At the throttle

Train Blog

April 14, 2019

OpsLog – FEC – 3/16/2019

ne of the stunning things about Ken Farnham’s FEC layout is how busy the main yard is. San Diego’s La Mesa club might have three to five engines moving across their Bakersfield Yard (and it’s, I dunno, 150 feet long?). But Ken’s is inside a small shed with the yardmaster, the classification crew, the trim operator, the hostler all working, even with one or two mainline trains transitioning the limits. The yard throat is a happening place. Today what made it cool for me was that I was working classification, breaking down arrivals, and the next track over wife JB […]
March 6, 2019

OpsLog – B&M – 3/5/2019

ispatching. I’ve dispatched railroads with twenty or thirty movements, moving trains in and out of sidings along a fifteen-mile mainline. This would be the LM&O, which is like air traffic control. And then there is the FEC, which is less trains but more involved. On the Boston and Maine tonight, I ran only four trains. And I was totally busy. The B&M is a neat little HO layout set in a spare bedroom. It’s neat and tidy and runs like a watch. Dispatching is done out in the living room on a computer simulating a CTC panel. But what makes […]
February 27, 2019

OpsLog – LM&O – 2/27/2019

ight feet. Two inches. That’s all it took. Okay, so the session started off well. Really well. I was running the dispatcher panel again (evidently, there wasn’t a dispatcher within fifty miles of the place). And I had this session down cold. I don’t think I’ve ever had it running so smooth – I had warrants written five minutes ahead of issue time. The railroad was running tighter than it ever had. Even with delays from Silver Bullet 2 gasping to a shuddering death on my main, I was able to get 202 pretty much back on schedule. Things were […]
February 16, 2019

OpsLog – FEC – 2/16/2019

here are three things Dispatchers love in model railroad operations. The first is the chance to dispatch a large and active railroad, which the FEC is. It’s got full CTC, a massive panel that’s great fun, and a lot of traffic up and down the line. So when Ken asks me, “You wanna dispatch?”, yeah, I’ll nod and say “Sure” but inside I’m clicking my heels and throwing my hat in the air. “Sure, I suppose I could.” The second thing a dispatcher loves is when the operations and yard folks run their trains well. In this case, we were […]
February 10, 2019

OpsLog – TY&E – 2/10/2019

kay, I can approach this several ways. There’s spending a fun Sunday with friends in an open garage as the rain comes down, just running trains. And there’s the angle where we ran on a layout where everything ran on time, every train passed as per their timetable, that it went off like virtual clockwork. Or there is the telling where I visualize the Sand and Log run down from Tipton to Staffordtown, of running a train constructed with heavy covered gons on front, flats behind, of slipping into Meadville to make my meet to rocking along in that swaying […]
January 26, 2019

OpsLog – WBRR – 1/26/2016

t’s been a half year (I figure) since my last run down to Al’s (last time I’d suffered a hernia and didn’t want to sit in a car for four hours). This time, my physicians cleared me for light Station Operator Duties, so I reported to the Delores office (as well as Placerville Jct and Dulcie), grabbed a stool and a radio and managed the railroad from the cinder-roadbed level. I suppose that’s why I like this job – it can make a difference. Sure, a dispatcher and a yardmaster can make a railroad run smoothly (and everyone wants those […]
January 24, 2019

OpsLog – LM&O – 01/23/2019

o one can blame me – after Bruce had a critical medical attack in my car on the way to a train session, well, I really wasn’t in the mood for operations at the club. But I thought about it and knew that he’d kick my ass if I cancelled a session because of him. So I sent out a reminder and showed up. I can’t say why but as I walked in I suddenly knew what I wanted to run – the helper set he always worked up the Harris Glen westbound ascent. The engines were right where he […]
January 13, 2019

ShowLog – Deland – 1/(12/13)/2019

etween a software load, a compliance disaster and the possibility of retirement, work is a crazy spin-cycle of shit. Outside of that, there is my friend in the hospital, the game I’m writing, the books I’m trying to read, all this crazy crap. And this weekend, two days of Volusia County Fairgrounds train show. Which was really, surprisingly fun. I didn’t know I’d enjoy myself that much. But even with the minor layout damage (Bill, can you maybe miss a pothole or two with the trailer?) the layout went together smooth and easy. We had good participation from the membership […]
December 19, 2018

OpsLog – LM&O – 12/19/2018

ake a good look at this picture. This is Red Rock, a siding in the middle of nowhere on the western flank of the Appalachians. It’s full of trains. If you follow the rails east to the opposite flank, you’ll find Lehigh siding. It was really fulla trains. I think at one point we had six pushing down that furnace-side main-siding combo. We had a full, full house – guests and new members and visitors from England and, who knows, maybe a Martian out there. In the course of the evening, we ran every scheduled train and a load of […]
December 15, 2018

ShowLog – Tampa – 12/15/2018

his was a new one for us, a long ride over to the west coast for a show. Of course, there were two club-related hospitalizations and heavy rains to cope with, but other than that, everything went well. We managed to hold to our schedule and everyone showed up. Unlike Makers Farce, we had more than enough people to do this and everyone pitched in. Better, we all proceeded slooooow, so outside of the sign stand breaking (again) we set up in our usual hour and had things running when the crowds came in. Overall, the show was a real […]