At the throttle

Train Blog

January 29, 2023

OpsLog – FEC – 1/28/2023

This is the first of five sessions I’m attending over the next week. And for me, it didn’t go so well. Look, on the Florida East Coast, I’m known as the ace of the base on the dispatcher panel. I can just sit back and make that railroad dance. But this session, I was “Trim”. What’s “Trim”? Do I work in a mall haircut joint and take a little off the sides? No, I work part of the sprawling Hialeah Yard. When trains enter (and stop at the drop off point) I pick up the engines and bring them into […]
January 27, 2023

On Sheet – Back to Basics

o you might have read about our crazy op session the other night (detailed and derailed HERE). So it was a tough night – I ran around sweating like a pig, even though my only job (the Shelfton Turn) ran ten feet out, switched in one quick runaround to hit all the trailing turnouts, dropped and came back in to work a short branch run to Iron City Brewery. Total wait time – one and a half hours. Total running time – thirty minutes. Not such a good night. But club fun night wasn’t over. I stayed until 11pm so […]
January 26, 2023

OpsLog – LM&O – 1/26/2023

ourteen and a half hours. A lot can happen in fourteen and a half hours. And this was in 10:1 clock time, so that was (in real time) just under an hour and a half. That’s how long number 902, the Shelfton Local, had to wait to get a warrant from a newbie dispatcher (yeah, Steve H, your humiliation begins. All newly minted DS-Deskers get it). And my order would have been one checkbox. Go to Shelfton. Man, it’s what, four real-feet away? Leave the yard, cross over, go into the cutoff. (And to think – I’m the guy who […]
January 22, 2023

OpsLog – TBL – 1/21/2023

fter a long weekend at a train convention (and two weeks of ensuing covid isolation) I was able to return to duty on the Tuscarora. The railroad surgeon cleared me for service. And back I went to the dispatcher’s desk. Also on duty was Kyle (on interlocking), his father Phil (on Scheduled trains) and Greg (on Coal). Yes, so we had a rusty lever-thrower, a rookie on the timetable and a coal guy who forgot how the tally sheet worked. I guess that’s why we ran four hours on the session. Still, Phil (even though he is a model railroader, […]
January 20, 2023

On Sheet – Broken Coupler

o we had a show. But I had covid. I’d have to miss it. Turns  out we suffered a crisis during the load and, even though I was thinking of early-to-bed, I had to call the membership and warn them. This turned into a problem solving effort. The details of what happened are outlined HERE. Read ’em and weep. The point of that sob story is the point of a train club. When it’s just you with a 4×8 in the basement, you just work on it when you feel like it. But when you join a club, a lot […]
January 19, 2023

ShowLog – Deland – 1/(14&15)/2023

et’s be up front about this. I’m one of those media guys who is reporting on something I did not attend. Two shows ago, I was recovering from surgery in the hospital. Last time (the fall show) we had a hurricane and got cancelled. And this time, I got Covid (likely from CovidRails the weekend before). And I wore a mask and everything. Even through I’m not showing symptoms anymore, I’m still hot and still staying clear. But it wasn’t like I wasn’t involved. Steve Raiford had set everything up. We had crews marked up and superintendents outlined. Even sidelined, […]
January 13, 2023

On Sheet – Call me!

ou might remember the cookie story from a few OpsLogs ago – about how a crew finished up and went off duty and my entire north end of my railroad was waiting for him to reappear (as the paperwork stated) – it’s right HERE. Yeah, two guys stood in sidings at either end of my missing wack-a-mole, waiting 15 real minutes until he sauntered past with a cookie – munch munch munch. Here’s the deal – in my many years (two decades) of dispatching, if there is one things crews do that drive me nuts – it’s not calling the […]
January 10, 2023

OpsLog – P&WV – 1/5/2023

o the second half of Ops Day (which started on the VSW) resumed one hour of driving later, following a large Italian dinner graciously provided by our hosts. And the thing is, after a two hour trip over from their east-coast accommodations, four-five hours of heavy ops on Wilke’s coal line, another hour and a good meal, the crews were a bit loggy. Our ops were not the best. Everyone was just tired. I was tucked in the back room on the dispatcher panel, working through my warrants (I wrote eighty-ninety warrants overall that day across nine hours of ops). […]
January 10, 2023

OpsLog – VSW – 1/5/2023

irst session of the new year, a double header that started at John Wilke’s Virginia & SouthWestern (this was an informal ops session linked indirectly to ProtoRails 2023 in Cocoa Beach). And as usual, I got an invitation to bring my dispatching mojo to the session, to keep things running and entertainment (and speeds) high. And in that, I was mostly successful. So I ran the heavy panel (the L&N) while a visitor named Paul ran the easier Southern Railroad. Fortunately the CTC board (used to control the shared trackage at Edison Jct and Goodbee) was working top-notch this time […]
December 31, 2022

OpsLog – TBL – 12/30/2022

nless someone passes out and a person waves a throttle around and shouts, “Is there a model train operator in the house?”, this was my last session for my busy 2022. We had a quiet Friday afternoon session over at the clubhouse, just a couple of good friends and myself running the Tuscarora. The standing rule was (since there is a bit of a demand for the newly reprogrammed tower) is that after eight hours, engineers can swap out with tower operators. And it worked out well; the coal guy switched out with the tower and positions stabilized for the […]