At the throttle

Train Blog

March 20, 2023

OpsLog – WAZU – 3/19/2023

ith a combination of sweet-talking and blackmail, I managed to get Kyle to take the DS seat on the WAZU Line and fly into the maelstrom of mother-may-I, controlling the sprawling, confusing, and statically-cracking division. Me, I got to run trains (which I do every couple of months). So, with my new-found freedom, I busted out of Hinkle Yard (four fast-minutes early; you’d think Yardmaster Sparky was having a baby; such screaming). It was a quick run to Umatilla and after some quick switching, a quicker run down to Walla Walla. And that was fun – a long siding with […]
March 18, 2023

OpsLog – CSX Taft – 03/17/2023

y order of the dispatcher, I’d dismounted from my CSX switch engine and walked down the industrial siding. A flat car was being worked by a crew off a remote loading dock. Then an off-spot box car. And then the center of the crisis, an industrial loading dock. At it sat a boxcar and a reefer, the latter’s refrigerator engine running with nobody home to unload it. The Brotherhood of Knuckledraggers 107 had walked off the job. And worried about the time this car could run off it’s internal tanks, the railroad had set me down to check it out. […]
March 17, 2023

On Sheet – Wye not?

‘ve recently seen some fusses online about small layout designs. While some critique should always be welcome, criticism shouldn’t be. I’m a big proponent of small layouts. Sure, if your house is located on an division-sized bomb shelter, you can afford to throw out your minimum radii and ladder-lengths. But for the rest of us, it’s all about cramming as much railroad as we can in a tight space. In a sense, it is an art form. Anyone can do the Sistine Chapel with a roller-brush and a Sherman-Williams account. But doing a Wedgewood portrait pin takes a certain attention […]
March 13, 2023

OpsLog – TY&E – 3/12/2023

ne of my little model railroad observation is that if you host a session with ten operators and ten things go wrong, each operator might have one problem and see it as successful, but the host sees all ten (and commits suicide afterwards). Well, today I rather disproved that witticism. I was in the cab of my usual run, the Sand & Lumber job, a four-movement effort that gets empty flats and loaded hoppers down to Staffordtown, where they get switched out for empty hoppers and full flats. I’ve always enjoyed this job. Interestingly, there is a reefer run I’m […]
March 10, 2023

On Sheet – Annunciator

read this little passage a while ago. It came from a little anecdote in a book on Southern Pacific depots in the 1950s. …I was busy with these customers when the annunciator sounded, indicating a westbound train was approaching… I’d never heard of such a thing. It seems that, in the fifties, there was some sort of relay switch to automatically ring a station when a train was inbound. Interesting. I filed it away and didn’t give it too much thought. Then we went into that piece from two weeks ago where I admitted my layout was more CTC than […]
March 9, 2023

OpsLog – LM&O – 3/8/2023

t was an interesting session at the club tonight. Since my goatee glue isn’t dry yet and excessive talking might make it fall into my lap (dire consistences abound), I turned the dispatcher job over to young Jason (I still worked the computer display and reviewed all outbound warrants for correctness and homicidal omissions).  But he did pretty good – once I get him checked out on the panel, I’ll cup him like a little bird and let him fly, fly, fly… …and I can imagine the other members loading birdshot. But overall, Jason did fine. We did have a […]
March 3, 2023

On Sheet – Time and Time again!

ince this is a blog about model train operations, I’m going to talk about time (since railroads and time, historically and modeled, are intertwined). Railroads live and die on the clock. Railroad operations are why we have standardized time zones today. You can’t run massive equipment in a delicately-balanced orchestration of time and place if every town consults its rusty clock tower for the local time. It needs to be standardized. Now, I’ve blogged about time before, HERE. This was an answer for those people who think that clocks equal stress and stress is no fun. If you can run […]
February 27, 2023

OpsLog – WAZU – 02/26/2023

n Amtrak train drifts up to a weatherstained industrial structures. Down its flanks, the doors bang open. For a moment, silence. Then, the passengers of ill-fated Train 22 drift out onto the broken concrete loading dock outside the shuttered factory. They cannot find their conductor. All the attendants have vanished. The engine idles, driverless and abandoned. There are no answers. As night falls, various groups of passengers drift off, seeking help and civilization. Some are picked off by drug-addicted homeless grungers. Others are eaten by mooses. Carnivorous deer pick off a few. One surprised passenger is killed by Big Foot. […]
February 24, 2023

On Sheet – Tuscarora Realization!

ddest thing. We’ve been running my diminutive Tuscarora Branch Line for two an a half years. Now, this tiny layout runs under Time Table & Train Orders (a method where trains follow their timetables but modify their efforts based on train orders from the dispatcher). Now, I’m not going to say that we’re perfect in our execution of the method – selective compression and all that. But it seemed to work and everyone likes the sessions. Orders got passed. It felt “railroady”. So, here’s the actual track schematic on the west side of the railroad. Westly is the coal mine (and while […]
February 23, 2023

OpsLog – LM&O – 2/22/2023

teve Hooper is going to hate reading this, but tonight we ran every train (freights, passengers, and even some units trains and extras) and we ran it pretty much on time. Sorry, Steve. When I took the hot seat tonight, I felt a lot of pressure to get this session down right. After all, the last one was a shambles (sorry again, Steve). We had to show that the entire thing could come together and run like a true railroad. This was doubly important because we were using our new freight flows from Nazareth. Yeah, so, no pressure but it’s […]