At the throttle

Train Blog

October 13, 2014

OpsLog – DRV – 10/11/2014

econd run of the day of DixieRails, the PM tick on the Diamond River Valley, a neat HO mountain run. It’s my third run of the day, and – this is a first – I’m still on the same train! See, it’s a transfer run, used by Jimtown Yard and Diamond River Yard to shoot cars at each other (and to sweep the spurs between). So I’ve run one way, then back, and then back again. Maybe I’m tired. How much fuel do these units hold? Am I going to be making yet another run? I’m thinking these things at […]
October 11, 2014

OpsLog – B&B – 10/11/2014

unning with a junior member, a young kid who’s been at our club for some time. He’s never done TT&TO (time table ops – the most amazing way of controlling trains, one used across a hundred years (until the invention of radios)). He’s a little nerved about it and since we’re running two-man teams, I’m running with him. Last train of the day. We’ve run a local transfer job, a high-speed passenger move (with rights over everyone!) and a local mixed cakewalk-run down from the hallers. and now we’re running up the line to pick up some northern coal for […]
October 10, 2014

OpsLog – SPR – 10/10/2014

odeling in N-scale is problematic. Always small, always touchy, very tricky. But when you see it done well, and see what you can do in tight spaces, that’s when it really shines. It was shinning bright on the Southwestern Pennsylvania RR today, an N-scale pike, part of our ops weekend in Atlanta – Dixierails. Dave Pitcher has a nice run, a high density main broken by a crossing line. The central yard, pretty much on the junction, is a busy place. I’d dispatched here before, a couple of years ago, and wanted to try it now. So things were rolling. […]
August 27, 2014

OpsLog – LM&O 8/27/2013

heckmate in three. I’ve written the program we use at the train club, the one that generates switchlists (i.e. railroad documents that tell what industries each car is going  to). In a typical session, nine trains and one yardmaster move something like 100 or more cars to and from specific locations. And even though I’d written the program, I’d never gotten a chance to run a train with it. As I mentioned, the session was winding down, one train in Calypso dropping a cut, the other topping the ridge at Harris, heading for Martin Yard and eventually Cincinnati. I was […]
August 23, 2014

OpsLog – FEC – 8/23/2014

very time I drive to Ken Farnham’s Florida East Coast railroad, something happens on the trip. Once, a ladder came off a truck in front of us, spinning and sparking along the road like some giant spin-the-bottle game. Then there was the truck tire that blew up like a bomb right in front of us. This time, a four foot long stuffed fish toy (yeah, read that again) came off a pickup and rolled down the passing stripe. There wasn’t much room (barriers on either side of the road, so no runoff). While everyone else braked, I tucked my tiny […]
August 18, 2014

OpsLog – Saluda Grade – 8/18/2014

ronically, the last time I ran on the Saluda line, it was March of 2012, two and a half years ago. The ironic bit was that what I wrote here was a complaint about the changing club dynamics, the economy and general aging that was making a session here so difficult. Happily Jim brought his layout back after years and years down. And happily we had crew enough to run all the trains (except one local). But for its part, the railroad did what it was supposed to do: simulating running two branches of the N&S lines around Asheville (the […]
August 3, 2014

ShowLog – Orlando Fairgrounds – 8/3/2014

‘ll admit that a two day weekend show is tough. We need to run for six hours a day and then pack and go. And that’s six hours of running with kids, of asking people not to touch (or, ferchristsakes, lean on) the layout. But today, while long, was easy. Had a sizable crew show up on time. Steve brought donuts*. Everyone there grabbed a rag and some alcohol and cleaned their way around the layout. Fifteen minutes until open, trains started coming out from Bowden Yard and the NS North Jax. When people came in, we were running. And […]
July 30, 2014

OpsLog – LM&O – 7/30/2014

ve run operations on this railroad for something like thirteen years, which comes out to about 130 sessions. Yeah, I know how things work. And that’s why, when I backed my favorite GP-7s onto the front of the Silver Bullet One, out of Bound Brook and running three hours late, I knew things were running hard outside. See, I was in staging, a hidden yard in the back of the railroad which is pretty much “backstage” to our little drama. A double-ended yard, it simulates both ends of the division. A train leaves one end, drives all the way across […]
July 13, 2014

ShowLog – Deland – 7/12/2014

f you want to see a BUSY mainline, look no further than the Orlando N-trak sectional layout. We’ve got a train by on our double-track mainline every 30-40 seconds or so. Which is why, when your equipment takes a dump, it’s such a mega-pratfall. Was running north through the bottom of the “U” (what is geographically just north of Jacksonville bay, just beyond I-95). I was pulling 40 mixed freight cars behind two dinky Geeps. Now, these four-axle jobs have a unique deal – if you load them up, they don’t just wheel-spin, they conk out. Reasons abound for why […]
June 29, 2014

OpsLog – TY&E – 6/29/2014

here comes that moment in a session where things go wrong. Anyone who has been to a session has been there. Every host has too. Usually its at the beginning – when everything turns on and the booster chirps, the clock won’t run, a bank of turnouts won’t throw, everything stops. Something’s gone wrong. And everyone gets really quiet and helpful until it’s fixed. Happened today at the TY&E – engines started shorting a booster for no particular reason. The boys all stopped their jokings and everyone got really helpful. Bill and I watched the trip lights to see if […]