At the throttle

Train Blog

December 8, 2019

OpsLog – WBRR – 12/07/2019

nother day on the great Western Bay Railroad, chugging about in tiny teakettles amid the high peaks of the Rockies (and now, the smoky canyons of downtown Denver). And those peaks, yeah, I see them out of my station agent window. So the WBRR continues to improve, this session being the best yet. We were running pretty much on the dot. The radios were working well (not perfect, but not bad). I do know a car got dumped without paperwork at Dulce (and then batted about like a football by every working freight after that). But railroads are railroads, and […]
November 28, 2019

OpsLog – LM&O – 11/27/2019

OOMED TOWN SAVED BY RELIEF TRAIN (AP) The small town of Mingo Junction was saved by oblivion today when a relief train finally arrived four months after the town was cut off by surly over-promising gandydancers. “They came in here, tearing up rails and claiming everything would be back in service in a month,” Mingo Mayor Frank Zvonchenko related. “Days passed and deadlines were broken. The next thing you knew, businesses were closing and we were looking at total famine. And since all the town’s roads end at terrifying drops to a distant concrete floor, there was no way anyone […]
November 24, 2019

OpsLog – FEC – 11/23/2019

hat’s the best thing about the holidays? Well, there are those strings of lights with one bad bulb. And all those adults buying knockoff zombie costumes. And those political fights over turkey. So much. But best of all is the holiday ops session on the Florida East Coast. Ken and Bev, our gracious hosts, laid out a spread with more food than you could imagine (no, really). And drinks and snacks and even cookies (one of them with a delightful prize, it seems). And then there was the cool video Ken put together with a caboose ride on his own […]
November 11, 2019

ShowLog – Makers Faire – 11/9-10/2019

was ready to hate this show. I didn’t want to do it. We were understaffed last year and the crowds ripped shit off the layout. It was two days of hand-to-hand combat. I didn’t vote for us to go but when we did agree to attend, I showed up for all the days (Friday setup and both running days). And it wasn’t too bad, actually. I thought the setup was going to be a continuing cock-up from last year, where at start time we had three guys. No, this time we had plenty – all sorts of hands, all sorts […]
November 6, 2019

OpsLog – Tehachapi – 11/3/2019

last left you at the point where, at the head-end of a flat-car motherload of a freight, I looked into the grim future and wondered what would happen next. We resume. “Car on the ground! We’re  scissoring!” It’s ten minutes into the Sunday session and we’ve left Cliff for the hidden helix under Rowan. And of course, in those tight clearances, we’ve accordioned four flatcars on the ground, the in dark close confines of the helix. What a mess. That was pretty much the worst of it – I pocketed the cars and put them back into the cut once […]
November 5, 2019

OpsLog – Tehachapi – 11/2/2019

oday I experienced the full range of railroader emotions. In the morning, Cal (my Arvin buddy from the day before) and I took a beet train up the hill. That was the idea, anyway. We got to one of the dispatcher dead zones (where we can’t be contacted, perched along a desolate ledge named, quite rightly, as “Cliff”). And that’s when an opposing train we were supposed to meet there suffered a mechanical breakdown  and didn’t show – no show, no go. And before he could arrive and liberate us, the passenger trains descended on us like sharks on a […]
November 5, 2019

OpsLog – Tehachapi – 11/1/2019

o sum up my day in a word – orange. For the first day of my Tehachapi train operations adventure, me and a Canadian named Cal were teamed up on an all-day effort, the Arvin job. For this, we picked up power off the ATSF ready track at Bakersfield and scurried through Kern Junction at 8am sharp, running for Magunden and the branch line there. From there, it’s a very short hop through the backdrop to the hidden world of Arvin, a place where evidently all the potatoes in the world come from. And that was our day, pulling blocks […]
October 27, 2019

OpsLog – FEC – 10/26/2019

o today (or was it simulated tonight?) we used the F from FEC for “Fast”. It was the overnight shift, a time when the Florida East Coast moves manifests, juice trains and very lost coal trains. I was out in the layout, running this time. First train was a general freight with a call in at Cocoa for some swaps – easy work. And then, after a bit of a sit, I ran a fast manifest – straight through. Both of these might sound dull but with sound-equipped engines you can still have fun blowing at the gates and ringing […]
October 24, 2019

OpsLog – LM&O – 10/23/2019

usy night on the line. At first, we weren’t looking at anyone showing – we had about a dozen guys cleaning. But as we prepped up, more and more came in until we had a nice collection of members (and a spicy dusting of newbie visitors). My turn on the panel so I set up the clock and the computer, did the sound check and then did my usual pawn move – 202 to Zaynesville, hold the siding. It was a pretty fast-paced night. Very little waiting (at least, that’s how I saw it – out in the cabs, it […]
October 6, 2019

ShowLog – Deland – 10/5/2019

Saturday! Saturday! Saturday! It’s SteamDays at the beautiful Volusia County Fairgrounds DogBone Raceway! Throbbing Mikados! Bigger-than-big Boys! GS4s in ArtDeco SP Ride-me-please Colors! All there, furious Back-in-black microkettles with spinning piston / minimum-pull action! Come see the Stars of the Train Show circuit. Featured will be- One-Lap-Amtrak-Attack Wells! Mini-Me Case and the Pensy Coal Rocket! Tyke and Spike, the Lovable Mikes! And Bobby Martin’s GHOOOOOOOOST TRAIN! Ample feeding at the FeedBag/MoneyBag Trunk Diner! Comfortable seating (standing room only) in the Folkston Reviewing Stand! And kids can play find-the-hidden-jack-port in the White Memorial Scenery Park! Pet the plastic deer! Laugh at […]