At the throttle

Train Blog

August 26, 2015

OpsLog – LM&O – 8/26/2015

onight was a pretty amazing night at the club, full of all sorts of highs and lows. Route 50 is just a disaster, especially when it rains. It’s like running on a layout with a new dispatcher, everyone waiting for each other. When I finally got out, I saw four cars in the parking lot. Well, this was shaping up to be a disaster. But eventually people trickled in, held up by the road delays. We actually staffed up for a pretty decent session. I gotta say, it all was worth it early on in the session – had 202 […]
August 22, 2015

OpsLog – FEC – 8/22/2015

t was one of those days… I walk into the session’s crew lounge, the only guy who forgot to wear his new FEC shirt (embroidered!). Everyone else was blue and snazzy. I had an old Daylight shirt on. Strike one! At the panel, the clock is hot. The first train is rolling for Titusville. I checked, double checked, even gave the train a rollby. I was certain I had it routed right out of the yard. Yet it ended up in Palm Bay, not Titusville. Had to back him all the way to the yard and come out the right […]
August 16, 2015

OpsLog – L&S – 8/16/2015

he Longwood & Sweetwater, always an old favorite that’s been down too long. Ran with a couple of the boys and had a great time. Came to realize two things while switching Altamonte today. See, Altamonte is not for the timid nor the short – you need to get under benchwork to switch it and it requires a long reach. That I’ve got. So I’ve run this one more than just about anyone on the planet. The thing is, I’ve really got it down. I moved the cars in, cut them off on the holding track, methodically plucked the outbounds, […]
July 25, 2015

OpsLog – FEC – 7/25/2015

hen working a switching puzzle, there comes a tipping point when you go from moving cars this way and that (while holding your breath) to seeing the solution. I clearly remember that moment today while working the Rinker Plant in Eau Gallie. Now I’ve seen ever possible cheat on this, from people using the main as extended storage to people lifting a car from one track to another (sorry, Ken, but some people panic when they deadlock). I’ve done the job once before and the first time was a bit of a snarl. This time I had a better feel […]
July 22, 2015

OpsLog – LM&O – 7/22/2015

eash. Can it be a crazier session? I’m trying to run the panel. Out in the main room, two of my crews are bellowing at each other like a pair of velociraptors in heat (about the Battle of Midway, I think). Of of the locals is solving his switching puzzle the way a computer would do it (trying every possible combination) while the other has been abandoned by its velociraptor engineer. We lost a switch machine early (wait, no we didn’t, wait, yes we did). And sometime during all this nuttiness, I’m supposed to be dispatching. Got the local chip […]
June 27, 2015

OpsLog – FEC – 6/27/2015

he FEC. Great railroad. The only thing the host, Ken Farnham, could do to make it better is to change the benchwork height. See, Cocoa yard is at a great height to switch, but when it comes to using it for banging your head, it’s just a little too low. I have to lean in to crack myself in the skull, over and over, when I goof up. See, I was running 915, the train that leaves Cocoa and runs down to Buenaventura to do a lot of switching. It’s tricky, the usual balance of pulling stuff out and putting […]
June 24, 2015

OpsLog – LM&O – 6/24/2015

t was quite the night at club ops. We had a lot of people, always thankful of that. For once I wasn’t the dispatcher, just a local running to Zanesville and beyond to Carbon Hill. A good run – engines worked well and I knocked off the switchlist quite orderly. Stuff went where it was supposed to go and I made clean moves for it all. Only surprise – coming back to Zanesville from Carbon Hill – had clearance to work all tracks (since I needed to work Bolton Box, pull a bunch of outbounds off the head-in track for […]
May 27, 2015

OpsLog – LM&O – 5/27/2015

t was a day today. Started at 7am, early at work, when I had to deal with the fallout of a backstabbing and kowtow to someone who lorded over me. Ugh. And when I went jogging at lunch, the fly button on my shorts popped off, leaving me to jog while holding my pants up. I mean, FerChristSakes, how bad could this day go? At the restaurant tonight, I had a bourbon. I’m just burned out. And it’s ops night. And I already knew a lot of my operators were out of town. Got in and found that it was […]
May 23, 2015

OpsLog – FEC – 5/23/2015

think the wisdom of getting older comes from learning what not to do. You learn from mistakes, and tell yourself never to repeat them. Like today, when I’m talking to Ken (the host) before the running of his Florida East Coast, a neat railroad with all sorts of fun runs on it and a dispatcher panel that is second to none. The mistake? Robert (pontificating): “Well, Ken, I love running all jobs on a railroad, and I feel I’m good at all. No, if there is one job I don’t seek out, it’s working the yard.” Ken (smiling): “You’re on […]
May 16, 2015

OpsLog – L&N – 5/16/2015

ood session today on John Wilke’s Louisville & Nashville railroad. A couple of the old sweats I’m familiar with across Florida got together with a fresh batch from elsewhere. The thing about the L&M is that you need to be up on your layout lore – this isn’t point-A-to-point-B stuff. Two mainlines tangle about each other through the southern Appalachians, crossing and recrossing. Some of them, the Southern RR dominates, some the L&N. This means the dispatchers need to trade off and work together to get things done. For me, I was on the quieter Southern panel. In this, it’s […]