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I ran into this problem on the first couple of layouts I built.    Once the layout was running, I sorta lost interest in working on it after watching the circle a few times.

Then I think when I had my 3rd or 4th layout  which included a loop for continuous running, I read an article in a magazine about "operations"     The article described drilling small holes in the roofs of cars and using colored thumbtacks with numbers corresponding to industries to route cars.  

I didn't want to drill holes in my cars, but the idea stuck with me.   I came up with a similar system.    I bought some plastruct girder channel, with the channels wider than a model roofwalk.   I cut this 1 inch lengths.    On one side I put the  name of an industry on my layout, and on the other side either PRR or C&O which I decided I would interchange with.    I designated two sidings a ways apart on my layout as interchange tracks for these RRs respectively.   Each would hold 3-4 cars.   I had some other sidings and about 6-8 industries on the layout including freight stations and team tracks (take any type car).    I had about 12-15 cars on the layout.    I placed cars at the industries and on the interchange track.

Some of the industries took only boxcars, one tanks etc.   The team track took any kind of car and the freight station gons and boxes.    So I made up 8-10 tags for each of car.   I placed them in small boxes on a high shelf so I could see into them.  

When the cars were on the interchange tracks, I would remove the tags from their roofs and put them into the appropriate boxes.    Then I would randomly grab tags for each car on the interchanges from the box for that car type and place the tag on the roof walk or top with the industry name facing up.   When the cars were at the industries and all switching was done, I would turn the tags over on the industry cars thus routing them to one or the other interchange.

To operate, I would select a loco from engine house (from the 3-4 I had), and a caboose.    The engine house was near most of the industries.   I would gather up the cars from the industries and then I would run around the layout to the first interchange track.   I would pick up the cars from that interchange, and then set out the ones I had going there.   I would run to the second interchange and do the same.    Now my train had all cars routed to industries.   I would run around to where the industries were located and set out the cars to whichever industry they were routed to.    Then I would take the loco back to the engine house and shut down.   With 12-15 cars, 2 interchanges, and 6-8 industries, that operation would take me from 1/2 to one hour.    My layout did have a loop, but the part I ran was a spiral from the interchanges on a base level to the industrial area on the upper level. 

Once I started doing this, the boredom disappeared, and I got very interested in running the layout this way and working on it.   The system was simple, easy to set up, and generally each session was different because of randomly drawing the tags, and finding the cars in different spots.  

I have moved on to use car cards and way bills and now I use a computer program to route the cars.   My layout is much larger, but concept is the same.    And it is always fun to operate and has been for years.

@dkdkrd posted:

Actually, the solution's quite simple:

This actually is a great point. I designed my (soon to be real) future track plan to run like a point to point. But because I often will operate alone, there are loops. I will be able to break down and make up trains in each yard while a train runs around the loop. Then I bring the looping train in to deliver the loaded cars and pick up the empties. I'm thinking it's going to be a lot of fun. I tinkered with it on a little 4x8 test layout and I loved it. I especially enjoyed the congestion. The challenge of not having enough empty track made operating really enjoyable for me.

This is a great topic! I’m currently in the middle of redoing my layout and it consists of 3 loops that don’t connect (on different levels) and I was already starting to feel bored with it and I didn’t even start the scenery yet!

Well after staring at my layout for a few hours yesterday, I ended up temporarily taking down the second and third layer so I can add 2 crossover’s which will add so much operations and will allow me to change the direction of the train instead of a constant clockwise loop.

No photos yet, this all happened really late in the evening yesterday and was a spur of the moment kind of thing. Now I’m beyond excited to get back to work on it! Once again, great topic and excellent insight from everyone!

Or,  here is what I do every once and a while:  Play "where will it go?"

I get a nice glass of bourbon, go downstairs, put one long train on the layout, and then randomly set all of the switches.  Then I turn on the power, set the throttle on low, and just sit back and watch the train meander around the layout, while I sip my drink.  It is very relaxing.    I never know where the train will go or end up.   

Mannyrock

Rich

Sounds like you got the bug to increase your layouts operations abilities.  Your taking action sounds like me when I decided to find a way to add a Wye to my outside loop on two of the train boards after thinking it was not possible for ten 10 years the layout has been up permanently.  With determination I found a way to add two switches to do this by cutting 1/4 inch off of each switch body and for fitting it.  By trying the switches in where they had to be I saw what was needed and started cutting, no drawing or sketch.  The job was done a couple of days.

During the original board built in 1977 and addition in 1988, I made sure I could reverse trains and have a figure 8 and oval on original board, an oval and two dog bones on the new train board and now a Wye on the outside loops around the layout, all reversing means.

With your layout on three unconnected levels your next challenge could be to connect the levels to each adjacent level.  That will really open up operational options and add lot of fun action.

Charlie

Rich

Sounds like you got the bug to increase your layouts operations abilities.  Your taking action sounds like me when I decided to find a way to add a Wye to my outside loop on two of the train boards after thinking it was not possible for ten 10 years the layout has been up permanently.  With determination I found a way to add two switches to do this by cutting 1/4 inch off of each switch body and for fitting it.  By trying the switches in where they had to be I saw what was needed and started cutting, no drawing or sketch.  The job was done a couple of days.

During the original board built in 1977 and addition in 1988, I made sure I could reverse trains and have a figure 8 and oval on original board, an oval and two dog bones on the new train board and now a Wye on the outside loops around the layout, all reversing means.

With your layout on three unconnected levels your next challenge could be to connect the levels to each adjacent level.  That will really open up operational options and add lot of fun action.

Charlie

I’d love to connect the levels but I’m already so restricted on space and barely fitting things in the way it is. Then again if I remove a dresser and two tall cabinets, I’ll have room for an 8’x2’6” extension along the wall. It’ll be opposite of the 2nd and 3rd level so wouldn’t help with that but it’ll allow for some nice industries and flats along the wall. Maybe a lift bridge or two… Wow how one little conversation can get you thinking.

If you need more room consider a trick I used in my last location.  I had a three level RR but was stuck for a place to have a passenger terminal at both the top and bottom level of a new addition.  I only had one  square foot left that the zoning board would approve, so I poured an 8" diameter concrete piling out the back and ran an elongated "dog house" fashioned with "I" beam joists to span the distance.  I then matched the roof, ridge  vent and siding to make it blend.  The blending did not work, the neighbors doubted my sanity.

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One thing to consider for a RR addition.  Corners can be wasted space so pushing the zoning limit, I chamfered the corners which allowed me to push the back wall out over two feet which ultimately elongated each right of way track 2'.

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@Tom Tee that’s definitely unique! When there’s a will, there’s a way. At first glance it looks like an oversized mailbox which would be excellent for new train deliveries! My train room is on the second floor so my attempt at that would be quite disastrous. I still have another closet I may eventually empty out and extend into. That would be way way down the line though.

I do several things to keep interest.

1.  I have been working on this layout for many years and each area in in various stages from just a plain base to "finished" (hahah).  That way when I go downstairs I can work on what I feel like that particular day.  Benchwork, wiring, scenery, whatever.  Then there is not the drudgery of having to complete step X when I really feel like doing step Y.  I usually run at least one train round and round while working on the layout if possible.

2. All trains are put away on the layout.  Engines parked, cars in yards and the mains clear.  I challenged the kids when they were young to NEVER touch am engine or a car with your hand if you can help it.  No 0-5-0.  If you want to build a train then operate an engine, dig out the cars you want with the engine and build a train.  Then run the train.  But before Mom calls us for dinner... sometimes after dinner, you had the operate the train to put all the cars away and park the engine.  This really became interesting when two kids wanted to build and run trains at the same time.  They had to think, they had to cooperate and they had to share.  More time was spent building and putting away than running in circles or even delivery and pick up of freight passengers.  Every session was a little different depending on the train they wanted to build.

