At the throttle

Train Blog

February 15, 2015

OpsLog – TY&E – 2/15/2015

‘ve got a couple of favorite trains I love to run. On my own Coast Route, I love the helper, hissing and grunting my way up the long slope through the Santa Lucia Range. On the NS Saluda, I’m always in 720, a long coal drag feeling its way down that 5% namesake grade. I love the Rinker Run on the FEC. On the club line, I’ll opt for the Mingo Local if nobody else wants it. Yes, there are just trains I like, fun and interesting and full of attitude, ones I’ll run until I’ve got them down perfect. […]
January 28, 2015

OpsLog – LM&O – 1/28/2015

ne of the recurring plot lines in my own life is getting hyper-nervous about things – presentations, operations, all that stuff. All day today, I moved through my work efforts with a leaden stomach, worrying about ops. All my friends always give me a hard time, saying I worry about nothing. Oh no? Tonight was a rough night at the club. I dispatched, and we had some returning members and potential new members in the squad. I wanted it to go well. But traffic was absolutely horrible getting out there (is it wrong for me to hope that whoever caused […]
January 24, 2015

OpsLog – FEC – 1/24/2015

t hunched predator-profile low in the shadows, its unblinking ball-turret eyes rotating independently, watching for prey. Its twenty foot body yearned to feast on a hobo or railfan – either would do (the camcorders it could regurgitate). Beneath the shielding fen of lichen, it watched. The dull roar of something even bigger and more unstoppable that itself made it raise its head, its throat-sack ballooning in alarm. Something massive and blue growled along the forest line. Panicking, the creature made its mistake, bursting from cover to flee, directly in the path of the oncoming FEC engine… The first I knew […]
January 24, 2015

OpsLog – FEC – 1/24/2015

t hunched predator-profile low in the shadows, its unblinking ball-turret eyes rotating independently, watching for prey. Its twenty foot body yearned to feast on a hobo or railfan – either would do (the camcorders it could regurgitate). Beneath the shielding fen of lichen, it watched. The dull roar of something even bigger and more unstoppable that itself made it raise its head, its throat-sack ballooning in alarm. Something massive and blue growled along the forest line. Panicking, the creature made its mistake, bursting from cover to flee, directly in the path of the oncoming FEC engine… The first I knew […]
December 17, 2014

OpsLog – LM&O – 12/17/2014

hort entry tonight. Not much to say about the sleepy week before Christmas. Everyone was in a good mood. The layout was purring. When it came to writing warrants, I had them pretty much figured when people called – no waiting. So here’s what I want to know. I ran on the L&N recently. In a four hour session, I wrote 84 warrants and was bushed at the end of it. And it was full-bore dispatching, working non-stop to get all those trains over the division. But on the LM&O (which is scaled as a longer railroad and has more […]
December 6, 2014

OpsLog – L&N – 12/6/2014

oday was one of my hardest dispatcher gigs ever. Was running the namesake side of John Wilke’s twin-route L&N Railroad (Bruce Notman held down the Southern), dispatching under warrants for four hours. I was doing it the hard way, running off actual train sheet reporting (keeping time like I had at the B&M a week past, but this time for something like twenty-plus trains rather than four). And I was starting to lose it. South of Norton Yard, there is a stretch with two sidings, some shared trackage (at Goodbee, and thankfully under my control) and then another siding. I […]
December 2, 2014

OpsLog – B&M – 12/2/2014

t’s a long haul over to Rockledge on a work night – 53.3 miles to be exact. And this is to run a layout so small, only four mainline trains get to cross it. (That’s like 25 miles of driving per train run – whew). But Kevin Loiselle’s Boston and Maine gets around these small room limitations. While some modelers talk about details in terms of handrails and bells, Kevin thinks in terms of ops. When the Bellows Falls switcher comes out onto the main, he has to physically unlock (with a key) the turnout controls, then call the dispatcher […]
November 22, 2014

OpsLog – FEC – 11/22/2014

ne of the ways to tell the difference between casual operators and intense operations is how they handle getting stuck in a hole (or a siding) for a long period of time. At La Mesa (in San Diego), it’s not unheard of to get locked in the box for five (real) hours. It’s happened to me, and guess what – that’s railroading. Wasn’t thinking that when I rolled out of Cocoa Beach at the controls of Train 930, a short (really – no cars) train that does sweep up work to Titusville and ducks into the small industrial yard there […]
November 20, 2014

OpsLog – LM&O – 11/20/2014

ou know it’s going to be one of those operations nights. There were only a couple of cars in the lot when I arrived. Before we started, a freakish mishap disabled our water supply (and I had to grope my hand in icy water for that shutoff valve). Then the confusion of getting everyone assigned to trains and getting everything set up. Finally, the clock was hot and I was out of the yard with Mingo Local, running sharp for my industrial area. All sorts of problems there. Turnout issues. My engines were whining (sounds like a bearing is going […]
November 15, 2014

OpsLog – WBR – 11/15/2014

e rolled into Dulce (on those tiny little narrow-gauge tracks), dropping our top-heavy caboose just short of the grade crossing (so as not to block any of those flatbed trucks with their boilable radiators). Then to work. With Conductor Richard working the paperwork and me the throttle, we’d just tugged a boxcar off a warehouse spur and slid another one home. The high Rockies seemed to scrape the sky, the pines were rustling in the cool breeze, and across the room, the dispatcher and superintendent were yelling at each other. “122, get off the main,” the dispatcher shouted at us. […]