One way that everyone can help Winterfest be more fun is to come earlier and pitch in to ensure that layout set-up is almost complete before 5:00 PM Friday night and then 100% ready and completely tested well before the show opens at 9:00 AM on Saturday. Although most of the burden of set-up usually falls to those who bring modules, others who plan to run trains on the layout should feel just as responsible for set-up and takedown. Help is always needed for moving and clamping modules, inserting connector tracks, connecting module wires, cleaning track, hanging skirts, connecting power supplies and throttles, testing, etc. Everyone should pitch in and help out until the job is done. This also applies to tear down after the show is over.
There are usually many layouts for the public to enjoy at the Amherst Railway Society Railroad Hobby Show. But our NTRAK layout should have a special appeal that should make it superior to all the other layouts. We have three "mainline" tracks, some Mountain Division track, and lots of private track where we can run more trains and much longer trains than anyone else at the show! Operating our layout at capacity should be our goal and should result in the most fun for us and for the viewing public. But doing so requires some collective discipline and responsible effort on everyone's part.
To fill all tracks to capacity and, thereby, perform a realy good show, we will need about 8-12 people to run trains, 4 tower operators, and a layout supervisor during each of the 15 hours of show time on Saturday and Sunday. The layout supervisor's jobs will include encouraging pople to fulfill their scheduled activity, recruiting replacement helpers where needed, helping repair derailments, perhaps filling in with a train, or doing whatever it takes to keep the railroad running at capacity. A total of 12-16 people times 8 hours per day equals 96-128 people-hours per day. If there are at least 64 NTRAK registrants for Winterfest it means on average each will need to volunteer less than 2 hours per day for operating the layout. This leaves plenty of time for everyone to eat lunch, see the rest of the show, etc.
Sign-up sheets will be provided to maintain a schedule for these various jobs and to serve as a reminder of each person's commitment to operate on the layout. The shift change for tower operators and the layout supervisor will be on the hour. Tower operators should arrive for their session a few minutes early and discuss what is running so as to make an orderly transition in operations. Please do not leave your tower until your replacement arrives.
Ask the layout supervisor to help resolve any problems. Please set up and remove trains as quickly as possible to make room for others in the yard area. Please run your trains for a full hour and don't pull them until the next scheduled train is ready to leave the yard. Trains longer than the yard should be built up and taken off with successive passes of the train through the yard to minimize congestion. The layout supervisor should step in to help manage effective use of the yard if necessary.
We think those who bring modules should have first pick of the slots for running trains on the sign up sheet followed by those without modules who help with set up. Those without modules who plan to run trains should sign up for an hour of tower duty before signing up for running a train. Let's try to sign up for all slots and then follow through to fulfill our commitments!
It is our opinion that the above suggestions should not seem new and different or a burden to any experienced NTRAK person. We think of the suggestions more as standard "NTRAK ettiquette" which, if followed, will help Winterfest participants and the general public have more fun.
Chairman, Winterfest 2018
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