The importance (and the frustration) of standards

Aaron's new "Amquipment" on the PMRRC test track. Note the #6 switches and 2% grade.
Aaron’s new “Amquipment” on the PMRRC test track, which features #6 switches and a 2% grade.

Real railroads run on standards, and so does the Sierra Pacific Lines. A train car is a train car on a 4×8 tabletop layout, but when you are pulling a 50-car train up a 2% grade, any car that isn’t in tip-top shape has a good chance of going on the ground. PMRRC has developed a strict set of standards for rolling stock, and all cars must pass inspection before they are allowed on the railroad.

Our trackwork is so good that if anything derails, the problem is almost always with the car. When a train goes on the ground, our standard operating procedure is to place the affected cars in the bad order tray for re-inspection and get the train moving again. In most cases, the train continues without a problem and we almost always find something wrong with the car.

As a newbie car inspector, I’ve been amazed at the things that can cause a car to kiss the ties: Continue reading