At the throttle

Train Blog

February 10, 2013

OpsLog – TY&E – 2/10/2013

First runs of any railroad are always fun. There is no expectation of success, no holding to timetable or getting cars to the right places. Hell, since nobody knows what’s happening, you can answer every misroute, every cornfield, every break from railroad tradition and operating practice with a shrug. Hell, I don’t even know what TY&E stands for. But we had some fun, not only running trains but also coming up with major overhaul improvements to the trackplan, crazy enough to make owner JW scream in mortal rage. Actually, outside of some yard recommendations (man, Youngstown is just one effed-up […]
January 23, 2013

OpsLog – LM&O – 1/23/2013

I usually start my ops day dreading it. It’s just my personality – worry worry worry. Had two visitors coming in and was hoping we’d have some sort of decent session. This would make up for the fact that Omar (a work-buddy) had been thinking of coming out but couldn’t make it. Anyway, met our visitors over at the Olive Garden and everything went fine. Drove over to the club and the lot was almost empty – three cars. My worrying was justified it seemed. So we started to clean and people poured in. We even got a few guys […]
January 6, 2013

ShowLog – Deland – 4/6/2013

Two things were obvious after our two day train show in Deland this weekend. One: How tired I was (a good tired) – came home, had a beer, and crashed. Two: How well we did. For the second, I realized it when I was counting out our tip jar, $54.75. Now, it might not sound like a lot, but when you are counting a huge stack of ones, it’s easy to realize that many of these represent allowances from kids. Our club makes it a point to let the kids run, and there are signs up hinting how we’d sure […]
November 28, 2012

OpsLog – LM&O – 11/28/2012

Silver Bullet #2, the eastbound crack express passenger train, eased off its brakes and departed the siding, accelerating down the Appalachian hills, whining through the spiral tunnel, picking up its pace as it drifted through craggy cuts, snaking along the forested ridge, making up time. It had been delayed by two long freights which had snarled the main at Harris Glen. Now SB2 was on the roll, rattling faster and faster along the LM&O main, its headlight cutting the foggy mists. Riding in total luxury, the packed throngs of holiday passengers chatted amongst themselves, read newspapers and lunched in the […]
November 21, 2012

OpsLog – Nebraska Division – 11/11/2012

It’s good to be king (as the saying goes). And in ops, it’s good to be the dispatcher. Sure, you don’t get to actually run a train. But you do get to do something that lasts the entire session. And often is a pretty busy job. I’ve had times when it wasn’t, when I’m sitting at my desk playing Kennedy Approach or something like that because the owner didn’t come up with enough for the DS to do. Not a problem on the Nebraska Division. I’m always busy. Even with the new timetable, I was busy this time. We had […]
November 18, 2012

OpsLog – Tehachapi – 11/4/2012

It was my train, dammit. It’d come in from Famoso late Saturday evening, my pal Jerry running the cut. I rolled out of the Bakersfield roundhouse with a puffy consolidation, ready to latch onto the back and push for all I was worth. For the next ninety minutes, we switched cars, waited, helped the yardlettes, waited, begged for clearance, and waited. The session ended with us built and aimed at the yard throat. The next morning, I showed up and got into my seat, only to get tossed out by Bob, my supposed relief. WTF? This was MY train! I […]
November 18, 2012

OpsLog – Tehachapi – 11/3/2012

As I mount the footplate to my Santa Fe steam engine hissing seven boxcars up from the caboose at the end of this mile-long (or so it feels) freight train, I reflect how nice it is when everyone agrees. The crew had met over the register book in the ATSF yard office, discussing our coming eastbound run from Bakersfield to Mojave. Long trains (such as ours) give me an antacid attack – we can’t really fit anywhere, not without a lot of flagging and sawing and stuff, so I’m not happy about that. To make matters worse, we’ve got an […]
November 17, 2012

OpsLog – Tehachapi – 11/2/2012

After the long flight to San Diego, after breakfast/lunch (watching dubiously as one of our group has an omelet and beer), after naps and dinner at City Deli, it’s time to head over to the sprawling La Mesa Model Railroad Club (located in a museum basement in Balboa Park) and help set up. La Mesa is a huge place. They’ve modeled the route from Bakersfield to Mojave in 25 scale miles, running it in a simulated 1952 under Time Table and Train Order rules. It’s always a blast to run here – its like a mix of railroading and La […]
October 24, 2012

OpsLog – LM&O – 10/24/2012

I‘m pushing cars into Hendler Paper in Mingo Jct as the simulated night grows deeper and the session winds down. There are two spurs here, shipping 1 and shipping 2, and I’ve got to sort my mixed cut onto the correct ones. No problem since I see a slick way to do it. It’s been a fun night. Even though attendance was a little on the light side, we’re moving most of the trains. Further, my buddy/rival is running the board and having a bad night. Harris Glen was locked up tighter than the Grinch getting twisted up in a […]
October 17, 2012

OpsLog – SPCR – 10/14/2012

Why is this man smiling? He was at the controls of a single GP-9 picking up cars out of LA. Railroad management overestimated the pulling power of these new fangled diesels. Now, with 24 cars, he’s found himself spinning his wheels on the grade out of Oxnard. This caused him to have to run his train up in two sections (and deal with a Butt Monkey operator opposing him at Ventura). Once he got rebuilt on the Ventura siding (in the sun…. shine) and departed, he found the slow rise towards Santa Barbara too much for his straining single unit. […]