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Train Blog

January 13, 2024

On Sheet – Up Scope

very submarine movie has the guy who loses it during combat. The close spaces. The press of bodies. The loud noises. Usually they need to either gag him or club him before the enemy sonar operators hear his gibbering. It’s a trope. Not so well understood or experienced is when it happens in an op session. Everyone has had the session where you are having to do a lot of repeated indexing moves and a specific car derails at the same spot every time. Or confusing paperwork. Or other operators yacking right next to your ear, pressing close. Some people […]
January 6, 2024

OpsLog – P&WV – 1/4/2024

his was my third ops session in the two days of protorails – I’d been invited in to round out the crews and provide dispatching. So, a long day, starting with an accident that had me sitting in traffic for over an hour, then a full day at the VSW, then a run over to Tom Wilson’s Pittsburgh & West Virginia (or is it “East Virginia”? Tom Wilson’s geographic directions are always so confusing). Then a heavy dinner (the Wilsons made sure we were fed). And after all that, I settled in the back room with my phone, my train […]
January 5, 2024

OpsLog – VSW – 1/4/2024

om Wilson could easily play the role of Father Christmas with his warm grin and twinkling eyes. So that is why we find him in an huge stuffed easy chair before a roaring fire. In his lap is a large book. “Tonight, Children,” he says with an smile so infectious, it could be an STD in The Villages, “I shall read you a story. It is called, The Tale of the Two Dispatchers.” So there once was a land with two dispatchers, the Virginia Southwestern. The Southern dispatcher ran a line staffed with merry country people who ran their trains […]
January 5, 2024

OpsLog – WVN – 1/3/2024

ith Protorails in town, I got invites to help run the three local layouts, the first being the beautiful West Virginia Northern (way, way, way over in Tampa). Since they needed two boomers, I took Chris Strecker with me (since he is both a railroader and game enthusiast, meaning he can pick up operating rules/instructions quickly). We had a pretty good drive over (given we got two weekday rush hours) and at my goading we took Ashbury west end (he as the yard switcher and me on my beloved hostler job). And to Chris’ credit, we kept it busy (hostler, […]
December 30, 2023

OpsLog – TBL – 12/30/2023

eally, it was a terrible solo effort on the Tuscarora today. I didn’t have ANY tower malfunctions. And I didn’t have ANY derailments. Horrible. See, I figured that before I worked scenery (and since I had an entire Saturday afternoon at the club) I’d run lever testing and try to get it to fail. After about twenty fruitless minutes of this, I figured I should just run a session. At first I was just going to randomize cars but then I found an unused switchlist in the back and made it into an honest to goodness session. And I ran […]
December 28, 2023

OpsLog – LM&O – 12/27/2023

o this is a transcript (sort of) of a call between the dispatcher and 415, an empty hopper run out of Calypso for Carbon Hill. DS: Ready to copy? 415: Ready. DS: Okay, Warrant 281 to 414 at RedRock. Checkbox 1: Previous warrant is void. Checkbox 2: Proceed to Weirton. Checkbox 3: Proceed on Main Track #2. I have three checkboxes. 415: (Repeats orders verbatim) DS: (Pause). Okay, you know which track is track 2, right? 415: Yes, I know. DS: (Concerned) It’s the outer loop in Pittsburgh. 415: Yes, I understand. DS: (Nagging) There is a fake signal bridge […]
December 23, 2023

OpsLog – CSX Taft – 12/22/2023

he good thing about microlayouts (if you consider a 3×8 a “micro”) is that a session can be set up and hosted in quick order. So that’s what my friend Chris did – he asked me if on Thursday if we wanted to run on Friday and I said (of course) yes (is there any other answer?). And run we did. I might have mentioned this before, but Chris has a great small layout. Essentially there are four trains each day between Jacksonville and Miami. Each train takes six laps to complete a run. Each lap represents a different Florida […]
December 22, 2023

On Sheet – The Tragedy of Tuscarora

sat down to run my Tuscarora at the club (where I keep it). It was a slow night so I ran it myself, a one-man job. Details are HERE. As mentioned, at the end of the session, the control tower with its computerized lever control died again. Since then, the engineer who constructed it has been over and picking through it. Unfortunately, it’s not the same problem (a bad solder joint) as the last time. We spent a couple of hours fussing over it. Right now he’s in “thinking” mode. He’s sent me some more questions about the failures (I’ll […]
December 21, 2023

OpsLog – TBL – 12/20/2023

uick post – tonight Steve played with the tower and had it crashing routinely, until it stopped crashing. After he left, I put the cars on and using an old sheet I’d stored in my locker some time ago, I ran a full session. Since I needed to test the tower, I did both leverman and freight engineer. What made it a pain was that to keep the aisle open, I had to run from the side (where the tower is usually bolted on). This meant that any uncoupling I had to do, I had to get out of my […]
December 18, 2023

OpsLog – Hartford Division – 12/17/2023

kay, so, outside of the tacos… Smiles. Threatened the host I was going to start my trash-out blog this way. So outside of the tacos, the whole session was a shambles. Trains ran on a time scale that seemed arbitrary because it was arbitrary. The host, a.k.a. “King Chronos”, could make it any time he wished. So a timetable in these situations is like a constitution under a despot. We were his pawns, dancing to his tune. Okay, not that I fake-bashed him (though the time complain is true), let’s get on with the blog.   We were worried going […]