irst day of the two day full-throttle ops weekend at the La Mesa Club, San Diego. Great layout; 1950’s California railroading under Time Table and Train Order, on a layout 25 scale miles long.
It started with bloodshed. So, off to a good start.
John, getting ready for his inaugural run aboard Extra 170 out of Boran for Bakersfield and parts west didn’t quite see a step, so down he went five minutes before departure, a sprained hand and a bloody elbow. Now that he’d learned his place beneath a conductor, we could proceed. Well, that was until we found our engines were FUBAR.
We tried to edge out of the yard, keeping an eye to the timetable for trains (of two railroads) going into and out of Mojave. But our engines would just wink off. Finally Mike the Mechanic wandered by, and willing to help (one look at my battered engineer was enough to cow him) he had a go at getting us running. Turns out the third covered wagon was shorting the consist. He went to fix it. Now ten minutes late, we finally tried, only to find the second covered wagon was running backwards. Fifteen minutes late and the A and B units were running opposite directions .What a total cluster – I was ready to give him a beat down too. Finally, we got all units running the same direction and off we went, clawing our way into Mojave where the front unit died so hard, the pushing units wouldn’t merely push it, they’d detail it over and over. At this point, everyone gave up. We were given cab fair to run to Boran where we picked up another set of Fs. Sliding into Mojave, we caused great controversy over the wire as suddenly we were no longer Extra 170 but now Extra 212. While the dispatcher and his station lackeys tried to rework us into their train order worldview, we finally got out of town, an hour late and trailing blood, but away.
Actually, you’d think that was a bad start but really, once we were running, it was a blast. Oh, it was one of my longer runs across the division, six hours and ten minutes, but that’s fine. The engines were purring, we had fun at Tehachapi (having to break the train in two and stash it’s ass down the MOW spur, clever dicks that we were). Finally our run was one great glorious descent down to Bakersfield. John got to see how train orders worked, we got to insult other crews, we got to find turnouts that crews left open (leaving to even greater insults). And finally we were through Kern Junction, swinging left off the SP main, rattling down Santa Fe trackage to our terminating yard.
Short fun helper run in the afternoon for Bloody John. Me, I just graded him on performance and style, true Russian judge stuff. But really it was a very enjoyable day. Glad we came an looking forward to more railroad adventures tomorrow.