OpsLog – Tusk Hill – 6/17/2023

OpsLog – Tusk Hill – 6/17/2023

ilson P. Sloan tossed a leg over a knee and settled in his seat, snapping open his newspaper as his train pulled into the Tusk Hill station. Having completed his effort to meet with solicitors of a Westly-based firm, he’d managed to catch the last Up Train to London. Now his luck appeared to have run its course. What was supposed to be a three-minute station stop was dragging on. Outside, one of the last midland steam engines in existence puffed past, dragging a goods wagon. Railroad business. Sloan couldn’t be bothered. He focused on the business section of his paper.

As if was, had he bothered, he might have heard the steamer shunt behind his train, the pause. With rapt attention, he might have heard the signal box throw the turnout points with a clunk, the clack of the facing point lock engaging. Then, with a effort-laden puff, the shunter pushed nearer. A second later Sloan was pulled from the financial columns by a shout from the rear motorman. A moment later  came the crash, the grinding of metal, the jolt from the car around him. And then, inexplicably, a wave of milk surged over him like a Brighton tidal surge, carrying him and the hapless engineer forward, washing himself and his fellow passenger to the front of the coach, a soggy sputtering mess.

But Wilson Sloan’s disagreements with the railroad serving Tusk Hill didn’t stop there. As if suffering the ill-effects of the milk car’s collision with a standing passenger car (he’d ended up with curdled milk in his suit pockets) wasn’t bad enough, two weeks later while dining at his London club, he’d cut into a fine steak and found – disagreeably – a long sliver of aging wood, one side painted railroad grey. How could he even surmise that that same railroad, on the same day of his incident, had suffered another mishap when transferring a livestock wagon from the pilot of one switch engine to another. There, the railroad had “salvaged” the affected livestock, selling it through restaurant sources that didn’t ask questions.

Of course, none of this might have occurred if a third railroad blunder had played out. There were those two gunpowder vans, loaded and left at the Down platform. And so they’d sat while the platform idlers smoked and tossed their butts lineward. Had a spark caught, Tusk Hill would have been blasted to its very benchwork, a resolution unappreciated by the owner. I mean, I loaned Kyle this railroad and wanted it back, intact.

A quiet day in Tusk Hill, right before we started and everything went to shit (or shite, to be correct). (Photo Credit: Sean McMartin)

Yes, today we ran Tuscarora as Tusk Hill, the English variant. I mentioned a week or so ago HERE that my friend Kyle was going to run a session on my small 2×4 foot layout. This time, rather than run as a mirror of the 1962 Pennsy version, he came up with his own timetable, equipment, switching paperwork. Everything was new. And it was a blast (aside from those dud gunpowder vans). And yes, all of this – bashing the milk tanker into the passenger train while coupling it, smashing a livestock van between two switchers, all of it took place (and more).

In fact, I can’t tell you all the funny lines that were spoken (or shouted) during the session. And even though this session lasted four-and-a-half hours (a record) and involved six operators (another record), Kyle had brought in a pile of English snacks and drinks. I ended up guzzling some sort of Scottish soda (half sugar, and the other half sugar) which explains how you can berserk in a kilt with a claymore. Overall, the new guys (Sean, Mike and Ben) did really well (Ben ended up in the signal box, at first doing paperwork and then getting tossed into the levers themselves – he did a great job). Me, I just took the lowly mine operator job, helping Mike and then Sean move coal back and fourth all day.

The shunt engine sheepishly backs away after filling a passenger coach with milk. (Photo Credit: Kyle Sarnik)

Unfortunately, the announciator bell knocked the interlocking computer down during our pre-session tests and we had to rely on the older button (which is not as loud and more difficult to use). This will be a primary effort to get this running again, possibly as a stand-alone.

But overall I had a great time (and am hoping that everyone else did too). It’s gratifying to see a microlayout promote a massive effort (at one point, four engines were working in Tusk Hill). I’m still smiling about all the obscenity-laden things that were said.

And Zach, if you are reading this blog, I figure it took you ten minutes and will flip the clock again.


Making hamburger at Tusk Hill. (Photo Credit: Sean McMartin)