The Hills Line, both prototype and model, rarely had a need to run multiple units. There were times that a large number cars were need at Stutsmans in Hills, mostly during the fall agriculture rush, which necessitated additional power. But by and large, the industrial spur only saw trains pulled by a single locomotive.
That fact affected the design decisions when planning the railroad. The length of the spurs and runarounds aren’t built to support multiple locomotives at one time. However, being able to consist locomotives consistently and reliably has benefits, even on a smaller layout.
Since I use Iowa Scaled Engineering’s ProtoThrottle to run all of the trains on The Hills Line, it makes sense to make sure that all of my locomotives respond consistently to that throttle, especially when it comes to speed. Having one engine jackrabbit at Notch 2 while another creeps along at the same setting is not ideal.
So the best way to create consistency amongst a locomotive roster is to perform speed matching between the locomotives in your roster. And the best way to quickly speed match is to put the locomotives in a consist.
Once connected, I space the locomotives slightly apart, then start running them in a given direction. I then watch and measure the distance as the engines are moving, noting which one moves faster or slower as the gap expands or closes.
I generally use IAIS 708 as my fleet benchmark and set my other locomotives against it. Mostly that’s because the 708 is my Frankenstein unit; a combination of an Athearn shell on an Atlas drive. But ideally you’d have one unit that you would set every other unit to match.
The matching extends to the functions as well. A simple check that the front headlight comes on when F0 is activated across your fleet creates consistency, and makes for better layouts for you and your operators. And that’s something to be thankful for.
My best to you and yours for this Thanksgiving holiday.