At the throttle

Train Blog

July 31, 2017

ConvLog – LM&O Ops – 7/31/2017

oly Chrome! It was the first ops session (of two) that we’re staging for the convention. Five newbies (though I think we had more) along with a couple of new club members. Every experienced man I had was conducting (i.e. writing warrants and assisting new engineers) in what had to be the craziest, busiest, and most intense ops session we’ve ever had! At the start, I asked newbies what they wanted to do – Freight? Locals? Each guy I’d shove towards a conductor. “Give him Zanesville!” “Drag freight this guy!” Turns out visiting college-boy Matthew wanted the panel so I […]
July 30, 2017

ConvLog – Open House – 7/30/2017

kay, first thing – these entries are going to be short. We’re facing a very busy week and I’m not going to use up all my vowels in the first few days. So, first bus tour – I think that everyone who signed up to staff showed (thankee kindly, there). Mom Shawn came up with a platter of cookies, brownies and fruit. Everyone set up to run east, just parading for the masses (except one guy who didn’t get the memo ). A couple of hiccups and the booster maxed right before the bus showed, but we held our breath […]
July 9, 2017

ShowLog – Deland – 7/8/2017

3’s idling on the Waycross siding, brakeman out at the forward turnout, waiting for the dispatcher to confirm me out. I’ve got a long line of PFE reefers, empty, but why I’m here aboard Southern Pacific units heading south in Southern Georgia*, I can’t say. I’m way off my preserve. I’ve got a fleet of traffic heading south coming down behind me. Cody, Jeff and John each walk by with a train, their controllers held in the hands of their little engineers (we let any kid who asks run with us and at 2pm at the Deland Train Show, we’ve […]
June 17, 2017

OpsLog – L&N – 6/17/2017

t’s been a while since I operated on John Wilkes’ L&N layout. It’s a double dispatcher delight – two DSers sitting shoulder to shoulder, one for the L&N, one for the Southern, working together to get trains over shared trackage across the dual division. Of course, as the Prince of Dispatching (let’s not think about that unfortunate event with two dozen dead passengers in a tunnel a few weeks back) I was expecting to be invited to dispatch. Walked into my usual place in the dining room – there was the magnetic board, the warrant pad, the train sheets. And… […]
May 31, 2017

OpsLog – LM&O – 5/31/2017

poiler alert! I occasionally screw up while dispatching. If you weren’t there or don’t like bloodshed, you might not want to read further. I burned twenty-five people alive in a fiery tangled holocaust inside a tunnel. If you don’t like unhappy endings, you might not want to continue. I’m very sad. Yeah, so it was a busy night on the LM&O. We’ve redone large sections of our layouts, some turnouts aren’t powered, others aren’t hooked up. Lots of work over the last month so everything was filthy (even with John L. paradropping in to soften the beach and pre-clean). It […]
May 21, 2017

OpsLog – FEC – 5/21/2017

here is a bit of universal irony here. I’m idling in the heated gravel desert of Cocoa Yard on the Florida East Coast, writing car numbers on lading slips and jotting in pick-up dates on the swaps. This, following a weeklong, daylong, every-damn-second long audit I’ve only just survived at work. Yes, more paperwork! Yahoo! But seriously, it’s a well-thought-out system, it slows the ops down to a more realistic pace, and I rather like it. Owner Ken Farnham has come up with an even-better way of getting cars to sidings where the trains are assembled in a completely different […]
April 26, 2017

OpslLog – LM&O – 4/26/2017

didn’t think they could do it. To get ready for this ops session, we had several Herculean efforts. First, we had Frank and Jonathan rebuilding the entire West Martin throat in one month. I mean, damn, this is overhand track laying. I know that these guys did a lot of make this happen (I could see the alarm toggle open and close remotely for their work sessions). So, in four weeks, they stripped the yard bare, put in more than a dozen turnouts, improved the flow into the critical west end (by double-tracking the leads), wired and tested it in. […]
April 11, 2017

OpsLog – Tehachapi – 11/4/2017

he tale of two trains. I found myself the sole crewmember of SP train 59, the Night Coast, rumbling in readiness in Lancaster at 11:08pm (which, when the clock sweep hit 12, I notched forward and started rolling). As a first class passenger movement, I’ve got explicit rights over everyone (unless the meddling dispatcher interferes). But he didn’t – I hit Mojave with my black widows pausing at the station while I went inside to collect my clearance (no orders) and to jot my time through in the register book. And then I was off, flying up the Mojave Valley, […]
March 26, 2017

OpsLog – FEC – 3/25/2017

hat could be better on a perfect Saturday than a nice drive through the country? To spend time with two good long-term friends? To hang out with a group of other friends? And be boomers on the wonderful Florida East Coast? Doesn’t get better, as they say. I ran an early train, picking up a run in Frontenac to bring home to Jacksonville – easy run, green boards, no hassles. Just horning across the grade crossings and enjoying the run. The next bit was a little more difficult. Taxied back to Cocoa Yard by 10am to mount up on unit […]
March 22, 2017

OpsLog – LM&O – 3/22/2017

don’t think our op session was that bad. In fact, at the next business meeting I’ll have Sean Spicer come out and explain why it was so good. So,  No, it really wasn’t bad. We were running hot, with both Silver Bullets on time. I was having the usual congestion around Harris Glen, nothing extraordinary until a crew made a mistake, compounded the mistake by backing, then suffered derailments all over the place. There were trains waiting for him, and trains waiting for those trains, and next thing I knew 97 was running hours late. It was so bad that […]