At the throttle

Train Blog

July 30, 2016

OpsLog – FEC – 7/30/2016

itting in Palm Bay on a hot Florida day, up in the cab of 208 (a through freight with a sprinkling of setouts), looking at a red board. Not going anywhere. Turns out a train up the line in Melbourne has tripped the new automatic detector, identifying something dragging, hanging, or on fire. So his conductor is out walking the train. And for the thirty minutes that takes, we’re waiting for the line to clear. Finally, finally, finally I see blue boxy engines pushing through the heat simmer, running south towards me. I nod to the crew of the delayed […]
July 27, 2016

OpsLog – LM&O – 7/27/2016

as shaping up to be a good night. Came in and the lot was filling in front of the clubhouse. Everyone cleaned. We had all sorts of improvements ready to try. A bunch of new people upshifted their jobs to more difficult ones. The crewcall sheet filled up. I set up in the office, got everything running, and we were off. A good flow. The Harris Glen summit was packed and along the river route, a general freight, a passenger train and a coal drag chased each other along the winding route. The newbies picked up the warrants pretty well […]
June 25, 2016

OpsLog – FEC – 6/25/2016

nother big day over at the FEC. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, and in retrospect, I got some pretty sweet jobs – just easy run throughs with a minimum of switching. And that’s fine – sometimes I like the air-traffic-control nature of dispatching, sometimes I like the stress-puzzle of industrial switching, but sometimes I just want to run trains, blow the whistle correctly at crossings, ring the bell while passing stations and yards, just doing everything by the book. Funny, but my buddy Bob got all the jobs I had last time, the tough limestone trick, the […]
June 22, 2016

OpsLog – LM&O – 6/22/2016

ummertime, and the ops are uneasy… Yeah, summers – we always have a dip in attendees. Our roster drops off. Worse, some of our good operators are off to college soon, so we’re screwed in the near future. It was pretty light tonight – had all the opening train warrant moves figured. Then I got one of the weirder calls from the Mingo Turn, just out of Martin Yard, crossing over to track two to work the quarry. “Snakes on your train?” I had to ask, not sure what I heard from him. “No, snakes in my house. Wife called. […]
June 11, 2016

OpsLog – WBRR – 6/11/2016

ooks and movies never work well if nothing goes wrong. The excitement comes from complications and deviations from the plan. Like in the  movie Alien. Would you really want to watch it if, after the facehugger thing got that guy, they locked him down in proper medical observation, saw the seed, removed it, squashed it? Then you’d have ninety minutes of them getting themselves ready for cold sleep, just SOP, nothing more. Well, in model railroad operations, running the timetable is the goal. Immediately after our last session in March, Al, Phil and myself took Al’s original written instructions for […]
May 28, 2016

OpsLog – FEC – 5/28/2016

ust another day on the railroad. Ran the 940 rock run under great difficulty – a car on the team track, my trick siding packed to full, and a boxcar coming in and out. Yeah, it was a stumblefest. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get it worked. But the weather held off and soon I was ready to highball out – I just had to let about three trains, a railcar, and two trudging hobos get past before the DS would let me out. So that’s why I was an hour late. That’s usually the most tricky turn on […]
May 25, 2016

OpsLog – LM&O – 5/25/2016

ight night at the club – it’s like that sometime. But the crew runs sharp – we’re cleaned up, set up and away when the clock goes hot. Matthew made it on time so I gave him the panel – he’s off to College soon. This let me out to run the Shelfton Turn – interesting note about Shelfton; it’s the oldest section on the layout. It’s been in operation 25 years. And I’ve never run it. Nope, not once. So tonight I did. Worked it smooth – I don’t know if the usual crews do my trick – I […]
May 8, 2016

OpsLog – LM&O – 8/3/2016

 promised I’d write this. As mentioned in our last thrilling adventure, the layout had gone down hard with electrical shorts knocking out the line from Calypso to Hellertown. Over the weekend (and right after this session – was I tired) we met at the club and figured out what the problem was (a broken turnout motor was the culprit). And so now we had a working layout and a half dozen trains blocking the main here and there. Kinda like if the rapture came and only locomotives went to heaven. So after a long day at work, after dinner and […]
April 27, 2016

OpsLog – LM&O – 4/27/2016

ell, several crews were out, some getting married, some at prom. The dispatcher was laced on painkillers. Just another night on the LM&O. Good turnout – always happy for that. A couple of guests got paired with crews. Me, I was running the Zanyesville makeup run. Last month this job didn’t get done and now it was twice is big as normal. So out of the yard I rumbled on warrant #1, direct to Zaynesville and the pile of work awaiting me. Wasn’t too bad, really. I just used my old tricks – sorting out cuts at the bottom of […]
April 23, 2016

OpsLog – L&N – 4/23/2016

ee, so, sometimes, I’m a sweetheart. I don’t tell about truly embarrassing stories, even when there is a fiery train wreck. I don’t blog out nice people. Regardless of the burning of Ramsey, the smoke of whose burning cast down despair among the people of Tennessee, we had a great ops session. I got to run the L&N DS panel, the hot seat of the whole railroad. My pal Ken Farnham ran the Southern board, sitting across from me. Even though it was his first time under warrants, he kept his end of the railroad moving and we hardly had […]