Operator Instructions and Bulletins

Instructions for Operators on the USMRR Aquia Line Model Railroad

1.       General
1.1.         Welcome to the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac (RF&P) Line of the USMRR (called the Aquia Line for short) in late March 1863. We hope you enjoy your visit as you experience a taste of what railroading was like during the Civil War in the 19th century.    Please read this complete document so you understand your and the other players’ roles.
1.2.        If you are unsure about something, please ask. There will be no court martials or firing squads.
1.3.        You are welcome to bring drinks and snacks into the basement.  Please do not set drinks, snacks, or other items on the layout. There are shelves and tables distributed around the basement for that purpose.
14.         If you wish to take hand help photos or videos of the layout for your own use, please do. Please do not publish the photos in magazines or on-line zines without asking. However, we encourage you to post photos to social media of you having a good time on the layout.
1.5        If you notice a problem, please bring it to our attention. If it is not critical, please make a note of it and show to the superintendent for action at the end of the session. If you derail a car, please re-rail it carefully.
1.6        In event of emergency there is only one exit, the way you came in. There is a fire extinguisher near Aquia Landing. There is a first aid kit near the workbench.
1.7       The superintendent (Bernard Kempinski) will act as dispatcher unless otherwise noted. There will usually be some experienced helpers also present to provide assistance.
1.8       Have fun.

2.            Conductor
2.1.         You are in charge of the train. You will instruct the engineer and brakeman on what to do. We normally run 2-man crews, but can go to 3 if people are available. If using 2-man crews the conductor is also the brakeman.
2.2.         Movements on the layout are controlled by early 19th century Time Table and Train Order rules, which are simplified versions of the currently used rules. You will find some train orders and a schedule for the trains in the packet you receive. The train orders will provide any special instructions. You should consult the schedule to understand any meets with other trains or other events you must consider.
2.3.       In the packet, you will receive a replica copy of the USMRR Conductors Report.  Please fill out the top with the names of the operators on the train. This form will act as your switch list.
2.4       All trains originate at Aquia Landing or Falmouth. The switch list will tell you what cars to pick up to make your train at that location. Once your train is assembled, you can depart, but not before your scheduled time.
2.5.a.       All cars will have a loaded-empty token on them which we use to simulate Haupt's policy of the need to unload cars as soon as they arrive. As you move over the railroad you will find cars spotted at Brooke, Potomac Creek, Stoneman's Station, and Falmouth.  If you find an empty car at one of these stations, pick it up. If you encounter a loaded car,  flip the token randomly to determine if you will take it. If the token turns up "loaded", the car stays where it is. If the token turns up "empty" return to "X", the car is has been emptied and you must return it to location "X" at Aquia Landing.  Write the car number and destination in your switch list. And set aside the token.   If the car is a flat car, remove the load (such as bread boxes, barrels, lumber, or artillery pieces) and place it on the neighboring platform. If the car is on a trailing point turnout you must pull it now (see rule 2.9) even if you are still southbound. Thus empty cars cars at the stub sidings at Brooke and Stoneman's must be pulled by trains heading south (to Falmouth). Cars at Potomac Creek must be pulled by trains heading north (to Aquia Landing).  If you must pull a car, but your train will be too long to haul it, leave the car off-spot to pick up on your way back, or by another train.
2.5.b.     When you arrive at Aquia Landing you will spot the empties as directed by your tokens/switch list.
2.6.       As you work you may mark up the switch list and add notes. When you are done, please turn in the switch list for our records.
2.7. Maximum length of train is 6 cars plus locomotive.   Longer trains may be allowed if you have no scheduled meets. Check with the dispatcher before deciding to haul more than 6 cars.
2.8       To signify if a box car is loaded or empty, use a "loaded-empty" token. Flats cars are obviously loaded or empty by inspection, but they also will have a token.
2.9. Do not use the extended link on the cow catcher for switching. Make all your switch moves from the rear of the tender. The extended links are not designed by the model manufacturer to operate and I have not built operable replacements.
2.10.       Your train should display proper signals. In daylight, white flags for a single scheduled train, or red flags if an extra is following. At light, colored signal lights will be used instead of flags. Note this is somewhat reversed from later practice. Yes, it will be confusing if you are used to modern practice.
2.11.      The clock operates in real time. There is no fast clock.
2.12       The time table is a modified version of the actual timetable used on the railroad to allow for more intense operations. There are schedule meets on the timetable shown underlined and in bold text. A train may not leave a station or tunnel (see 2.14) before its scheduled time to do so.
2.13      The telegraph system is not yet operational. You don't need to report arrival at stations.
2.14     Special Rules for the Tunnel  The section of track in the tunnel between Aquia Landing and Brooke is a special case. Upon leaving Aquia Landing to Brooke or vice versa, stop the train once it  disappears from view into the tunnel. The tunnel is shown as Clozet Tunnel on the Timetable. It shows you have about five actual minutes before you can depart the tunnel. This will give you time to leisurely walk from Aquia Landing to the tunnel portal at Brooke or vice versa.   Once the scheduled time arrives,  you may proceed.  If you are concerned about your train's progress in the tunnel, you can open the closet and check the on the movement status of the train.   This planned delay adds "time/length" to the run and makes for a more relaxed and safer operations session.
2.15.      Pusher or double headed engines are not used in normal operations.
2.16.  Conductor cars (also known as “way cars,” or rarely in this era, “cabooses”) are now available. Your conductor report will indicate if your includes a way car.  It can be spotted anywhere in the train.
2.17    Car Float Operations  On an normal day the wharf at Aquia Landing receives one  car float from Alexandria. That float will have inbound cars for the Aquia Line. Since the car float is an early design with cars across the beam of the float instead of parallel to the keel, we will not actually move or load the float. The loaded cars from the float will be spotted at the end of the wharf at the start of a session. Empty cars that are returning to Alexandria will be spotted at the end of the wharf at the end of a session.

