September 10th, 1976

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Yesterday I had the pleasure to be a guest operator on the Waterloo Region Model Railroad Club. I was invited by Chris van der Heide because he kindly replied to my last post regarding my interest in learning more about OCS operations. The club uses this method in its operations and he thought that it would be of interest to me to learn how they approach this. Thanks Chris!

The Waterloo Region Model Railway Club (WRMRC) is a 2000 square foot, HO-scale (1:87) recreation of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Sudbury Division, as it appeared and operated during the 1970s. The layout features include:

  • a multi-level (mushroom) design over 2 floors with tracks interconnected by helices
  • track arrangements of the modelled towns are duplicated closely to the prototype locations
  • locomotives and rolling stock match real equipment that operated in northern Ontario during the ’70s
  • long freight trains rolling smoothly over handlaid trackage powered by NCE Digital Command Control

The session started at Noon and first task was to sign in and get on a crew. I joined Crew 4 and my partner was a 20-year club veteran Peter Korschefsky. Trains are operated with 2-man crews and we communicated with the isolated dispatchers via Motorola radios. Real freight and passenger schedules were followed, along with proper blocking of freight traffic between trains. Freight delivery was governed by a car-card and waybill system mimicing the prototypical generation of traffic by railway customers. In short, we were operating the Sudbury Division prototypically – as a miniature transportation system.

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Peter at home in his dispatcher’s chair.

Peter is usually a dispatcher on the WRMRC, however yesterday he and I were Conductor and Engineer on three Manifest trains. Peter and I quickly started scheming about how to model CN 1501 using Rapido’s upcoming RDC-1 Phase 2 and I fear that I might have pulled him over to the dark side. Sorry about that Peter.

Over the course of a 6 hour session, a group of around 14 guys ran 21 trains – all simulating the traffic found around Sudbury on September 10th, 1976. And man was it FUN!

Peter and Phil are trying to figure out where we are – or more specifically -where we are supposed to be.

This was my fifth time operating (each time a different layout) and I have to say that I am hooked. Every session has been very unique; whether its been N-scale or  HO-scale, big club layout or small basement layout; fully sceniced or ‘plywood pacific’; mainline freight operations or switching layouts – it doesn’t matter. Each experience is fun and teaches me a little bit more. The more I operate on other layouts the closer I feel to knowing what I want for my QGRY in HO scale.

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Hunter Hughson‘ working the Sudbury Yard Switcher.
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Bob Fallowfield looks to be up to no good in the Sudbury Yard.

I really enjoyed my time on the WRMRC and hope to be back for another visit. Special thanks to Chis for inviting me, Peter and Ted who showed me the ropes, and everyone else that made me feel welcome.

If you are interested in a club with great prototype operations check out the WRMRC at their upcoming  2016 Annual Fall Open House on October 15th.