At the throttle

Train Blog

July 30, 2014

OpsLog – LM&O – 7/30/2014

ve run operations on this railroad for something like thirteen years, which comes out to about 130 sessions. Yeah, I know how things work. And that’s why, when I backed my favorite GP-7s onto the front of the Silver Bullet One, out of Bound Brook and running three hours late, I knew things were running hard outside. See, I was in staging, a hidden yard in the back of the railroad which is pretty much “backstage” to our little drama. A double-ended yard, it simulates both ends of the division. A train leaves one end, drives all the way across […]
July 13, 2014

ShowLog – Deland – 7/12/2014

f you want to see a BUSY mainline, look no further than the Orlando N-trak sectional layout. We’ve got a train by on our double-track mainline every 30-40 seconds or so. Which is why, when your equipment takes a dump, it’s such a mega-pratfall. Was running north through the bottom of the “U” (what is geographically just north of Jacksonville bay, just beyond I-95). I was pulling 40 mixed freight cars behind two dinky Geeps. Now, these four-axle jobs have a unique deal – if you load them up, they don’t just wheel-spin, they conk out. Reasons abound for why […]
June 29, 2014

OpsLog – TY&E – 6/29/2014

here comes that moment in a session where things go wrong. Anyone who has been to a session has been there. Every host has too. Usually its at the beginning – when everything turns on and the booster chirps, the clock won’t run, a bank of turnouts won’t throw, everything stops. Something’s gone wrong. And everyone gets really quiet and helpful until it’s fixed. Happened today at the TY&E – engines started shorting a booster for no particular reason. The boys all stopped their jokings and everyone got really helpful. Bill and I watched the trip lights to see if […]
June 25, 2014

OpsLog – LM&O – 6/25/2014

kay, so everyone knows the feeling of biting off more than you can chew. But I should have known my little GP-9’s wouldn’t get that long heavy string of hoppers over the summit. We were stalling and sanding into Hellertown siding. Picked a set of helpers off 244 as it rolled by and tacked them to the front end. Two Dash-9s (in unlikely LM&O green) really made a difference. Soon we were climbing pretty as a picture through the long curves and spiral tunnel leading to Harris Glen. Down below us in Carbon Hill, little Sean was banging and sorting […]
June 14, 2014

OpsLog – FEC – 6/14/2014

hat’s four feet long, has dozens of lights and even more switches, and looks like the engineer station on a Russian bomber? Answer: The dispatcher panel for Ken Farnham’s Florida East Coast Railroad. Positions are always random (i.e. crew call is based on Ken’s whim) and today I got to be dispatcher. Haven’t run his massive CTC board for over a year (on the previous incarnation of the FEC, back when it was house-side). So today, I got the tag for the panel. Now, I know how these things work – I’ve run them before at the Silverstar club and […]
May 21, 2014

OpsLog – LM&O – 5/21/2014

ne of my favorite moments in history is when, at the height of the German air assault on London and the plotting board full of enemy planes, Prime Minister Churchill turned to Air Vice Marshal Park and asked what reserves they had remaining. He was told, “There are none.” That’s how I felt on ops night when I came into the club lot and found only a handful of cars. My dispatcher had lost a filling and wouldn’t be there. Several other people were out traveling or in hospitals. We were really, really short. And that’s when the club really […]
May 18, 2014

OpsLog – FEC – 5/18/2014

t’s wonderful to be really good at something. You scrape along the bottom edge of perfect. And Saturday’s run across the Florida East Coast was pretty much there. We’ve got a good crew. The owner is dispatching. Everyone has good jobs. And there aren’t newbies wandering about asking about where Palm Bay or the bathrooms are. We’ve all run this dozens (if not a hundred) times. I’ve already run 920 that day, a turn up from Miami that made stops in Palm Bay, Melbourne and a bit further north before turning around and running back. Interacted with a lot of […]
May 12, 2014

OpsLog – L&S – 5/12/2014

o here I am running a switch engine in the industrial yard I was born to run (or at least physically built to run), Altamonte Springs. The Longwood & Sweetwater RR is pretty tight here, something like a foot of headspace under the host’s backup N-scale layout (my long arms really help here). I’ve run this turn before and am just going into the drill. John is on the back end, tossing the throws and lining me up. Together we’re working the yard, bottom to top, cleaning it out a spur at a time. Then I tell him that I […]
May 4, 2014

OpsLog – TY&E – 5/4/2014

‘m on the Tipton Turn, sitting on the siding at Heiserburg in the God-awful middle of the night. I’ve just pushed two boxcars of ingredients into the brewery there and pulled two boxcars of beer out. With that, I roll my short local forward and walking speed, giving Jimmy on the crummy a chance to realign the turnout and hop back aboard. No rush – according to the timetable we’re supposed to meet a coal train here. So imagine my surprise when a refrigerated block (not an extra – I’ve got no orders for him) arrives and holds opposite me. […]
April 28, 2014

OpsLog – Cuesta Grade – 4/27/2014

When I’m cleaning my railroad, getting ready for a session after a long time off, I ask myself why I do this. Of course, during the session, when we’re running hot and on-the-dot, it all becomes clear. Since Don wasn’t at the session, that gave me a chance to jump into 3303, the soon-to-be-scraped mikado goating the reefer cuts around Salinas. It’s one of the cool jobs, working the refrigerated cars off the icing deck to the sheds for loading, then waiting for them to get topped off before hauling them back to the docks for reicing. What makes it […]