NAPM Logo  North American Prototype Modelers, Ltd.
A Milwaukee WI based HO gauge model railroad club

Operating Sessions

NAPM conducts regularly scheduled "members-only" operating sessions during which participants assume key roles (engineer, conductor, brakeman, dispatcher, yardmaster, stationmaster, etc.) of prototype railroad personnel to forward freight and passengers along the railroad. Using techniques and rules employed by real railroads, members team up to "run trains" in our realistic setting in a realistic way. New members unfamiliar with operations are introduced to the process, first by simply observing, then by assuming simple roles such as brakeman's helper or yard switcher engineer.

As they become conversant with the operation and protocols, they work their way "up the ladder", becoming engineers, yardmaster, or dispatcher. Operating sessions require real concentration and discipline, and are for many the most fulfilling way of enjoying the hobby. For those who don't choose prototypical operation, there are plenty of available evenings for less structured run sessions or photo-shoots.

Below are some photos of recent operating sessions.

Ops Pic 1
Yard engineer Joe McCarthy controls a string of reefer empties with his Southern Pacific RSD-5  and heads toward the west end of Fleming Yard where they will be stored for the next loads out.  Although most cars arriving at this main division point are sent right on their way toward their home road (east or west), a good mix of car types is held at Fleming by the Yardmaster to meet the demand from industries along our railroad.

Ops Pic 2
In “real life” member Bob Fontana is a veteran dispatcher with CSX. During this operating session Bob assumes quite a different role, piloting NAPM’s fastest train himself.   Here he pushes No. 1, the westbound San Francisco Chief through the farmlands east of Altoona approaching the busy crossing at PI Tower.  This engineer “knows the ropes” to say the least, and has clearance to slam across the diamonds and around the curve without hesitation.   The farmer’s wagons and tank trucks (and that plodding local freight!) had better be out of the way because this train’s in a perpetual hurry!  Bob probably won’t even touch the throttle until he’s blown right past the small-town stations at Ottawa, Valley, and Newton, before easing to emerge cautiously from the tunnel at the west end of East LaSalle.  After all, isn’t a run like this the main reason we built this layout?

 Warf Operations
Associate member Alex Sansone retrieves loads off the newest feature on the East LaSalle waterfront, a realistic car float detailed by Dave Karkoski. Since locomotives are lousy swimmers, Alex has to use the idler flats to keep everything aboard on an even keel. In addition to providing another realistic entry and departure point for freight onto the layout, the float adds switching complexity as well as visual appeal to the already-crowded East LaSalle yard scene. Even without detailed scenery and harbor, which are planned to be included soon, operations are fully implemented.