ight feet. Two inches. That’s all it took.
Okay, so the session started off well. Really well. I was running the dispatcher panel again (evidently, there wasn’t a dispatcher within fifty miles of the place). And I had this session down cold. I don’t think I’ve ever had it running so smooth – I had warrants written five minutes ahead of issue time. The railroad was running tighter than it ever had. Even with delays from Silver Bullet 2 gasping to a shuddering death on my main, I was able to get 202 pretty much back on schedule. Things were knocking back and forth pretty smoothly.
I know we were having some problems. Besides Silver Bullet, I know that the new helper kid was a bit rough, causing some derailments. And Greg’s back – I could hear him from the rear office. And we had some track difficulties. But overall, things were still moving, trains weren’t waiting for hardly every time, and I was patting myself on the back so much I was about to dislocate my arm.
And then it happened.
The first mistake was running 244 out while Silver Bullet 1 was exiting Pittsburgh. No wreck – it was within yard limits so everyone was going slow. But it was a LAP, it would have been reportable, and the news of this goof went through the club like an electrical charge through a bucket of shit. But then, on the heels of this, something worse happened. 244 was climbing out of Stone Bridge, running up eight feet of track, gaining two inches of elevation. An easy two percent grade. All he needed to do was get into the siding at Red Rock and all my westbound movements would run down and then the eastbound parade would begin. But then the bottom fell out of what was presumably an NS chug-lugger, one of four engines, which locked a truck. 244 stalled on the hill. The railroad ground to a halt. Helpers had to be called.
What a nightmare this was. I cut paper for a helper out of Martin, only to find out the crew had reported for duty at Harris. This made me void paper and rewrite another warrant, just to get the helpers down to lug the helpless onto the siding. Finally we could get the overdue 66 up and the delayed 97 down. What a shameful performance. It was like we were Amtrak or something.
I came out expecting everyone to be cross with the layout, the club and each other but, no, it seemed that even with this debacle, everyone had a great time. And that’s why we do it, so everyone had a great time.
But really – you couldn’t get that freight train eight short feet further up the hill?