Control and Operation

Fellow modeler Bill Williams and I have discussed these topics, but I’ve not said much about them with others.  So I thought I would share some of my plans and ideas with the rest of you folks.

The Louisiana Central will be a somewhat laid-back type of operation.  There won’t be a parade of fast-running passenger trains or long freights running up and down the mainline such as Lou Schultz has on his C&O layout.  Rather, our operation will be closer to what you see on the Greenbrier subdivision at Lou’s.  There will be more trains than on the Greenbrier, but the atmosphere will be similar.

In overall length, the LCRR will be about the same as the Greenbrier branch, but there will only be half as many towns (five towns actually modeled), and there will be the Spencer logging operation, which will be much more involved than the Mower operation at Cass on Lou’s pike.

The railroad is designed for a rather small crew, two to -maybe- five folks at best.

I’ll be using a Lenz DCC system for train control and all track switches will be powered by Tortoise switch motors.  The Tortoises will be controlled via toggles located on the fascia (nope, I’m not interested in controlling them with my throttle).

The line will be dark territory; the only signals will be near the Little River bridge.  Here the Spencer Lumber Company has trackage rights on the Louisiana Central for just enough distance to get across the river.  The signals will be tied to the mainline switches at either side of the river where the Spencer line joins and leaves the LC main.

Primary operating authority will be by timetable and train orders.  Actually, we’ll be using a “simplified” version of this, with a minimal amount of paperwork.

I plan to generate traffic with a home-brew software program that I’ve been working on over the years.  The program is based on industries needing cars to move product and will generate waybills for each car at the start of each session.  Each waybill will contain only the information pertinent to the car’s movement for that particular session, so it should be easy using them.

My general philosophy is to keep things relatively simple.  I’m not adverse to computers connected to railroad functions and operations, but don’t feel compelled to use the computer for everything possible.

There is so much more to all this than what I’ve put forth here.  If anyone is interested in more detail than what I’ve written or wants to discuss other aspects, just post a comment and I’ll be glad to expand on it.


4 thoughts on “Control and Operation

  1. Jack all of your plan sounds fine execpt for your own computer program to generate activity. Since the development of JMRI Operations which can be run a stand alone car movement program I would not invest the time in refining yours when their is a better, sorry you will never get as deep as these guys have gone, FREE program aviable. Will be willing to come set it up on my lap top for your rr and let you give it a try.

    Art Houston
    Grande Pacific Model RR.

  2. Jack
    As we have discussed, your plan looks good and your KISS principle is my way to go also. This JMRI is great if you are good with computers but otherwise….Also, it’s more to break down.
    I’m looking forward to operating on your layout, hopefully soon

  3. Jack,

    I think that you have a firm grip on what a line such as the Louisiana Central would be like. I think that developing your own computer system will help you insure that the operation is what YOU desire. JMRI is a good system, but you are in many ways tied to the parameters of the people doing the programing. This is true of any computer program that you might use. I would be interested in seeing the number and type of trains that you plan to operate. Also, I’m in agreement with Bill about looking forward to operating on your layout.

    George Simmons

  4. Folks,

    First, let me thank you for your comments. I wish I was real close to operation, but realistically, that is a good ways off. But operate we will one day!

    Art, you mentioned that I should abandon my software and just get started with the JMRI Operations. There is much validity to what you say (and thanks much for your kind offer to help get me started). However, I really would like to try to make a go with what I’ve spent so many hours creating. I have no doubt that the JMRI program works well, and over time will only improve. I am very pro JMRI . . . I’ve put in quite a few hours developing some of the software for DecoderPro. I’ve been active with that project since 2003.

    But George hit on a great point. The software that I’m developing is tailored for my style of operation, and to the very railroad that I’m building. If I am using it, and don’t like something, I can easily change it. When you’re one of the “team” developing software, you have to keep in mind the “greater good” and sometimes that can be quite stifling (ask me how I know this). Besides, I really enjoy working on the program. I’d rather work on it that lay track or wire the layout!

    George, here is a link that might help give you a little better feel for what trains will be operating on the Louisiana Central. If you read this and still have questions or suggestions, please feel free to comment.

    Anyhow, thanks again all for participating in the blog.


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