At the throttle

Train Blog

February 14, 2011

OpsLog – Saluda Grade – 2/14/2011

Today I had to fix everyone’s little work problems, putting out fires, taking three hours of process training, and researching another ill-conceived tool. But tonight I worked the Marion local, pushing the cars into Dunn’s and Tricky Dick’s paints. The cars bang and clatter as they go together – just fine – because when I pull them out, they uncouple right at their docks, a satisfying trick. And now I’m done. I swing across the main, pick up my outbounds off the CSX interchange and roll out of town. I’ve even got two cars for Florida Chair at Old Fort […]
February 7, 2011

OpsLog – SP Coast Line – 2/7/2011

In my last two blogs I went over the ass-aches I went through to drag this railroad into operations. Let’s add one more – the cat got INTO the layout, crawling around inside the framework and walking along the hidden mainlines. I had to drag her out from under it – this stunt earned her a big squirt off the spray bottle. She’s still sulking. So there I was, bringing a new automated dispatching program online, unsure if I had track damage under the layout, wondering what was going to happen. And what happened was wonders. The trains ticked out […]
February 7, 2011

Logical mind meets Illogical line

Continuing the earlier posting… Got home early, everything in control. Moved things into place for ops, a very methodical process (in a little house, you have to do a number of things to make it ready for 8-12 operators). Anyway, was performing the final step, adding CRC to spots on the line and then running a set of F3s up and down the track to spread it out. The engines were running smooth and I was actually goosing them right along. On the first uphill, at high speeds, they piled up at the lower Serrano turnout. Odd. Well, I was […]
February 7, 2011

Isn’t this supposed to be a hobby?

I’m sweating bullets and biting my nails right now – I’ve got Ops. I hate hosting. Once it gets going, its generally okay. But until then, I’m like an actor before going out on stage. I’m wired, tight to twanging. Problems I dealt with this weekend: A corroded wire (again!) the in Salinas panel. A Watsonville turnout that wouldn’t carry power. A steam engine that worked fine until I added the front coupler, and now its dogging. My new sound-equipped E8s are jacked a little high, putting their pilot couplers out of line. And the Salinas switch engine, which no […]
January 26, 2011

OpsLog – LM&O – 1/26/2011

I have to smile when Everquack or World of Warplug folks brag about online squads who have been together for five, six months. My operations group has been together upwards of twenty-five years. I’ve got silent-service guys, ex-military pilots, software experts, a once-mayor, a veterinarian, former cops, linemen, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. I’ve gone to their weddings and funerals, loaned money, asked favors, exchanged Christmas cards and dirty jokes. As for train-running, we learned it together, from loop-counting to invitations to pro-rails, the superbowl of ops. Tonight it shows. People arrive on time, they dive in to clean our massive layout. […]
January 26, 2011

OpsLog – Florida East Coast – 2/26/2011

Short haul out of Points North down to Cocoa, where I’ll dump my four cars and shut down my unit. The main’s clogging – past the restrictions at Jay Jay’s, I find three freights holding at Titusville, watching their signals, eager to head home. Slip past that parade on the siding, then beg the dispatcher to give me a green, please! Finally get to Frontenac, where I’d pushed coal about a power plant early this night-session. There is a detector there. In reality, it would sniff up a passing train’s skirts, checking speed and hotboxes and such, then broadcast its […]
January 24, 2011

OpsLog – UP Chicago – 1/24/2011

I love going to Dick’s ops. Its been down for a while, but its a handy little railroad with a casual session. Best thing is that its a mile or so from my house, an easy bike ride. Good group showed for the Grand Reopening. Took a job footplating in Cheyenne yard, cleaning up the paperwork and getting the crew rolling. But Don’s clever so I leave him to it, hooking a freight out of the yard, a flat run to Chicago. The layout’s live around me and I’m enjoying the nice scenery, passing trains and watching for open turnouts […]
January 23, 2011

Toys or Else

You know you are a Model Railroader when… Look, I’m kitbashing up the bunker-like building between the CSX HQ and the Jacksonville terminal for the traveling layout. Gray, slablike, etc. Got lots of pictures outside (dull pictures because it’s a dull building). And then I looked on LiveSeachMaps to see what the roof looked like. The concrete slabwork, I can do. The AC boxes, I can buy. But there is a big circular skylight that had me stumped. I went through Colonial’s Walther’s catalog – nothing. Looked all over the house. Nothing. Looking at it again, I realized how much […]
January 21, 2011

Night Probe

This tale has a number of possible starting points. It could possibly start years back when I read some Clive Cussle yarn about an old steam engine missing for years in a river. Where could it possibly be? A more likely start was back in November when I dropped my own Mikado steam engine from my layout to the hard, hard floor. Unlike Cussler’s story, my engine’s location was obvious – it was all over the place! Another start could be where Tiny, with his jewelers’ fingers, rebuilt it from scratch. All it was missing was the forward truck set […]
January 17, 2011

OpsLog – UP – 1/17/2011

Doc Andy’s got a double garage of layout, a sprawling run of Union Pacific and Santa Fe from Council Bluffs to Denver. Half of it is shared trackage, half parallel mainlines. It’s massive and fun and impressive. I’m there for the session but I won’t see a single car move. I’m in the main house, upstairs in the den. I’ve got a timetable in front of me, a repeater clock, the timetable and my computer. On its screen is a schematic of the railroad in Excel with colored cells containing train numbers. I’ve got a radio in my hand and […]