At the throttle

Train Blog

March 12, 2012

OpsLog – Saluda Grade – 3/12/2012

It’s time to go hot. I’ve got my dispatcher program booted. I’ve got my lineup in front of me. The problem is, I don’t have crews. Maybe it’s because of that motorcycle wreck on the way in. So we wait a little more. Now its really time to start and we’ve only got four guys. We’ll have to run mother-may-I, no dispatcher. Everything about this burns me. It burns me that the economy sucks, meaning people have to work stupid shifts, stupid jobs, or simply don’t have time or money to attend. And it burns me that we’re all getting […]
March 10, 2012

OpsLog – FEC – 3/10/2012

So I’m out of Cocoa Beach, following another train north, riding his yellows. I’ve got setouts and pickups along the line, up to Jay-Jays where NASA Space Center supplies are dropped. Then turn and home. I want to do this perfect. I mean, really perfect. I want this to be my best run ever. It’s not because their are management types hiding in the brush with speed guns, no. It’s because after this session, the current FEC will shut down for good. For real-world reasons, Owner Ken has got to move his layout out of the house. It will be broken up […]
February 26, 2012

Folkston Funnel

I’ve always liked the practicality of Folkston, Ga. They were a little nowhere, noplace town sitting right on the CSX mainline that runs out to Jacksonville and carries heavy loads both ways. And in the classic sense of making lemons from lemonade, they welcomed the trainspotters, trainwatches and railfans, building a reviewing stand complete with a railroad scanner and bathroom. Now fans can line the right of way, watching as heavy power blows up and down the line. The club’s been meaning to get out there for some time and, at our last meeting when pushed against the wall, I […]
February 22, 2012

OpsLog – LM&O – 2/22/2012

It’s one of those sessions where you can overlook the little glitches and everything. We’ve got a full house, a bunch of fascinated guests, and all the trains are moving. So I’m really in the groove, running Black Widow SP F3s on the front of an intermodal train. Sure it looks strange – engines and cars are 40 years apart, but what the hell – I can squint and I’m Coast Merchandiser East on the head end of TOFCs. So it’s cool, the engines are running well and I’m smiling. And I’m just coming into Hellertown and have the long grade to […]
February 19, 2012

OpsLog – SP Coast Line – 2/19/2012

There are three aspects of operations for me. Pre-ops: I get ready with this sense of tight-stomached dread. Things don’t run well, things don’t work right. I break open engines and try to fix them but they just won’t cooperate. It’s an endless struggle that has me going back in the room over later hours, turning everything on and checking it out. It’s never good enough, and like an actor playing a well-known role, I still feel like puking. I hate getting ready for ops! Ops: Everyone is tooling up, train 920, the Salinas crew, the yard master, everyone’s brake-testing. The […]
February 18, 2012

Getting ready

Well, I’m all set for model train ops (other than a few minutes of “beat to quarters” furniture moves). My wife is not. The dining table is straining under too many magazines, too many Walgreens receipts, her computer, all that stuff. I keep telling her she needs a system, something where things don’t end up piled a foot deep because she hasn’t gotten to them. But this is one of these “minefield” discussions. Married guys know this – I just went out to look at 10:13pm, she’s been at it (supposedly) for two hours and I don’t see any difference. […]
February 13, 2012

OpsLog – Longwood & Sweetwater – 02/13/2012

I remember back when I used to fly how rusty I could get if I didn’t get up into the air every couple of months. I’d get “behind the plane” as they say. Happens in model railroading, too. Tonight on the L&S, I took out the Hunt Club Local, a late little run that sorts around the main, hitting a team track and a couple of industrial spurs. No big problem. On the way in, I worked one double ended spur, setting my caboose so I could pick it up (with the car) on the way back to the yard. […]
February 11, 2012

Chipping off rust

According to my records, my last operation’s session was back in May of last year. After that, time slipped by as I worked to get the club’s traveling layout up, my book out, and my parents faced some medical issues. Time just moved on. With twisted guts, I decided to get this thing running again. Time to host. I hate getting ready but generally love the sessions. Getting ready involves cleaning all sorts of track (some of it in difficult-to-reach places), cleaning engines, checking paperwork. But really, its gone pretty well. My helper Mikado really didn’t want to go – […]
February 3, 2012

The TTX barrier

Well, I hit the invisible corporate-webspace-phonebox wall. We’re building a traveling layout for our club, a space-aged module effort that puts our creaky old N-trak clunkers to shame. Sets up quick. Breaks down quick. Moves easy. No duckunders. Fun to run. And we’re doing REAL modeling of real places (specifically the run from Jacksonville to Folkston). We’ve got the river area in at Jacksonville, the CSX building, the convention center, the Acosta bridge. While I’m working south towards the Aetna building, we’ll also need to cross under the I-95 double-span bridge and model the TTX shops. See, TTX has a […]
January 26, 2012

OpsLog – LM&O – 1/25/2012

Last night’s session started at 7:40pm and ran until 10:15pm. But not really. It actually started at 10pm a week before when Mark John and I worked the lading slips for every freight car across the line. The three industrial areas were easy; just flip whatever cars you wished to indicate their completed loading/unloading. The staging was a little more difficult: we had to inspect the car numbers to make sure the right cars were on the right trains, THEN replace the waybills in the correct cars. Martin Classification Yard was the worst; either an overwhelmed yardmaster or joyriding operators had scrambled things. […]