At the throttle

Train Blog

May 15, 2022

OpsLog – TBL – 05/15/2022

orried, with things medical looming, about when we’ll have another session on the tiny-tight 2X4 Tuscarora Branch line. Called my friend Greg and arranged for a Saturday session. Opened the call up for the general club membership and got John DeVasto (and, at the last second, Kyle Sarnik). So great – we had four and the Branch runs best with a quad of operators. I was dispatcher (as usual) – Greg took Coal cuz he likes the tally sheet bit. John wanted to try the switching job (since he’s never gotten a shot on that run). And Kyle took the […]
May 1, 2022

OpsLog – WVN – 4/30/2022

here has to be a reason I crawl out of bed at 6 AM, hitting the road by twenty-after, running west for Tampa to operate on the West Virginia Northern. The sunrise in my rearview was breathtaking – the haze turned it into a giant molten ball imperfect with bands of clouds. Two cars pulled over on the side of I-4 to watch it. The rearview mirror gave me enough of a treat and a couple of miles more distance. And the fast food joint I always stop at, I had a quiet coffee over a book, eating an egg-McSomething. […]
April 28, 2022

OpsLog – LM&O – 4/27/2022

here are two types of people who want to see a massive head-on between two trains. One is a deranged psychopath. The other is a rival dispatcher. I’ll admit that I take great pleasure in being a good dispatcher. I developed the control systems (the computer to track trains and the warrants to command them). I developed the position, sitting in the middle of the layout with my Atari 520 ST and my crude program thirty years ago, controlling trains on N-Trak modules. I’m a boomer, having walked in and dispatched layouts I’ve never seen before, cold, in cities a […]
April 25, 2022

OpsLog – WAZU – 4/22/2022

t’s always good to see a layout progress from session to session. And today’s running of the WAZU railroad (a reference I’m not sure anyone gets) was no exception. Last session was good; this one was better. We have to applaud the efforts of Doc and Sparky, who personally made operations improvement goal one. In this, they reworked the card system in the yards (including making sure everything was pre-staged and the yards carried reduced car loads (a mistake a lot of modelers make)). Also, the turnout controls were reconfigured with led to a lot less fumbling for switch throws. […]
April 23, 2022

OpsLog – TBL – 04/23/2022

irst thing: This will be the first of four ops sessions I’ll be attending this week. So get ready for my reports. I’ve not run my little crazy layout since January – three months. Just been busy with scenery on it, other things, life in general, you know. The big thing was my primary switcher, that Broadway Limited SW-7, had taken a dump. To reset it required something akin to a mix of safe-cracking and bomb-disposal: had to get the shell off (a major achievement) and then hold a button down while putting its trucks on a live layout. I […]
April 17, 2022

OpsLog – LM&O (Night Ops) – 4/16/2022

t’s 8:15am in the Cincinnati rail yards. I’ve got some SP F3’s coupled to the 244 consist (and some geeps stuck in, since my slow-rollers wouldn’t even get them out of the yard in my test pulls while waiting for go-time). But lights are on, engines are rumbling, we’re good to go. At half-past, two blasts of the horn and I’m pushing hard, fixed on making Carbon Hill for my first meet of the day. The F-units, one time my pride, are really running bad. They seem to need a warm up session to get them moving. By the time […]
April 11, 2022

OpsLog – TY&E – 4/10/2022

ough day on the TY&E. There, I said it. It shaped up to be a great day – glorious outside, perfect for a garage run. And JW had a huge crowd show up for the session, always a good sign. Train instructions were issued, the experts waked the newbies through their jobs, we all dialed up and then the difficulties started. Look, not faulting JW on this. We’ve had sessions at the club and at my home layout where things go to shit. I’ve had the Tuscarora, darling of my heart, stab me in the back (several times) with others […]
April 3, 2022

ShowLog – Deland – 4/2/2022

hunder is booming and rain is spattering me in the face. I’m standing just clear of the coupler, waving my operator back. Lightning flashes. Rain is starting to come down a little harder. I’m going to get wet. “Ten feet,” I call. “Five. One. Inches. Good!” Bill comes back and in the gathering rain and wind, we couple the truck to the club trailer and link all the safety hooks up. Rain is splashing against my back now. Finally we’re coupled. Bill decides he’s going to position. “I’m going in,” I tell him. It’s a long walk back to the […]
March 27, 2022

OpsLog – VSW – 03/26/2022

he third ops session in a week (starting with Night Ops last Saturday and Club Ops Wednesday), a great run of John Wilke’s massive and amazing Virginia SouthWestern. So this was an effort to get Orlando N-Trak to get out of its tiny clubhouse and into the larger world of Central Florida layouts. John was nice enough to open his layout for us; still, all sorts of problems, scheduling conflicts, people dropping out, a truck with three of us nearly breaking down on the side of the highway, everything going wrong. But once we got there, what a session! We […]
March 24, 2022

OpsLog – LM&O – 3/23/2022

o, the dispatchers report: not much for on-the-ground action, but you get the birds-eye view of the session, high above the muddy-cinder-level viewpoint of the engineers. I can tell you I kicked out 83 warrants, a good amount (which comes out to about one every two minutes or so – counting readback time (and calling overhead for information – more on that bitch-point later), that’s air-traffic-control-level busy. We ran five freights (I’m going to take 271 out next time I run – he’s been annulled twice now). We ran three of the four passenger trains. Two locals went out (Shelfton […]