At the throttle

Train Blog

November 11, 2018

ShowLog – Makers Faire – 11/10-11/2018

hen the scenery guy put small sections of clear plastic over some of the more delicate scenery, I thought it was excessive. After Makers Faire (a showcase for all sorts of builders, dreamers and geeks) I think six-foot sheets of bullet proof glass would have been more appropriate. We’ve never faced a more difficult show. First off, Friday night, we had three people building the layout (out of the half-dozen or more who’d agreed to it). Finally two more people came in and we were able to finish up, but that was a lot of work for the reduced squad. […]
November 5, 2018

OpsLog – Tehachapi – 11/2/2018

hey say railroads, like any other slumbering beast, arise slowly. The SP/SF Joint Line across the summit at Tehachapi came awake like a mean drunk, cursing and swinging and then puking into a bucket. My job should have been easy – I picked up Extra 167, four Santa Fe F’s idling at the famous loop at Walong, a caboose coupled on for no reason I could discern. Anyway, I was looking at two facing trains, both sections of 802, one nailed down at Cliff, the other at Bena (I had rights over both across the line). Should have been an […]
November 5, 2018

OpsLog – Tehachapi – 11/3/2018

oday was a much better start for the day. The crew caller handed me a soup ticket for 56-2, an eastbound passenger that sounded more romantic then it actually was (two clapped out steam engines and a string of mismatched baggage and express cars, real City of New Orleans stuff). And who should I see  in the next train over (56-1) then my traveling buddy John. Yeah, he’d be proceeding me up the hill. And another nice guy, he’d be the final section of the parade. So, three friends out for a stroll. And at train time, off we went. […]
October 24, 2018

OpsLog – LM&O – 10/24/2018

hings keep evolving at the club. Shelfton industrial has been re-tracked. Hellertown is now Lehigh. And the paper warrants are in to their second session. I was dispatching so I wasn’t outside to shepherd the paperwork. Overall, it went… okay. One problem – crews would mix their pickups and drop-offs and would end up holding paper for both. I hadn’t anticipated that and now it looks like some cars went to their local deliveries and were immediately picked up and brought back as outbounds. One of these actually was delivered, returned to the yard, then placed back on the local […]
October 5, 2018

OpsLog – Tehachapi – 11/4/2018

unny day in the high hills over Caliente. Birds are singing, the sun is high, and everything smells like creosote. I’m backing a steam engine up the grade from Caliente to Allard where some future track work will take place. Off my pilot coupler I’m dragging a gondola filled with railroad ties and a crane car, along with a little caboose bumping along for the ride. My job was to get up in that remote location and work on the siding, unloading ties for at least an hour (a real hour). So I worked it like a real job. Pulled […]
September 30, 2018

OpsLog – FEC – 9/29/2018

’m washing my wife’s car the morning after (which was only fair since we rolled over to Palm Bay to run on Ken Farnham’s FEC and hit all sorts of bugs on the way). Even waxed the hood and roof for her – she earned it. She (and buddy Bruce) rolled over to run a railroad. It’s not what she chooses to do but she’s a good sport and, yes, she has fun after a fashion. So she was yardmaster again, and I was right next to her working the classification end, sorting cars off inbound trains. It’s fun and […]
September 26, 2018

OpsLog – LM&O – 9/26/2018

here is a trick in writing, the foreshadowing of innocence. You want to hint at something terrible occurring, start it off with something happy and innocent. Examples: happy passengers at the rail of the Titanic or dutiful shopkeepers in the market of Pompei. Something like that. So I was standing on the cinders of Martin Yard in the shadow of my idling GP-9s, feeling good. My original plan was to work the Weirton Coal Docks. But seeing my friend Craig lashing up a heavy intermodal cut behind his Espee cabforward filled me with doubt. There was no way he was […]
September 22, 2018

OpsLog – WBRR – 09/22/2019

here was that time I took my programming team out for a status meeting/walk around Lake Eola. When the boss found out about that, I was told to “keep my Berkley ideas to myself.” And there were those huge pointless meetings every day in corporate testing, where everyone had to listen about everyone’s status. I tried to explain that railroads don’t run with everyone knowing everything. Through scheduling and rules, railroads start different shifts in different places and everyone is instantly on the same page. I was told “this isn’t railroading.” The thing is, corporations are very disinterested in changing […]
September 16, 2018

OpsLog – TY&E – 9/16/2018

ne thing that’s fun with ops is where people learn skills and improve. I’ve seen it when people who would hardly budge off passenger trains run a freight, then move to locals or yards. But it’s not only operations where I see it – it’s also in layout designs. Two railroads have been rebuilt in our area: the WAZU and the TY&E. And both have had significant improvements to their… presentations, for lack of a better word. Better workspaces, better runs, better location of critical turnouts. On the TY&E, specifically, we’ve seen the elimination the duckunders, reaches and that difficult […]
August 22, 2018

OpsLog – LM&O – 8/22/2018

ellertown is a siding we put in without much thought. It’s arrow straight for most of its length, a nice elbow-room passing area where sometimes trains can slide by on the roll. Lots of room. We hardly give it a thought. But tonight, it was life and death on this quiet trackage in the shadow of the summit. First up was Extra 3220 west, intermodals heavy and rocking, which we pulled up on the high end of the main. I had two trains cresting the hill, coming his way (414, a coal run, and 202, a drag freight). So neat, […]