ON DECEMBER 18, 1998, WE RAN THE VERY FIRST FULL operating session on my Yosemite Valley Railroad layout. It was also the first time that we have run more than just a pair of Locals.

This operating session used TT/TO (Timetable and Train Order) operations under the control of a Dispatcher. A total of 6 trains were run in just over 13 scale hours (10:1 ratio, i.e., where 20 scale minutes equals 2 actual minutes) or about an hour and a half. The session began at 7:00 a.m. (scale time) and the last train tied up at around 8:00 p.m. As indicated in the section on Operations and Forms, four of these trains were timetabled (a pair of log trains and a pair of limestone or "rock" trains) while the other two were Local freights running as Extras. All of the engines were sound equipped and, even with background sound effects, no one had problems with the overall sound volume in the layout room.

Overall, we had a great time!

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8:32 a.m. - Ray deBlieck, engineer for the El Portal Local, assembles his train at El Portal. All of the engines are equipped with Soundtraxx decoders which allow for full sound effects including the whistle, bell, cylinder cocks, coupling sound, etc.


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9:40 a.m. - No. 11, the Rock Train, drifts light downgrade at Bloss on the upper level with just a caboose under the watchful eye of engineer Don Marenzi. This train is headed for Emory, barely visible on the left, where it will pick up all of the "rock" cars (hopper cars) loaded with limestone. Meanwhile, the Log Train has been made up at Merced Falls on the lower level and is waiting to depart.


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9:40 a.m. - No. 8, the Log Train, departs Merced Falls 3 minutes late and heads uphill toward Tunnel 1 with engineer Jim Dias in control. These empty log cars will be hauled up to Incline (on the upper level directly above Tunnel 1) and exchanged for the loads spotted there. Jim is holding a copy of the Employes' Timetable (that is how the YV spelled it!) and a Job Card which provides supplemental information.


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2:05 p.m. - Don Marenzi, discovering that the west switch at Edendale was inoperative, has dragged his empty rock cars into Merced to run around them. He has now turned his engine on the turntable and is finally about ready to depart for Emory, running a couple of hours late because of the delay.


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4:35 p.m. - In this photo from over the ridge at El Portal, Ray deBlieck  switches cars at Merced Falls on the lower level using the Switch List for the westbound El Portal Local while Wes Swift, with his back to the camera, is just departing Bagby with the eastbound Merced Local.


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4:45 p.m. - From left to right, Jim Dias has dropped the empty log cars on the siding at Incline (upper level, right side of the photo) and is now rolling the westbound No. 9 downhill on the lower level for a meet with No. 12 at Merced Falls. Don Marenzi has the eastbound No. 12 headed across the San Joaquin Valley near the Portland Cement Company spur on the lower level to meet up with the No. 9. Meanwhile, Wes Swift grins as he watches his eastbound Merced Local tackle the grade between Emory (on the upper level background with the white employee's hotel) and Incline in the foreground.


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6:35 p.m. - Wes Swift attends to the working derail on the spur serving the Government Warehouse (corrugated building) before shoving a loaded boxcar into the siding.


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6:45 p.m. - Jim Dias holds short of the Merced yards to allow Ray deBlieck to clear a passing track so that he can run around his caboose and turn his engine and put it away on one of the turntable leads. Ray is spotting the last of the cars which came in on his El Portal Local.

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