OpsLog – FEC – 11/18/2023

OpsLog – FEC – 11/18/2023

t was Donald Sutherland who created the character of the World War Two proto-hippy “Oddball”, who smiles when presenting the coffee-swilling, hookah-puffing, woman-fondling tankers of his command with a dopey yet prideful smile.

“These are my boys.”

Today, me and some of the N-Trakers ran east to the coast to operate on the Farnham’s FEC. We entered their house in a blaze of gold, thanks to John’s club shirt. The guys (John DeVasto, Zach Bischoff and Jeff Chisholm) as well as myself and my wife, we took our jobs, sat down and did the shit out of them.

Doing what I do best. (Unless you are John DV and think I left you to die in Pinetta) (Photo: Zack B)

I’ve run at the FEC before with a usual scattering of people from up and down the coast. Generally it goes well enough. But a core group of guys from a club, each with years of training (i.e. running trains), it really shows. They were quick on their radios, OSed when clearing the main, and followed their signals with exacting skill. Overall, I feel that they really made the session shine.

Me, I was flinging the CTC levers, Left-Right or Normal-Reversed, routing the traffic and parading trains in groups of three or four over the long stretches of single track that composes the main line from Palm Bay to Titusville. And since the crew was running hot (even hotter since Ken tightened his timetable) we were kicking ass and moving freight. It was like the Thunderbirds from a few weeks ago, but I’ve already made that comparison in another blog.

Need a caboose? You’ll find one here at the truss factory (little local-switcher joke) (Photo: Zach B)

My only technical foul was early on when I cleared a train holding on a siding with the main’s signal. Woops. Happens.

Even the wife was a valuable asset. It turns out that a last-minute failure of the yardmaster’s phone meant she could page but not talk. So she solved it in a clever way – since we were running with shed doors open, she’d page the crew to the open doorway, record who showed up on the soup ticket and then, on the back, would write the train’s address in big block letters and hold it up (so they could dial the address). I remember looking over my shoulder halfway through and seeing her solution to get address to crews from across a crowded shed and being shocked. I don’t think I’d have thought that up.

I don’t think I’ve ever moved four trains across the division, nose to tail from Cocoa to Palm Bay, lighting up each signal as the advanced train cleared. It was quite something to see the entire left side of the board lit with moving lights.

A dismounted John DV pushes through palmettos, looking for the shifting load the detector triggered off of (Photo: John DV)












Tight switching confines. The shed crews quickly fetched up the loads so they could thaw on the main with a delay up the line (Photo: Zach B)






So, yes, a solid effort from Orlando N-Trak. You can see that, after years of running with each other under complex warrants, CTC is cake-easy.

Now, next week we face the pre-holiday, light-attendance club effort. We’ll see how many trains our crew can move!


A crew efficiently works Melbourne industries, not aware that their carefree run will end with a long triple-meet at Pinetta. Hey, that’s straight out of the published lineup! (Photo: John DV)

My happy place (Photo: John DV)