My friend Scott invited a bunch of us over today for an informal operating session. This was the first session on the new Boundary Sub. I’ve been helping Scott out with construction occasionally for many years, and it was great to finally see trains running.
There are some important lessons from Scott’s first session. Perhaps the most important was about expectation-setting. Even though the first layout was full-on formal operations with dispatcher, train order and timetable, Scott was very clear that we were aiming for something a lot less formal today. Here is Scott setting up the session with Mark, John and Mike in the audience.
Scott explained that the goal of the day was to shake out physical gremlins, and so, we would dispense with the timetable and run a sequence of trains. The specific work done by the trains wasn’t terribly important, but we were each given semi-realistic tasks.
So it was that when the DCC system started to act up, nobody was surprised or disappointed. If anything, we were pleased to have found this issue for Scott, which was the sort of thing he couldn’t have found by testing alone, or even with his regular small construction crew. We even happily took a break to test the theory that the system was overheating (John Green, Brian Pate, Brian Clogg and Mike Chandler are testing below).
The second important thing that Scott did for this operating shakedown was to invite close friends who have a shared interest in getting the layout up to snuff. In our case, it is because Scott is hosting operating sessions for VanRail in September. We are all involved in the event, and want our friends who will be coming from across the continent to have a great time.
While the session was far from trouble-free, it was highly successful, and I congratulate Scott for hosting his first op session on the new layout.