At the throttle

Train Blog

October 9, 2022

OpsLog – TBL – 10/06/2022

id what I did last year at the NMRA Plant City convention, a clinic on MicroOps and how I put it together. Like last year, I put the layout up on a stand so everyone could see it, top down. Talked about it for 50 minutes. Since everyone wanted to see the tower work, I dropped the layout to a table and fired it up (happily, unlike last year, it didn’t suffer a cold solder joint). And then everyone wanted to try the interlocking tower. Great fun! Of course, this time I asked if anyone wanted to run a session […]
October 9, 2022

OpsLog – P&WV – 10/7/2022

‘m going to tread carefully on this blog post. So, like, What the fug? Tom Wilson opened up his layout for guests of the 2022 National Model Railroad Association Convention. He’d even contacted me a month before and asked if I could dispatch (don’t toss me in the briar patch, right?). With advanced signup and money on the barrel head (I forget how much I paid) we filled up the roster, a crew of nine. It was going to be a great time. I got there early, had a look at some of his new scenery, then went into the […]
September 30, 2022

On Sheet – Room for Improvements

ne thing about model railroad operations – you don’t have to get it right on the first try. Nobody can say exactly how something is going to work until they do it. When managing a model pike, you’ll find yourself changing things, cutting in turnouts or altering your schedule. You set something up, maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. If the latter is true, you try something different. In my Tuscarora Branch Line, I thought I wanted to run a train order board so that special orders could be “hooped up” (i.e. physically passed) to the engineers. For this, you […]
September 27, 2022

OpsLog – TBL – 09/26/2022

ay what you will about model train ops being stressful, frustrating, and unfun. Whatever. I had to go to the club today to meet an AC repair guy and since Ian is going to blow away our Wednesday night club ops, I had nothing better to do. So I figured I’d run a Monday afternoon session on the Tuscarora Branch Line with just myself. My friend Greg wants to get better at the interlocking position so he agreed to come as well. So after the AC guy recharged our system and dumped a bill on us, we started the clock […]
September 25, 2022

OpsLog – FEC – 9/24/2022

o it was a strange day on the east coast of Florida. I reported to my FEC tower outside Hialeah Yard for my shift dispatching the FEC. Oddly, the planet Earth was in a wobbling orbit – the sun was up and bright at 4am. The resulting disturbances to the ionosphere crashed all radio efforts. But we had a railroad to run and, by God, we were going to run it. Note of explanation – the room lights were wonky and the radiophones had crashed. The superintendent was pulling his hair to get us into a position to go hot, […]
September 23, 2022

On Sheet – Sliver Linings

n our last On Sheet, I just hung out with you all and laughed about some of the funny things I’ve heard during operations. Well, a lot of people liked it and some people discussed aspects of it, but I did get one contact that said that it actually was counter-productive, and that that person might not be so keen to operate if that’s what it was about. Ouch! Classic backfire! So let’s take a step back, way back, and define model train operations. How about this? Model Train Operations are the biggest, greatest co-operative game there is! And that’s […]
September 19, 2022

OpsLog – TY&E – 9/18/2022

aybreak is just coming up over the low eastern hills. I’m sitting in my TY&E Yellow Perils, idling at in the weedy lot of the Raymond industries, my cut filled with full sand hoppers and empty log cars. The good thing about this is it means I’ll have a semi-loaded train going each way. By organizing the cuts, I can make the ride a lot easier. After all, I’ve done this job forever. While I’m sitting there, some do-gooder track walker comes over, shoots me a withering glance and throws the industrial turnout in front of me to normalized routing. […]
September 16, 2022

On Sheet – Famous Quotes

n this edition of On Sheet, I’d like to list some of the best quotes I’ve heard during my years of operating on model railroads across the United States. While putting together this collection, I found myself smiling. Let’s see if I can give you a smile with some of these… “That’s why they put windows on the front of engines.” – At the club years ago, I remember an engineer running over an incorrect turnout, derailing, and complaining he hadn’t noticed the alignment. This was an overheard response. “Did you even read the orders you issued?” – In the […]
September 11, 2022

OpsLog – Tusk Hill (AKA TBL) – 09/10/2022

ell, this is one for the books. Train-buddy Kyle (who has English sympathies) chatted with me after our last Tuscarora Branch Line and proposed an interesting idea. He loves interlocking, especially English interlocking (to go with all his English trains). And while all I’ve got is Yankee interlocking, we decided to give a try to running my layout with English rolling stock and engines. So we set up a run with a four-person crew and gave it a whirl.     First off, Kyle’s equipment ran pretty flawless. We’re talking quality stuff. So those little steam engines, they could handle […]
September 9, 2022

On Sheet – Diesels and Drawbars

ot a friend who shares my interests, in railroading and operations, but also in gaming. Both of us have designed and sold games in the past. Both of use have run roleplaying games over the years. For those readers among you who don’t know what a roleplaying game (or RPG) is, it’s a game where one player controls the world and tells the story. The other players (controlling characters with attributes generally randomly determined) listen to the descriptions and work together to express their actions, take their chances and pull a heist/kill a dragon/save a princess/gain lots of money. As […]