At the throttle

Train Blog

October 27, 2013

OpsLog – – MRWD – 10/27/20123

The Milwaukee Road – Wisconsin Division is a comfortable layout of old-school design that offers some casual (and very fun) running. The thing was, this weekend I’ve run locals and through freights. But today I got offered a run I’d never done before – boats! Or more accurately, ferry operations. I knew a little of what goes into ferry steamer operations but had never simulated it. So here was the deal: I came on site to find a switch engine, a four track yard, three flat cars and a docked ferry (holding twelve cars). The first thing was to receive […]
October 26, 2013

OpsLog – DT&I – 10/26/2013

I‘ve known Terry Harrison for ten years and three layouts. He’s a sawed-off hot-head, an ill-tempered tosser who harangues his operators. He also designs some of the most realistic switching I’ve ever worked. I’ve worked setouts and pickups on layouts that were about as exciting as putting socks into a drawer. And then there are the layouts with owners who are so sadistically clever, they force their crews to work through complicated logic puzzles, as if the railroad is more a mensa club than a working transportation company. But Terry’s worked on actual railroads and knows what they do and […]
October 26, 2013

OpsLog – CD&P – 10/26/2013

To be or not TOFC, that is the question. The Chicago, Denver and Pacific is big. Bigger than big. Bigger than you can imagine. It’s frankly the largest home layout I’ve even seen. Remember what I said about the TC&C yesterday? This one’s bigger. I was running Train 41, a combo of coal (on at Denver) and limestone (to add at Sedalia). I was on the approach to the latter, walking allll the way down to the end of the long room, before walking down the other side, allllll the way back. I was unfamiliar with the layout so with […]
October 25, 2013

OpsLog – TC&C – 10/25/2013

The Tennessee Carolina & Coast is a wonderfully long and lazy railroad with a bittersweet background story, one I can’t really go into. But even given that, it’s an eye-popper when you enter its basement. The railroad aisle (between sightblocking backdrops) forces you into a corridor, layout shelves to either side, which you follow and follow and follow some more, lost in its convolutions. I am convinced this thing is a tesseract, folding over itself in real space. The runs were fun and very casual, the switching interesting yet not contrived. I really enjoyed it. Nice moment tonight – was […]
October 23, 2013

OpsLog – LM&O – 10/23/2013

Matthew, our cub dispatcher, is certain I’m going to write about him tonight. I’ll bet you think this blog is about you – don’t you? don’t you? (Between you and me, dear Reader, we did have an across-the-division slowdown in trains and a couple of the later runs annulled. But seriously, the kid was running noticeably more in control. I am aware of no cornfields, and he seemed more careful in his warrants. About the same speed, but better than last time). I was on 244, a freight out of Cincinnati, heading towards Bound Brook. Paul was filling out as […]
October 21, 2013

OpsLog – Longwood and Sweetwater – 10/21/2013

So I’m sitting in my little yard goat, chugging up the passing siding with four cars in front. All I gotta do to finish this job oh-so-slick is to take the four cars and the engine out the other end, run down the length of my train, shove everything back together, and home-we-go. So I’m pushing into the tail track off the end of the passing track, pushing in, watching the space between the front car’s coupler and that bumper drain away. And now it’s close, close, and the brakeman in the front swings his hands out – cut! No […]
October 13, 2013

OpsLog – TY&E – 10/13/2013

The first real session on the Tipton, Youngstown & Erie. I’d prototyped a timetable for JW to use – all he had to do was move the times a bit and add a couple of cornfields and he had it. But in this, one of my favorite runs in the design was a LEM to Sandmine, picking up sand and log cars, then a turn and a long run to Staffordtown. Exchange the cars on those sidings, then back to respot for the next day.                         When the jobs […]
October 5, 2013

ShowLog – Deland – 10/5/2013

Elsewhere on my blogs (namely here) you can read about our recent disastrous trip to the Rhine, where my wife broke her arm and we were stuck for two days in the hotel room in Amsterdam. As you might expect, with all the caregiving and work catchup and stuff, I wasn’t too excited that our club had a Deland Show the first weekend we got back. But still, yes, I’d have rather stayed in bed, but if I had to do a train show, I can’t imagine a better way to do it. The modular layout went together like a […]
September 26, 2013

OpsLog – LM&O – 9/26/2013

I‘m going to keep this short – I’m pretty tired. Just got back from Europe the other day, shepherding a wife with a broken arm home (not an understatement – she has an operation Monday). For the last few weeks, everything has been different: different cities, people, languages, everything. Got back into town and sure enough, we have an ops session the next day. I’m pretty tired but I need to be there (well, my computer with the dispatching program needs to be there). So I show and the layout is staged and with just a bit of cleaning, we’re […]
August 28, 2013

OpsLog – LM&O – 8/28/2013

The heat’s on! I’m in the dispatching chair tonight. We’ve got a full house of operators and a cameraman from a local PBS station doing a piece of the various clubs. I don’t want to kill anyone on camera – how embarrassing that would be, but I don’t want to stall the railroad with over-caution. So I’m pushing iron and getting things moved. Harris Glen’s been reworked. The high summit’s got a a main, a short siding, and an even shorter station track (like a siding, but right along a station platform). Two passenger trains (Silver Bullet 1 and 2) […]