At the throttle

Train Blog

October 26, 2014

OpsLog – FEC – 10/25/2014

itting in the lounge before the session, taking jobs handed out by Ken Farnham, host for today’s run of the Florida East Coast. 940, an out and back turn. Nothing hard, I figure. “Remember,” Ken tells me. “You need to be back in twenty-nine minutes. I did the switching part in forty moves.” Forty? Another guy chimes in. “Did it in twenty-seven, myself.” What have I gotten myself into? Turns out I’m heading out of the yard the moment the clock goes hot, a single FEC bluebox with four hoppers of limestone and a boxcar. Destination – The Rinker plant […]
October 24, 2014

OpsLog – LM&O – 10/29/2014

‘ve always known this was going to happen. A model railroad operations host’s worst nightmare. Came into the club parking lot today and there were only a small number of cars. Yeah, not enough operators. The club has been going through changes, namely painting the floors which took things down for over a month. Now interest has cooled. And for whatever reasons, a lot of our solid operators skipped the session. So, I managed to fill out the locals (myself, a member who’d never done it before, and a visitor with balls). The through freights I gave to new members, […]
October 14, 2014

ShowLog – Deland – 10/4/2014

y dad, a late-in-life Rio Grande Railroad fan, used to tell me about the railroad’s problems with the AT&SF. Back in the day, apparently both railroads wanted access to a strategic pass (not having the pass meant miles of tunnels and impossible grades). I think D&RG got into the pass first, and actually built a fort staffed with men of ill-repute to defend their right of way. Shots were fired and all that. Capitalism at its best. This was sorta what we faced when we showed up for set up at the Deland Train Show this morning at 7:00am. Turns […]
October 13, 2014

OpsLog – SP Coast Route – 10/12/2014

sually I want to relate something that happened to me, usually if I’m brilliant, but pratfalls are posted as well. I’ve mentioned my mail train surprise (my fault) and my caboose-in-the-face (not my fault). But here’s one for someone else. Paul Lator hosts the great Southern Pacific Coast Line, a fun railroad with CTC but really tight aisles. I’ve run over there for years and always had a great time. I can mention that I’ve watched people crash and burn here. Relevant to this story is the San Luis Obispo yard, where someone (I’m talking about you, Greg Wells) delayed […]
October 13, 2014

OpsLog – DRV – 10/11/2014

econd run of the day of DixieRails, the PM tick on the Diamond River Valley, a neat HO mountain run. It’s my third run of the day, and – this is a first – I’m still on the same train! See, it’s a transfer run, used by Jimtown Yard and Diamond River Yard to shoot cars at each other (and to sweep the spurs between). So I’ve run one way, then back, and then back again. Maybe I’m tired. How much fuel do these units hold? Am I going to be making yet another run? I’m thinking these things at […]
October 11, 2014

OpsLog – B&B – 10/11/2014

unning with a junior member, a young kid who’s been at our club for some time. He’s never done TT&TO (time table ops – the most amazing way of controlling trains, one used across a hundred years (until the invention of radios)). He’s a little nerved about it and since we’re running two-man teams, I’m running with him. Last train of the day. We’ve run a local transfer job, a high-speed passenger move (with rights over everyone!) and a local mixed cakewalk-run down from the hallers. and now we’re running up the line to pick up some northern coal for […]
October 10, 2014

OpsLog – SPR – 10/10/2014

odeling in N-scale is problematic. Always small, always touchy, very tricky. But when you see it done well, and see what you can do in tight spaces, that’s when it really shines. It was shinning bright on the Southwestern Pennsylvania RR today, an N-scale pike, part of our ops weekend in Atlanta – Dixierails. Dave Pitcher has a nice run, a high density main broken by a crossing line. The central yard, pretty much on the junction, is a busy place. I’d dispatched here before, a couple of years ago, and wanted to try it now. So things were rolling. […]
August 27, 2014

OpsLog – LM&O 8/27/2013

heckmate in three. I’ve written the program we use at the train club, the one that generates switchlists (i.e. railroad documents that tell what industries each car is going  to). In a typical session, nine trains and one yardmaster move something like 100 or more cars to and from specific locations. And even though I’d written the program, I’d never gotten a chance to run a train with it. As I mentioned, the session was winding down, one train in Calypso dropping a cut, the other topping the ridge at Harris, heading for Martin Yard and eventually Cincinnati. I was […]
August 23, 2014

OpsLog – FEC – 8/23/2014

very time I drive to Ken Farnham’s Florida East Coast railroad, something happens on the trip. Once, a ladder came off a truck in front of us, spinning and sparking along the road like some giant spin-the-bottle game. Then there was the truck tire that blew up like a bomb right in front of us. This time, a four foot long stuffed fish toy (yeah, read that again) came off a pickup and rolled down the passing stripe. There wasn’t much room (barriers on either side of the road, so no runoff). While everyone else braked, I tucked my tiny […]
August 18, 2014

OpsLog – Saluda Grade – 8/18/2014

ronically, the last time I ran on the Saluda line, it was March of 2012, two and a half years ago. The ironic bit was that what I wrote here was a complaint about the changing club dynamics, the economy and general aging that was making a session here so difficult. Happily Jim brought his layout back after years and years down. And happily we had crew enough to run all the trains (except one local). But for its part, the railroad did what it was supposed to do: simulating running two branches of the N&S lines around Asheville (the […]