Now that I have things more or less running on the layout, I can start thinking about operations. These are a few documents I’ve created to help get things started, and to make it easy for visiting operators to understand what’s going on with their jobs and the layout. They also make nice souvenirs.
These documents help support operations, but also help establish the place and theme of the layout. For example, they’re all done in styles mimicking real Conrail documentation where logical or possible.
Windsor St Layout Guide Book – This book is the most important thing I’ve created. It includes a description of the layout, how it fits into history and the Conrail system as a whole. It also has important info for visiting operators (like the wifi password and what DCC system I use). I like to send this guide to visitors ahead of their visit so they can “do their homework” and have printed copies for them to refer to and take with them after their visit.
Train Description Cheat Sheet – This sheet hangs on the fascia where yard crews can see it. It explains, generally, what cars go into which trains.
Terminal Information Publications – Based off of real Conrail documents from Bay View Yard in Baltimore, I created these documents that explain what each train is, what it does, and how it’s supposed to behave on the layout. They’re the final part of the “script” of the layout’s operations.
Example Car Report – This car report is the document I currently use to drive actual operations on the layout. It lists the cars in various trains (or at least the blocks that aren’t just rolling scenery) or locations. It then lists where those cars are headed, providing instructions for crews. Only the cars for on-layout customers have their customer column filled in because the entire spreadsheet is manually created and modified. Eventually, I plan to build a system to do this task, but for now, I get to be the clerk between sessions. One of these sheets is prepared for each ops session.
Location Signs – These location drawings, done using the drawing tool in Google Drive, are printed and posted on the layout fascia to help operators understand where they are.