nother running of the tiny but busy Tuscarora Branch Line, this time with my co-creator Greg and my friends Brian and Tyler. Not many improvements for it – the new ridge top is in and I’ve painstakingly painted up the Tuscarora downtown structures in Z-scale.
Funny thing – Greg (as the coal engineer) is a little pissed that the ridge prevents him from seeing his operations around the Easton power plant. Of course, I point out that now he has to rely on the dispatcher to serve as his brakeman, calling his distances back – “Two cars. One car. Half. Stop.” How much more railroady can you get, eh?
I’ll mention this. I’ve been operating layouts for thirty years now. I’ve run many locals and switch jobs. So there are moves (like a seasoned Go or Chess player) that jump out at me. And with Brian (occasionally supported by his son) figuring his switching moves out, it’s really fun to watch. Father and son have been at a couple of ops sessions now and they are getting much better at figuring singular or double moves out. And Tyler is really hammering out the interlocking tower – I think he’s now the best signal man we’ve got (better than me, even, and I originated the post). So it’s gratifying to see so much progress being made with green crews becoming seasoned as they work their jobs.
Best moment (I have to admit) was at the am hour when both trains were in Tuscarora, the local switching and the coal drag needing a runaround. Add to the mix the fact that the coal train had to run up the LM&O branch to switch Bexley and there was a real snarl. As the dispatcher I don’t offer too many suggestions – for these sorts of things, I tell the crews (and the interlocking operator) to “work it out on the ground”. For a midday pickup of those same cars, it was kinda fun to see a later local and the extra crew work in tandem to get the cars out of Bexley and off the railroad. In this, the local went up the branch and pulled the two hoppers out while the passing MT hopper train pulled into Tuscarora. Then the MT crew backed into the siding where the local had spotted the MTs. Slick. The dispatcher was quite happy with that level of cooperation. When you run in such tight quarters, that’s how you get stuff done.
So anyway, thanks to the crews for our session. It was great fun and I hope to have more scenery in place when we next run.