At the throttle

Train Blog

December 15, 2016

OpsLog – LM&O – 12/14/2016

agle Day – that day in 1940 when the Luftwaffe, desperate to end the ongoing areal Battle of Britain, threw everything it had at the Isle. And everything the English had, every fighter, was up. As Park replied to Churchill’s question of reserves, “There are none.” So that was last night. Never has ops been such an impressive effort with so many trains running. Overall, we didn’t finish until after 10:30 (3:30am on the fast clock). And we ran everything. Every damn train we could run made it over Harris Glen. Six freights, four passengers, three coal drags, a cement […]
November 7, 2016

OpsLog – Tehachapi – 11/6/2016

o this was a long train day. Or a long day with trains. Or a day of long trains. I don’t know. But I broke a personal record here. Started off with a nice railroady breakfast (eggs and bacon) severed up by our hostess Andrea (such a sweetie). Then, the railroad belched to life. Crews reported in. John and I went onto the signup board, separate – my bird was ready to shake off its blood crusts and fly. And off he went to run helpers off Tehachapi. And there I sat. And sat and sat. Last on the board. […]
November 6, 2016

OpsLog – Tehachapi – 11/5/2016

irst day of the two day full-throttle ops weekend at the La Mesa Club, San Diego. Great layout; 1950’s California railroading under Time Table and Train Order, on a layout 25 scale miles long. It started with bloodshed. So, off to a good start. John, getting ready for his inaugural run aboard Extra 170 out of Boran for Bakersfield and parts west didn’t quite see a step, so down he went five minutes before departure, a sprained hand and a bloody elbow. Now that he’d learned his place beneath a conductor, we could proceed. Well, that was until we found […]
October 30, 2016

OpsLog – FEC – 10/29/2016

ight trains. Outside of the interesting imagery that phase produces, it can make for some interesting running potential as well. And even more interesting since my entire day (and all the hobbies that filled it) involved night stuff. See my astronomy blog for the connection. In this case, the Florida East Coast was going to try something new. We ran the first half of the session, 1pm to 6pm, under daylight conditions. I’d agreed to splitting the shift with Ken for this – we’d swap out the DS job half-way through. And we had a good front-end run – a […]
October 26, 2016

OpsLog – LM&O – 10/26/2016

rom: Rufus Biggest, President, LM&O c/o Union Station Hotel, Penthouse Suite, Cincinnati, Ohio To: Board & Division Officers, Harris Division, LM&O Subject: The State of the Railroad   Gentlemen; I stood on the drafty platform of Pittsburg Station, watching Bithlo (my private business car) being tacked on the tail of train 66, an eastbound passenger express. Little that I know that the true state of our bridge route would be revealed by this overlong, overdue passage. First, we came nowhere close to meeting out published 11:30am departure time. In fact, the station workers seemed curious about 66 in that it […]
October 23, 2016

OpsLog – Makers Faire – 10/22-23/2016

eople always talk about the romance of trains, of rails humming and whistles blowing long into the night. Well, that was us at the local Makers Faire, an event held at the Orange Country Fairgrounds. We ran and ran and ran trains. Saturday, 10am to 7pm, Sunday 10am to 5pm. And these are long hours when you spend them slowly walking along your train (like sentry duty in a way), answering questions, watching your signals and gripping the throttle. But we did it. We were placed square in the opening area in the main hall where most people came in, […]
October 19, 2016

OpsLog – FEC – 11/11/2016

eah, Dog! Ken let me run the panel again! And it’s the FEC holiday party – a full lunch followed by hours of mainline action. And everyone is there – open invitation – so we’ve got the cores, the casuals and the crazies in the cabs. And now we can really answer the Universal Question: How many ways can you cut a caboose off? Well, if you are a dispatcher, there are at least three ways. See, engines and cabooses light the block on the DS panel, letting you know where they are. Ken even said in the briefing – […]
October 6, 2016

OpsLog – B&B – 10/2/2016

f there is a grand finale for the weekend, it would be the Brandywine & Benedictine, a beautifully massive railroad that sprawls all over. Sadly, progress has overcome this fine line – it is no longer Time Table & Train Order controlled, and now runs on CTC. Traffic lights aside, it’s still a delight to operate with two dozen engineers to make this all work. And my part in this drama begins at 2:30pm, rolling downslope from Sulphur Springs to the town of Allegany at the controls of a massive articulated steam engine, a long string of black coal hoppers […]
October 5, 2016

OpsLog – PCD – 10/1/2016

t’s a long run from Trinidad to Denver, mostly double-track main, one for passenger, one for freight. All down its length, industrial centers, mines and cities sprawl along the desert route. And unlike the SPR, this time I wasn’t bashful. I gave everyone a quarter second to opt for dispatcher and then my hand shot up. “I’ll do it”. The pace of this railroad is pretty easy, and if you look ahead you can pretty much route them from track to track to keep everything moving. Of course, I’m always surprised by how many operators don’t call in control points […]
October 4, 2016

OpsLog – CNW – 10/1/2016

new position for me. Ran on the basement-packing Chicago & NorthWestern, miles of main line with industry all the way, all fed from the massive Proviso Yard. Zoom in on that yard. Dozens of tracks. Zoom closer. At one side, engine facilities and fueling decks. Zoom even closer. See him? The guy who runs engines out from the shops and puts them on the ready track? And who plucks them off the arrivals, inspects them, services them, and refuels them? Yeah, that’s me. Low-class dirty in my suspenders and grubby ball cap. And that’s what I did – moved engines […]