At the throttle

Train Blog

August 28, 2013

OpsLog – LM&O – 8/28/2013

The heat’s on! I’m in the dispatching chair tonight. We’ve got a full house of operators and a cameraman from a local PBS station doing a piece of the various clubs. I don’t want to kill anyone on camera – how embarrassing that would be, but I don’t want to stall the railroad with over-caution. So I’m pushing iron and getting things moved. Harris Glen’s been reworked. The high summit’s got a a main, a short siding, and an even shorter station track (like a siding, but right along a station platform). Two passenger trains (Silver Bullet 1 and 2) […]
August 17, 2013

OpsLog – FEC – 08/17/2013

I‘ve got my train orders and am climbing into my idling Florida East Coast engine in Hialeah Yard. Everything’s coupled up and I’m ready to call the dispatcher and highball onto the main. Except that I’m 20 feet away, behind two doors and across a patio. But it works. Ken Farnham, the owner of this HO pike, had a bit of a problem – he wanted to put an HO layout in a structure in his back yard but zoning would not permit anything save a smaller shed. Even if he chose two small sheds, they couldn’t be joined together. […]
July 24, 2013

OpsLog – LM&O – 7/24/2013

My engineer trainee Cody is in the pilot’s seat and I’m lounging in the back, idling a couple of big UP rental engines, pumping air down the line to a ragged cut of freight cars in Calypso. It’s his first run over the railroad so I’m conducting for him tonight. Time to call for a warrant. “Dispatch, Extra 5354 with you in Calypso, looking for a warrant west to Cincinnati. Will require helpers at Hellertown.” “Extra 5354… This is, ah, warrant 5 to 5354. Checkbox two to Hellertown. And, um. Checkbox six, take siding. Checkbox eight, do not foul ahead […]
July 14, 2013

ShowLog – Deland – 7/14/2013

My little confession that most people know – I am a theoretical socialist. I don’t know how socialism would ever be, or come about. I’ve talked to the Hyde Park radicals and gotten an earful of gibberish. I’ve read Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book and found nothing but slogans there. I have no idea what socialism would look like, or how people would work as one, for the greater good. Well, until this Deland Show. We had a lot of club members waiting at the ramp when Bob backed the truck in. The module racks came down the ramp, each […]
June 26, 2013

OpsLog – LM&O – 6/26/2013

“Red over red means more bread.” This is a contemporary railroad saying. It refers to twin-targeted signals (one light over another) and how the absolute stop position is a red light over another one. This phrase is very sage advice in that it translates to “Don’t fret and worry that you have a fully restrictive signal. So you wait. You get paid by the hour.” So I’m grinding my way up the eastern ascent to Harris Glen. I’ve had traffic in Calypso Yard and met a well-overdue coal train in Hellertown. Now I’m easing onto the main at Harris, meeting […]
June 23, 2013

Opslog – Longwood & Sweetwater – 6/23/2013

Working a double shift – two sessions in two days. Doing the Altamonte Local, pushing cars into a tight corner, trying to get everything sorted in a minimum number of moves. While working a food distributor, I found a reefer that I had to shift over to the icing deck. With a throttle in one hand, cards in the other, and my mind three moves ahead, it suddenly struck me that I was pushing cars into my late father’s industry. This structure from his old layout was now on Jim T’s pike. On his old New River Gorge route, he’d […]
June 23, 2013

OpsLog – FEC – 6/22/2013

It’s hot in Miami. Really hot. A scorcher. I’ve just trotted back from the ready track, tugging the crumpled call-sheet out of my oil-stained jeans pocket. The next train north is a general merchandiser – we’ll need a two-engine lashup on the point. But its been a slow day – everyone on duty is green, the line up to Jax is snarled, and I’m not getting units in fast enough to roll those out. I’ve got one set, just refueled – nothing to do but clamber up into the cab, check with the south end yardmaster to make sure I […]
May 22, 2013

OpsLog – LM&O – 5/22/2013

When the weather is nice and its all warm and sunny and lazy in the evenings, it sucks for ops. It’s hard to get turnout, and given my hectic workday, I’m just fried by ops time. I had to dig for that enthusiasm. Dinner with the boys helped. It was also cool that the layout was pre-cleaned, that it all set up quick, that people were in their posts. Had a couple of newbies running with us and I noticed that throttles and engines were easily loaned out. My more experienced guys jumped in to ride with them (rather than […]
April 13, 2013

Showlog – Deland – 4/13/2013

What can we say? When we opened the truck, we found one of the racks had shifted – scenery damage! Then there were the arguments while setting up, and a member storming out. Then, when we did get everything together (it took two hours – people were coming in the door), the layout didn’t come up until after lunch. What a terrible start. Forgive me – I know it’s no longer April 1st, but I had to do that for the benefit of the committee member who is bobbing about on a gulf cruse while we all did the show. […]
April 7, 2013

OpsLog – TY&E – 4/7/2013

And the very next day, we’re at it again on the Tipton, Youngstown & Erie. It might be said I operate too much! It was our second run over at JW’s place and it went really well. With the track improvements, we were running something like five trains at once on his main (which is impressive when three of them are passing in one area). Looks like everything is in place – He’s enthusiastic: check. He’s got an idea of what he wants to simulate: check. He’s got a working layout: check. We’ve got a group: check. Time to decide […]