At the throttle

Train Blog

July 15, 2022

On Sheet – The Right Car for the Right Job

orry I was out – I was recovering from surgery (and no, it wasn’t brain removal). Anyway, last time we talked about using tabs-on-cars as a method of getting a car to a specific industry. This time, let’s make it even simpler – let’s assume that we’ll just switch by car type alone and not worry about reading those teeny tiny numbers or placing tabs on our roofwalks. Most model railroads do this in one shape or form. For example, if you go to a layout with a coal mine, you probably will just shove all the hoppers under the […]
July 1, 2022

On Sheet – Keeping tabs on things

o some of you might be actually rolling dice for destinations and thinking that there has got to be another way (especially when that die knocks over scenery or bounces under the layout). A step up from rolling dem bones (and below developing a full-fledged waybill system) is the tab-on-car system. It works just like it sounds. You need to go to the local hobby shop and get some styrene strips (Evergreen makes them). Look for the stuff that has a cross-cut like a bracket like this – [ – Take it home and cut it into small square pieces. […]
June 26, 2022

OpsLog – WVN – 6/26/2022

o be honest, I feel a little like one of those people who are reading Time Magazine at 30,000 feet, rationing my peanuts and trying to ignore the loudmouth in the seat next to me. The next moment, I’m waking up in a muddy field surrounded by wreckage, still strapped to my smoldering seat. First thought: what just happened? The first shift on the Komars’ West Virginia Northern went really well – the railroad was clicking through its paces and we actually finished up a little early, allowing us time to prep up for the post lunch & meridian shift. […]
June 24, 2022

On Sheet – A certain Point of View

o said Obi Wan Kenobi in one of the early StarWars movies: “A certain point of view”. But this isn’t about hedging your uncomfortable backstory, this blog is about ops. So last week, I mentioned how you could pick up a six-sided die and essentially run a loop or two on your layout, then roll the die to determine which car of your string was going to be cut on and placed on a siding. And if you did that, you might have looked at it in one of two way as you visualized your operation. Train-Centric :You might have […]
June 23, 2022

OpsLog – LM&O – 6/22/2022

y original plan was to run a through freight with my new Pennsy F’s, but it turned out I was the only dispatcher on deck so back into the office I went. Smooth night with a good turnout. Crews were meeting their on-call times (if not a little before). The layout is running better (though the metal wheels continue to cause cursing and might result is us switching the worst offenders back unless a better alternative is found). Once I reminded people to call clear of the main, they generally did. In this, I got to focus on my panel. […]
June 20, 2022

OpsLog – TBL – 06/19/2022

ather’s Day in Tuscarora, Pennsylvania, 1962. It’s a lazy weekend in the middle of summer. Somewhere in this idyllic town, boys are playing softball with their fathers. Being Sunday, the industries down by the tracks are closed. And with shippers being closed, the usual through traffic on the railroad is non-existent. But the mines are still working and eastern coal consumers, the powerplants and the export docks are in full swing. And for that, the rails are still humming from the passage of coal drags. Given the increasing length of the trains, the Pennsy has taken the RS units out […]
June 17, 2022

On Sheet – Just die!

o I was asked to explain all the facets of model railroad operations, to spool this out and gradually teach you how to research, string diagram and prototype your operations so you’ll have ops so successful you’ll need velvet ropes and a bouncer to keep things manageable. But you aren’t sure about ops and want to try, just you, on your little home layout? So here’s what you do. Go into the den and loot through your board games, Risk or Monopoly or whatever. Take a single six-sided die from the box. Now, on your layout, build a train with […]
June 9, 2022

On Sheet – 6/9/2022

arrell Maples asked if I’d contribute to the group. Since it’s what I do best – writing for free – how could I turn him down? It’s what I was born to do. So I’ll be contributing these On Sheet postings, short pieces about model train operations, why they are fun and how you can get involved in them (by yourself or with two dozen or more people). I’ll start my first bit with a sorta-quote (I might not be exact) from Atlas Shrugged (the book, of course). In it, a woman who runs a railroad mentions that trains are […]
May 30, 2022

OpsLog – TBL/WAZU – 5/29/2022

t all started because I wanted to introduce my friend Doc to micro layout switching and operations. I figured that he, Greg, myself and some undetermined person would give it a go. And that’s why I got to drive out to the club to drop my layout back off on Memorial Day morning, early, to clear out my wife’s car so she could use it. So what started as a quiet session for four turned into an all-day event, the Tuscarora Branch Line in the morning, the WAZU in the afternoon. And since my pal Greg went to dinner and […]
May 26, 2022

ManualLog – LM&O Freight Flow – 5/26/2022

Given our last few sessions, it’s clear the crews (on the road and in the yard) don’t understand the LM&O’s freight flow. Hopefully this will help them understand. It is your responsibility to make sure that our cargoes enter, cross, and leave our bridge route as intended. So first, a legend showing car types…               Below shows the basic routing of cars across our railroad. Blue cars (Bridge Traffic) are nothing more than cuts of cars that travel endlessly between Martin and Calypso yards. You pick these cars up at the first yard you […]