At the throttle

Train Blog

September 20, 2020

OpsLog – TBL – 9/19/2020

he latest session of the TBL was held at the club today. Again, Greg Wells and I gave it a shot. This was the sixth session and the second live session. So this time we ran the full effort with coal extras pulling through Greg’s choreographed local moves. The interesting thing here is to realize that a 2×4 foot layout is so small, you need to be keenly aware what the other train is doing. Here, the dispatcher (me, in this case) needs to look at his lineup sheet and make sure that when a coal extra comes into Tuscarora, […]
September 13, 2020

OpsLog – TBL – 9/12/2020

ust after midnight. Greg Wells and I found ourselves standing in the cinders of the mainline through Tuscarora, his NW-2 idling behind him, my Southern Pacific GP9 rumbling at my back. We’d just gone over the day’s activity, the switching for him, the coal runs for me. But I’ll admit, for a tiny layout, this tyke has big ops. There was a long pause. I looked up at the guy in the switch tower. He looked at his watch. Acting on a hint, I asked, “Do you want to just go with the locals and leave the coal out of […]
September 6, 2020

OpsLog – TBL – 9/6/2020

ou’re sitting across from me in this diner in 1962, out in the middle of nowhere. This town, Tuscarora, isn’t central to anything. So we look outside into the snow-speckled gathering dusk and, in gratitude for what you are about to endure, I spot you another cup of coffee. You’ll need the warmth and it’s only a dime, right? Then I check my pocket watch. It’s just going 7pm. “Let’s go.” We step into the blowing cold of southwestern Pennsylvania in late November, leaving our comfortable diner to walk south down Railroad Avenue, past the fuel distributor, down to where […]
September 3, 2020

OpsLog – TBL – 9/3/2020

ait! What? Ops on the Tuscarora Brach Line? Yup. Brought the layout home today. Since I got the randomized car sorting worked out the other day, I realized I was ready to go. Even though I didn’t have that tank car and covered hopper Greg Wells promised me a week ago, I just threw box cars into the mix and off we went. Ops for the local switch crew is programmed (with random car ordering). In all, I ran eighteen trains (but to be truthful, this really is five trains and five local / drill jobs that make numerous runs […]
August 11, 2020

BuildLog – TBL – 8/10/2020

t was a long weekend of work on the Tuscarora Branch Line. After building the layout last week and staining the frame (over the weekend), I got track mounted on it, carefully including my feeder sections. A lot of effort here to get the track flat and make sure the turnouts still worked (my first go, I dislodged one of the wires). So tonight Steve Raiford and I soldered the feeders to a single terminal strip, in preparation for connecting up the booster. We were about done when a routine currency check noted that he had a short somewhere. Steve […]
July 19, 2020

BuildLog – TBL – 7/19/2020

he Tuscarora Branch Line is taking shape. I got the last of the track the other day and began assembling the layout, very slowly and very carefully. It still needed a bit of work to get together – some of our turnouts couldn’t take advantage of Kato’s handy beveled pieces (that get the roadbed flush with each other in the crotch of the turnout). So I had a bit of whittling to do in places to get it all figured. But I checked clearances with a couple of 40 foot stock car strings and I seem okay. Looks pretty small […]
July 14, 2020

BuildLog – TBL – 7/14/2020

ow crazy design can be. Steve Raiford (my chief designer and wet blanket) and I have been going round and round about my upcoming Tuscarora Branch Line. We want it to do this, we want it to do that. Pretty involved for a small 2X4 foot layout with one passing siding. Now it’s got coal loads-in/loads-out, Pennsy signaling, a real coal-hauler look and feel. And then we started talking about the simple panel to drive it. Originally, of course, the old stand-by, toggle switches. Then we figured what would really be cool is if we lined the toggles above the […]
July 5, 2020

BuildLog – TBL – 7/5/2020

o I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. Yes, I do have my own layout. No, I don’t really run it much – it’s just not fun to run alone, not after I’ve done ops. And to run it, I need to clean it (not easy on a moderate-sized layout) and put in two removable sections. I’ve long considered Kato Unitrack to be a pretty bulletproof solution. It’s only real drawbacks are that you can’t do sweeping curves like flex track permits. Also, that plastic roadbed looks pretty punky. However, roadbed can be ballasted (it will take a […]
June 21, 2020

OpsLog – LM&O – 6/20/2020

went back and checked – my last operations entry was back in March 1st of this year, three and a half months ago. Yes, it’s been that long since I ran in an organized session. With the possible premature opening of the state under the danger of CORVID-19, and at our club (observing strict mask and sanitizer rules) the club as started to meet again. I was thinking towards a session but I didn’t want to pack a bunch of operators in for one (we’ve run up to thirty people before). Also, I didn’t want to have our just-reopened club […]
May 31, 2020

OpsMemories – 5/31/2020

ith the CORVID-19 essentially ending all model railroading at clubs and home layouts, I figured I’d post up images from some of my more memorable moments…