At the throttle

Train Blog

January 27, 2016

OpsLog – LM&O – 1/27/2016

ome nights hosting club ops, you got to be all in. Like, driving rain so a lot of members didn’t come out. But we were filled with guests. Then the phone system went out. Then Bob Martin’s back went out. I thought I was going to black out. A couple of members looked at the confusion of the crowd (about a quarter of them were visitors) and said I should dispatch instead of the kid. So in all the madness, the mud and the muddle, I’m standing there looking at the call sheet where I just put my name in […]
January 10, 2016

ShowLog – Deland – 1/9,10/2016

t was, without a doubt, the best of times and the worst of times. In sheer bad luck, the truck pulling our trailer had a flat battery and got to the fairgrounds late. Road construction shook the living poo out of our modules, causing all sorts of breakage. And when the layout went live, it shorted across the panel, red lights everywhere. Oh, and my techno aces were mostly at a convention or out in the ocean somewhere. Deep breath. Okay, the panel was an easy fix – someone had bumped the digitrax box off the run mode. And the […]
November 21, 2015

OpsLog – FEC – 11/21/2015

ometimes these things can be tough to write. Outside of a turnout being left open, some paperwork getting misfiled, and little snigglets here and there, there wasn’t much material for a fire-n-brimstone ops report. No insights, no breakthroughs, no flashes of intuition. Except one. Bruce and I drove over and met Bob and the FEC crew for the holiday/last-session-of-the-year shindig. There was food in cornucopia amounts, side dishes and deserts and everything you could want to stuff in your gob. And then we ran. Bruce and I ran as a team, lucky to find ourselves on local jobs(which is the […]
November 19, 2015

OpsLog – LM&O – 11/18/2015

pectacular! Oh, you might not think that from ground level (the ground being that of a 25 year old N-scale layout, with all the wear and club-cross-wiring such a thing naturally gathers). Yeah, it’s old. But still there are things that get better with every session. For example, we’ve got a new generation of support staff coming up. Bill ran the yard sharp and hot (the car-roistering will determine just how accurate it was, but from what I saw it looked good). And Matthew ran the long trick, dispatching an entire session keeping six freights, four locals, two passenger trains […]
November 15, 2015

OpsLog – TY&E – 11/15/2015

etting to the TY&E today was a pain in the ass. Colonial Drive was backed up both ways (on a Sunday at 2pm?). I had to make a U-turn across an anti-tank trap (in a Mini Cooper) to get turned around. I hate the east side of town. It’s nothing but vehicular constipation. I did see Bill’s big blue truck make the last turn off about 100 feet (i.e. 5 minutes of sit time) ahead of me. Finally got there and got attacked by dogs (the usual thing). And so, train time. There weren’t a lot of us, which is […]
November 4, 2015

OpsLog – La Mesa – 11/1/2015

ough start to the day – got in a tiff with the crew caller early and ended up reading a book in the lounge for two hours. But then I got a train which was a real sweet run – over the hill with a minimum of fuss (except for a thrilling run-for-a-siding banana-drama). And afterwards I spelled the Caliente station operator so he could go get lunch (even had to write out a fumbling order). And that was exciting. Why? What station operators do: In ‘Time Table & Train Order’ operations (the method railroads operated for over a hundred […]
November 3, 2015

OpsLog – La Mesa – 10/21/2015

ackstory here: You gotta understand the damn scale of the La Mesa Club. It’s big. Really big. Imagine that you were a tiny little HO figure. The distance is 29 scale miles from simulated Mojave to pretend Bakersfield. In most locations, pretty much all the track alignment is correct for the 50s. We run trains that are 50-100 cars long (often with two or three operators controlling engines). A half dozen clerkish characters keep the railroad organization (from crew calling to cooking to dispatching to MOW) humming. Yeah, big. So I’m in Mojave – just got into town aboard Extra […]
October 26, 2015

OpsLog – BN (Formerly DT&I) – 10/25/2015

o, my falling fortunes. On Friday evening, I was dispatching a heavy mountain line in the profitable 50s from a brick building in downtown Asheville. By Saturday morning, I’d been bumped out into the Tennessee wilderness, dispatching a declining railroad in the 60’s-70’s, now likely in a peeling wood-frame draft-palace in some little Podunk town. Saturday afternoon, my career continued to slide, down to engineer of a crack passenger train out west, down to running a sharp little local pulling in rolling stock from mainline towns. But by Sunday morning, I was out in some industrial bad land (it looked […]
October 24, 2015

OpsLog – ATSF – 10/24/2015

he AT&SF Railway Henderson District – long and yellow and low-hilled, that’s pretty much the early scenery. This creation has a long folded plan with a huge central yard and a string of ATSF-feel station areas along its right of way. And no, this time, I flatly refused to dispatch. So in return, I found myself in the seat of a warbonnet E-8, fully sounded, running easy across the prairie, cutting in on the station tracks, forking out my fob-watch to keep track of the three-minute stops, sizzling by towns where dour-face local-crews waited on shimmering sidings as we polished […]
October 24, 2015

OpsLog – TC&C – 10/24/2015

he problem of running the DS panel so well (see last night’s session here) is that when we’re all standing around the next day picking jobs on the morning session shift, everyone pushes you back into the office job again. So we’re at the Tennessee Carolina & Coast, a layout I ran on two years ago. Great pike, just a long basement filler with good aisles, a long siding or two, and slow running. I had to be careful here – no clock so I set the pace running trains when I think we can get them through. The line […]