At the throttle

Train Blog

February 9, 2024

On Sheet – Elbow-room TT&TO

ne of the real problems with TT&TO (Time Table and Train Order) operations is the problem of running late. Let’s face it – true TT&TO means that the superior train does not wait for the inferior at meet points – he just blows on by. And given the problems with model railroading, it’s not uncommon to derail short of the meeting point with a superior train and suddenly you are sitting on single track with the Cannonball roaring your way. A lot of people actually shy away from TT&TO for this reason, the fact that under a fast clock, times […]
February 8, 2024

Weight of years, and erosion of ages (DOG EAR)

nteresting morning: I had a bunch of little errands and since it was blustery and chilly, I decided to do them by bike. The route was from my house a mile to the donut shop (where I read a book I’ll describe shortly). Then across the street (the street being Corrine Drive, which is a good simulation of the beaches of Normandy) to drop off another book (a creepy serial killer thing). Then two miles over to the drug store (picked up some keep-alive pills). Then two miles over to the chain bookstore to pick up a classic (I’d checked […]
February 2, 2024

On Sheet – Bruce Notman

was wondering what I could write about and suddenly it hit me – the weirdest thing I’ve ever had happen while dispatching. Some of you NMRA guys might remember Bruce Notman. He was an NMRA lifetime member and had operated on more layouts than I ever will. He went to many of the conventions. In later years, Bruce began to slow down a bit, and ended up content to run helpers on the LM&O. I’ll also mentioned the amazing session we had at Tom Wilson’s layout. Tom “flirts” with TT&TO operations. Occasionally he hosts it. One guy (i.e. me) dispatches […]
February 1, 2024

OpsLog – P&WV – 1/31/2024

had a question about Avella Freight East and was told that owner Tom Wilson was out on the driveway. Bad sign. Went out and found him with the garage door up, his screwdriver sparking as he desperately worked across an array of terminal strips. As his layout fills his two-car garage, the only way to get to his wiring is to open the door and work on it from the outside. So it was all Star Trek stuff, exploding consoles, sparks and smoke. Or maybe I’m exaggerating. I might be trying to distract myself from the fact that the last […]
January 29, 2024

OpsLog – WAZU -1/28/2024

‘m kind of guessing that seconds before the WAZU railroad started, our host Doc Andy was dreaming that all his operators might somehow spontaneously combust. If that did happen, he could have used the dust buster to sweep us up. Then he’d turn out the lights and lock the door. And that would be that. At go time, the layout clocks were totally messed up (I am very familiar with the brand he uses yet I had no idea why I couldn’t slave/master them correctly). And his dispatching computer software lasted all of five minutes before crashing. He was already […]
January 25, 2024

OpsLog – LM&O – 1/24/2024

riting this blog is a weird thing. Unlike a manifesto, a blackmail note or a letter to my new Nigerian pen-pal, I have to figure out a new angle each time. I can’t just say what happens: that would be “Tonight those goofballs really found a new way to screw up. Is this any way to run a railroad?”. Further, there is the problem that as one man, I simply can’t describe all the events that took place, any more than a soldier in a foxhole can fully explain World War Two. I see things, I hear things, I pay […]
January 21, 2024

OpsLog – TBL – 1/21/2024

short entry for a short session – our control problems continue on the Tuscarora Branch Line, which means I can’t trust it to operate in any manner and so I can’t invite people to drive hundreds of miles for a dud session. I only hope that Steve the engineering guy comes up with a solution. God, but I hate this constant on again / off again failure. My friend Greg came over to run with me (hey, we had movie-night lined up after, so not a total loss). We only managed to run half a session before the constant failures […]
January 19, 2024

On Sheet – you can’t know it all

kay, I really like TT&TO (Time Table and Train Order) operations. I run that on both of my layouts. I also fly all the way across the country to run at La Mesa under this method. Ever since Steve King invited me to his layout and gave me a write-up on it, I’ve been a fan. I’ve even given a clinic about it at the Protorails convention and been asked to re-give the clinic at private layouts. I’m getting ready to dispatch it in June on the Western Bay RR. I thought I was pretty clever. One place where I […]
January 15, 2024

ShowLog – Deland – 1/(13-14)/2024

‘m not sure how to write this show report up. I could start with a description of getting up at 5am Saturday, a quick shower, a drive to the donut shop to pick up treats for the setup crew, and then hissing through empty streets in moderate rains, hoping it would let up before it was time to unload the trailer I would shortly be rendezvousing with for setup. Or the host of problems we faced, from inexplicable radio problems to a dead section of track to some scenery problems here and there. We should have brought the “Robert” button. […]
January 13, 2024

On Sheet – Up Scope

very submarine movie has the guy who loses it during combat. The close spaces. The press of bodies. The loud noises. Usually they need to either gag him or club him before the enemy sonar operators hear his gibbering. It’s a trope. Not so well understood or experienced is when it happens in an op session. Everyone has had the session where you are having to do a lot of repeated indexing moves and a specific car derails at the same spot every time. Or confusing paperwork. Or other operators yacking right next to your ear, pressing close. Some people […]