OpsLog – Tusk Hill – 3/24/2024

OpsLog – Tusk Hill – 3/24/2024

Dear Mother,

I’m happy to relate that my employment on some nameless Midlands railroad, specifically in the area of Tusk Hill Tower, is going swimmingly. I started as a controller, and my progression since then has been been astounding. Controller (as I said) to passenger train driver, to goods driver, to shunter. I’ve put in for a wiper job now that I’ve confirmed it has nothing to do with the WC. My career has been meteoric, specifically when one considered where impact craters come from.

It was quite astounding to see how seven operators could run an eight-square-foot layout, moving forty-six trains in just over seven real hours. Our “gang” of operators is quite eclectic. Besides me and my tumbling descent of the hierarchy ladder, there is Kyle who ran tower and controller jobs – supposedly he cannot work as a driver as his Welsh beard keeps igniting off fireboxes. And then there is Mike the Tusk Hill station operator, who, following a past unfortunate accident involving high-speed, heavy impact shunting with a tank car of milk and an at-capacity passenger car now manages the records of trains through Tusk. He did an outstanding job recording trains through – putting all my own paperwork to shame. A copy of his station log is going into my operations record book. Then there is Zach, who in his first attempt at railroad control refused to call trains in and out of section properly, stating something to the effect that “I came to run trains, not read lines on stage”. Yesterday he was working tight with Kyle, bells ringing and tokens flying as they kept those trains moving across the three Tusk Hill sections. And then there was Greg, our mineral driver (i.e. the “Coal Patrol”). who stuck to his guns about his train numbers, even though it the prior ones he’d claimed to have run did not show up in the station or controller logs. He showed superb train handling (especially given his ham-fisted running of RS-3’s stateside). And lastly there were the twins, Zeus and Pete, playful as tumbling kittens, to which Kyle opted was “arse-grabbing”. When I was running goods, it was always amusing to roll into Tusk Hill to find nothing staged for pickup and Zeus cutting up with Pete. Between their distracted operations, the two had more SPADs than Rickenbacker’s 94 Aerosquadrom. Sadly, the two left us before the end, Pete presumably shipping off to France to do his duty, and Zeus suffering a bad reaction to Italian Crisps. Poor lad.

A mineral train departs Easton as the passenger wagons wait on what looks like the incorrect track (Photo: Kyle S)

Still, Tusk Hill ran well without any problems at all save for the controller buzzer failure which I corrected with some educated guesses and some component jiggling. Another bell provided by Reverend Jim came in handy to Tusk Tower, so he could ring sections back.

One thing I must relate – I did yeoman’s work in staging between Easton and Westly, swapping trains around the limited track to allow others to depart and arrive. Kyle told me that he was “impressed and sickened” by the way I shunted coal wagons about with passenger engines. And my demands from the towermen for signals was noted as “bollocks” by all involved.

A man does what a man does. This is how I explained this lash up of a passenger train and coal wagons. (Photo: An impressed and sickened Kyle S). Note the discarded section token visible through the handhold at bottom)

So a proud day for Tusk Hill in that we actually completed a session. As we were out of cookies, sandwiches and other provisions, a dinner break was a good idea as blood sugar levels of all involved had hit the floor. Myself, there is no way I’d have completed my shift without that large glass of red wine (should I admit this?). But otherwise, a good day with a lot of friends on a microlayout, once again making history. We can brag about this but I don’t think anyone in this model train hobby would believe it.

Anyway, as always, I continue to be your loving son,


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Zach took me aloft in his Tiger Moth the other day to fly over Tusk Hill immediately after session’s end. The goods train is visible on the central branch, the coal, passenger and shunter all back in staging. (Photo: Zach B)