ather’s Day in Tuscarora, Pennsylvania, 1962. It’s a lazy weekend in the middle of summer. Somewhere in this idyllic town, boys are playing softball with their fathers. Being Sunday, the industries down by the tracks are closed. And with shippers being closed, the usual through traffic on the railroad is non-existent.
But the mines are still working and eastern coal consumers, the powerplants and the export docks are in full swing. And for that, the rails are still humming from the passage of coal drags. Given the increasing length of the trains, the Pennsy has taken the RS units out of service and put some long-of-tooth F3’s (back-to-back A units) shuttling up and down the line, pulling the coal.
My friend Greg has run every position on my microlayout save the interlocking tower and he wanted to give it a try. Me, I had those F units I waned to run in. So, since neither of us were dads with all the family obligations that causes, Sunday was a perfect day to run the Tuscarora. I worked as a pseudo-dispatcher and worked the coal transport, including the tally sheets and the engineer aspects. Greg ran the tower. After some dry-run drills, we got down to business.
Outside of a few missed facing-point-lock throws and stopping six or so trains for orders (requiring me to issue clearance flimsies for them) he ran great for the session (especially without the local switching job getting in the way). And me, I got a chance to run in the Fs (I still need to get them on the club layout for faster speeds and longer runs). I did have problems in Rebena Mine, which was (for this session) a two-track stub with a lot of coal coming out – I spent most of my session forwarding emties there and lugging out pea-grade coal, a rolling bucket brigade. In the end, I moved ten coal movements east and also got three Tidewater’s run west, so thirteen moves in 24 hours is respectable. Had more coal in the chutes but ran out of time and had to LEM the units back to Tuscarora for midnight refueling.
So, great day with a great friend. That night, we did my annual tribute to my late father and watched The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
If you’re going to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk.