Test ops


With the A&O rails now down through Sobol Springs, it was time to test out some of the planned operation in this area. The wholly-owned A&O subsidiary railroad, the New River and Western (Bob Sobol’s) connects to the A&O at Sobol Springs (surprise :smiley: ). All the NR&W trackage has now been completed on the layout. Not counting the doodlebug, at least two NR&W Turns will work this town.

1The “Atomic Turn” - Called out of Ricksburg yard, this turn brings 10 empty Atlas fishbelly hoppers southbound over A&O rails and through NR&W Jct. and into the Springs. Using the runaround track and switch lead, 10 loads are picked up at the Atomic Fuels tipple (a future working loader) and the 10 empties put in their place, 5 on each track under the tipple. The engine crew will load the empties. Then the loads, with caboose on appropriate end, is reassembled and dispatcher called for unlock of NR&W Jct. turnout and clearance onto A&O rails and back to Ricksburg. (Atlas fishbellies are used exclusively for this tipple as its coal will be small in size to allow bottom discharge at the coal trestles in Glen Forge and Fillmore Heights.)

It took some planning, but the Turn worked as hoped. This will keep some lucky operator busy for awhile.

  1. The “NR&W Local” - Coming out of Willow Creek staging, this turn has cars bound for the station dock at Willow Creek, Sobol Springs industries, and A&O interchange cars. First the Local works the station dock at Willow Creek, then proceeds through the New River Diamond into the Springs. Here northbound pickups are made and Springs cars left before continuing on to Ricksburg through NR&W Jct. Return from Ricksburg is with interchange cars from the A&O. Arriving in the Springs, the Local works the industries here with cars left when passing thru previously and any just received from the A&O at Ricksburg bound for the Springs. The train then is reassembled for continued southbound movement into Willow Creek through the New River Diamond. This Turn will be able to run through staging and using the Slausen Cutoff reverse loop be turned and restaged at the end of its run.

While not enough A&O rails are in place to fully replicate this operation, like the Atomic Turn, the Local proved to make for some interesting switching.

What was learned-

  • With the almost constant 2% grade through the Springs (industrial trackage is level), wheel brakes are needed at a couple places. These will likely be Tortoise- raised/lowered wire pins.
  • Back EMF decoders are a better choice for the motive power working this area as the grades make for inertia issues otherwise.
  • The Atomic Fuels tracks need to be about 6" longer (completed).
  • There is a need for more temporary holding trackage for the various switching moves, especially for the Local. Therefore the diamond in the Springs that goes off to the unmodeled NR&W Falls Church Branch will be slightly realigned so that rather than immediately diving off the fascia, it will make a slight bend and follow the fascia for about 4 car lengths before exiting the layout. This will help with switching by providing another place to hold “for now” cars. (yet to be done)

Had we not powered things up and did some test ops, these simple changes would have been difficult later. Lesson learned.



Hey, somebody left this thing turned on! It’s looking good Dave! Now I really can’t wait to get back in the saddle!


your trackwork is excellent and smoth looking.
Is it done totally from scratch or kitbuilt?

The description of your operational patterns are really useful.
The subsidiary`s ops can easyly be transferred to a small layout.

It´s my every day`s pleasure to have a look at your website.
Congratulations Joel for your fine job as the webmaster.

J.E. Keith Stuttgart/Germany


Thanks for the kind comments on the track work- and yes, Joel is both an excellent webmaster, and son.
The track work is hand laid to fit the location. This does indeed enable a smooth flow, and makes for good operation. And I’ve been building track in HO and O for over 40 years, which helps. We’ll post some more pics as we’re about done with the staging yards.


Thanks for posting an update on your progress! Please continue to do so! I also like how you explained how you will operate this portion on the layout. This will be very helpful in my planning and building my future O scale layout.
Take Care and God Bless,
Fred Mullins


I really like those 2 bay fishbelly hoppers! Did you letter them with decals or dry transfers? Also do you have any update status on when you will have decals/transfers available to the public? I would really like to have a few A&O frt cars in interchange service on my future layout.
Take Care,
Fred Mullins


The fishbellies, along with most all A&O lettering, is done by Bob Sobol on decal paper printed on an ALPS printer. The only problem is- they no longer make those things, nor the white ink cartridges for the printing- thus when it’s gone, it’s gone! We’re hoping we have enough ink left for the many more A&O hoppers, engines, cars, cabs, and his own NR&W equipment. (It’ll be close).

Thus we’ll only be able to provided the artwork, ie- printed black on a white paper, along with a picture of the car’s side and end to identify the decal locations. This artwork can then be submitted to one of the decal makers advertised in the hobby press. If white is not a color needed in the decal, as in say a gray covered hopper with black lettering, then Walthers 8 1/2 x 11" decal stock can be taken to Kinko’s and their printers can do it. (Be sure to have it done on regular paper first to test the opaqueness first. Experience speaks). Early A&O decals (read: Before Bob Sobol) were done using dry transfers on decal paper and also some decals made at a silk screen shirt printing shop (so-so results; wouldn’t recommend it).

