Adding a single switch and siding to the Ponderosa Lines last week opened a whole range of new opportunities. One goal with the railroad is to conduct operating sessions that provide the railroad with a purpose - at least an imaginary one. In HO scale it was easy to keep adding track and sidings and industries, allowing for a slew of operating schemes. With a more prototypical G-scale layout, however, track switches are at a premium, and sidings are, by necessity, minimal. At least for now. With some old fashioned ingenuity and a little imagination, however, it's quite possible to create a workable and realistic operating scheme with a relatively simple track plan. And so I put my brain and notepad to work.
The first issue was the length of the main line from Paradise to Boulder Point (see the "Concept and Maps" label). While I'm grateful to have a lengthy backyard pike, there is a simple way to instantly double the operating length of the railroad: take the train around twice. After I got myself beyond the issue of doubling up operations on the same track, this opened up a wide range of possibilities. After the first lap around, the origin town of Paradise turns into the instant town of Viterbo. With the new siding there, Viterbo provides trains with a passing siding and stub track. The next stop (second loop) is Blumenthal, where the passing siding can serve doubly as an industrial siding or house track. Finally, a "third" separate siding serves as a house track at the effective "end" of the line at Boulder Point. Three sidings provide plenty of opportunities for a simple mixed or peddler (local) freight that drops and picks up a few times during its round trip! Passenger trains provide yet other avenues for creative "jobs," which will likely provide fodder for future blog posts.
During a spring-like though chilly evening, I took the future Peddler on a test run using an operating scheme. A pick-up at Blumenthal, drop-off at Viterbo, and pick-up at Boulder Point. This train included the recently acquired Drovers caboose, which necessitated some local flag stops at minor stations. The whole trip required four laps around the yard, so to speak - two laps to Boulder Point, and two on the return, including the aforementioned stops. The entire job lasted about 40 minutes and ran perfectly as a small mixed train headed by WP Diesel #3. Now to integrate the job with a passenger train, something I've got plans for on paper. Three trains on this layout might be pushing it, but not impossible. For now, I'm looking forward to some simple ops sessions with 3-5 operators: two crews with two each, and Dispatch or yard master.