he latest session of the TBL was held at the club today. Again, Greg Wells and I gave it a shot. This was the sixth session and the second live session. So this time we ran the full effort with coal extras pulling through Greg’s choreographed local moves.
The interesting thing here is to realize that a 2×4 foot layout is so small, you need to be keenly aware what the other train is doing. Here, the dispatcher (me, in this case) needs to look at his lineup sheet and make sure that when a coal extra comes into Tuscarora, the local freight can pop through staging (the old trick where an eastbound freight going off one end of the layout turns into a totally different freight on the other side – we do this at the club with all our trains through Bound Brook / Cincinnati). What often happens is that the coal is delayed in town while the local picks off a lap or two. Still, it’s a lot of fun trying to balance the needs of two trains (both of whom sometimes need that run-around track).
I’ll mention that time is not a fast-clock thing in the TBL – on the lineup sheet there are columns for both operators (local jobs and coal extras), each with their own time-in and time-out columns. If a train begins to work on, say, the 5:00am row, you’d write 5:00am for his time. Any time after this must be at least ten minutes later (so if the train that started at 5:00am drops off two cars and departs town, his time-out would be shown as 5:10am. These ten-minute intervals continue until a train begins work from the next row (the 6:00am row). Now it is 6:00am, and all times (including those for trains still working earlier jobs) is noted as 6:10am, 6:20am and so forth. Moving forward to a new row advances the hour. Each subsequent effort advances time ten minutes.
So, in looking at our times, one coal train got held up for two hours (it arrived at 3:10pm and didn’t complete running around its train to push into the power plant until 5:10pm. Evidently the local job was using his tracks or running though staging. But after that, the local took a break and we could spool up the coal extras, parading them through town, literally ten minutes apart. This closed us nicely on time by the end of the session.
The layout continues to run like a charm. The new cars (weighted and wheeled) worked well – the fuel distributer got his oil and the brewery their grain). And we even got to run the tidewater coal, a monster train that runs west (returning all cars hopper from the seaboard coal docks) to their starting points. It was a lot of fun.
Great session. Room for one more!