At the throttle

Train Blog

May 29, 2023

OpsLog – TBL – 5/29/2023

ecide to run a simple one-man session this memorial day.  I wanted to test some engines and a turnout or two, so I printed out a switchlist and went over to the club. Bumped into John DV there so we split the clubhouse: I ran on my layout and he ran on his. Wasn’t sure how the SW-7 was going to work. I haven’t run him in ages (usually Greg’s NW-2 stands in for our local). It was a little balky at first but eventually ran sweet. And I should have known it was going to be a good session […]
May 28, 2023

OpsLog – WVN – 5/27/2023

like newbies at ops. They do the craziest things. They are like kittens who get tangled in yarn or tear the arm off the sofa, but are still adorable. So second shift on the West Virginia Northern found me in one of my favorite jobs, the Ashbury Hostler. Usually this is a fun and interesting shift, moving engines in and out of the roundhouse while handling the traffic to Huntington. But this time I started off on the wrong foot. The prior shift had three engines in the stalls but only two cards on the pegs, so there was a […]
May 26, 2023

On Sheet – TimeFable

lot of layout owners, when they start setting up for ops, build a timetable. Sure, it’s fun since now all those trains have numbers, go places, do things. But is it necessary? Yes, a timetable can allow you to make sure your flow works, that there are enough sidings for trains to meet, do work and whatnot. You can build  sequential operations out of a timetable. And, of course, you can hang it on the wall and smile at it. But if you are running your railroad under warrants, CTC (centralized traffic control, i.e. with signals) or mother-may-I (verbal orders […]
May 25, 2023

OpsLog – LM&O – 5/24/2023

hey came from beyond high orbits, disk-like vessels that slid into the atmosphere, nudging past Chinese spy balloons, descending over an unsuspecting America. On their steel underbellies, access ports irised open and the cold muzzles of alien devices slid forth, tracking along the faint railline running across the eastern mountains. These were no deathrays, no, nor atomizers or any one of traditional alien destructo-beams. These were capture rays, used to pluck fishermen out of rowboats and yahoos out of cornfields. The aliens had come with capture on their vast, cool, unsympathetic minds. Their plans were carefully considered. The first beam […]
May 22, 2023

OpsLog – WAZU – 5/21/2023

o there were four levels of operational expertise in our long, busy and fun session at the Union Pacific WAZU (for whatever reason it’s called that, nobody knows. But it simulates the line between Spokane to Portland). First off, there is the remarkable effort by AJ to sit on the dispatcher’s panel and run this very busy line for four hours. I’ve done it, and while the dispatching is straight-forwards, the communications aren’t the best, the crews don’t OS as well as they could, and it’s a long session. But AJ wanted to try and he was on his own […]
May 19, 2023

On Sheet – Recon mission

wo weeks ago, I left you all for my pilgrimage-slash-recon mission to Waynesburg, Pennsylvania as detailed HERE. This was an interesting yet backward way to do things – rather than pick an actual place to model, I picked a fictitious place and then based it (oh, very loosely) on an actual place. I know that in the 60’s (when I model) the place had a number of industrial sidings and even as small three-track yard just west of town (possibly a coal marshaling area). But I didn’t know what how steep the hills where, or the colors of the rocks […]
May 18, 2023

OpsLog – CSX Taft – 5/18/2023

feel kinda bad about this one. See, my friend’s CSX Taft railroad has a job change-over. One guy takes the mainline freight, another runs the local. Twelve-hour shifts, lots of fun. So I started on the switcher and started working to get set for the north bound before working the southbound. I was like one of those guests that eat you out of house and home, then belch loudly. I thought the outcard box was for the shift, not the entire session. So I selected a bunch of pickups (allowed) and then noticed “easy to grab” cars that were also […]
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 […]