At the throttle

Train Blog

April 25, 2012

OpsLog – LM&O – 4/25/2012

Then he slid down the chimney. A rather tight pinch. But, if Santa could do it, then so could the Grinch. He got stuck only once, for a moment or two. Then he stuck his head out of the fireplace flue… Everyone remembers that Tex Avery image of the Grinch rolling into a ball in those tight confines. Funny when it happens to him. Not so funny when it happens to me, the dispatcher. We were rattling the rails with a full house of operators. Trains east, trains west. I was kicking out warrants pretty fast – a warrant is […]
April 14, 2012

ShowLog – Deland – 4/14/2012

Well, we did a one-day train show today, up in Deland, 44 miles from base camp. It wasn’t too bad – we did the setup the day before in record time (two hours to the second, from the start of loading to walking out of the hall, all done (including transport)). The layout was already quick to set up and we’ve made it even quicker. Once we get the new buildings glued down, we’re really going to be cooking. The show was fun. I guess our greatest shortcoming are the number of trains we can put out. Back in the […]
April 8, 2012

Tehachapi Loop’s Links!

Jason Hill commented on my recount of Tehachapi and our last session there that I did not give their club due menion. So here are all the appropriate links… The sesion report itself: Off to Tehachapi First Day Second Day Club link LINK Jason & Gang, thanks for the great runs! We keep coming back, year after year!
April 3, 2012

A tight spot

In my last session, the turnout going into Watsonville staging came literally unglued. Originally I had to cut half the mounts off it get it to fit, screwing it tight and backing it with double-sided sticky tape. Well, that worked – for ten years. Then, in the middle of the session it came apart, the motor swung loose, the throw arm popped out, and the switch was suddenly manual. Thankfully we could still position it by hand and trains could still enter Watsonville. But it had to be fixed. Since the tape was no good, I wedged styrene between it […]
March 28, 2012

Opslog – LM&O – 3/18/2012

It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that I’m a curmudgeon – I don’t really like kids.They follow manufactured fads like lemmings. Youth is wasted on them. They had door-stops for heads. We were getting ready for the session tonight – not many of the usuals were there, but in contrast, we had a couple local visitors (guys who know how to run) who we pressed into service. And we also had two kids, JW’s son and another new member named Matthew. Junior JW signed up for the Silver Bullet #1 (his old man said he’d give him the […]
March 12, 2012

OpsLog – Saluda Grade – 3/12/2012

It’s time to go hot. I’ve got my dispatcher program booted. I’ve got my lineup in front of me. The problem is, I don’t have crews. Maybe it’s because of that motorcycle wreck on the way in. So we wait a little more. Now its really time to start and we’ve only got four guys. We’ll have to run mother-may-I, no dispatcher. Everything about this burns me. It burns me that the economy sucks, meaning people have to work stupid shifts, stupid jobs, or simply don’t have time or money to attend. And it burns me that we’re all getting […]
March 10, 2012

OpsLog – FEC – 3/10/2012

So I’m out of Cocoa Beach, following another train north, riding his yellows. I’ve got setouts and pickups along the line, up to Jay-Jays where NASA Space Center supplies are dropped. Then turn and home. I want to do this perfect. I mean, really perfect. I want this to be my best run ever. It’s not because their are management types hiding in the brush with speed guns, no. It’s because after this session, the current FEC will shut down for good. For real-world reasons, Owner Ken has got to move his layout out of the house. It will be broken up […]
February 26, 2012

Folkston Funnel

I’ve always liked the practicality of Folkston, Ga. They were a little nowhere, noplace town sitting right on the CSX mainline that runs out to Jacksonville and carries heavy loads both ways. And in the classic sense of making lemons from lemonade, they welcomed the trainspotters, trainwatches and railfans, building a reviewing stand complete with a railroad scanner and bathroom. Now fans can line the right of way, watching as heavy power blows up and down the line. The club’s been meaning to get out there for some time and, at our last meeting when pushed against the wall, I […]
February 22, 2012

OpsLog – LM&O – 2/22/2012

It’s one of those sessions where you can overlook the little glitches and everything. We’ve got a full house, a bunch of fascinated guests, and all the trains are moving. So I’m really in the groove, running Black Widow SP F3s on the front of an intermodal train. Sure it looks strange – engines and cars are 40 years apart, but what the hell – I can squint and I’m Coast Merchandiser East on the head end of TOFCs. So it’s cool, the engines are running well and I’m smiling. And I’m just coming into Hellertown and have the long grade to […]
February 19, 2012

OpsLog – SP Coast Line – 2/19/2012

There are three aspects of operations for me. Pre-ops: I get ready with this sense of tight-stomached dread. Things don’t run well, things don’t work right. I break open engines and try to fix them but they just won’t cooperate. It’s an endless struggle that has me going back in the room over later hours, turning everything on and checking it out. It’s never good enough, and like an actor playing a well-known role, I still feel like puking. I hate getting ready for ops! Ops: Everyone is tooling up, train 920, the Salinas crew, the yard master, everyone’s brake-testing. The […]