At the throttle

Train Blog

February 5, 2023

OpsLog – WVN – 2/4/2023

think there is a trope forming, that for some reason everyone I attempt to carpool with suffers a medical episode. This time, got a call from the ER the night before, my co-ride bowing out. Come on, how dangerous are heart flutters in the grand scheme of things, you big baby! I mean, we’re talking operations on the West Virginia Northern! So, flying solo, I made my way out there. We were a bit short (with an additional cancellation), with Hostess Gail doubling up on yard jobs (“Thankee, no,” I thought). Instead, I got to run some really nice rolls, […]
February 3, 2023

On Sheet – It’s about time!

uestion: Why is there time and space? There is time so that everything doesn’t happen at once, and there is space so that everything doesn’t happen to you. When it comes to time, fast-time in model railroads get a bit of a bum rap. People think that the sole purpose of a fast clock is to generate all sorts of undue stress, like speeding up a production line to make the workers produce more. Poppycock. Time (and fast-time) is nothing more than a measure of where we are at in the operations sequence. If there is stress all around, that’s […]
February 2, 2023

OpsLog – CSX Taft – 2/2/2023

et my friend Chris Strecker for an early morning breakfast, followed by an invite to his house to try operations on his blossoming layout, a simulation of car spotting in Taft Yard in Orlando, Florida (yeah, right down the road). His layout is one of those elegant small layouts (where you aren’t throwing track across a basement). Basically it’s a dogbone with two staging tracks on the back wall and a host of industries along the leading edge. Chris has actually placed a number of real places on his line (and a couple of fictitious ones at well (and who […]
February 1, 2023

OpsLog – TBL – 1/31/2023

t was a special Tuesday Night session of the Tuscarora Branch Line. Things will be busy for a couple of weeks and since the last session went so well, I wanted to try some new things. We had many changes and many failures. First off, I mentioned on another blog retrofitting an old Rapido Pacific Fruit Express car I’d had for ages. Nice car, 1920s vintage, good detail. However, the coupler was mounted on a fixed shaft so there was no way to just swap trucks. Instead, I sawed off the couplers and body-mounted a new set. Turns out my […]
January 29, 2023

OpsLog – FEC – 1/28/2023

This is the first of five sessions I’m attending over the next week. And for me, it didn’t go so well. Look, on the Florida East Coast, I’m known as the ace of the base on the dispatcher panel. I can just sit back and make that railroad dance. But this session, I was “Trim”. What’s “Trim”? Do I work in a mall haircut joint and take a little off the sides? No, I work part of the sprawling Hialeah Yard. When trains enter (and stop at the drop off point) I pick up the engines and bring them into […]
January 27, 2023

On Sheet – Back to Basics

o you might have read about our crazy op session the other night (detailed and derailed HERE). So it was a tough night – I ran around sweating like a pig, even though my only job (the Shelfton Turn) ran ten feet out, switched in one quick runaround to hit all the trailing turnouts, dropped and came back in to work a short branch run to Iron City Brewery. Total wait time – one and a half hours. Total running time – thirty minutes. Not such a good night. But club fun night wasn’t over. I stayed until 11pm so […]
January 26, 2023

OpsLog – LM&O – 1/26/2023

ourteen and a half hours. A lot can happen in fourteen and a half hours. And this was in 10:1 clock time, so that was (in real time) just under an hour and a half. That’s how long number 902, the Shelfton Local, had to wait to get a warrant from a newbie dispatcher (yeah, Steve H, your humiliation begins. All newly minted DS-Deskers get it). And my order would have been one checkbox. Go to Shelfton. Man, it’s what, four real-feet away? Leave the yard, cross over, go into the cutoff. (And to think – I’m the guy who […]
January 22, 2023

OpsLog – TBL – 1/21/2023

fter a long weekend at a train convention (and two weeks of ensuing covid isolation) I was able to return to duty on the Tuscarora. The railroad surgeon cleared me for service. And back I went to the dispatcher’s desk. Also on duty was Kyle (on interlocking), his father Phil (on Scheduled trains) and Greg (on Coal). Yes, so we had a rusty lever-thrower, a rookie on the timetable and a coal guy who forgot how the tally sheet worked. I guess that’s why we ran four hours on the session. Still, Phil (even though he is a model railroader, […]
January 20, 2023

On Sheet – Broken Coupler

o we had a show. But I had covid. I’d have to miss it. Turns  out we suffered a crisis during the load and, even though I was thinking of early-to-bed, I had to call the membership and warn them. This turned into a problem solving effort. The details of what happened are outlined HERE. Read ’em and weep. The point of that sob story is the point of a train club. When it’s just you with a 4×8 in the basement, you just work on it when you feel like it. But when you join a club, a lot […]
January 19, 2023

ShowLog – Deland – 1/(14&15)/2023

et’s be up front about this. I’m one of those media guys who is reporting on something I did not attend. Two shows ago, I was recovering from surgery in the hospital. Last time (the fall show) we had a hurricane and got cancelled. And this time, I got Covid (likely from CovidRails the weekend before). And I wore a mask and everything. Even through I’m not showing symptoms anymore, I’m still hot and still staying clear. But it wasn’t like I wasn’t involved. Steve Raiford had set everything up. We had crews marked up and superintendents outlined. Even sidelined, […]