It is clear to me that "we have all grown in terms of our collective
understanding of freight was handled. What just a few years ago
was essentially a "good start at getting more knowledge about
what the practices/methods were" has blossomed into a body of
knowledge that results in threads such as this one.
It is interesting, to me at least, that all of this good stuff (that is
NOT meant sarcastically) was originally prompted by a few guys
saying to themselves (and then to all of us) "it just doesn't feel
right to go to some Op or other and see freight car mixes that
don't fit with what we/I see in photos". Which resulted in some
studies done such as "The Wyoming Study" (sic) ... and a lot of
discussions/arguments about how to "interpret" the meaning
of those studies. And now what we have are not arguments
but rather open, honest, well thought out statements/ideas/
In summary - what has happened is that we've moved from
"building up the freight car fleet" is all about being concerned
about "the dates on the sides of the cars" to choosing which
cars we will/will not include on our layouts - and if they are
there how often/frequent/common should they be "showing
Much of the time the threads get "way too detailed" (yes, I
mean "picky") and I, like many others on this list, just say to
myself "here we go again" ... and scroll past that entry. But
we can't do that "all the time" because there ARE some
real kernels of wheat in all of the chaff that if we don't do a
good job of "winnowing" we will miss.
THANK YOU - all of you - for helping me see the difference
between layouts that are "off" - and helping me to be able
to understand/talk about "why" with words that take me
from "off" to "why this one is off".
===> or "ON" ... which happens a lot more
these days and is the more important
part of experiencing someone else's
"vision of what a layout is/isn't".
I go to a -lot- of Ops sessions. Yes, predictably the majority
of those are on a relatively small number of layouts. Not all
of them have "that prototypical feel" ... but I can enjoy each
of them for what they are. And I visit a lot more layouts
without actually operating on them - during the course of a
year I will probably visit 30 to 50 layouts (some years more).
I try hard to view each layout thru it's owner's eyes - and
sometimes it is hard to keep my tongue in my head - but
each person/layout owner/group of guys has their own rules,
preferences, visions, goals, realities of time and money,
etc., etc., etc. And it is rare that I don't take away something
from each layout visit/op session. Interestingly enough I am
"still learning" even from the layouts I go to/operate on very
- thanks again ... Jim B.