OpsLog – TBL – 9/16/2023

OpsLog – TBL – 9/16/2023

ll sessions have problems. My new SW-7 (after running a shakedown flawlessly around the layout) started to sputter and cough. And that turnout I dug out? Its replacement is repeating the same failures (the original now languishes in pieces in my new scrap yard).

But still, goddam, but it was fun.

Rather than trying to pack our attendance, we kept it at four and ran the session. Since we had two newbies (Chris in the tower, and Mike down in the coal lumps) I gave a points-to-stress speech before the clock went flip. Then, carefully and deliberately, we ran the session, pausing at  each new hour to determine just what we’d do – orders, moves, crying jags, high-gee maneuvers. With a short mid-run break, we managed to get through the full 24 hour session (which actually runs through until 10pm or so) in just under four hours.

With a junk yard at his shoulder and his eyes on his display, Leverman Strecker wonders what he got himself into.

Zach was a bedrock of confidence in my session. Since I was busy trying to figure what orders to issue, he did a solid job as an “assistant superintendent” (you gotta give credit to a guy who jumps out of his idling cab, to run across a hundred yards of switching leads, short-cutting through a junkyard (chased by the dog, hissed-at by the cat), to climb the tower stairs, kick open the door, and yell “Gasp! The facing point lock lever! Gasp-gasp! Release it!”

And Towerman Chris who was the first to take on the tower job solo, with its full paperwork, OSing, and fault-chiding frustration. He started off deliberate (i.e. slow) but picked up the pace by the end. At first, I wasn’t sure if we’d clear the session but with firm commitment and mad luck he got all the trains through Tuscarora.

And then we had Mike, who managed three mines and made a good run at getting seven loads of coal (thirteen if you count the double-score Tidewater runs). For some reason, the coal operations confuse everyone but he got his dusty hands around the ideas and moved my black diamonds. And for that I am happy (if it wasn’t for the Inca-cursed switcher and Hell’s-turnout, I’d be ecstatic).

But this was what I wanted – a full session with trains moving quick and sharp. The orders worked well and I think Zach’s going to give dispatching a spin next time. Looking over my train sheet, I think I only saw one or two trains that were delayed about an hour (sometimes we bury empty hopper trains for hours in Tuscarora). The tight crew ran well, and while it wasn’t as flashy as our Fathom-Event seat-jamming sessions, it was good.

In the final hour of the session, a drone captures Tidewater-3 easing into Tuscarora for final breakup.

So I’m so happy, looking at all the completed paperwork, that I might run again next weekend. You know, if you have a host who wants to run immediately (and not check into a sanitarium instead) you ran your job well. Thanks, guys! One of the best yet!

(All photo credits: Zach B)


Code 55 rail groans and the spikes lift from the ties as MW-1 hides from the coal train on an industrial spur. Don’t blame the dispatcher – this was the towerman’s idea.

Inside the Tuscarora brewery, one worker fastens a hose to suck out the grain products while another prepares to bang the sides and make sure they get every kernel. Someone’s going to have to fix that dead light bulb to the left. Again. Sigh.