OpsLog – LM&O – 3/23/2023

OpsLog – LM&O – 3/23/2023

kay, let’s break down the disasters into two primary events.

The Dispatcher Panel: There is a bug somewhere (I think it comes from double-clicking someplace you shouldn’t). It crashes the program. I never see it. Bob Martin used to get it maybe once in every other session. Cub dispatcher Steve got it about five times tonight. That meant we had to reset the board and try to remember where the trains were. It also threw off Steve’s careful lineup of warrants (he’d figured the first four hours of issued warrants before the session started). But then again, no plan survives first contact with the enemy.

The Ghost Train: This was the perfect storm of screw ups. So, by the numbers: We should never allow a new member (1) to run a train he’s never run before without a pre-session checkout (2) and try to borrow engines (3) and throttles (4) under time constraints (the session was already underway and the train was already late) (5) and he ends up with an untested steam engine too weak (6) and too difficult(7) for the task, of which he knows nothing about, even its timetable (8) and its route (9). Yes, we all contributed to this one, so I’m going to dial the blamethrower to maximum spray and let fly.

223 rolls past the Harris Glen turn, brakes set (and about to fail), resulting in a runaway that leads, in Unstoppable fashion, into downtown Pittsburgh (Photo & Wreck: Jim M)

But here’s the thing – that train usually passes another at Zanesville. Warrants for four trains were latched on this event, but since the train annulled, the meets were bunged up. While the dispatcher tried to deal with this, the program went down hard (I was literally sweating bullets trying to fix it). This threw Steve off his game and set the rolling disaster of our session into motion. Yes, think about it –  two major screwups, like two colliding tidal waves, forced an even larger tsunami that swept over us all.

So what went right?

Man, I got to run a train. Using tried-n-true workhorses, I went down to Shelfton to wine and dine it, and eventually take it to bed. I loved my run and I loved how much fun the switching was. Even with the alarms from the dispatchers’ office and even solving every little thing, I had a great time. Worked Shelfton and Pittsburgh and came back in to top off the engine house with fuel.

At once point, 244 stalled going up the grade through RedRock (as mentioned above, some trains are fun to run in limited use, like shows and around a Christmas Tree. Orlando N-Trak ops require sound equipment with solid pulling power. It is not the place for “classic” motive power from 1970 or whenever). I was going to run helpers up the hill and save it but AJ took them over and, even though he had to shove from the rear (about the worst place to push from) he got the train up to the summit. That really helped out and shows what good train handling (or dumb luck) can result in. Seriously, I started the helpers out of the yard, loaded heavy with misgivings. It’s amazing that it went so well.

Of course, I still don’t know what happened in Harris Glen. I know that there was some sort of volcanic reaction, that virgins were sacrificed and trains delayed. I intend to watch the security cameras next week and watch a literal train wreck. Tickets are available for front row seats.

The Mingo Turn, ill-advisedly running behind fussy steam, rolls out of Martin. Don’t try this trick at home, kids! (Photo: Dan L)

But if you think it was a total wash – Steve actually DSed quite well (given the reverberating disasters) (though I did hear of some sort of near-collision or two). I think with one more session under his belt, he’ll be fully qualified. And Chris sat in on the philosophy salon that is freight routing in Martin Yard. I’m not sure how soon Zack will be able to do something else and close that sordid chapter of his life – soon, I hope. Several others I observed running quite well – kudos to you. And, as always, unless you want to man-up and come in and DS a session yourself, nobody really wants to hear your quarterbacking on “how you’d have done it”. Show us. Or cork it.

The pipe train rumbles across the Pittsburgh diamonds, impressively long enough that if you look close, you can see the engine rounding the far curve under the bridge, doubling back on itself. That’s a lot of pipe. (Photo: John DV)

Otherwise, I’m looking forward to the next session. And if Steve can take the panel again (else risk those blackmail photos being published in the Journal Box), I’ll be grabbing Shelfton again. With good, practical engines. And a firm knowledge of where Shelfton is, and how to get there.

Nuf said.