where Engine 3629 has been waiting on the siding.  The train will proceed further up the track so that the pusher can tack onto the rear of his train.   We can assume that the board is down to protect a previous Eastward train, maintaining the required 20 minute interval between trains (rule 91).   By the time the pusher is cut in, the board will have been cleared to enable Extra 5101 East to begin the arduous climb up the Coquihalla Canyon.

This green page is an extract from the Dispatcher's Train Sheet of the operating session on which is recorded much of the information relevant to the movement of the trains across the subdivision.  This side of the Sheet covers all the Eastbounds on the Coquihalla Subdivision.  We see that Extra 5101 East is entered in a far right column leaving Odlum at 17.05.  Note that Pusher Engine 3629 is entered in the next column, accompanying 5101, both departing Hope at 17.45.  The pusher cuts off at Coquihalla as indicated by the lines drawn across and above it.  Extra 5101 East continues on up the canyon (and the column) arriving at Brookmere at 21.10.  Note that there is no time entered for Romeo because it is a "dark station" without a resident Operator to advise the Dispatcher of the passing trains.
Finally we give the Eastbound a wave as she leaves us and start to "PK" the Westbound as she gets underway.

This post was motivated by recent articles in the hobby press which addressed the subject of TT&TO operations.  Most recent is in the MRH issue for April in which Jack Burgess illustrates how the Yosemite Valley RR did it many years ago.  And of course, Mark Dance has two articles in the latest issues of RMC.  I thought that I might add a little to the pool of knowledge.  The next post will continue with model railroad operations under timetable and train orders. 

Coquihalla Man.