Train Blog
OpsLog - L&N - 08/11/2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 11 August 2018 19:24












train wreck.

This occurrence took place on the Southern line at Granfield but it’s pretty representative of the entire session. But in a good way (since anything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and I’m a very strong dispatcher now).

I was running the panels with Tom Wilson today – I’d ever so gracefully gave him the hair-puller panel (L&N) while I took on the sleepy Southern division. Other than the wreck pictured above (which happened with a literal run-away train), it was Smooth Operator time. I kicked out orders as needed, took the switch panel to fill in my time, and rather enjoyed myself.

 The Tom and Robert Train Drive Afternoon Show (credit: M. Anderson)












Then we stopped for lunch and everything went to hell.

It’s my belief that the sandwich shop got our order mixed up with the one to the secret government lab where LSD testing is taking place. How else to explain it? After I switched to the L&N side of the house (itself a sign of insanity), operators started leaving the phone party line open (which brought down my phone line about four times). Operators left turnouts in local control. Operators overran their warrant end points. Operators went to new and exciting places (and not the places I’d cleared them to). Operators snuck like Ninjas and ended their runs without a whisper of a hint that they’d finished. And panel coders found logic bugs during the session.

My favorite was the operator who kept pushing the damn call alarm while I was obviously on the line to several other operators, clearing orders. I’ll bet you lean over and over again on the elevator call button. And I’ll bet the elevators hate you for it, too.

I learned a valuable lesson. Never get involved with yard limits politics. When the yard backed up, the superintendent decided to tell me how to run things. Then he told me to clear southbounds through the yard. I thought that meant he’d held northbounds (and with the phones fritzy I couldn’t confirm). And this led to the great Horrific Helix Headon disaster of 2018.

But since the superintendent thinks I have an advantage here, this being my blog and all, I’ll prove him wrong and give him a place to respond.

Superintendent rebuttal:




I will say this. Everything he said above was a lie. But still, I’m a big enough man to be fair about it.

Truth be told, even through it was a shaky session, it was still a fun session. There were still laughs (laughs edging on hysterics) and occasional glimpses of good running. We introduced a number of newbies to the line (and maybe some of them might come back). But it was loads and loads of fun. Burning, wreckage-scattered fun.

Thanks, John, for having us out. Lemme know when the next one is so I can break more trains!



Last Updated on Saturday, 11 August 2018 19:45
OpsLog - CP&W – 8/2/2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 02 August 2018 22:43

kay, blame the fact that it’s the first day I’ve taken off work on a long time, that it was a two-hour drive to Tampa, that our Mr. Roboto navigation system got us lost in the cargo port area, or that the layout is big and there was so much to see. I’ve forgotten our host’s last name (sorry, John). But he’s got a kick-ass huge-ass railroad, the Chicago, Peoria and Western, that it’s mostly steam, that you have long runs and freight shifting and someday (it can’t be too soon) Time Table and Train Order. So, yes, names are unimportant in the face of all this.

My buddy Bruce and I snagged a way freight running east across the division, working off both a switchlist and dropping off waybills as we switched the towns up the line. The running was fun, the equipment worked well and everything was cool. I think Bruce was rolling his eyes about my pulling rank to have him work off the sidings (which turns out to be a blessing when a long coal string trundled past). I thought we did well but we could have done better – I had him backing long cuts into sidings when there would have been better ways to do things. Maybe next time.

After this, I got a couple of easy sight-seeing runs, the best being a PFE cut running loaded across the Illinois plains. Always fun with sound-equipped engines to blow at the crossings and ring past the platforms. Sure, it makes a racket but why not use it if you got it. To my way of thinking, you might as well leave the shell off if you aren’t going to make use of sound. I’ll admit that the PFE run was even more enjoyable since I could hear the second section whistling past the crossings I’d left in my wake. It was rather a poignant railroad moment, a sense of going places and doing things for a reason.

Anyway, thanks to John and his guys for having us out for the day. Had a great time and hope to come back in the future.


p.s. My host's full name is "John Brennan". Sorry about that oversight.