Lots of projects in the hopper around here at the moment, but I’ll mention it to Bob and we’ll see when his next car work is to be done. I have no idea what will be the charge for the artwork sheet and pictures. Probably not a great deal. I’ll let him set that as it’s his work. We’ll let you know when I know something.



I am so glad to see things coming along on 2.0. I remember being the first to run the rotary in an operatig session a few years back. Maybe I can help initiate Darwin when the time comes. See you soon!

Dave Zamzow
Fort Collins, CO


Darwin NEEDS initiating. The question will be- Will he assume his old position at Ricksburg as “Lard of the Yard”? or will he now assume that now that he has his own town name he should rule there? :laughing: Since both “Ridge” and “Darwin” are in the rain room on 2.0 it’s only appropriate that he be…in the dark.

I’d long forgotten that you were the first to run a coal train thru the rotary. What fun. Can’t wait 'till it’s unboxed and operating again.


Maybe I can help initiate Darwin when the time comes.

Good grief! Trackwork has just started and already the usual suspects are are jockeying for operating positions!


It’s because everyone is going into A&O withdrawl :laughing:

Site looks great as always. Top notch job on it Joel.



Here’s a warning for all you losers–The LOTY is now registered and able to defend my honor, which is pure and loaded with integrity.

If I remember correctly, it took Zamzow 7 tries to learn how to “press a button” to make the 1.0 unloader work–and for him this was an accomplishment! I’m sure on the new A&O he will try to improve on this, but I’m predicting double digit attempts before he can be left alone.

And I can’t wait to be able to do this in person!



Good to hear from “LOTY” (Mr. “Lord/Lard of the Yard”, Darwin Vanderpol) and that you figured out how to register for the forum :open_mouth: It’s recorded info herein that Mr. Z figured it out first, thus I anticipate a briefer learning curve for him on 2.0 than that of LOTY. And since we’re planning to actually card car and waybill all the hoppers this time around, I’m not sure LOTY could handle all the nuances of the new Ricksburg/Morrison Prep Plant traffic. Perhaps we need to think about a video tutorial for LOTY. Lets see…

  1. This is an engine
  2. This is a throttle for an engine
  3. Selecting direction and turning the knob will move the engine
  4. The** other** way!
  5. Rerailing equipment is best done by…

Something along that line.



Who had trouble operating the rotary? FYI, the Whiting Rotaside doesn’t have any buttons to press. It has a toggle switch! :laughing: Dave, I’ll bring the HD video camera to the next work session so we can start filming the tutorial.

Some gentle readers may be wondering what’s going on. Many people actually do seem to get along with dvp, at least most of the time, and with surprisingly few consequential trips to the hospital emergency room.

TRUE STORY (this one really is true!)
Years ago, at a board meeting of the Northern Colorado Model Railroad Club, Craig showed off a cool new design for club name badges. However, on this printed sample, he had the club President’s name and a very strange second line. It said:

Darwin Vanderpol
Lord of the Yard

As the design was about to passed around, c-and-s-fan Dave Z grabbed it from Craig and inked the second “o” into an “a”. Immediately correcting the error with a single stroke of the pen, “Lard” was born! :smiley: And ever since then, Darwin receives a special name badge to wear when he derai… er, “operates” on the A&O.

not dvp
and hiding for cover
all in good fun


Ahhhhh…Darwin…you know that you will NEVER hear the end of it.

Man…I’m going to have to dig around on my system and still see if I have the original :slightly_smiling:

Good times…



As mentioned in the lead text of this topic, extending the length of the Falls Church Branch of the NR&W was deemed a worthwhile redo. While this extension has long been done, the attached photo attests to that fact. Not only did this minor re-laying of the line provide a place to hold 4 or so cars to assist when switching the Springs, it also provided a much nicer, cosmetic curve as the branch exits the layout. Since this is a low point on the RR (literally, not figuratively), the higher viewing angle will make for an improved scene.


Dave -

Please don’t break into the highly entertaining flame wars with layout pictures. I mean, really!

I admit, seeing the “LOTY” badge just lying there was too great a temptation to resist. Just so you know, when I went home that evening I knelt and said 7 Hail Darwins to atone.

I rode to an op session at John Parker’s with the A&O historian yesterday and he reminded me that he hadn’t seen any posts from me in a while. Now you know who to blame…

Dave Zamzow
Fort Collins, CO


“Hail Darwin, full of ?” :laughing: I don’t want to be disrespectful, but the mind of some might wander…

I just mentioned to Mr. Z during our drive down to Parker’s for an op session that he had been pretty quiet on the A&O forum.

Please observe, gentle readers, that this is just a hobby, not to be taken too seriously and definitely not personally. This is doubly true when we are speaking of the Lard of the Yard. We are all great friends who respect each other and share a mutual friendship through the hobby of model railroading, and also a shared passion for kidding each other.


Just to show that no good deed goes unpunished, I noticed the following sign on the DVP Brewery on the NCMRC’s layout recently:

I wish I could take credit for this, but someone else will have to fess up.

Happy railroading!

Dave Zamzow
Fort Collins, CO


I about forgot about that :slightly_smiling: hehehehehe

I love Photoshop :laughing: