I’m still riding the idea of developing a layout concept based on unloading rail cars during an operating session on a model railroad. What I lack in my research is a more clear understanding of how the customer relates to this operating scenario – where is his voice? To bridge that void, I’ve been working through some of the great information provided by the various grain cooperatives across America. One terrific example is found in this video, produced by West Bend, Iowa’s MaxYield Cooperative:
In about eight minutes, our host introduces us to and walks us through the work they do to load a one hundred car train. He’s obviously proud of their ability to do this in fifteen hours. If you have a few minutes, the video is professionally produced and I found it quite enjoyable to watch.
Several modellers are incorporating into their typical operating sessions the work of setting and releasing the brakes on individual freight cars or at least, adding in time during each switching move, to provide an equivalent break to punctuate the session for these actions. Early into the MaxYield video the host adds more steps to this process:
- Check the doors on each rail car to make sure they are in good condition – the car can’t be loaded otherwise;
- Open the doors on the top of the car when it is time to load the car.
These are two more things that we really can’t actually do on our tiny models but in terms of setting the pace of operations I think it could be worthwhile to provide time representing when this happens.
When I first read the video’s title, I pictured one hundred cars being threaded through the elevator as one complete train. Instead, this particular elevator can only handle cars one at a time. This plays directly into my initial idea. Moving cars one at a time, at the elevator, is performed using a pair of Trackmobile car movers. Despite what could seem like a potentially simplistic operating sequence, I think there could be potential for something really engaging:
- The operating session starts with a clear goal: “We have to load this many cars tonight”. We don’t actually have to load a hundred cars in one operating session. No matter how many we actually complete, we get a sense of accomplishment as each respective set changes in number – we can see the work getting done.;
- “We can only move them one at a time. You grab the first and head to the mill. While you’re preparing and loading that car, I’ll go grab the next. By the time you’re done, I’ll be ready and we can swap positions”;
- While the switching moves are simple, in this simplicity we find time to enjoy watching their execution; time to listen to the sound of those Trackmobiles at work; and time to appreciate each model grain hopper.
I enjoyed watching MaxYield’s video. I doubt I’m the intended audience but in their work I learned quite a lot that I couldn’t otherwise since I don’t work in the grain or railroad industry. I learned “why” things happen. That sense of why is important to me and I’m grateful that I stumbled across MaxYield’s video and sat there and watched it.