Saturday, August 11, 2018

Video of an operating session on my layout

Last spring, one of the young operators in our area, Adam Palmer, did a school project to make videos of operating sessions at some local layouts. All have now been posted on YouTube. Mine is at the following link (see: ), and in addition you will readily find Adam’s other videos, of Ed  Merrin’s Northwestern Pacific, Bill Kaufman’s State Belt, Tom Swearingen’ Cal-P, and a pair of videos on Jim Providenza’s well-known Santa Cruz Northern. I have waited to post anything about the video because I wanted to be sure Adam had finished all the projects, beyond my layout.
     Adam had an interesting idea of how to film these videos. He essentially worked an operating session himself, filming all the moves, and writing a script as he went along. He then had the layout owner narrate from this script, so that the entire operating session is explained and described by the layout owner, not by Adam. I think he did a great job of the video creation, and showed good angles of train movements and switching. If I had a criticism of the video of my layout, it might be the sound, which is often not very crisp and can be a little hard to understand in some stretches (including parts where I appear to be mumbling somewhat), but at least the script is clearly written.
     He began with the work of the Santa Rosalia Branch local, switching industries at Ballard and Santa Rosalia, such as this reefer to be picked up at the Coastal Citrus Association warehouse.

     After completing the work of the local train and returning to the mainline junction at Shumala, Adam then did the usual switching tasks there. These included putting together the cars for the Branch local for “tomorrow,” as well as switching the industries there, including setting out the car of lumber you see below.

     I had not actually realized what Adam intended, and when he set a date to come over and do the video recording, I was in the process of re-setting the layout from a prior operating session. So I created a kind of interim or partial session, using the cars then on the layout. Of course that didn’t matter for Adam‘s purposes, and he carried out the entire session very smoothly. He is a perceptive and fairly experienced operator, so had no trouble with the logic and procedures of doing an entire session alone.
     Anyway, I appreciate the considerable effort by Adam, to figure out how he wanted to film the operations, taking all the video, creating a script in essentially “real time,” and then all the editing to stitch it together into a whole. It’s a little long at 27 minutes, but it does give a fair representation of what it’s like to participate in an operating session on my layout. And you can’t ask for more than that.
Tony Thompson


  1. Great video! Please post more videos. Have you posted a drawing of your layout? I have not found one on your blog.

  2. Great video, it gives a better depiction of your layout than just photos. What is the manufacturer of the diesel switcher and how close to the prototype is it?