his was a ground breaker session on the Tuscarora – the first run of the interlocking lever system, mounted in the mostly-sceniced tower. Every ounce of effort on this entire railroad, every coding step, all led to this event.
And it was a blast.
My dispatcher Greg was running at a steady clip, not rushing me at all. And most of the routing I’d practiced in my testing simulator. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was the initial drill effort (where the train from Martin gets classified) and the actual switching around the industrial areas. As it stood, the drill was really easy – since the crew was indexing on two tracks, you simply threw the turnout every time the pulled forward. The industrial track was a little trickier. You had to clear all old signals, line turnouts, reset signals (and sometimes unlock and lock points). But Cody was an excellent operator, checking the signals before every move.
So, I was in seventh heaven.
Until mid-session. High noon. That’s when the system crashed.
And it crashed so hard, we couldn’t get it to reboot. The speaker just kept babbling about faults. No signals would display. No turnouts would throw. I ended up having to call tech-wizard Steve. The only thing we could do was slide the layout half-off the table, climb underneath and pull the main power cord. It actually sounded like the typical Hollywood bomb-disposal scene, with me crammed half-under the table while Steve told me over the phone to look for a certain colored wire.
So, with the interlocking offline, there was nothing to do but finish the session back in the layout’s stone age, manually tossing turnouts and playing mother may-I. Funny that something that used to be so much fun in the early days now felt lacking. Anyway, we finished the session with the PeeDee (because of conflicts with the Tidewater extras) running three hours late. But we finished and had a great time.
And now that I’ve inspired Cody’s layout, I can’t wait to run on his!
All photo credits: Cody Case