November 5, 2019

OpsLog – Tehachapi – 11/1/2019

o sum up my day in a word – orange. For the first day of my Tehachapi train operations adventure, me and a Canadian named Cal were teamed up on an all-day effort, the Arvin job. For this, we picked up power off the ATSF ready track at Bakersfield and scurried through Kern Junction at 8am sharp, running for Magunden and the branch line there. From there, it’s a very short hop through the backdrop to the hidden world of Arvin, a place where evidently all the potatoes in the world come from. And that was our day, pulling blocks […]
November 5, 2019

OpsLog – Tehachapi – 11/2/2019

oday I experienced the full range of railroader emotions. In the morning, Cal (my Arvin buddy from the day before) and I took a beet train up the hill. That was the idea, anyway. We got to one of the dispatcher dead zones (where we can’t be contacted, perched along a desolate ledge named, quite rightly, as “Cliff”). And that’s when an opposing train we were supposed to meet there suffered a mechanical breakdown  and didn’t show – no show, no go. And before he could arrive and liberate us, the passenger trains descended on us like sharks on a […]
November 6, 2019

OpsLog – Tehachapi – 11/3/2019

last left you at the point where, at the head-end of a flat-car motherload of a freight, I looked into the grim future and wondered what would happen next. We resume. “Car on the ground! We’re  scissoring!” It’s ten minutes into the Sunday session and we’ve left Cliff for the hidden helix under Rowan. And of course, in those tight clearances, we’ve accordioned four flatcars on the ground, the in dark close confines of the helix. What a mess. That was pretty much the worst of it – I pocketed the cars and put them back into the cut once […]
October 16, 2023

OpsLog – La Mesa – 10/(12-13)/2023

ot the invite for an operations session over at La Mesa, one of the largest and more realistic operations sessions anywhere. For those who don’t know it, the La Mesa club sprawls across a significant amount of the Balboa Park Railroad Museum in San Diego (also filling two floors – yes, you climb 2% from one floor to the one above). The HO railroad is twenty-five scale miles long, modelling the run between Mojave to Bakersfield (including the famous Tehachapi Loop). The area is faithfully modelling the scenery from 1950s. And that is appropriate because the session simulates operations in […]
October 17, 2023

OpsLog – La Mesa – 10/14/2021

ur first day on the railroad. We started with the crews gathered and the home hoggers telling us what we needed to know and what was expected. The first was a two-man job up in Walong, just below the famous loop. Looked at Steve and asked if he wanted to start out together. Sure. So we grabbed the job, our bags, and headed out into the sun-fried hills of central California. We found ourselves on a PFE (Pacific Fruit Express) reefer block, just starting to thaw. It worked out that he’d get the front end (and the conductor duties) and […]