At the throttle

Train Blog

July 14, 2018

ShowLog – Deland – 7/14/2018

ood show today. Lots of people came in for setup (we had enough that when we had to move 2/3rds of the layout after some mis-surveying, we got it moved in three huge chunks). Anyway, there were trains running and kids giggling and feet hurting and food over-charging, everything that makes these things a Deland event. The interesting thing came after the show, when we had to take down. We waiting until the venders were wrapping up and still went down progressively (for my angry-political friends, this means we slowly took down things while leaving trains running, so when we […]
June 30, 2018

OpsLog – FEC – 6/30/2018

ell, this one was one for the record books. I’m working a dispatcher’s panel that is as big as a coffin lid. We have a full crew – the yard behind me is “manned” (bad joke) by four wives (including my own JB). Ken has loaded up his line so trains are running hot and heavy. I’m trying to get three by at Palm Bay, two more around each other in Titusville, and two locals are futzing around near Pinetta. And over towards City Point, a rock train is shifting loads about. And that’s when I get the call from […]
June 27, 2018

OpsLog – LM&O – 6/27/2018

just spent today at work doing Agile planning. This “event” takes rooms packed with people in Memphis, Orlando and Bangalore three days to do. There are meeting, roving meetings, phone calls, meetings, planning, sticky-notes on board, and, of course, talktalktalktalktalk. By the time I got out in the car this evening to run out to the club, my head was throbbing and I felt like I just wanted to go home and lie down in a dark room. Dinner with the guys was good. Then we got out to the club for ops. And guess what. Everyone started cleaning the […]
June 23, 2018

OpsLog – WBRR – 6/23/2018

y boots are centered on the warped boards of the Delores platform, my hat jammed over my head as thunder crashes around the high Colorado peaks, spooking the cattle in the nearby pen. A small engine is just chuffing along a distant curve, its headlamp shimmering down the long rails. Suddenly the rain is smoking down and I neatly step back into my tobacco-stuffy station office, touching the telegraph key without fishing the chair forward. “OS DELORES WEST” A delay. “DISPATCHER” The windows rattle, causing a small avalanche of fly corpses from the sill as 243 East rolls past. With […]
May 23, 2018

OpsLog – LM&O – 5/23/2018

new it was going to be strange ops tonight – could feel it in my gut. Wore the club shirt to work today (since I went directly over following my employment). A puffy little millennial scored off me right before a staff meeting – looked across the table and said, “Nice shirt” in that sneery playground way.  Told him, “You know, this club is 31 years old. Older than you, eh?” So, ops was a smooth like ice cream with nutty walnuts thrown all through it. A rocky road, indeed. Crews hitting turnouts and blaming others for the shorts. The […]
May 19, 2018

OpsLog – FEC – 5/19/2018

kay, so when that general freight rumbled north into Bowden Yard in Jacksonville and I missed setting the primary turnout correctly, it rolled up the departure track and slammed into a freight sitting in position for departure. Of course, it’s the perfect storm because the engineers are in the other shed, running blind on repeater signals. So crumbled diesels, even more crumpled crews, ruptured gas tanks, explosions, six o’clock news. As a dispatcher, I’d have been out of that seat before the shockwave rolled overhead. The NTSB would have had me in a chair, isolated, grilling me about that total […]
April 28, 2018

OpsLog – FEC – 4/28/2018

o let’s just say, hypothetically, you were standing trackside in Titusville in the 70s (when it was still a sleepy little southern town). It’s about 3pm on a perfect Florida afternoon. Some blue units with 930 mounted on the number boards have been in town for a while. You might have checked references (mimeographed off a typewritten sheet by the Florida East Coast Railroad Fan Club (if such an organization existed)) to see that this was the Titusville Turn. Oddly, it listed its duties as light switching in the small offline yard but here it was with a long string, […]
April 25, 2018

OpsLog – LM&O – 4/25/2018

here are some sessions where at the end the musicians in the orchestra pit should break out into a stirring refrain and the operators should all come forward in their black club shirts and bow, center stage, to our audience. Tonight was one of those nights. We ran the schedule – the whole thing. Every freight, every passenger, every coal drag. We also ran a bunch of extras, possibly a half-dozen or more. Funny thing was, other than a parade of four trains over Harris Glen, the summit just wasn’t a problem for us – it was the water-level tracks […]
April 21, 2018

OpsLog – WBRR – 4/21/2018

hat really sucks with when you drive two hours to Port St Lucie to be an assistant dispatcher to a guy who is actually better than you. Richard’s got this gig cold – I mean, he’s running the DS panel without the magnetic board. He’d doing it in his fricking head. I’m just watching this guy throw down train moves and thinking, Jeeeze…. Like maybe I should be holding his coat or something. And not only that, he was gracious enough to give me half-a-session. Of course, when he got up and bowed his way out through the Oz curtain, […]
April 14, 2018

ShowLog – Deland – 4/14/2018

his show was the best of times, and the worst of times. Originally I only had three people besides myself scheduled for set-up. That’s a pretty tall order. But something like seven or so showed. It was like a Hallmark Christmas Special. “Why, it’s Christmas and angry Uncle Pete came, bearing gifts and goodwill. Hooray!” On the other hand, by about 2pm, we only had two trains running (with an occasional third nosing out). Bob Klauck hung in there with me, passing each other in our slow circuits, over and over. So thanks, Bob, for running above and beyond. And […]