3.            Engineer
3.1.         You are in charge of the locomotive. You will control the throttle, bell, head light whistle, and engine servicing. Please familiarize yourself with the throttle and the special functions. There is a cheat sheet on the back of the throttle with the controls appropriate for the loco.
3.2.         Do not run with the headlight on in daylight. Whale oil was expensive and reserved for night time use.
3.3.         Ring the bell when passing or near depots. Ring bell when starting the loco from stop.
3.4.         The engine decoders have momentum programmed in, so be aware of that when starting and stopping.
3.5.         The brakeman will signal you when to move during switching with hand or verbal signals
3.6.         Use the appropriate whistle signals when moving the engine.
               1 Short - Apply brakes,
               2 Short – Release brakes,
               3 Short – Backing train,
               4 Short – Call in flagman,
               5 Short – Wood up,
               1 Long – Danger.
3.7.         There are water towers and wood ricks at Aquia Landing, Brooke, and Falmouth. You should replenish the water in the tender each time you pass a water tank.  While watering up, flip a coin. If it lands on heads, you should also add wood.  To service the engine you must park by the wood rick and water tank to replenish water and fuel.  Use the sound effect function to simulate the water filling operation, which is F9 on EascyDCC throttle or F2 then 6 (push sequentially, not simultaneously) on the Stanton throttle. You do not need to move the hose or lever on the tower. Wood loading is simulated by a 2 minute wait by the wood rick and the appropriate whistle signal to call in the brakemen to load wood. You do not have to actually load the wood.
3.8.          All back-up moves have a speed limit of 5 miles per hour. Do not exceed 5 miles per hour when crossing the bridge. Do not use excessive speed when switching.
3.9.         You will turn the engine when necessary on the turntable at Falmouth or wye at Aquia Landing. The turntable is manually operated and aligned.  Ask if you need help with it. Both the turntable and the wye have automatic reverser circuits. You just drive on and the electronics take care of polarity.
3.10.      Please turn off the throttle and return it to us when you are done.
3.11.      If a battery equipped engine stops running during operation, it could be a dead battery. Please let us know if that happens. We have a spare engine in case this happens.

4.            Brakeman
4.1.         You will couple and un-couple cars, set the switches, and operate the brakes in accordance with instructions from the conductor. You will guide the engineer during these moves with hand or verbal signals.
4.2.         The cars use link-and-pin couplers. We use magnetic pins and laser-cut resin-impregnated paper links.  They will take two hands to operate. You will be given a brake staff to use. It has a rare earth magnet on one end to grab the pin and a taper on the other to help manipulate the link.  Use the magnet end to pull and place the pins.  If you are careful the magnet will only grab one pin when you go to pull the pin on adjacent cars. If you accidently pull two pins, replace the one you did not wish to pull.
4.3.         It may be necessary to use your hands to move the cars and fingers to set the links. That is OK.
4.4.         Place the unused pins and links in the plastic bag we provide. Try not to lose them, but we do have extras.
4.5.         You will throw the switches using scale-sized switch stands. Do not force them. They should operate smoothly and lock in place.  The lock requires that you push the lever into the slot, then slide it into the correct position. Visually inspect each switch to insure it is properly set. There are two double slip switches, one in Falmouth and one on the wharf at Aquia Landing. Each is controlled by one switch stand. It is a little confusing to use the first couple times you do it, so please verify that you have it set correctly.
4.6.        All of the switch frogs have automatic polarity devices except the turnout to the bakery siding at Aquia Landing. If you move that turnout's points with the switch stand, make sure you also flip the switch to control the polarity to the frog. The polarity control is a toggle switch on the fascia just to the lower left of the switchstand. It is clearly labeled, "MAINLINE" & "SIDING".
4.7         Some of the cars have working brakes. Make sure these are all released. We will not use the working brakes in these operation sessions, except at Potomac Creek siding.
4.8.         Please make sure you return the magnetic brake staff when you are done. We do not have many extras.

Sept 9, 2017

1. Do not use the curved turnout that is north of Falmouth behind the engine terminal. It is scheduled for removal.
2. The switch stand to the rear siding at Stoneman’s station is prone to stick when switching to the siding. Visually inspect it to make sure it operated properly.
3. The siding at Potomac Creek is on a slight grade. Use hand brakes, or a derail (aka push pin) to hold cars if necessary when spotting cars there.
4. The rear siding at Stoneman’s Station is dead rail. Operating non-battery locomotives (Haupt, McCallum, Osceola) on this track may result in a stall.
5. All locomotives have DCC and sound. The back of the throttle has the number assigned to each engine.
6. Fury is battery powered.  Use the Stanton controller for this loco.
7. Whiton is battery powered. Use the Stanton controller for this loco.
8. Haupt is DCC with a keep alive. It’s headlight is non-operational. Otherwise runs well.
9. McCallum is DCC without a keep alive circuit.  Otherwise runs well. It also will occasionally short internally when frame members touch, usually on a tight curve or turnout. Be on the lookout for that and make sure you react quickly to clear it. Usually giving the engine a nudge works.
10. Osceola is DCC with keep alive. Osceola is an 1846 design and is a small locomotive. As such it has less pulling power than the other locos. Do not pull more than 3 cars with this loco.

Bernard Kempinski
Superintendent of the USMRR Aquia Line

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