Telegraphy scripts

Telegraphy scripts photo Telegraph-Script_zpsaf741ca1.jpg

My friend Chris Abbott dropped in for lunch this week, so I had a chance to give him a quick tour of the layout. It’s been a couple of months since we got together so I had a lot to show him.

Before Chris arrived, I had time to create and print some test scripts for using my recently-installed telegraph network. These are crib notes to help an operator (or a layout owner!) use the telegraph key to transmit something legible, and understand any replies.

I’ve mentioned the article by Andrew Dodge on his telegraph system a few times now. It was in the June 2001 issue of Model Railroader magazine and I based my scripts on the ones he crafted for his layout. I modified the system to work better for my own layout. For example, Andrew used his telegraph system for a simplified form of dispatching, appropriate to his 19th century narrow gauge layout. My 1950s-era CNR branch line layout operates under very different circumstances – for example, it’s entirely within Yard Limit territory and there’s only ever one scheduled train on the line at a time: The M233/M238 mixed train. The time table and rulebook provide all the information necessary for the mixed to do its work, and for any other trains – operated as extras – to stay out of its way.

Therefore, the scripts provide the notes for a conversation in code so that operators can report their arrivals and departures as necessary.

– Port Rowan is a register station, so all trains will have to report there.

– Whether to report at St. Williams depends on the circumstances. (For example, regular reader Monte Reeves – a great source of information about St. Williams – has pointed out that the St. Williams station agent used to alert the appropriate dispatcher when M238 rolled through, headed for Simcoe and the Cayuga Sub.)

We’ll work out the details as we incorporate the telegraph system into the rest of the operating scheme. But to give you an idea of what a telegraph exchange might sound like, I’ve put together a short video showing how the script is used to report the arrival of (to “OS”) Extra 80 West at St. Williams:


(You can also watch this directly on YouTube, where you may be able to view it in different sizes. I’ve also noted that on occasion, the video goes blurry, which makes it hard to read the captioning. This is a problem at the YouTube end – my local copy looks fine. I’ve found that pausing the video and letting it buffer more fixes the problem.)

In the video, I’ve used an uncoupling tool to indicate the line on the script that the operator or dispatcher is transmitting. Obviously, that’s not necessary when actually using the system, which means actual use of the telegraph is even quicker than what’s shown on the video.

I’m looking forward to trying out this system with visiting operators.

After the tour, Chris and I retired to Harbord House for lunch. It has, indeed, been a while – and we indulged. Crab cakes, a bacon-cheese-ale dip with bread, chicken curry, a pulled pork sandwich and sticky toffee pudding – all washed down with pints of Stationmaster’s Stout from Junction Craft Brewing.

Chris – great to see you, as always. Looking forward to the next one!

7 thoughts on “Telegraphy scripts

  1. Harbord House!

    Yes, a good visit. Wished the traffic hadn’t slowed me down; we could’ve run a train before lunch.

    Rest assured, I will be back.

  2. Very cool! Yet another audio component to the layout room, I like the birds at the beginning. I know they do some telegraphy at the Huntsville and Lake of Bays, that’s the last time I saw it.

  3. Thanks for the kind words, everyone. Each addition to the layout adds a new dimension, I think. By the way, David Woodhead dropped in yesterday and we gave the telegraph its first trial during an operating session – and it went very smoothly. Things are good!

    • Hi Mike:
      Yes, thank you – it is!
      I think I’ve said it on the blog before, but I’ve started many layouts and while this one is the least complex, it’s also the most satisfying. Lesson learned…
      Cheers!

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