Introduce Scale Time
With a Fast Clock

Regular fast clock from GML Enterprises
GML fast clock

This is my fast clock from GML Enterprises. 

What is a fast clock? It's a timepiece of any description that can be speeded up mechanically or electronically. With the GML electronic fast clock, I can choose ratios of 4:1, 5:1, 6:1, 8:1, 10:1, 12:1 and 15:1. On my Utopia Northern Railroad, we use 4:1 as a general rule for train operation schedules. That means that 15 minutes of real time equals an hour of scale time.

Our trains are scheduled from 12:01 am to 11:59 pm for a full 24-hour cycle. Whatever we don't finish in one operating session is held over until the next.

I am still learning how to use the clock and adjusting the train schedules to give sufficient time for switching moves. On my previous Utopia Northern layout if I had enough operators I turned on the fast clock and ran the passenger trains on a schedule I'd worked out. The freight engineers had to clear the line to let me through. The freights then ran as extras. 

On my new UNRR I will reintroduce the fast clock with jmri operations.

The fast clock can be stopped or put into a holding pattern. There's a small control panel plate in the layout's fascia. This is useful if there is a problem like a derailment or the group decides it's time for a coffee break (the 8-hour rule!).

We can also run extra trains that are not on a schedule or introduce any other rules we like such as track blocked for maintenance or a flood. Or tank cars must be no closer than three car lengths from the locomotive.

Some electronic "fast clocks" on the market can be ganged together so that you can have them installed around the room in control panels. For now I only have the one regulator-type mounted on the wall where everyone can see it. The pendulum is operated by a battery so it just keeps on ticking no matter what.

Try one. It adds to the fun.

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