At the throttle

Train Blog

March 3, 2013

Time flies

I was getting ready for ops, trying to clean and prep up. Everything seems doable now and I’m hoping for a session next week. In getting ready, I happened to look at my last crew sheet. I generally list the day and month correctly at the top, but change the year to something like 1951 or so, just keeping in character. But it struck me – “Feb 19”? I knew it couldn’t be this February, but last February? Really? Looks like, as noted HERE. I guess that’s why it needed so much cleaning. Where did that year of excuses go? […]
February 28, 2013

OpsLog – LM&O – 2/27/2013

Slow night at the club, so slow night on the railroad. Some folks are at their kids baseball games, some are sick, some taking care of invalids. We’ve got enough to staff up and run a lot of things so we do. Had a turnout fail into Wierton, which because of the alignment of the track took out all of Track 2 on my double main section, everything from there to Pittsburgh. This is a good track to run by Martin Yard on so its loss was felt. Marked on my screen that the track was out of service, and then, […]
February 16, 2013

OpsLog – P&WV – 2/16/2013

It’s interesting to deal with the diffenence in dispatching speeds I find on different layouts. At the club, I’ve found myself writing something like 80-90 train warrents in two hours and change. Today, on Tom Wilson’s Pittsburgh & West Virgina (a beautiful coal and blast furnace route), I slipped out 31 in four hours. Not that it’s a bad thing. At the club, I’m like an air traffic controller, constantly kicking out order after order. With each one, I hold my breath, wondering if I’m going to kill anyone (like this time  ). But sometimes slower is better. I actully had […]
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 […]