At the throttle

Train Blog

July 9, 2023

ShowLog – Deland – 7/8/2023

e’ll start with wrist-slapping. Over twenty people were supposed to be at setup today. We got a handful. Fortunately the crew we had was top-notch and we had just enough people to get the basic assembly team in action. Others drifted in after the layout was up, siting various reasons (the coo-coo fell off Kyle’s European clock, it seems). We were still nowhere near the numbers we’d been promised. And here is my admonishment – you are only as good as your word. Done. The rest of the train show clicked out as if it had been timetabled. Trains surged […]
July 7, 2023

On Sheet – Divergent Evolutions

didn’t know I was actually setting up an experiment on evolutions of thinking and divergent game science. I was just making a small switching layout. As has been covered here ad nauseam, I’m talking about my own Tuscarora, a layout that started as a 2×4 switching puzzle and has turned into a operations empire. Our last session (NOTED HERE) ran with seven operators over three hours. I’ve given NMRA clinics on the design stage I went through (not preplanned in any way) that I used to come up with operations on this micro layout. Basically, it was basic switching, the […]
July 7, 2023

OpsLog – YVRR – 7/6/2023

fter dragging Jack Ferguson to one of my Tuscarora Sessions, he offered to host me on his own small railroad, the Yosemite Valley RR. Of course, he didn’t quite have operations, but sure, come on out anyway. And I was pleasantly surprised when Greg and I showed up and found out that he’d hustled up some actual trains, filling out their orders (and I’m touched – he adapted the TBL naming conventions). But yes, instead of us standing there oohing and aahing, he put us to work! It just shows (as it always shows) that there is a place in […]
July 2, 2023

OpsLog – TBL – 7/1/2023

t’s a lazy afternoon in Easton Depot. I’m fanning myself with a timetable, pushing away the humid heat that hangs over Western Pennsylvania. Distantly, a dispatcher who sounds a lot like me tells me that a coal extra is inbound, heading west to Tuscarora and the mines beyond. No orders. Nodding, I kick at the desk-mounted train order lever with my foot, setting the signal to green. Of course he’ll stop anyway, regardless if the signal was green, red or purple. There’s the westbound Easton Turn just airing up at Tuscarora, number 612 on the timetable. So I figure the […]
June 30, 2023

On Sheet – Size and Documentation

o I’m just going out on a ledge here and noting an observation  -the smaller your railroad, the more important introductions documentation is. At our club layout, it’s pretty basic. Yard switching information is hung on clipboards near the arrival tracks. Warrants are damn near self-explanatory. Guests who run with us usually need a conductor the first run or two, and then they have it. But if you are running a small layout (and mine is really, really small), you need more documentation to explain what has to happen. In large layouts, there are more sidings and room to sort […]
June 29, 2023

OpsLog – LM&O – 6/29/2023

helfton Turn raddled into Martin Yard, having done its work in respectful time. Its engineer called yardmaster Perry White, asking where he could drop these outbounds and grab the Zanesville Turn. White, old beyond his years but oddly lacking seniority, directed the drop and grab move. He mused at the rapidity with which the  engineer swapped out and accelerated out of the yard. It was like he was some sort of Superman. This engineer was not of this railroad or even of this Earth. The sole surviving member of a planet destroyed when its DC modules exploded, and who described […]
June 25, 2023

OpsLog – FEC – 6/24/2023

moment of kick-ass history. The Luftwaffe was bombing the crap out of London. Things were getting tight for Hitler’s invasion schedule – they must break the Royal Air Force. On September 15th, 1940, the Germans threw everything they had into a full assault on the English Capital. From the bunkers below, Winston Churchill turned to Air Vice-Marshal Keith Park and asked about their active reserves. Park replied, simply, “There are none”.     And that was the epic day on the FEC. I started working with my lovely yardlets to move trains, myself on Trim, JB as yardmaster and Bev […]
June 23, 2023

On Sheet – Extra Board

t all started with a yawn. A fella was running coal on my Tuscarora a year back. To make interference for the local, the computer would come up with a random list of coal runs to make (such as make three  loaded laps one way, two empties the other, run the engine light to the far end, run three more laps…). When I asked if he was okay, he told me he was bored. Everyone else on the railroad was working hard and pondering how to do their jobs. He was just chauffeuring coal. To fix this, I had a […]
June 20, 2023

OpsLog – CSX Taft – 6/19/2023

‘m suffering survivors’ guilt right now. See, we ran on Chris Strecker’s CSX Taft railroad, a small two man pike with two jobs – the guy running the freights and the other running the local switcher (stationed at Orlando’s Taft Yard). The crews work their jobs for the first half-day (twelve slow laps of the freight, with drop-work done enroute). And the local, he preps up outbound cars and spots in dropped inbounds. Then you swap jobs. In theory, under the law of averages, in game-science, the crews should face the same amount of effort. Should. That’s the operative word. […]
June 18, 2023

OpsLog – Tusk Hill – 6/17/2023

ilson P. Sloan tossed a leg over a knee and settled in his seat, snapping open his newspaper as his train pulled into the Tusk Hill station. Having completed his effort to meet with solicitors of a Westly-based firm, he’d managed to catch the last Up Train to London. Now his luck appeared to have run its course. What was supposed to be a three-minute station stop was dragging on. Outside, one of the last midland steam engines in existence puffed past, dragging a goods wagon. Railroad business. Sloan couldn’t be bothered. He focused on the business section of his […]