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Train Blog

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 […]
September 5, 2022

OpsLog – WVN – 9/3/2022

‘m in my hard wooden chair in a West Virginia Northern caboose, my coffee sloshing about my green company cup as I ride the rough rails down from Clifton Forge to Harris, a line of WVN green boxes banging along. I hear the head-end throw an uneasy four-note whistle as we reach the engine house grade crossing just outside of town. The engineer in the iron seat up front is a newbie. But it’s not what you would expect, not some gnarled tobacco-spitting local boy made good, no. It’s my wife. JB came along with me to run on the […]
September 2, 2022

On Sheet – Away Game

aybe this whole idea of operations seems too confusing and complex to you. You’ve got to figure a train timetable, jobs to be filled, a freight forwarding system, a crew-call system, so many things (I’m not talking you into this, am I?). So, if you are facing this daunting challenge, why not see if you can horn your way in on an existing operation session? Maybe you can wallflower and watch, sure, but any good host should push you in (presumably with an easy newbie job). But how to find a session where you live? There are many places where […]
August 28, 2022

OpsLog – FEC – 8/27/2022

‘ve been waiting to run on the Florida East Coast since forever. Well, since two weeks ago. Yes, that is when our club ran this line, as reported HERE. But yes, I wanted to run again. So we drove all the way to Palm Bay, met with people, I trained a new dispatcher, then my wife took me aside and told me her sister (who she was with on Wednesday) phoned her with the news she is positive with Covid. Da fug? We had this conference on the host’s front porch. Going back inside (with masks now on) we confessed […]
August 26, 2022

On Sheet – The Straight and Narrow

p front, I’ll admit that railroads made most towns. The rails would come through, the depot would be built, and then “Railroad Avenue” would parallel the line. The town grid would firm up off this, buildings in line with track, everything lain down as if on graph paper. Historically accurate? Sure. Interesting? Um…. Too often, small railroaders with limited space instinctively snap their sectional track on a bead two to three inches from the forward edge. And their town naturally follows, with ninety degree corners in the streets, everything placed to parallel the sides of the layout’s edge with geometric […]
August 25, 2022

OpsLog – LM&O – 08/24/2022

n the bad side, there were a number of near collisions, several (that I knew of/experienced) LAP orders, some running without paper, a lot of phones clutched to numb ears, a big boo-boo in the yard, and a passenger train that ran a half-day late. Okay. But on the good side, we did run all the freights, all the locals, all the coal and ore, and got to experiment with delivering cars to the Nazareth turn (well, now we know what doesn’t work). We started a little earlier and had a lot more people working throttles at the end. Everyone […]