Saturday 2 April 2022

Matching Power to Train Size

 Let's start off this time with a view from one of my favourite railfanning spots, as GP38's 6212 and 6210 round the curve toward the "east side" line.

The layout is not all that big really, at about 6 x 17', plus there's a 7 foot industrial switching extension. I like the way the view under the overpass here "frames" the trains as they come around the curve.

I think I've mentioned before that some years ago I read about limiting the number of cars that a locomotive could handle in a train.  I thought it was a pretty good idea at the time, because the size of the layout really doesn't allow for very long trains anyway. I made it a permanent rule for myself and it really does work out well for me.

How it works is simple: A limit of 2 cars per powered axle. That's it. Just that easy.

So a single 4-axle engine can only move a maximum of 8 cars at a time, one 6 axle engine can take up to 12 cars.  So in the photo you'll see below of this 9-car train, two four axle locomotives are necessary.

The only exception I use for this rule is that empty flat cars count as zero.  But I don't have or use many of those anyway.  Things can get a bit tricky occasionally.  Like if the job involves switching or shunting a number of cars. Picking up 3 cars for example with a 6 car train means that 2 four-axle engines would be necessary. Or, just one six-axle.

Another look at that GTW train rumbling along the "east side" line with 9 cars, including gondolas loaded with metal for recycling.

I like the way the two matching GP38's look together anyway, so they are just about always coupled with each other and typically lead trains that are about 8 to10 cars long. Of course lifting and switching freight cars out of customer's spurs can temporarily add to that length. So going by my 2 cars per powered axle rule, having two engines on the train becomes necessary.

A going away shot from the overpass of the GTW with gondolas loaded with scrap.  I've been on a gondola weathering kick lately, so I'll have more on those another day soon.