At the throttle

Train Blog

November 6, 2022

OpsLog – FEC – 11/5/2022

uite a crazy day (and night) on the Florida East Coast. Worst bit – in mid-session in the yard shed, there was a turntable fire which filled the room with fumes and knocked out the table. The table itself, normally able to be lifted off, seems welded in place. That really sucks – I’ve run the hostler job and really like the table. Out in the main room, there were the usual issues, including a train getting stuck in the runnel and one operator determined to run through all our defect cards (and that would be Kyle, who scored three […]
November 5, 2022

OpsLog – P&WV – 11/4/2022

kay, so we got to run on the Pittsburgh and West Virginia today, a sort of retirees session held in the middle of a Friday when all the good people of the world are working hard (at the car wash or other places of employment). The good thing here was that, unlike our last disappointing session when over half those signing up didn’t bother to show (and our plucky dispatcher found himself in the cab, running trains and watching for headlights), we had a full crew. One guy couldn’t make it but luckily called host Tom Wilson in time for […]
November 4, 2022

On Sheet – Don’t sweat the small stuff

ou’ll probably remember how I gas-bagged about facing point locks in previous On-Sheets. These are the blue levers in an interlocking tower that lock a turnout’s points so they don’t shift while a train passes over them. It’s really cool while working a shift in the Tuscarora tower to drop the lock, throw the turnout, and relock it. In towers, I read how when the lever is pushed back from the operator (standard position), signals are red and turnouts normalized. A lever pulled towards the operator turns a signal green or reverses a turnout. Given this, I naturally assumed that […]
October 28, 2022

On Sheet – The Great P&LE Strike!

n our last blog posting, we talked about simulating things that aren’t really there (specifically facing-point locks and various assorted paperworks). The thing is, operations can be more than the trains and the waybills. They can be expanded to include anything you can imagine. Like a violent labor altercation. I mentioned at the end of that On Sheet how you could simulate union dues with your operators (by passing a coffee can around). That got me to thinking about an actual strike I was involved in on a friend’s railroad. My buddy Ed (who passed away a few years back) […]
October 27, 2022

OpsLog – LM&O – 10/26/2022

ou’ve heard of the famous “Day of Infamy”, right? Well, at Orlando N-Trak’s October session, we had our “Night of Irony”. There was that moment when a heavy freight, overloaded with motive power, told the helper crew who offered assistance to bug off, only to flounder on the hill. Had to chuckle as I wrote the warrant to get the extra units up to shove him over the summit. And then there was the member who runs locomotives as one of his many livings, who made a dying out of misreading his issued warrant and pulling out in front of […]
October 21, 2022

On Sheet – Illusions

n our last On Sheet, I talked about testing out ideas; my example was my interlocking tower and the control levels (specifically the train order boards). And there, I mentioned facing-point locks. I did a lot of digging while researching interlocking controls for my Tuscarora Branch Line. I learned all sorts of curious things about them, some I ignored and some I liked. But one of those neat ones were a device called a facing-point lock. I have two in my interlocking tower; you can see one of the levers (blue) in the foreground/left, and one way in the back/right. […]
October 9, 2022

OpsLog – TBL – 10/06/2022

id what I did last year at the NMRA Plant City convention, a clinic on MicroOps and how I put it together. Like last year, I put the layout up on a stand so everyone could see it, top down. Talked about it for 50 minutes. Since everyone wanted to see the tower work, I dropped the layout to a table and fired it up (happily, unlike last year, it didn’t suffer a cold solder joint). And then everyone wanted to try the interlocking tower. Great fun! Of course, this time I asked if anyone wanted to run a session […]
October 9, 2022

OpsLog – P&WV – 10/7/2022

‘m going to tread carefully on this blog post. So, like, What the fug? Tom Wilson opened up his layout for guests of the 2022 National Model Railroad Association Convention. He’d even contacted me a month before and asked if I could dispatch (don’t toss me in the briar patch, right?). With advanced signup and money on the barrel head (I forget how much I paid) we filled up the roster, a crew of nine. It was going to be a great time. I got there early, had a look at some of his new scenery, then went into the […]
September 30, 2022

On Sheet – Room for Improvements

ne thing about model railroad operations – you don’t have to get it right on the first try. Nobody can say exactly how something is going to work until they do it. When managing a model pike, you’ll find yourself changing things, cutting in turnouts or altering your schedule. You set something up, maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. If the latter is true, you try something different. In my Tuscarora Branch Line, I thought I wanted to run a train order board so that special orders could be “hooped up” (i.e. physically passed) to the engineers. For this, you […]
September 27, 2022

OpsLog – TBL – 09/26/2022

ay what you will about model train ops being stressful, frustrating, and unfun. Whatever. I had to go to the club today to meet an AC repair guy and since Ian is going to blow away our Wednesday night club ops, I had nothing better to do. So I figured I’d run a Monday afternoon session on the Tuscarora Branch Line with just myself. My friend Greg wants to get better at the interlocking position so he agreed to come as well. So after the AC guy recharged our system and dumped a bill on us, we started the clock […]