At the throttle

Train Blog

May 6, 2023

On Sheet – Pilgrimage

ust letting you blog-followers know I won’t be around next week. I’m going on a pilgrimage. See, twice a year I gotta help my mom snowbird between North Carolina (in the middle of frigging nowhere) and Daytona Beach (too much not nowhere). It’s what oldest sons do (but my sister can fill in in a pinch). Anyway, this time (going up), I’m spending a few days traveling around Ohio and Pennsylvania. The former is family obligations, the latter is to see my layout in living, breathing greatness. When we first set up the Tuscarora, I said I wanted it based […]
May 1, 2023

OpsLog – TBL – 4/30/2023

n the dispatcher’s office, just above the 1962 bikini-girl calendar (which covers the official PRR one), the clock ticks 2:00pm. “OS Easton. Coal extra 8520 West is clear at 2pm” I look at the radio. The coal extra is running towards Tuscarora? But.. “OS Westly, WE-2 clear at 2pm.” My stomach tightens. I gulp an antacid. Both trains are racing towards each other for a meet at Tuscarora. Even though there is an interlocking system there, those trains should be carrying a meet order, just to be safe. This is cutting it really close. I grab the phone and call […]
April 28, 2023

On Sheet – String Theory

e’ve talked all about simulating how trains run, how timetables are read and how TT&TO, Warrants, all those things work. But there you are in your layout room, looking at your yards and staging tracks, your passing sidings and goods yards, and you find yourself thinking, “So just how do I figure out a timetable in the first place?” The answer, my friend, are String Diagrams. From a posting or two blogs ago, an online friend noted that he uses a string diagram to run his railroad. I’ve even mentioned that I use something very much like a string diagram […]
April 27, 2023

OpsLog – LM&O – 4/26/2023

t was the end of a long month for me – nearly broke my neck and possibly ending up dead, paralyzed, or worse. Overall, it was as if I’d been bashed over the head with a slab of asphalt. While it’s getting better, it still hurts. And my dispatcher-in-training become an employee-in-awol, with the club placing second to Disney, of all things. I’d just wanted to maybe find a small local to curl up for the evening with, just bumping boxcars about. Instead, I had to run the main office, routing trains and keeping things right. To make matters worse, […]
April 21, 2023

On Sheet – It don’t come easy

get a lot of complements (and bragging rights) from my dispatching. I’ve sat down cold in many, many sessions and made the railroad jump. I’m blessed at being good at something I really enjoy. But it didn’t come easy. Sure, years ago I was the hot-shot dispatcher in the Orlando Round Robin group (the big fish in the poop pond). Most of our dispatching was mother-may-I (which is a very simple way of dispatching where the dispatcher tells the trains (often by the engineer’s first name) where to go and what to do). If you are just starting out (or […]
April 16, 2023

OpsLog – VSW – 4/15/2023

here are a thousand (well, maybe a hundred) stories that happen in the usual ops session. Since I’m sealed away in the dispatcher’s office, I only see a handful of them. I do know about the Post Switcher leaving Norton Yard and working for a half hour on my mainline (that from the superintendent). And there is that train out of Erlanger that came up the super collider helix at a high rate of speed, blowing out of the topside tunnel portal like a bullet from a rifle, overrunning his authority limits and nearly torpedoing an L&N train crossing the […]
April 14, 2023

On Sheet – The Cuesta Curse

ears back, my Cuesta Grade layout was part of the Orlando session rotation – we ran it from 2000 to 2018 or so. Then work and life got in the way. I decided, after a year of inactivity, to get the layout running again. This would require dusting (old house and a cat), track cleaning, and running/oiling the fleet of engines. So I started work on this, announcing my eminent return. At work, I was a lead for a software team AND a compliance guy for our organization. What I didn’t realize was that  (in another organization) two managers didn’t […]
April 7, 2023

On Sheet – Kinetic Energy

ad a life and death moment the other day. Was riding my bike on a thirty mile jaunt with a friend. I’m an experienced rider, commuted for twenty-five years. I know what I’m doing. But sometimes, I forget. We were a mile from the car, going along a wooded trail (asphalt with gravel shoulders), doing about 16 mph. I was to my friend’s right and reached up to wipe sweat from my eyes. And that’s when I dropped my road bike wheels off the asphalt step, onto the gravel. When I was nine, I watched drivers ed moves during summer […]
April 2, 2023

ShowLog – Deland – 4/1/2023

hat a horrifically bad train show! I woke up feeling good about going to a train show after all my missed-events. But then Sparky got pulled over while pulling the trailer and the cop demanded a roadside inspection and wrote us up for five infractions. And First Coast club took half our layout space! And then set up took two hours – how many ways can we put the layout together in wrong order? By the time it was up, attendees were standing around our build-area, silently watching like ghouls as we screamed at each other. After that, there was […]
March 31, 2023

On Sheet – Memory Lane

as writing another blog and saw some of my train pictures there. Got me to smiling, remembering the moments this hobby has given me. So this week, I’m just going to break out my slide projector and show off some operational moments…   Anyway, that’s just a pick from the many, many happy sessions I’ve attended. Thanks to the hosts, to the guests, and to all those who make this hobby what it is! >>>AND, YEAH, BOOKS FOR SALE HERE<<<