At the throttle

Train Blog

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, […]
September 26, 2012

OpsLog – LM&O – 10/26/2012

Well, the last couple of weeks have been club-tuf. We got our mower stolen. I got pulled off the sectional layout to work on the permanent, but neither is where I wanted them to be. A show is coming up. Got two out-of-state ops-trips to arrange. Work work work. I was pretty ground out from all this. Just tired. Came out for ops not knowing what to expect but, frankly, expecting the worse. Then again, I always anticipate the worst. That way, you’re never disappointed. But tonight, I was pleasantly surprised. I had fun at the club. Fun. Imagine that. […]
September 23, 2012

Opslog – UP Nebraska Division – 9/23/2012

Sometimes ops are very detailed, by the clock, by the book, era- and road-specific affairs. And sometimes its just pretty much running trains. Doc has been getting his old UP Nebraska Division (Omaha to Denver) back in service after a very long hiatus. He’d cleaned and staged, but I know the waybills were all over the place so we’d pretty much be just running through, no real switching. And that was fine. With the hassles of getting the modules ready for the upcoming show, the stolen lawnmower issue and club elections, it was nice just to run trains with friends […]
September 16, 2012

One step backwards

It’s very hard to keep a train club going through a hard economic downturn. Our older members get, well, older, and younger members just aren’t that common anymore. Its really not the high-speed, instant-gratification hobby they want. So there you are. But as money gets tighter, as we’ve got to pay for everything from paper towels to trailers, it doesn’t help that we are in a white-slum, corn pone neighborhood. It’s just white-trash, trailers, pickups, tattoos, and about six teeth total. And they’ve been ripping us off. First it was the AC copper. Then came the five rapid break ins […]