At the throttle

Train Blog

November 21, 2012

OpsLog – Nebraska Division – 11/11/2012

It’s good to be king (as the saying goes). And in ops, it’s good to be the dispatcher. Sure, you don’t get to actually run a train. But you do get to do something that lasts the entire session. And often is a pretty busy job. I’ve had times when it wasn’t, when I’m sitting at my desk playing Kennedy Approach or something like that because the owner didn’t come up with enough for the DS to do. Not a problem on the Nebraska Division. I’m always busy. Even with the new timetable, I was busy this time. We had […]
November 18, 2012

OpsLog – Tehachapi – 11/4/2012

It was my train, dammit. It’d come in from Famoso late Saturday evening, my pal Jerry running the cut. I rolled out of the Bakersfield roundhouse with a puffy consolidation, ready to latch onto the back and push for all I was worth. For the next ninety minutes, we switched cars, waited, helped the yardlettes, waited, begged for clearance, and waited. The session ended with us built and aimed at the yard throat. The next morning, I showed up and got into my seat, only to get tossed out by Bob, my supposed relief. WTF? This was MY train! I […]
November 18, 2012

OpsLog – Tehachapi – 11/3/2012

As I mount the footplate to my Santa Fe steam engine hissing seven boxcars up from the caboose at the end of this mile-long (or so it feels) freight train, I reflect how nice it is when everyone agrees. The crew had met over the register book in the ATSF yard office, discussing our coming eastbound run from Bakersfield to Mojave. Long trains (such as ours) give me an antacid attack – we can’t really fit anywhere, not without a lot of flagging and sawing and stuff, so I’m not happy about that. To make matters worse, we’ve got an […]
November 17, 2012

OpsLog – Tehachapi – 11/2/2012

After the long flight to San Diego, after breakfast/lunch (watching dubiously as one of our group has an omelet and beer), after naps and dinner at City Deli, it’s time to head over to the sprawling La Mesa Model Railroad Club (located in a museum basement in Balboa Park) and help set up. La Mesa is a huge place. They’ve modeled the route from Bakersfield to Mojave in 25 scale miles, running it in a simulated 1952 under Time Table and Train Order rules. It’s always a blast to run here – its like a mix of railroading and La […]
October 24, 2012

OpsLog – LM&O – 10/24/2012

I‘m pushing cars into Hendler Paper in Mingo Jct as the simulated night grows deeper and the session winds down. There are two spurs here, shipping 1 and shipping 2, and I’ve got to sort my mixed cut onto the correct ones. No problem since I see a slick way to do it. It’s been a fun night. Even though attendance was a little on the light side, we’re moving most of the trains. Further, my buddy/rival is running the board and having a bad night. Harris Glen was locked up tighter than the Grinch getting twisted up in a […]
October 17, 2012

OpsLog – SPCR – 10/14/2012

Why is this man smiling? He was at the controls of a single GP-9 picking up cars out of LA. Railroad management overestimated the pulling power of these new fangled diesels. Now, with 24 cars, he’s found himself spinning his wheels on the grade out of Oxnard. This caused him to have to run his train up in two sections (and deal with a Butt Monkey operator opposing him at Ventura). Once he got rebuilt on the Ventura siding (in the sun…. shine) and departed, he found the slow rise towards Santa Barbara too much for his straining single unit. […]
October 16, 2012

OpsLog – SLG – 10/13/2012

The Saint Louis Gateway is an odd railroad simulation. There isn’t that usual balance of yard/locals/freights (with passengers tossed in because we have to). This one is about high speed, high volume running. Several staging yards point at the SH Junction like a Polish firing squad. And when the session starts, a half-dozen trains leap into motion. And that’s the deal – it all comes down to that one signal tower keeping things moving smoothly. Outside of one working yard and a couple of big grain silos, it’s mostly long trains highballing across the prairie. To really enjoy it, the […]
October 15, 2012

OpsLog- J&G – 10/13/2012

I’m out of Johnstown, moving through the Pennsylvanian morning in an RS unit for the Stenzel Valley local. I’ve got  Mike as my brakeman, a friendly guy who showed me around the layout earlier. Since the J&G has run precisely one time before (it’s new), we’re not sure how the run is going to come out. Sometimes new procedures turn out to be overly difficult, even impossible, requiring new methodologies. So now we’re at the Stenzel cuttoff, with Mike dropping from the caboose to realign the turnout behind us to the main while I call clear to the dispatcher. And […]
October 14, 2012

Opslog – SPR – 10/12/2012

Dixierails is a weekend ops gathering in Atlanta, ten layouts open for four sessions (Friday, Saturday AM, Saturday PM, and Sunday). It’s a lot of fun and you get to mix with many other operations enthusiasts from all over the country. So, first layout for me, the Southwestern Pennsylvania Railroad, a nice N-scale. This has some of the best N-scale operations I’ve ever run on. So I’ve run down to Junction Yard, a short hop over from Cumberland. I’ve got two sidings, one empty, one with the exchange cars I need. I roll down the empty and as soon as […]
October 6, 2012

ShowLog – Deland – 10/6/2012

We took our space-age sectional layout to this weekend’s Deland show. Lots of fun, especially following a really easy setup (six guys, one hour of casual effort). Had some problems – what show wouldn’t have problems? After all, we’re moving a complex assemblage forty miles and putting it together in a strange place, to run tiny trains with all sorts of electronics. So first we had problems with the taillights of the truck the night before (I went over to Bob’s early this morning to follow him and act as taillights). Then one of the new digitrax cables were pinched, […]