At the throttle

Train Blog

June 23, 2022

OpsLog – LM&O – 6/22/2022

y original plan was to run a through freight with my new Pennsy F’s, but it turned out I was the only dispatcher on deck so back into the office I went. Smooth night with a good turnout. Crews were meeting their on-call times (if not a little before). The layout is running better (though the metal wheels continue to cause cursing and might result is us switching the worst offenders back unless a better alternative is found). Once I reminded people to call clear of the main, they generally did. In this, I got to focus on my panel. […]
June 20, 2022

OpsLog – TBL – 06/19/2022

ather’s Day in Tuscarora, Pennsylvania, 1962. It’s a lazy weekend in the middle of summer. Somewhere in this idyllic town, boys are playing softball with their fathers. Being Sunday, the industries down by the tracks are closed. And with shippers being closed, the usual through traffic on the railroad is non-existent. But the mines are still working and eastern coal consumers, the powerplants and the export docks are in full swing. And for that, the rails are still humming from the passage of coal drags. Given the increasing length of the trains, the Pennsy has taken the RS units out […]
June 17, 2022

On Sheet – Just die!

o I was asked to explain all the facets of model railroad operations, to spool this out and gradually teach you how to research, string diagram and prototype your operations so you’ll have ops so successful you’ll need velvet ropes and a bouncer to keep things manageable. But you aren’t sure about ops and want to try, just you, on your little home layout? So here’s what you do. Go into the den and loot through your board games, Risk or Monopoly or whatever. Take a single six-sided die from the box. Now, on your layout, build a train with […]
June 9, 2022

On Sheet – 6/9/2022

arrell Maples asked if I’d contribute to the group. Since it’s what I do best – writing for free – how could I turn him down? It’s what I was born to do. So I’ll be contributing these On Sheet postings, short pieces about model train operations, why they are fun and how you can get involved in them (by yourself or with two dozen or more people). I’ll start my first bit with a sorta-quote (I might not be exact) from Atlas Shrugged (the book, of course). In it, a woman who runs a railroad mentions that trains are […]
May 30, 2022

OpsLog – TBL/WAZU – 5/29/2022

t all started because I wanted to introduce my friend Doc to micro layout switching and operations. I figured that he, Greg, myself and some undetermined person would give it a go. And that’s why I got to drive out to the club to drop my layout back off on Memorial Day morning, early, to clear out my wife’s car so she could use it. So what started as a quiet session for four turned into an all-day event, the Tuscarora Branch Line in the morning, the WAZU in the afternoon. And since my pal Greg went to dinner and […]
May 26, 2022

ManualLog – LM&O Freight Flow – 5/26/2022

Given our last few sessions, it’s clear the crews (on the road and in the yard) don’t understand the LM&O’s freight flow. Hopefully this will help them understand. It is your responsibility to make sure that our cargoes enter, cross, and leave our bridge route as intended. So first, a legend showing car types…               Below shows the basic routing of cars across our railroad. Blue cars (Bridge Traffic) are nothing more than cuts of cars that travel endlessly between Martin and Calypso yards. You pick these cars up at the first yard you […]
May 23, 2022

OpsLog – Hartford Division- 05/22/2022

n the layout, it was a beautiful crisp fall day, the type where a heavy jacket and possibly gloves allow you to enjoy the vibrant fall colors. But, of course, situated in Florida with the garage door open for access, it was hotter than the Sahara – we were sweating our balls off. But hey, that just made operating an engine with a roaring firebox a little more realistic, right? It’s nothing new – I’ve operating in a pet clinic with the smell of wet dog. I’ve run trains in countless dusty basements. We once displayed our N-trak layout in […]
May 15, 2022

OpsLog – TBL – 05/15/2022

orried, with things medical looming, about when we’ll have another session on the tiny-tight 2X4 Tuscarora Branch line. Called my friend Greg and arranged for a Saturday session. Opened the call up for the general club membership and got John DeVasto (and, at the last second, Kyle Sarnik). So great – we had four and the Branch runs best with a quad of operators. I was dispatcher (as usual) – Greg took Coal cuz he likes the tally sheet bit. John wanted to try the switching job (since he’s never gotten a shot on that run). And Kyle took the […]
May 1, 2022

OpsLog – WVN – 4/30/2022

here has to be a reason I crawl out of bed at 6 AM, hitting the road by twenty-after, running west for Tampa to operate on the West Virginia Northern. The sunrise in my rearview was breathtaking – the haze turned it into a giant molten ball imperfect with bands of clouds. Two cars pulled over on the side of I-4 to watch it. The rearview mirror gave me enough of a treat and a couple of miles more distance. And the fast food joint I always stop at, I had a quiet coffee over a book, eating an egg-McSomething. […]
April 28, 2022

OpsLog – LM&O – 4/27/2022

here are two types of people who want to see a massive head-on between two trains. One is a deranged psychopath. The other is a rival dispatcher. I’ll admit that I take great pleasure in being a good dispatcher. I developed the control systems (the computer to track trains and the warrants to command them). I developed the position, sitting in the middle of the layout with my Atari 520 ST and my crude program thirty years ago, controlling trains on N-Trak modules. I’m a boomer, having walked in and dispatched layouts I’ve never seen before, cold, in cities a […]