eah, Dog! Ken let me run the panel again! And it’s the FEC holiday party – a full lunch followed by hours of mainline action. And everyone is there – open invitation – so we’ve got the cores, the casuals and the crazies in the cabs. And now we can really answer the Universal Question:
How many ways can you cut a caboose off?
Well, if you are a dispatcher, there are at least three ways. See, engines and cabooses light the block on the DS panel, letting you know where they are. Ken even said in the briefing – if you are going into a siding, leave the caboose on the main so we know where you are at. The last thing a DS wants to do is think a train has cleared a turnout and find out otherwise (by cutting it in half, like a samurai sword does an earthworm).
So, method one: Drag a string of cars out of a siding with the caboose at the head of the string coupled behind engine. SLICE!
Method two: Work with your entire train inside an industrial area. When you leave and cross a turnout, the front of your train has cleared the siding turnout, but the tail is still back in the unregistering industrial trackage. SLICE!
And method three: If you are the crew with the initials “BM”, pick your caboose up with your hand while traveling towards the siding turnout. That’s all I can say. One moment, the light was out. The next, just as I threw the turnout, the light came on. And “BM” is just sinister enough to do this. He’s the best I can do for a “nemesis”.
Anyway, outside of all those accidents (and the resulting form T’s that I had to fill out) the session ran well. I did have a moment when I missed a meet at a siding and had to get two trains past at Cocoa. This is a big no-no but I was in a corner. I wanted one train in, nice and quick and quiet, and then I’d slip the other past and nobody would be the wiser. But the crew dipping into the yard were bulls in the china shop. Things broke. Trains went on the ground. Searchlights flashed across the sky and a band played. The Superintendent saw it and – if he’d been in the mood to dish out demerits along with all the chicken and pie, I’d have had a double serving, thanks. So yes, being sneaky didn’t play well in Palm Bay.
I think my favorite moment came with the inaugural run of the Tropicana juice train, highstepping up the line, heading north. Such an auspicious occasion with hats in the air and cheers ringing. That is, until it got through Melbourne and a detector picked up a hot box. So much for that service. We had to explain to the shipper where a boxcar of orange sludge could be found. Makes me wonder if we’ll see more Tropicana trucks on the highway. We shall see.
Anyway, great end-of-the-year session at the Farnham East Coast. Thanks, Ken, for making this happen!