OpsLog – LM&O – 5/18/2024

OpsLog – LM&O – 5/18/2024

ou’ll notice that this OpsLog starts with a banner image, a nice one captured by Zach B during the pre-dawn hours of our club operations, a special Saturday Night Special event open only to club members (God help us – we can’t afford to have guests wandering around while we’re running under subdued lighting). The thing is, it was a usual session held on a weekend where we shut down the bank of lights over the layout, making things gloomy and using the layout’s lighting to best effect (you’ll notice the Westinghouse Bridge in the background of the above shot, an effort by Bill W and Steve R that really worked well). So, we run lights out from midnight (start) until 6am. Full (usual) room lighting until 6pm, and then lights out again for the rest of the session. Really, it is a nice touch that adds to the session.

Another shot of the yard as the crew gets ready for 202, dawn just lighting the skies and a giant clipboard towering over all (Photo: Zach B)

So all I can tell you is how it played out for me, the dispatcher. As usual, I readied the warrants for 202, Silver Bullet 2 (with the standard overtake move), 414 (eastern coal, ready to roll), 223 out of Bound Brook and three locals (902, 921, 927). If I didn’t do all this, the first ten minutes of the session would be non-stop warrant booting, and that would put most of those trains late. It’s easier this way.

Also in this run, I started using the checkbox on the warrant that expires the order at a certain time. This is great since it means if a train is moving against a passenger train, I can figure a meet point, tell the warrant-hungry train to proceed to the meet and get clear, and then glance at the timetable and give him that checkbox with a ten-minute (or so) buffer off the listed passenger timetabled time before the order is expired. And this is done for humanitarian purposes – if the lesser train can’t make the meet and doesn’t take steps (i.e. flag protection of finding some other hole) and humans (i.e. that humanitarian angle) die, well, that train wasn’t operating under any “active” warrant, right? Death all around and I’m not to blame. Nice.

The “AM” part off the session went off like literal clockwork. The yard pitstopped 202 through and I had him out behind the eastbound coal, with Silver Bullet 2 in an hour early (having been a long-delayed passenger in real life, I appreciated that). We actually got SB2 out about 45 minutes early, an Amtrak trick I learned (I believe that if all the ticketted passengers are aboard, they’ll boost a little early). this parade was met by 223 and local 941 at Leigh, a nice roomy siding. The five-way meet played well and everyone was on their way licketty-split.

Coal 414 waits at the top of the ramp as drag freight 202 (followed by Silver Bullet 2) rush past in the darkness (Photo: John DV)

The interesting play was in the PM – the guy pre-signed for 244 out of Cincinnati didn’t show. Of course, Phil (who dashes from train to train all night with admirable enthusiasm) grabbed it right before 298 (a fast freight out of Cincy). So those two were plowing along, nose to tail with area locals either home or finishing up (Zanesville’s 928 barnacled onto the back of the pair and drafted them home). Meanwhile, another freight (I believe 271) was meeting an on-time 66 at Red Rock and coming at Martin Yard from the other side. I phoned Yardmaster Zack and warned him about the perfect storm and he told me “bring it”. And brought it  we did. Zack and his assistant Alex hacked at the surging trains. Meanwhile, a long delayed auto train (152) also needed access to the yard off main 1. I’m not sure how Zack and Alex worked things out (I’m assuming dark arts or slght-of-hand (possible skill, but I’m loathe to admit it)) but they managed to get trains back out. I did my best to pull outbounds clear to give them elbow room.All this and night falling again. But we managed to move all the trains through and get them on their ways.

This photo shows the layout well – railroading action as the sun comes up over Pittsburgh (Photo: John DV)

Besides kudos to Zach, Alex and Phil (earlier), I gotta note that newbie Ryan ran 66 dead on the dot around the layout. John DV was trying out his hand at operating different trains (possibly the helix below Harris will be renamed “DeVasto HellHole” or something). It’s hard for me to note people specifically – everyone ran hard and fast. Other than a train or two, everything ran pretty close to the intended times, and trains we were unable to pick up at scheduled departures managed to run late. So it was a great session.

Of course, special thank to Jeff C who drove the crew van back to the flop house so the dispatcher could go off duty. Appreciated that.

Maybe next time we’ll go out for drinks after. Who knows – does this hobby have a social side? I’d never considered it.


Smiles all around from Left to Right – Pete (rakish smile), Phil (competent smile), Kyle (jovial) and Alex (happy to be alive). An unlikely autorack train rolls through the foreground. And there are those rusting ore cars (Photo: John DV)