At the throttle

Train Blog

August 24, 2023

OpsLog – LM&O – 8/23/2023

eople say that when they run model trains, they go into their own little world. So true. Last night at the club, the LM&O was swamped by membership wanting to run trains. We filled the call sheet. And as we got ready, Frank (who usually acts as a porter on Greg’s passenger train, and who was unemployed under Greg’s absence) came and asked who he could run with. “I’ll make a man out of you,” I told him as I shoved him into the cab of the Shelfton Turn, tossed his bag in after, and settled down on the brakeman […]
August 21, 2023

OpsLog – WAZU – 8/20/2023

kay, so I’m told if you can’t say anything good about someone’s dispatching, don’t say anything. … … <crickets> … … … … Is that long enough? What’s the statute of limitations on this? I will mention that my first train into Umatila (ordered to the siding, and precious to me, given the long wait to get that warrant) had me on approach to find a bank of headlights from two facing trains (it looked like an alien mothership, so bright) shining at me in the early morning hours. Only that checkbox 4 (watch for trains (plural) ahead) kept me […]
August 20, 2023

RIPLog – TBL – 8/19/2023

t’s getting so the “Old Sweats” in the club are outnumbered. At one point, we were the club and when one of us passed on, there would be a full mob at the service. Now we are increasingly irrelevant. With Don Ziesig’s passage, only four of his oldest friends were there. Anyway, so Don did pass and the club received an invite to the service. We were also asked if we could bring a model train thing since it was such a part of Don’s life. We could have brought a sectional layout piece but (a) we couldn’t fit it […]
August 16, 2023

OpsLog – WVN – 8/12/2023

t was a great day on the WVN – a group of three N-Trakers (myself, Kyle and Zack) rode over to Tampa and the wife tagged along (she usually won’t run trains except at the FEC but she has run once before at the West Virginia Northern and the scenery and realistic engine control just makes that railroad the cat’s pajamas so she’ll play). And that we had two other engineers filling out the roster whom I’ve run with before (and know they are good), we had all the makings of a great session. And so that’s what we did. […]
August 11, 2023

On Sheet – Club Duties

very kid (and the kids in us) dream of advancing a throttle and running a mile-long train out of a yard, leaning out of that cab window and calling the signals, checking the flimsies and feeling the wind howl around our weather-beaten head. Nobody dreams of working the hostler job, keeping the boiler pressures up over the long cold night. Or clerking, typing waybills and train orders up. Or walking the track, checking the line. Or walking through the cars punching tickets. There are things that support those god-like engineers that just isn’t fun. Same goes true for being in […]
July 29, 2023

On Sheet – When Things Go Wrong

any of you might remember that incident we had on Tusk Hill (a division of my Tuscarora layout, where we run an English Midlands session rather than a western Pennsylvania one). Here is the disaster report. So the designer/builder Steve (a good friend whose help has been critical in the development of my microlayout) came out to the club (where we keep it) and took a look at it. He checked the obvious possibilities (particularly the solder joints) and after two hours gave up. It would take a lot more work. So he loaded it into his car (yay, microlayouts) […]
July 27, 2023

OpsLog – LM&O – 7/26/2023

ormally Frank runs a passenger train with Conductor Greg, but Greg was out of town and Frank looked like a lost puppy for ops night. From the cab of my idling geeps in Martin Yard, I saw him standing in dejection, so I offered him a run on the Zanesville Turn (with work up to Carbon Hill). “It’s not going to be varnish work,” I warned him. “There’s more to switching work than trying not to spill the passengers’ soup.” But he was game.  Since we already had a warrant, we were first out of the yard, pressing for Mingo […]
July 24, 2023

OpsLog – WAZU – 7/23/2023

don’t think I’ve every run warrants so fast and so long. In three hours, I wrote ninety-three of them. Yes, it was a busy day on the WAZU railroad. Not without goofs, of course. Writing that fast, you can get in trouble. I did clear a train into Spokane when the Lumber Jack run was coming out – a bit of a headlight thing there. But then again, I did have some phenomenal meets. Twice I got five trains past each other at single sidings (by cramming two in tight on the siding while three ran past). Of course, even […]
July 23, 2023

OpsLog – FEC – 7/22/2023

smell something burning.” I was working the out-n-back from Cocoa Yard to Frontenac, fussing over mismarked lading slips, trying to figure out what someone did and didn’t do a couple of weeks back in City Point (without a Rosetta Stone, either). And that’s when I smelled smoke. Engineer Chip was working the lower deck. When I asked him if his engine was on a switch, he told me no. But a car on his train was on a switch, one that had been set against him. And the truck of a wheel delicately placed with love between a rail and […]
July 21, 2023

On Sheet – Sound Check

ou know, DCC is a wonderful thing. Now we can drive trains and blink the lights and sound the whistle and bell. I’ve always wondered what those rheostat twisters in the ’50s would have thought of us now with all our digitalized magic. Just the options of not relying on electrical blocks allows us to run helpers and do all sorts of cool things. However, one thing that always bugs me is when, during operations, you see an engineer just driving along, toot-tooting his whistle in patterns only known to him, as cute yet pointless as Thomas the Tank Engine. […]