At the throttle

Train Blog

November 5, 2019

OpsLog – Tehachapi – 11/1/2019

o sum up my day in a word – orange. For the first day of my Tehachapi train operations adventure, me and a Canadian named Cal were teamed up on an all-day effort, the Arvin job. For this, we picked up power off the ATSF ready track at Bakersfield and scurried through Kern Junction at 8am sharp, running for Magunden and the branch line there. From there, it’s a very short hop through the backdrop to the hidden world of Arvin, a place where evidently all the potatoes in the world come from. And that was our day, pulling blocks […]
October 27, 2019

OpsLog – FEC – 10/26/2019

o today (or was it simulated tonight?) we used the F from FEC for “Fast”. It was the overnight shift, a time when the Florida East Coast moves manifests, juice trains and very lost coal trains. I was out in the layout, running this time. First train was a general freight with a call in at Cocoa for some swaps – easy work. And then, after a bit of a sit, I ran a fast manifest – straight through. Both of these might sound dull but with sound-equipped engines you can still have fun blowing at the gates and ringing […]
October 24, 2019

OpsLog – LM&O – 10/23/2019

usy night on the line. At first, we weren’t looking at anyone showing – we had about a dozen guys cleaning. But as we prepped up, more and more came in until we had a nice collection of members (and a spicy dusting of newbie visitors). My turn on the panel so I set up the clock and the computer, did the sound check and then did my usual pawn move – 202 to Zaynesville, hold the siding. It was a pretty fast-paced night. Very little waiting (at least, that’s how I saw it – out in the cabs, it […]
October 6, 2019

ShowLog – Deland – 10/5/2019

Saturday! Saturday! Saturday! It’s SteamDays at the beautiful Volusia County Fairgrounds DogBone Raceway! Throbbing Mikados! Bigger-than-big Boys! GS4s in ArtDeco SP Ride-me-please Colors! All there, furious Back-in-black microkettles with spinning piston / minimum-pull action! Come see the Stars of the Train Show circuit. Featured will be- One-Lap-Amtrak-Attack Wells! Mini-Me Case and the Pensy Coal Rocket! Tyke and Spike, the Lovable Mikes! And Bobby Martin’s GHOOOOOOOOST TRAIN! Ample feeding at the FeedBag/MoneyBag Trunk Diner! Comfortable seating (standing room only) in the Folkston Reviewing Stand! And kids can play find-the-hidden-jack-port in the White Memorial Scenery Park! Pet the plastic deer! Laugh at […]
October 1, 2019

OpsLog – FEC – 9/28/2019

he usual opener here. Ken asks if I’d like to dispatch his CTC paneled Florida East Coast. “Sure”, I say. Yes yes yes yes yes, I think. Love running the FEC – it’s a great layout and for the four hours we run, you are very busy – I’ve run CTC boards where you aren’t and it’s a yawn-fest but this one keeps you hopping. Truthfully, at the end of the session, we had four southbounds coming through Palm Bay and I was starting to get them mixed up (not helped by the crews who seemed rather “greedy” (by which […]
October 1, 2019

OpsLog – LM&O – 9/25/2019

hen I think of railroads in operation, I think of trains holding at the station, the crews watching the conductor who is watching his watch (all that watching) for their on-the-dot departures. Of course, if ops teach us anything, it often illustrates how railroads don’t work. Take last night’s ops (which I would have written last night had I had a computer that could reach my blogsite (I’m using the dispatching computer with no internet capability to write this)). The original idea I had was to push out of Calypso with the Harris Glen Local numberboards (we really need to […]
September 22, 2019

OpsLog – WBRR – 09/21/2019

‘ve got to admit I don’t know how they would cuss in 1935 (or so). Specifically, way up in Rocky Mountain towns, muddy little burgs with careers in mines, laundry and dry goods. Oh, and railroads. I’ve got the only railroad job in the town of Dolores. Well, no, there is a guy working East Delores. So there are two of us, plus any engineers and conductors passing through on their rickety tea-kettle D&RGW trains. So I’m out on the boardwalk watching the chaos. We’ve got a westbound general freight shying back from the platform, a long fifty yard walk […]
September 17, 2019

LessonLog – LM&O – 9/17/2019

‘m trying to get my Cuesta Grade back up after two years of inertness. The yard switchers I got running at the club a week ago – took some coaxing but eventually they were moving smooth. The steam engines I had real concerns over. Their motors were a bit more buried – no popping the shells and thumbing the armatures of these brutes over. I got the Salinas switcher running after pushing, coaxing and cursing at the club Monday night. I was using the main at Martin. At first it was sputtering progress. And then, suddenly, she was running like […]
August 29, 2019

OpsLog – LM&O – 8/28/2019

should have known this was going to be one of those nights. I needed to clear the boosters. I needed to swap out a dicky phone. One of the clocks was fussing with the master and took a couple of tries to reset. Two people came after me (literally) with blood in their eyes about their waybills. And for some reason the overhead speaker wasn’t active (and when I did activate it, nobody thought I was asking them, specifically, to confirm a radio check). It was a relief to go clock hot. It was one of the busiest nights I […]
August 25, 2019

OpsLog – FEC – 8/24/2019

ince the dispatcher’s seat was filled with a trainee (Doug, who did a damn good job out of the chute) and the yard was filled with the Lady’s Quilting and Trim/Classification Club, I was out on the road again. And there’s no time like waiting at a red board to wax philosophic on the meanings or life and model railroading. To wit – the puzzle of industrial switching on the standard out-n-back turn. When you run one of these jobs, switching your way through a set of towns along the mainline, it begins to feel like an intelligence test. So […]