here are three things Dispatchers love in model railroad operations.
The first is the chance to dispatch a large and active railroad, which the FEC is. It’s got full CTC, a massive panel that’s great fun, and a lot of traffic up and down the line. So when Ken asks me, “You wanna dispatch?”, yeah, I’ll nod and say “Sure” but inside I’m clicking my heels and throwing my hat in the air. “Sure, I suppose I could.”
The second thing a dispatcher loves is when the operations and yard folks run their trains well. In this case, we were clicking through the trains, making the layout run as advertised. Once or twice we were running so smooth that I had to hold trains (which goes against my nature). Someone would be at the signal stand at 1pm and I’d have to hold them forty-five minutes for a meet. Overall, our running was as smooth as fine bourbon easing down my throat. “Ahhh, yes”.
But the best thing a dispatcher loves is when the entire train group thinks he’s messed up and is going to have egg on his face. Oh yes, I could hear the crews on an open phone, laughing that I’d messed up at the end of the session. In one stretch around the Pinetta siding, I had a local in the industrial weeds at Bonaventure, three southbound freights rattling out of Cocoa Yard, and two more trains coming north. Total disaster. But while they’d been twisting their throttle knobs, I’d been looking this over for ten minutes. So, yes, think I’m dead? Well, this dispatcher has nine lives. First, I held the local on the low Bonaventure iron. So he’s clear. Of the three southies, the first rolled into Pinetta main, signals protecting his ass from his two shadows. The northbound, routed into Pinetta siding. Speaking over the catcalls, I directed the second northbound (940, running as an extra) to duck in at Eau Gallie (which was where he would tie up for the morning). With him confirmed clear, I opened up signals south and the three trains rumbled through. As they cleared Bonaventure, that local emerged to run north back to Cocoa. And suddenly we had three trains running south, one north, and one tied down at Pinetta for a crew change. I felt like a magician at a birthday party. Alakazam, you doubters!
Yeah, great session. Still smiling.
Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.