At the throttle

Train Blog

April 14, 2019

OpsLog – WBRR – 4/13/2019

‘m usually a pretty outgoing person – lost a few jobs by shooting my mouth off. Very, very noisy, a real chatty Cathy. At the Western Bay, I’m in charge of the center aisle. Everything that goes on there goes through me. I tell the dispatcher what’s going on. I relay his orders to the crews. At one point, when 242 was fussing around in the Placerville Jct. lead and I heard on the wire that a mail train was coming west, I advised the dispatcher to advance him to Dolores (one of my stations) while my alter-ego at the […]
April 14, 2019

ShowLog – Deland – 4/6/2019

ight… nine… ten…” My black shoes pace across the cold concrete floor. It’s seven in the morning and I’m an hour from home and bed. “Eleven… twelve… thirteen.” Blue tape. All stop. I look around the quiet convention center. Our promised twenty-two feet of width is actually thirteen. We’ve been bungled by nine-feet. Not so much, but its further then a man can reach. It’s the distance the condemned falls through the hangman’s trap door. And it’s a full module-and-a-half of distance we can’t afford to lose. Steve, our module engineer, comes in. I nod to him. “Problem here.” And […]
April 14, 2019

OpsLog – LMO – 3/27/2019

’m hosting our daily meeting. One of our developers, a child thirty years my junior, is unhappy with the direction my team is now going. So he’s sniping at me, little schoolyard comments. I stop the meeting. “If you have something to say, let’s hear it,” I let him run his mouth a bit. “You done? Fine.” Then I go back to my agenda. He, in turn, runs off to cry at the manager, only to find out that, woops, he was wrong all along. That was my day job. In my real-life job, I’m at the throttle of a […]
April 14, 2019

OpsLog – FEC – 3/16/2019

ne of the stunning things about Ken Farnham’s FEC layout is how busy the main yard is. San Diego’s La Mesa club might have three to five engines moving across their Bakersfield Yard (and it’s, I dunno, 150 feet long?). But Ken’s is inside a small shed with the yardmaster, the classification crew, the trim operator, the hostler all working, even with one or two mainline trains transitioning the limits. The yard throat is a happening place. Today what made it cool for me was that I was working classification, breaking down arrivals, and the next track over wife JB […]
March 6, 2019

OpsLog – B&M – 3/5/2019

ispatching. I’ve dispatched railroads with twenty or thirty movements, moving trains in and out of sidings along a fifteen-mile mainline. This would be the LM&O, which is like air traffic control. And then there is the FEC, which is less trains but more involved. On the Boston and Maine tonight, I ran only four trains. And I was totally busy. The B&M is a neat little HO layout set in a spare bedroom. It’s neat and tidy and runs like a watch. Dispatching is done out in the living room on a computer simulating a CTC panel. But what makes […]
February 27, 2019

OpsLog – LM&O – 2/27/2019

ight feet. Two inches. That’s all it took. Okay, so the session started off well. Really well. I was running the dispatcher panel again (evidently, there wasn’t a dispatcher within fifty miles of the place). And I had this session down cold. I don’t think I’ve ever had it running so smooth – I had warrants written five minutes ahead of issue time. The railroad was running tighter than it ever had. Even with delays from Silver Bullet 2 gasping to a shuddering death on my main, I was able to get 202 pretty much back on schedule. Things were […]
February 16, 2019

OpsLog – FEC – 2/16/2019

here are three things Dispatchers love in model railroad operations. The first is the chance to dispatch a large and active railroad, which the FEC is. It’s got full CTC, a massive panel that’s great fun, and a lot of traffic up and down the line. So when Ken asks me, “You wanna dispatch?”, yeah, I’ll nod and say “Sure” but inside I’m clicking my heels and throwing my hat in the air. “Sure, I suppose I could.” The second thing a dispatcher loves is when the operations and yard folks run their trains well. In this case, we were […]
February 10, 2019

OpsLog – TY&E – 2/10/2019

kay, I can approach this several ways. There’s spending a fun Sunday with friends in an open garage as the rain comes down, just running trains. And there’s the angle where we ran on a layout where everything ran on time, every train passed as per their timetable, that it went off like virtual clockwork. Or there is the telling where I visualize the Sand and Log run down from Tipton to Staffordtown, of running a train constructed with heavy covered gons on front, flats behind, of slipping into Meadville to make my meet to rocking along in that swaying […]
January 26, 2019

OpsLog – WBRR – 1/26/2016

t’s been a half year (I figure) since my last run down to Al’s (last time I’d suffered a hernia and didn’t want to sit in a car for four hours). This time, my physicians cleared me for light Station Operator Duties, so I reported to the Delores office (as well as Placerville Jct and Dulcie), grabbed a stool and a radio and managed the railroad from the cinder-roadbed level. I suppose that’s why I like this job – it can make a difference. Sure, a dispatcher and a yardmaster can make a railroad run smoothly (and everyone wants those […]
January 24, 2019

OpsLog – LM&O – 01/23/2019

o one can blame me – after Bruce had a critical medical attack in my car on the way to a train session, well, I really wasn’t in the mood for operations at the club. But I thought about it and knew that he’d kick my ass if I cancelled a session because of him. So I sent out a reminder and showed up. I can’t say why but as I walked in I suddenly knew what I wanted to run – the helper set he always worked up the Harris Glen westbound ascent. The engines were right where he […]