|Improving operation immersion...|
You probably all found out my writing output on this blog took a plunge in the few last week. With no surprise, this was due to recurrent health issues and not lack of content. Unforunately, writing in an other language when you're not feeling well can quickly become extremely challenging and it was the case.
In terms of layout construction, nothing really happened since. Trying to wire DCC, sound and lighting in locomotives proved to be a nightmare. The SW1200RS project is also hellish even if it was supposed to be more straight forward (beware of undecorated Rapido locomotives would be my advice).
To be honest, model railroading can be very frustrating when the results aren't matching the amount of effort put into something. Over the last few months, I've been trying to replicate as close as possible locomotives that ran on Murray Bay Subdivision during the early 2000s. I my mind, if you have the right locomotives for a layout it means you're half way toward completing your vision... but maybe I'm somewhat wrong in my claim. It's not my goal to rant here and thus, I won't share these angry feelings clouding my mind, but I think you can easily understand them.
However, I prefer to share the positive outcome with layout operation.
|A switchlist, a pen, some keys and a cell phone (to run TrainCrew app)|
|Using FRED... made from a Peco insulating joiner and some red tape.|
It's great to not have to create switch lists by yourself and I'm not saying it for lazy reasons (programming JMRI is everything except easy). After years of operation, my pattern were extremely predictable and I didn't take advantage of several opportunities. I would put together a train and Jérôme could almost blindlessly spot each cars effortlessly. Also, having to work a list made by the computer helps a lot in the immersion process because you don't know in advance what to do with the trains. That's a big plus for me.
|Jérôme and Louis-Marie switching Donohue|
We worked in tandem and it was great to stop at moments and start planning the next moves instead of being on autopilot due to our biases. To slow down things, we used the TrainCrew application to make sure we took our time to respect the railroad rules. Among many tasks, correct number of handbrakes were applied, air brake tests performed. Wieland, with it's two small sidings was now a really busy spot on the railroad. Not so long ago, running this part of the layout was a matter of a few seconds. Now it takes at least ten minutes. Just setting out cars at Villeneuve is now a significant task. All that made the layout feel really big and in such a manner we really did have the feeling to have worked a full day. Once again, it proves us very little is required to keep some guys entertained for a while. It certainly confirmed me that such a diminutive layout like my Temicouata project will provide a lot of fun. As for Harlem Station, I can already predict operating sessions on that layout will be extremely challenging.
|An old trick in the book: using scale figure to better visualize what is happening.|
|Wieland office... up and running|
JMRI Operations was also altered to add CN Limoilou yard as the effective staging area. This new location represents the rolling stock storage cabinet under the layout. Far to be a gimmick, this enable us to replicate in a more prototypical fashion how cars were swapped at D'Estimauville between train 522 and train 523.
|Miniature padlock used to lock turnouts and derails|
Fast forward to yesterday. Following a Facebook advice, I acquired several miniature padlocks on Ebay to secure turnouts, derails and fence gates. They have been temporarily mounted on the benchwork at this point, but will be better implemented later when working on scenery. It looks silly right now, but it had a tremendous impact on how the operating session went on. It drastically slowed down operations, but also forced us to better plan our moves. As a matter of fact, it was impressive how the layout stopped to be a toy and became a real game. Once again, implementing all these little details on a layout can make a real difference...
So, at the end of the day, wiring locomotive is extremely frustrating, but on the other hand, the layout as modified and now operated is far better than what we did in the past. In all honesty, it seems to support the idea that a fun and rewarding layout isn't that much grounded in the prototype or scope of the project, but rather how you approach you concept and put it in action.
|Silly? Maybe, but quite useful.|