OpsLog – LM&O – 3/27/2024

OpsLog – LM&O – 3/27/2024

kay, to be blunt. Operations stank last night. Stank to high heaven. Literally. I was told that some unexpected guests came in and they reeked of cat piss. Members were literally coming in to complain and to steal some of my fresh air. I considered sealing the airlocks and going to internal air. I suppose that people who live near pulp mills and canneries “get used to it”. So what, you have a sand dune of unchanged cat litter in your house? Thanks Steve for prompt fumigation efforts.

Every session, something new.

Now that we cleared the air, what happened in the session itself? Well, the Orlando N-Trak club ran hot and heavy (like our air?) last night. We slowed down the clock a little, which backfired in that passenger trains had slightly longer station stops and bottled some movements. We ran for a while at 8:1, then bumped to 9:1, and ended the session at 10:1 (our usual pulse-pounding ratio). Happily, we did not suffer undue setbacks early on the hill (and when we did, members jumped in immediately to help (though I think Chris only ducked under the layout to rerail a train in the underground loop to take advantage of the air pocket in there). As it was, we only had minor delays and few meets on the western slope. On the other side, Lehigh was voted Most Valuable Siding as we stacked them in two and three at a time. There were a couple of delays when passenger moves and delayed stacks clotted up there.

Busy night in Lehigh as an eastbound freight meets a New Haven coal drag preparing to challenge the hill (Photo: Kaden S)

Kudos to all those engineers who upped their games and took newer, more challenging jobs. For us to run everything on this railroad, we need engineers who are versatile and we’re getting that. I heard new voices on some of the freights and locals and didn’t hear too much confusion (again, the airlocks were still sealed). Special mention goes out to Reverend Jim, who ran assistant yardmaster down on the east end, and John W who handled superintendent for the night – he dove in to get staging tracks operational at clock-hot, which probably saved us some overdue trains. Of course, Zach pinned down the yard and I maned the railroad complaint desk, as always. Honestly, the things you guys carp about.

Martin Yard East End, never a dull moment. To the right, a loaded ore train tries to wiggle out of limits. The assistant yard master, foreground, is, as usual, fuzzy (Photo: Rev Jim)

Units crew up in the foreground, while in the background, a yardmaster calls suicide prevention (Photo: Kaden S)

The Triple Crown passes a heavy manifest over the Lackawanna Viaduct (Photo: John DV)











Two passenger trains, affectionately nicknamed “Chippy” and “Bitchy”, prepare to head east over the summit.  (Photo: Kaden S)

Another first for the night – the Steel Mill with three furnaces went into increased production, bringing into play a sign up sheet with 10-minute pocket-jobs. Given that we won’t run ore and coal unless those cuts are moved into and out of the mill caused a great flurry of communistic cooperation. Trains were in and out of the mill all night. Slag got dumped. Furnaces bellowed. Looks like all our mineral trains have been moved to completion, meaning all line movements are available next session.

415, dragging MT hoppers back to the mine, roll out of Pittsburgh, followed in the background by a fast freight. (Photo: Kaden S)

I’ll mention this because everyone is watching – yes, I did nearly collide two trains last night. I’ll offer the defense that it was near the end of the session, I was tired,and some passenger knob wanted to read his timetable at me over the radio. But 415 and 153 nearly kissed at Mingo Jct. As it worked out, they both got there at the exact same moment and did a rolling meet – sure, it looked sexy and all, but everyone compared warrants and knew that we shaved by by dumb luck more than anything else. Not everything that stank last night was a guest, it seems.

But overall, a good night at the club with all trains run, the mill coming further online, the layout running better and the crews happier. Next month we’ll split the division and run with two dispatchers so you won’t have my excuses to listen to (some of them will come from the other guy). Maybe he’ll do me a favor and write his share of the blog.

But a great session from one of the biggest and best monthly operation sessions there is. Fantastic job!

The Shelfton turn eases through the Pittsburgh interlocking, dutifully venting brakes before easing down the 5% grade to the industrial area (Photo: John DV)

Some guys who made it happen: Superintendent John to the left, Yardmaster Zach to the right. And the happening? Coal drag 414 heads by on main 1 for the distant mills, the Triple Crown gets a warrant in the intermodal yard, and heavy freight 202 picks up the Calypso cut. (Photo: John DV)