Last Updated on Friday, 03 August 2018 11:49
OpsLog – LM&O – 07/25/2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 25 July 2018 22:24

ike an ecstatic divorcee leaving all their cares behind, the local I’d been running dropped everything at Zanesville, a string of empty corn syrup and paint tankers and a couple of boxcars, sans auto parts, and was now rattling along the river valley at track speed; two geeps, a T&P boxcar (with mine equipment) and a jolly green Penn Central caboose. We’re making the run up the valley to Carbon Hill in record time. Everything gone sharp with all the spottings and a run on coal has left Champion Mine clear for us to work in. It’s shaping up to be a great day.

And even better, with the miracle of folding mainlines, I can watch the action as two opposing Silver Bullets pass on time at Harris Glen, easing past each other and calling on that dinky clapboard station. It’s a sight so cool (four trains operating on the same peninsula, because a freight is waiting around the corner at Carbon) that a number of club members come over to railfan.

Hot trains at the high point (photo: Franky Z)

The club is running spectacularly tonight. The problems are minor, the noise low, everyone focused on their tasks. My waits are minimal, Cody hot on the DS panel and young Shaun is at maximum thruput in the yard. The cooperative game of railroading in at a fever pitch.

Tonight we ran everything – every passenger train, every freight, four coal movements. The Harris Local finished at 4:30am, something like a record. And for me, personally, running Zanesville was one of the sweetest sessions I ever had. It just worked. I had a great time.

So kudos to everyone who came out. This is how Orlando N-Trak runs its high iron – just like we host our shows. Professional and enjoyable.

Good work, guys!


p.s. I’m going to try to turn on comments, which I’ll leave running until the trolls find us. Let me know what you think.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 July 2018 22:32
ShowLog – Deland – 7/14/2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 14 July 2018 22:04

ood show today. Lots of people came in for setup (we had enough that when we had to move 2/3rds of the layout after some mis-surveying, we got it moved in three huge chunks). Anyway, there were trains running and kids giggling and feet hurting and food over-charging, everything that makes these things a Deland event.

The interesting thing came after the show, when we had to take down. We waiting until the venders were wrapping up and still went down progressively (for my angry-political friends, this means we slowly took down things while leaving trains running, so when we did our final knock down, most of the labor-intensive parts and skirts were already stowed, so save me your editorials). The layout when down clean (the G-scale guys sighing as we put it all away like a Swiss army knife). It was about a million and five degrees outside and I asked around if someone could meet Bob at the club for our usual ten minutes put-away. No takers (that I knew of) so I told him I’d spot for him. Jumped in the mini and off I went, swinging down I-4, working up through the gearbox until… I came to a total bumper to bumper stop.

Yeah, this is the sort of thing I got my folding bike to avoid.

I inched along with nothing to show for it. The distant sign was showing two miles to an incident, right lanes closed (so everyone was merging right to run down the faster lanes) (remember that when you let people in). Finally I pulled out my tiny steam powered phone and started the calls.

Reached Bob and found out he was already rolling with the truck, going an easterly route.

Looked through my phone – could find nobody in my contact lists I could call.

Called my wife – asked her to see if she could find an old club roster and find Jerry’s number. I told her to call back – phones and pitching bumpers and shifting make me nervous.

Got a call from Terry. He’d agreed to get Bob in the gate (I thought that was my job). Turns out he was even further back than me.

Got a call from the wife. She’d gotten Jerry. He said he’d run over and let Bob in. Great.

More bumper to bumper. Finally we got to rolling again and from that point down to my drop off, it was scary hot heavy traffic, a level of hell not described by Dante.

Limped into the house, tired and worn. Just dropped my stuff in the corner when the phone rang.

“Where’s Jerry?” Bob demanded.

Oh shit. I half turned and called out, “JANE!” I thought she’d told me….

“WHAT?!?” she snapped back, ready to go to wet-ferret fighting with me over whatever this was about.

“No, I’m joking. He’s here. It’s all put away,” Bob laughed.

I put the phone down and turned to deal with my angry hackle-raised wife. Yeah, just another day at the show.



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