At the throttle

Train Blog

October 24, 2018

OpsLog – LM&O – 10/24/2018

hings keep evolving at the club. Shelfton industrial has been re-tracked. Hellertown is now Lehigh. And the paper warrants are in to their second session. I was dispatching so I wasn’t outside to shepherd the paperwork. Overall, it went… okay. One problem – crews would mix their pickups and drop-offs and would end up holding paper for both. I hadn’t anticipated that and now it looks like some cars went to their local deliveries and were immediately picked up and brought back as outbounds. One of these actually was delivered, returned to the yard, then placed back on the local […]
October 5, 2018

OpsLog – Tehachapi – 11/4/2018

unny day in the high hills over Caliente. Birds are singing, the sun is high, and everything smells like creosote. I’m backing a steam engine up the grade from Caliente to Allard where some future track work will take place. Off my pilot coupler I’m dragging a gondola filled with railroad ties and a crane car, along with a little caboose bumping along for the ride. My job was to get up in that remote location and work on the siding, unloading ties for at least an hour (a real hour). So I worked it like a real job. Pulled […]
September 30, 2018

OpsLog – FEC – 9/29/2018

’m washing my wife’s car the morning after (which was only fair since we rolled over to Palm Bay to run on Ken Farnham’s FEC and hit all sorts of bugs on the way). Even waxed the hood and roof for her – she earned it. She (and buddy Bruce) rolled over to run a railroad. It’s not what she chooses to do but she’s a good sport and, yes, she has fun after a fashion. So she was yardmaster again, and I was right next to her working the classification end, sorting cars off inbound trains. It’s fun and […]
September 26, 2018

OpsLog – LM&O – 9/26/2018

here is a trick in writing, the foreshadowing of innocence. You want to hint at something terrible occurring, start it off with something happy and innocent. Examples: happy passengers at the rail of the Titanic or dutiful shopkeepers in the market of Pompei. Something like that. So I was standing on the cinders of Martin Yard in the shadow of my idling GP-9s, feeling good. My original plan was to work the Weirton Coal Docks. But seeing my friend Craig lashing up a heavy intermodal cut behind his Espee cabforward filled me with doubt. There was no way he was […]
September 22, 2018

OpsLog – WBRR – 09/22/2019

here was that time I took my programming team out for a status meeting/walk around Lake Eola. When the boss found out about that, I was told to “keep my Berkley ideas to myself.” And there were those huge pointless meetings every day in corporate testing, where everyone had to listen about everyone’s status. I tried to explain that railroads don’t run with everyone knowing everything. Through scheduling and rules, railroads start different shifts in different places and everyone is instantly on the same page. I was told “this isn’t railroading.” The thing is, corporations are very disinterested in changing […]
September 16, 2018

OpsLog – TY&E – 9/16/2018

ne thing that’s fun with ops is where people learn skills and improve. I’ve seen it when people who would hardly budge off passenger trains run a freight, then move to locals or yards. But it’s not only operations where I see it – it’s also in layout designs. Two railroads have been rebuilt in our area: the WAZU and the TY&E. And both have had significant improvements to their… presentations, for lack of a better word. Better workspaces, better runs, better location of critical turnouts. On the TY&E, specifically, we’ve seen the elimination the duckunders, reaches and that difficult […]
August 22, 2018

OpsLog – LM&O – 8/22/2018

ellertown is a siding we put in without much thought. It’s arrow straight for most of its length, a nice elbow-room passing area where sometimes trains can slide by on the roll. Lots of room. We hardly give it a thought. But tonight, it was life and death on this quiet trackage in the shadow of the summit. First up was Extra 3220 west, intermodals heavy and rocking, which we pulled up on the high end of the main. I had two trains cresting the hill, coming his way (414, a coal run, and 202, a drag freight). So neat, […]
August 19, 2018

OpsLog – WAZU RR – 8/19/2018

’ve been told that there is a satisfaction to having a hand at something growing and improving. People say that about their kids. Their churches. Their businesses. But really, if there was a recent success story, it’s gotta be the WAZU Railroad. We’ve had a couple of sputter-n-spark test sessions. Just everyone tripping over each other and fumbling around. But today, it was A-game. Today Superintendent Andy turned up the steam and released the trains. And today the crews were in top form. We had a good yardmaster (Greg), a sharp local operator (Jeff) and a crisp Dispatcher (Bruce). And […]
August 11, 2018

OpsLog – L&N – 08/11/2018

train wreck. This occurrence took place on the Southern line at Granfield but it’s pretty representative of the entire session. But in a good way (since anything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and I’m a very strong dispatcher now). I was running the panels with Tom Wilson today – I’d ever so gracefully gave him the hair-puller panel (L&N) while I took on the sleepy Southern division. Other than the wreck pictured above (which happened with a literal run-away train), it was Smooth Operator time. I kicked out orders as needed, took the switch panel to fill in […]
August 2, 2018

OpsLog – CP&W – 8/2/2018

kay, blame the fact that it’s the first day I’ve taken off work on a long time, that it was a two-hour drive to Tampa, that our Mr. Roboto navigation system got us lost in the cargo port area, or that the layout is big and there was so much to see. I’ve forgotten our host’s last name (sorry, John). But he’s got a kick-ass huge-ass railroad, the Chicago, Peoria and Western, that it’s mostly steam, that you have long runs and freight shifting and someday (it can’t be too soon) Time Table and Train Order. So, yes, names are […]