helfton Turn raddled into Martin Yard, having done its work in respectful time. Its engineer called yardmaster Perry White, asking where he could drop these outbounds and grab the Zanesville Turn. White, old beyond his years but oddly lacking seniority, directed the drop and grab move. He mused at the rapidity with which the engineer swapped out and accelerated out of the yard. It was like he was some sort of Superman.
This engineer was not of this railroad or even of this Earth. The sole surviving member of a planet destroyed when its DC modules exploded, and who described as Clark Kent, mild-mannered engineer of the great Southern Plantific Railroad, fights a never-ending battle to preserve truth, justice and the N-scale way.
Now-we find Kent parked at the Zaneville siding (he didn’t know why cub dispatcher Jimmy Olson had put him there – he’d asked three times for the industrial trackage), considering his switchlist. And while Kent, as SuperEngineer, might be faster than a speeding silver bullet, he realized that his late departure meant the yard had jammed more cars onto his train from next months session, and he flinched. And while he was more powerful than a Kato locomotive, he physically slumped when he realized that his cut was unblocked. And not withstanding that he could jump tall Pittsburgh buildings, he groaned aloud when he realized that Tipton turn had left the auto plant in disarray. Yes, this would be difficult, even with superpowers.
But as Kent leaned over his paperwork, trying to figure out how to unscramble his moves, he heard a tiny faraway voice with his supper hearing. “Oh, SuperEngineer! The turnout in staging won’t throw.” And it’s “Up, up and away”, as SuperEngineer soars through the sky, flying in a supersonic blur to Bound Brook to hand-force a drum motor. But scarcely had the man of nickle-plate regained his cab when another tiny voice called out, “Oh, SuperEngineer, my train has derailed and I can’t reach it!” So, the N-Trakian blurs through the sky (“look, it’s a bird. It’s a plane…”) to rerail the train and save the day again. Spent, he returns to his cab. But a second later: “Oh, SuperEngineer, I’ve lost an engine in the helix”. Our superhero had only just burrowed under the mountain to aid and assist, only to hear another voice: “Oh, wait, here it is.” And then it was a breakaway train. A head-on collision that needed to be pried apart. One thing after another.
And there sat Clark Kent, a.k.a. SuperEngineer, hearing everyone complain and carp about every little thing. His eyebrow flinched as he tried not to employ his heat vision. He’d give them something to really complain about…
So, yes, seriously, we ran with a new dispatcher (Zach) and a new yardmaster (Steve) who both did wonderfully (other than the double cornfield meet that exploded in Zanesville). Really, I thought that our problems would come from a total lack of experience in our support positions. But no, it seemed that (and I hate to say this) everyone seemed particularly helpless (still hate to say it) tonight
While there were a lot of issues with our aging layout, many of our issues came from crews making mistakes – such as overrunning meet points and then backing uphill on a curve to correct. Or leaving turnouts open. Or not checking turnouts before your train (the panels have green lights to show proper routing – you should be able to confirm your line-up, even in a crowded aisle). Yes, I threw a turnout and misdirected a passenger train, but I stuck around and made it right. And I derailed on that Mingo turnout – but I realize that was probably going too fast through it (I should have been going through it at restricted speed and giving myself a roll-by).
We can’t be supermen and fix things in midsession. The club needs to put on its own red capes and save itself.Or work together to fix issues.
And the storytelling and carping was, truthfully, a bit much, guys. I worked two locals and it was hard to focus. Please, when someone is doing laying waybills on cards and frowning, it’s not the best time for sharing trivialities with me..
Okay, my debrief is over. I’m sure there will be more discussion at our next meeting.
And I’ll bet you’ll all be packing Kryptonite.