September 13, 2020

OpsLog – TBL – 9/12/2020

ust after midnight. Greg Wells and I found ourselves standing in the cinders of the mainline through Tuscarora, his NW-2 idling behind him, my Southern Pacific GP9 rumbling at my back. We’d just gone over the day’s activity, the switching for him, the coal runs for me. But I’ll admit, for a tiny layout, this tyke has big ops. There was a long pause. I looked up at the guy in the switch tower. He looked at his watch. Acting on a hint, I asked, “Do you want to just go with the locals and leave the coal out of […]
September 20, 2020

OpsLog – TBL – 9/19/2020

he latest session of the TBL was held at the club today. Again, Greg Wells and I gave it a shot. This was the sixth session and the second live session. So this time we ran the full effort with coal extras pulling through Greg’s choreographed local moves. The interesting thing here is to realize that a 2×4 foot layout is so small, you need to be keenly aware what the other train is doing. Here, the dispatcher (me, in this case) needs to look at his lineup sheet and make sure that when a coal extra comes into Tuscarora, […]
October 11, 2020

OpsLog – TBL – 10/10/2020

ell, this was a first. We ran ops on my tiny layout with four people! We ran with two operators on the trains (the scheduled and the extras). We also had a full-time dispatcher (who moves trains in a sequence that minimalizes the delays). And we ran with an interlocking tower operator, which essentially did nothing save set the Train Order signals and hand up orders to pausing trains. In this (and since we don’t have the panel up) two “paper signals” (shown below) flagged trains to pick up orders. I had that position and it really gave me some […]
October 18, 2020

OpsLog – 10/17/2020

nother op session at the club today, with AJ running his coal and Ben as the switch crew. In the logistics side, Greg ran the DS panel and I worked the nonlocking interlocking. And, as Greg put it, I also worked as the superintendent (and an auxiliary brakeman). First off, this little beauty was in place, my very first structure, the Tuscarora Station. You’ll notice that it’s been out of service for twenty years, that the paint is cracked and peeling. Not added yet are the boards over the windows and doors (or the roof weathering). And station signs. So […]
November 8, 2020

OpsLog – TBL – 11/7/2020

vents and obligations resulted in us not having much of a crew, just Greg Wells and myself. Still, we broke out our Pennsy switchers, he took the local, I took the coal and dispatching and we ran the session. This one was a lot of fun. We ran it slow, being very careful with our train handling. The bamboo skewers are still, in my opinion, the best uncoupling tool known to man. So we switched our industries and bargained for track rights, in easygoing operation fashion. It was a great deal of fun to work through the schedule – the […]
January 17, 2021

OpsLog – TBL – 1/16/2021

was rolling out of Easton on 613 in the early evening, having spotted the day’s final cars. Gave two toots to the line of glowing windows along the tower’s second floor, acknowledging the green boards I had back to Tuscarora. Ben was doing a bang-up job as the new towerman. Better than I was doing as an engineer on the Easton Turn, it seemed. I only got five miles when I realized I’d missed picking up a car. Called the dispatcher on the callbox for a quick return to pick up a pennsy box. We all have our off nights. […]
February 14, 2021

OpsLog – TBL – 2/13/2021

o when you set up an ops session on get three guys willing to show, and then on the day of, two of them bail, you’re pretty screwed, aren’t you? For a moment I figured we’d cancel – it was just me and AJ. But John was there and agreed to run coal. I told AJ that there was no better time to learn the tower – we’d treat it like a practice session. I ended up with both the local and the dispatcher job so I was really going to be busy. And we started the sequential clock. It […]
March 7, 2021

OpsLog – TBL – 3/6/2021

t club ops, I don’t care. Whoever shows shows. At my home ops (so long ago) I’d put out a crew call and get an idea of how many would show. I’d usually get ten operators and told myself we could run with as few as four. On the Tuscarora Branch Line, we run best with four. We can’t run with any more than that. And with three or two, the session is much more difficult since someone (i.e. me) has to double up on jobs. I’d set up four (myself included) for a session today but there was a […]
March 14, 2021

OpsLog – TBL – 3/13/2021

f course, if half of your crew is new and you are superintendent to a railroad with intense switching and interlocking control, what do you do? You go easy and drop the freight levels to the lowest possible settings, right? No, I cranked them all the way up. The pre-session extra freight dropped two cars on the siding (doubling the work of Tuscarora Local 1) and two coal trains had drops (one load, one empty). Brian (as the switcher) and his son Tyler (as the towerman) had their hands literally full for the session. And I’m happy to say they […]