At the throttle

Train Blog

August 19, 2022

On Sheet – Cork it

was at a local session a friend was hosting a while ago. And yes, I agree that model railroading can be, at times, frustrating. One of our members was having problems backing a cut into a siding – had a couple of derailments (and guess what – if you are in N-scale, get used to it). But he wouldn’t suffer in silence, no. He crabbed and carped in his frustration. I looked around and the host was catching every word. Told my buddy (as politely as I could) to cool it a bit. I guess nobody takes my advance. A […]
August 14, 2022

OpsLog – FEC – 08/13/2022

keep telling myself that I need to write a fun piece about the Florida East Coast where we ran operations today. But the owner/dispatcher looked exhausted after the session – he’d not dispatched in over a year. On the line we had ten operators from Orlando N-Trak, and even with our skills on the LM&O under warrants, this was an away game and the first time for these guys. The room was tight, nobody knew where anything was and how to do anything, and at one point the rain was hitting so hard I felt like we were going to […]
August 12, 2022

On Sheet – IDing the Perp

ne of those problems you might face on your first op session is where everything is, industry-wise. Sure, your waybills/switchlists/tabs might dictate that a car be dropped at Amalgamated Antimatter but it’s one of a dozen industries on your pike. How do your newbie crews find it? Well, there are many ways you can do this, all of them with pros and cons. Written Instructions: Sure, you can provide documentation for your operations, but generally one operator in ten will read them (and that’s only if he’s bored). Obvious Building Functionality: A fuel distributor and a stock pen are pretty […]
August 5, 2022

On Sheet – The Art of Operations

o I’m reading Sun-Tzu’s The Art of War. The applications of this are very interesting – just about every management style, political book or hobby how-to (from archery to gardening) makes an interpretation of The Art into their aspect. So let’s take the opening description, the rule atop all other rules, and apply it to hosting an operations session. After all, in this regard, you (as the host) are “the general” and your operators are your troops. And let me say that I apologize for any miss-interpretations in advance. I’m not that good a Taoist. So, the primary rule states […]
July 31, 2022

OpsLog – TY&E – 7/30/2022

t had been an easy light engine movement from Youngstown up to the sand and sawmill spurs. A minor problem – none of the tracks seemed to be carrying any current so I had to resort to strategies of a four-year-old and push my train around manually (Superintendent, please note!). Eventually all that 0-5-0 switching was done, the clock ticked up to go time, the head-end brakeman tossed the manual turnout, and off we rattled with four covered hoppers and five empty flats, down the long grade. We rolled through Youngstown right on the dot, with me checking my turnouts […]
July 29, 2022

On Sheet – Inglenook

ame across this the other night, a neat little switching puzzle you can probably do on your own railroad. I know the Tuscarora could do it so I’ll give it a try when I can and let you know how it goes. Okay, so the puzzle works this way. You need a mainline track with enough room for five (5) cars on the main to the left, and three (3) cars and an engine on the right. You also need two sidings that can each hold three (3) cars. Overall, it looks kinda like this:             […]
July 28, 2022

OpsLog – LM&O – 7/27/2022

o of course my medical zoom meeting went long. I blew out of the house with 40 minutes til train time, traffic was a bitch, but I came into the lot with ten minutes to spare. And the parking lot was full. Came in lugging my computer and called out hello and everyone gave me rousing hellos back. Given my last few weeks, this was a very nice glow to get. And the guys knew how to set up – the track was all clean, the jobs were signed up, and everyone was ready to go. I set the clocks […]
July 24, 2022

OpsLog – FEC – 7/23/2022

ot to moan about it too much, but I’ve only had surgery less than two weeks before this session. I’d seen the crew call for the Farnham’s FEC session and originally bowed out. After all, I didn’t want to collapse into a puddle of blood and other fluids in their train room. But a few days shy of the session, I girded my loins (still a bit painful), wrote them and asked if it wasn’t too late to come out (pre-surgery walking seems to have aided my recovery – that and wanting to run trains). The wife and I got […]
July 23, 2022

On Sheet – On Sheet? What?

few days ago someone asked me why I call this blog “On Sheet” in the first place. Fair question. Let’s take a break from ways to get our tiny boxcars to our tiny industries and chat about how railroads work. Or worked, as in past tense. You might have a small station on your railroad, one with a bay window and a semaphore signal out front. You might have assumed that that signal is to make trains stop and go. So did I until I bumped into Steve King and he got me into the religion of Time Table and […]
July 15, 2022

On Sheet – The Right Car for the Right Job

orry I was out – I was recovering from surgery (and no, it wasn’t brain removal). Anyway, last time we talked about using tabs-on-cars as a method of getting a car to a specific industry. This time, let’s make it even simpler – let’s assume that we’ll just switch by car type alone and not worry about reading those teeny tiny numbers or placing tabs on our roofwalks. Most model railroads do this in one shape or form. For example, if you go to a layout with a coal mine, you probably will just shove all the hoppers under the […]