At the throttle

Train Blog

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 […]
January 6, 2024

OpsLog – P&WV – 1/4/2024

his was my third ops session in the two days of protorails – I’d been invited in to round out the crews and provide dispatching. So, a long day, starting with an accident that had me sitting in traffic for over an hour, then a full day at the VSW, then a run over to Tom Wilson’s Pittsburgh & West Virginia (or is it “East Virginia”? Tom Wilson’s geographic directions are always so confusing). Then a heavy dinner (the Wilsons made sure we were fed). And after all that, I settled in the back room with my phone, my train […]
January 5, 2024

OpsLog – VSW – 1/4/2024

om Wilson could easily play the role of Father Christmas with his warm grin and twinkling eyes. So that is why we find him in an huge stuffed easy chair before a roaring fire. In his lap is a large book. “Tonight, Children,” he says with an smile so infectious, it could be an STD in The Villages, “I shall read you a story. It is called, The Tale of the Two Dispatchers.” So there once was a land with two dispatchers, the Virginia Southwestern. The Southern dispatcher ran a line staffed with merry country people who ran their trains […]
January 5, 2024

OpsLog – WVN – 1/3/2024

ith Protorails in town, I got invites to help run the three local layouts, the first being the beautiful West Virginia Northern (way, way, way over in Tampa). Since they needed two boomers, I took Chris Strecker with me (since he is both a railroader and game enthusiast, meaning he can pick up operating rules/instructions quickly). We had a pretty good drive over (given we got two weekday rush hours) and at my goading we took Ashbury west end (he as the yard switcher and me on my beloved hostler job). And to Chris’ credit, we kept it busy (hostler, […]
December 30, 2023

OpsLog – TBL – 12/30/2023

eally, it was a terrible solo effort on the Tuscarora today. I didn’t have ANY tower malfunctions. And I didn’t have ANY derailments. Horrible. See, I figured that before I worked scenery (and since I had an entire Saturday afternoon at the club) I’d run lever testing and try to get it to fail. After about twenty fruitless minutes of this, I figured I should just run a session. At first I was just going to randomize cars but then I found an unused switchlist in the back and made it into an honest to goodness session. And I ran […]
December 28, 2023

OpsLog – LM&O – 12/27/2023

o this is a transcript (sort of) of a call between the dispatcher and 415, an empty hopper run out of Calypso for Carbon Hill. DS: Ready to copy? 415: Ready. DS: Okay, Warrant 281 to 414 at RedRock. Checkbox 1: Previous warrant is void. Checkbox 2: Proceed to Weirton. Checkbox 3: Proceed on Main Track #2. I have three checkboxes. 415: (Repeats orders verbatim) DS: (Pause). Okay, you know which track is track 2, right? 415: Yes, I know. DS: (Concerned) It’s the outer loop in Pittsburgh. 415: Yes, I understand. DS: (Nagging) There is a fake signal bridge […]
December 23, 2023

OpsLog – CSX Taft – 12/22/2023

he good thing about microlayouts (if you consider a 3×8 a “micro”) is that a session can be set up and hosted in quick order. So that’s what my friend Chris did – he asked me if on Thursday if we wanted to run on Friday and I said (of course) yes (is there any other answer?). And run we did. I might have mentioned this before, but Chris has a great small layout. Essentially there are four trains each day between Jacksonville and Miami. Each train takes six laps to complete a run. Each lap represents a different Florida […]