t was a great day on the WVN – a group of three N-Trakers (myself, Kyle and Zack) rode over to Tampa and the wife tagged along (she usually won’t run trains except at the FEC but she has run once before at the West Virginia Northern and the scenery and realistic engine control just makes that railroad the cat’s pajamas so she’ll play). And that we had two other engineers filling out the roster whom I’ve run with before (and know they are good), we had all the makings of a great session.
And so that’s what we did.
Even with Greg hobbling around like Captain Ahab and sacking out on the sofa for hours, Gail kept us in line and informed on whatever little things we were unsure of.
I got to run one of my favorite jobs – while I’m not a fan of yards, the hostler job (to me) is a lot of fun. As inexplicable it is at our club regarding the reluctance of running drag freights, the hostler is the same way. People seem to shy from it. Anyway, I love it and was able to run both morning and afternoon shifts. While the wife ran off at first for an RDC run with Greg (those flashy varnish jobs!), she eventually returned to me and I put her on running the trains in an and of Huntington Staging.
At the end of the second shift, we were still a touch short of operators (what with Greg sacked out on the sofa) and so Jane and I got booted onto the late afternoon local out of Ashbury to Harris (a great run that happily Zack did not sshuffle (as was feared in the AM shift)). Everything was in the correct order. JB ran the throttle, easing back into sidings like a pro while I worked the paperwork and checked our work and routing at upcoming towns. Made our way up to Harris where we dropped off the rest of the cut and grabbed the returning westbound cars. Of course, even though we’d captured the protective signal (as we should – using a tunnel as a drill track is about as dangerous as things go on the WVN) I was delighted to see the know-it-alls in Elkview stole the signal back. And really, what does a host want more than three engines (a switching local, a helper and a freight engine) colliding in a curved tunnel in fading room-lighting? Since the trespassers were already on their way up, I stole the signal back so they’d get a red at the top of the grade (I actually heard their gnashing of teeth at this, given that the signal they’d stolen was stolen back). Anyway, we cleared out of the way with all due speed and they rolled in. Since they had to fuddle the helper off and the next train couldn’t come up without it, we took the signal again (whatever that means, given its transitory nature) and rolled it back down the hill. Squeezed by the eastbound coal at Elkview, the helper riding our markers all the way down and tootled our way in gathering darkness back to Ashbury, clearing the PFE by a shave and entering the deserted yard. Dumped out three cars and caboose on the arrival track (hey, classifying’s not my job) but since hostlerwas still my job, we ran the engines back to the house. I even let my wife squeeze the two RS units onto the turntable – tight fit – and move the table to the correct track. Finished up and punched out.
Great day on a great layout. Thanks to Gail and Hopalong Komar for the wonderful day, and also to the N-Trak group who ran like pros. We did good.