3. On the workbench.  Lately, I've been getting a lot of satisfaction away from the layout and on the workbench either converting engines to battery power, custom painting cars or kitbashing structures.  I find this work relaxing and fun.

Don't you need some new clothes darling?

4.  Get away from the trains.  It's healthy to have other interests.  I fly model RC planes and in the nice weather, like to do outdoors things like camping.  I have to do yardwork too... not a fan of that.  So train time for me is typically when it is cold or rainy.  As I get older, I much prefer Winter.  No yardwork.  Just grab a beer and head to the basement to work or play trains.

Take today for example.  I got VERY excited because it was foggy and damp this morning.  Looks like rain.  I thought to myself, Yippi, I'm going to mess with that BL-2 today.  I've been wanting to try my first attempt at fixed pilots.

But alas... It's going to be 91 and sunny today.  I have to powerwash the deck, set up the outdoor furniture, wash the camper, wash the truck and time permitting, mow the lawn today or tomorrow.  No trains today.

At least I had fun reading and talking about trains on OGR this morning with my cup of coffee.

Stay motivated.

Ron

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Last edited by Ron045

For me the construction phase of my layout was the most fun. I did very little in the way of scenery or any buildings. I was and still am a fan of the Postwar era trains and all of the maintenance /repairs that go with it. I love the mechanical aspects of these models. Unfortunatly because of health issues I sold off most of the good stuff . If I was to do it all over again I would probably build a theme type layout like a lumber company or something else that would be a challange for my modeling skills. I think to have a work in progress is the best way to go. They always say a layout is never done.

I have two completed layouts in my basement - the older one is 12'-by-8', the newer one is 10'-by-5'. Each layout took five years to complete. My approach is to work steadily on a model railroad until it is 100% completed - including structures (I built all of them myself) and scenery. And, once I've completed a layout, I leave it as is and don't make any revisions because I was careful about what I built in the first place. During the construction phase, most of my time was spent on building, and I did not spend much time running trains. After the layouts were completed, I had no further modeling work to do and shifted mostly to running and maintaining the trains. Yes, I miss the modeling work and construction. But now, with completed layouts, I spend more time posting photos and videos of them on the OGR Forum and have written several articles about them that have appeared in O Gauge Railroading magazine and elsewhere. So, once a layout has been completed, the activities tend to change but they can still keep you busy. Buying new locomotives and rolling stock also helps to renew your interest in running trains. I also buy books about railroads and railroading. Reading about the subject and your favorite railroads makes running your model trains more interesting. As a youngster, my father used to take me trackside and we would just watch the trains come and go. These days, I'm content to do that with my model trains.

MELGAR

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Imo, try to avoid a plain old oval. Create a track plan that involves trains turning a different way.

I started out with an oval . Then ripped out one side and  expanded it making more of a triangular shape that is visually more interesting.

Have an industry to service for your railroad, that way there's a reason for the trains to stop going in circles.

I have an ice house and platform on an inner passing siding, steel reefers are my rolling stock of choice.

While not "correct" from a railroading standpoint. I have only one turnout connecting my inner and outer main lines. So it's a bit of "work" to get the reefers from the outer main into the ice platform, but that's the fun.

@Mannyrock posted:

TomTee,

When it comes time to try to sell your house, I guess you can punch a big hole in the end of the extension and call it a Pidgeon Roost.    :-O

Mannyrock

The home sold easily.  Even with the gauge 1 right a way built through the walls of the in-law quarters.  I did have to fill in the step down --step up walk under of the inner peninsula in the addition.

I was told that he new home owner uses the two level passenger tracks for his lawn tools and snow shovels.

Last edited by Tom Tee

All my layouts always end up being a circle.   I got bored and sold almost all my stuff.  I have one train running on a 4x8 loop.   I really want a point to point with a big yard.    I decided I didn’t want to turn my entire basement into a layout nor commit to the money.   So, right now, after 10 years of building and tearing up, I’m not doing much of anything with trains and I’m actually ok with that.  I’m sure my mind will change when the pool closes…it always does

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