Operating the FCFL: Setup and the Durango – Salvation Point – Phoenix Run

Last week I introduced my laid-back operating scheme for the FCFL. This week I’ll describe the setup for an operating session and run the first train of the day.

A Note About Staging

It’s helpful to think of the layout as a theatrical stage. The “scenicked” portions are where the drama plays out, while the staging yards are the wings. There are rules for the stage and rules for the wings. On stage, cars can only move by locomotive power. Nothing gets picked up. The only manipulation allowed is a little help coupling or uncoupling, and a gentle nudge if a locomotive looses electrical pickup.

The staging yards are “fiddle” yards where none of those rules apply. Operators are free to pick up and move engines and cars, and rolling stock is moved by hand between storage boxes and the layout.


Setup starts in the storage boxes, where I select cars to place at industries around the layout, and to include in the trains that start in staging.

In addition to placing cars at industries, I assemble trains in staging for Globe, Gallup and Phoenix. Later we will run local trains from Salvation Point to Globe and Gallup, and these trains placed in staging at setup will be hauled back to Salvation Point.


Each car’s envelope is stuffed with an assigment card, as discussed in the last post.

Each industry has a nail driven into the benchwork beneath it. Binder clips holding the envelopes for the cars spotted there are hung from the nail.



Once the layout is staged in this manner, each successive operating session requires minimal setup.

Durango – Salvation Point – Phoenix: Train DSPP10


Train DSPP10 ready to go in Northeast Staging. This “unscenicked” area of the layout is like the wings of a theater, where the actors and props are staged for action. Also visible in this picture are trains staged at Globe, Gallup and Phoenix.


DSSP10 is one of the trains assembled by hand in staging. I use a technique employed by real railroads called “blocking.” Cars heading toward similar destinations are grouped together in the train. For the Durango – Salvation Point – Phoenix train, I place the cars bound for Phoenix up front just behind the locomotives, and everything else follows.

The envelopes for the cars on the train are stacked on a clipboard for the crew to carry.


The train departs staging, crosses the Benjamin-Henry River and briefly passes through Many Lost Ways National Park before descending into Salvation Point.


Train DSPP10 arrives in Salvation Point.


When DSPP10 arrives in Salvation Point, all the cars not continuing on to Phoenix are cut off. The yard crew uses the yard goat, a MP1500DC, to pull the local traffic clear and shunt it into the yard.



Any cars in Salvation Point bound for Phoenix are then coupled to the end of DSPP10.


Then it’s a straight shot through the canyon, past Herbst Junction and into Southwest Staging. When DSPP10 arrives in staging, the locomotives are cut off and coupled to train PSPD12, the Phoenix – Salvation Point – Durango train that will be the last “run” of the day. These cars were staged here during setup.


The assignment cards on the arriving train are all turned to their next destination. The cars are manually re-blocked according to their new assignments, thus creating the Phoenix – Salvation Point – Durango train for the next session.


Next week: Action picks up in Salvation Point, where the yard crew gets busy assembling the local trains for Flagstaff, Herbst Junction, Gallup and Globe.


One thought on “Operating the FCFL: Setup and the Durango – Salvation Point – Phoenix Run

  1. Pingback: Operating the FCFL: Salvation Point Yard and the Flagstaff Local | fcflrailway

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