One of the most important contributors to a successful and engaging
op session is adequate documentation. I assisted Rick Fortin with the development of the operating sessions on his HO layout and we use a variety of documents to give crews the information
they need to do their jobs and have fun. One of the basic principles I followed in developing this documentation was to segment
what each operator received … in other words, they have only information pertinent to their job at hand and there's
no need to page through a large manual to refer to their specific task. Click here to download an Adobe Acrobat file with a few excerpts from the operating paperwork (please be patient, sometimes my ISP is
a little slow).
Rick's layout is partially described
on the web here and was featured in Railroad Model Craftsman (November, 1999 issue) and in the Layout Design SIG's Layout Design Journal #19 (Winter 1998). I also described developing the operations plan for Rick's layout as part of this clinic.
If you'd like
help creating an operating plan and supporting documentation for your own planned or existing layout, please refer to the
Operating pages or contact me.
Freelanced to proto-freelanced name
It may be interesting to note that we
have always followed a proto-freelanced concept for this version of Rick's layout: we use primarily ATSF procedures and
rolling stock moving through mainly real towns. The layout represents a possible, but never built, extension of the Santa
Rick has recently decided to move away from the
freelanced "Sierra Western & Santa Fe" name to an identification for the layout that matches ATSF naming conventions
for the 1973 era: 4th District, Valley Division, Coast Lines. The references noted above often refer to the layout by the
older freelanced name, but we are finding the new name much more realistic. It also places the layout in the real-world geography
by relating it to actual ATSF districts.
Western is now a small freelanced railroad with a connection to the ATSF. This segment of the railroad has not yet been built
except for the interchange connection, but that already provides significant operating interest. Eventually the Sierra Western
will occupy an additional deck in the layout room, incorporating a portion of Rick's previous freelanced SW&SF layout.