At the throttle

Train Blog

June 2, 2019

ShowLog – Tampa – 6/1/2019

on’t have much to tell you for this one. Wasn’t the best start for me – got up at 4:30, bought donuts at 5am (and got the shit panhandled out of me by a Colonial Drive bum who kept asking for more – what, car keys next?). Then a long drive down to Bill’s where I got lost in Walt Woods. And then another long drive down to Tampa where the show was. But we had the gold team in for setup, the old sweats who know how everything goes together. The layout was running in fifty minutes and we […]
May 23, 2019

OpsLog – LM&O – 5/22/2019

ooooooooom! Crash! “Oh no, we’re burning!” “We have injured here!” “Oh, the humanity!” Okay, so that’s done. Yes, while dispatching the LM&O tonight I did manage to run two first class passenger trains (crack sister express trains, Silver Bullet 1 and 2) into each other. Forgot to give SB2 a checkbox 8, “hold until arrival of Silver Bullet 1”. So off he went and they crashed at Red Rock. To make matters worse, there was a loaded coal train sitting on the siding there so we can only expect that in the fiery wreck, the open-top hoppers caught fire and […]
April 25, 2019

OpsLog – LM&O – 4/24/2019

t’s crazy the way this railroad runs. If you go back through the LM&O blogs, you’ll find Harris Glen mentioned prominently. This is because it’s a long hard climb to the top, trains stall, it’s a lot of curving single track and, frankly, it was engineered to be a bottleneck. We were so clever. But tonight the beast slept. I don’t know why it was – we ran nearly everything in the roster – but Harris Glen was quiet. Oh, trains ran through but there wasn’t the desperate parade back and forth. No, this time the river route was pretty […]
April 21, 2019

OpsLog – FEC – 4/20/2019

he Orlando Boys really shined today on the Florida East Coast RR. Bob and I got demerits (me for dropping the wrong car at a siding, him for running over a turnout the wrong way). And John, he didn’t get a demerit – he got summery execution for the horror of what happened up in Frontenac (we won’t speak of it. It involved sixteen coal hoppers, a lot of industrial track and a whole bunch of time). I still think I got the short end of it. If anything, the shipper should be happy. He was getting ready to ship […]
April 14, 2019

OpsLog – WBRR – 4/13/2019

‘m usually a pretty outgoing person – lost a few jobs by shooting my mouth off. Very, very noisy, a real chatty Cathy. At the Western Bay, I’m in charge of the center aisle. Everything that goes on there goes through me. I tell the dispatcher what’s going on. I relay his orders to the crews. At one point, when 242 was fussing around in the Placerville Jct. lead and I heard on the wire that a mail train was coming west, I advised the dispatcher to advance him to Dolores (one of my stations) while my alter-ego at the […]
April 14, 2019

ShowLog – Deland – 4/6/2019

ight… nine… ten…” My black shoes pace across the cold concrete floor. It’s seven in the morning and I’m an hour from home and bed. “Eleven… twelve… thirteen.” Blue tape. All stop. I look around the quiet convention center. Our promised twenty-two feet of width is actually thirteen. We’ve been bungled by nine-feet. Not so much, but its further then a man can reach. It’s the distance the condemned falls through the hangman’s trap door. And it’s a full module-and-a-half of distance we can’t afford to lose. Steve, our module engineer, comes in. I nod to him. “Problem here.” And […]
April 14, 2019

OpsLog – LMO – 3/27/2019

’m hosting our daily meeting. One of our developers, a child thirty years my junior, is unhappy with the direction my team is now going. So he’s sniping at me, little schoolyard comments. I stop the meeting. “If you have something to say, let’s hear it,” I let him run his mouth a bit. “You done? Fine.” Then I go back to my agenda. He, in turn, runs off to cry at the manager, only to find out that, woops, he was wrong all along. That was my day job. In my real-life job, I’m at the throttle of a […]
April 14, 2019

OpsLog – FEC – 3/16/2019

ne of the stunning things about Ken Farnham’s FEC layout is how busy the main yard is. San Diego’s La Mesa club might have three to five engines moving across their Bakersfield Yard (and it’s, I dunno, 150 feet long?). But Ken’s is inside a small shed with the yardmaster, the classification crew, the trim operator, the hostler all working, even with one or two mainline trains transitioning the limits. The yard throat is a happening place. Today what made it cool for me was that I was working classification, breaking down arrivals, and the next track over wife JB […]
March 6, 2019

OpsLog – B&M – 3/5/2019

ispatching. I’ve dispatched railroads with twenty or thirty movements, moving trains in and out of sidings along a fifteen-mile mainline. This would be the LM&O, which is like air traffic control. And then there is the FEC, which is less trains but more involved. On the Boston and Maine tonight, I ran only four trains. And I was totally busy. The B&M is a neat little HO layout set in a spare bedroom. It’s neat and tidy and runs like a watch. Dispatching is done out in the living room on a computer simulating a CTC panel. But what makes […]
February 27, 2019

OpsLog – LM&O – 2/27/2019

ight feet. Two inches. That’s all it took. Okay, so the session started off well. Really well. I was running the dispatcher panel again (evidently, there wasn’t a dispatcher within fifty miles of the place). And I had this session down cold. I don’t think I’ve ever had it running so smooth – I had warrants written five minutes ahead of issue time. The railroad was running tighter than it ever had. Even with delays from Silver Bullet 2 gasping to a shuddering death on my main, I was able to get 202 pretty much back on schedule. Things were […]