At the throttle

Train Blog

October 25, 2017

OpsLog – LM&O – 10/25/2017

o I’m rolling out of Calypso Yard on the head end of 271. I didn’t bring enough power to run a westbound freight so I’ve got loaned Funits on the head end, ATSF units as round and yellow as a jar of mustard. And I’m rolling slowly, mainly because a turnout in front of me broke a while ago and I’m having to tip-toe a forty car train over it. And this is made worse by the fact that, instead of helpers, I’ve got a turn coupled on the back, pushing. My caboose crew is screaming as their frame groans, […]
October 22, 2017

ShowLog – Makers Faire (10/21-22/2017)

akers Faire is a big crazy thing down at the fairgrounds every year, a place for all the droid-hoppers, 3D-printers, steampunkers, and general kooks to show up at – it’s like a county fair for nerds (not that it’s a bad thing). And since we’ve “made” this massive layout of ours, 90 feet of distance from one end to the other, it’s only appropriate for us to display there. So we set up Friday and Saturday at 9am trains ran. And ran and ran and ran. At a minimum there were three out at any time, and occasionally you start […]
October 8, 2017

ShowLog – Deland – 10/7/2017

here is a line in HG Well’s War of the World that sticks with me – as the narrator’s brother attempts to flee London before the Martians overrun it, they find their carriage entering a flood of refugees, millions of them. And one of the women cries out, “What are you taking us into?” That’s how Deland felt. Showed up as I always do at 6:45am for setup, with donuts and trains in my car. Usually I just drop off the cruise control at the top of the ramp, swing down through the west entrance and  sweep across the empty […]
September 30, 2017

OpsLog – FEC – 9/30/2017

ust got back from playing the biggest solitaire game you can play: Model Railroad Ops! Oh yeah, there are some of you who will say it’s a huge cooperative effort, a big multiplayer game railroaders have been playing for half a century. You work together to get the trains through the division and crews will cooperate in anything from throwing turnouts for each other to offering suggestions to pushing a car the final one hundred feet to the dock (saving another crew the hassle of a runaround). And at Ken Farnham’s FEC today, there were a whole bunch of people, […]
September 27, 2017

OpsLog – LM&O – 9/27/2017

just want you to know that I’m not to blame for this,” the new dispatcher told me in the midst of the hectic shitshorm that was tonight’s ops session. And yes, it really wasn’t all his fault, not when trains are departing yards in the wrong direction, ignoring their written, copied, and confirmed warrants, and running past frantic flagmen (why do you think they’re waving that red flag at you – because they’re communists?). Toss into this mix the special rules I added – that Irma was breaking up against our eastern slopes, that every train would need helpers going […]
September 16, 2017

OpsLog – WBRR – 9/16/2017

ur club does a lot of ops. We started with Mother-May-I on our N-trak modules a quarter century ago. Since then, we’ve built an empire at our clubhouse which we’ve run every month for years and years. And back in the day we ran ops every Monday at various members’ houses in round-robin fashion. Yeah, so we’re good. We’re really good. And that’s why we get invited to go halfway across the state (that’s longways, too) to run on Al Sohl’s Western Bay. It’s a cool 1930’s narrow gauge with scenery that will make your eyes bleed, it’s that good. […]
August 25, 2017

OpsLog – LM&O – 8/23/2017

’ve gassed long and loud about all the physical improvements across the division (Calypso Yard, Martin Yard, the Zanesville alignments). I’ve also talked about our increasing membership and how new (and returned) club members are filling our ranks. What I haven’t mentioned is how everyone is expanding their roles on the pike. This session, I was really happy with seeing members pushing their abilities and learning new things. Bruce (after getting slugged down in Mingo a few months ago) rattled out of the yard with the Mingo cut again, off to slay dragons. Both Dwaine and Craig rose from the […]
August 20, 2017

OpsLog – SD&EA – 8/20/2017

his was going to be a difficult session – first off, it’s in the back of the clinic where I had my cat put to sleep less than a week ago. And second, we hadn’t run there in forever. But Doc’s been thinking about things. Fortunately his track plan is pretty much the same so there were only minor corrections to the panel program. We had an odd assortment of operators show up – some ex-club members (hey, I don’t care if you are a Nazi, as long as you run a train)(well, maybe I do). And we had some […]
August 6, 2017

ConvLog – Convention Show – 8/4-6/2016

ell, that’s done. The convention is history. I gotta say I’m totally beat, having be involved in every minute of every event over the last week. I opened the gate for Saturday club cleaning, and closed it for the module drop off. And I did everything in between. So think of this – over the last three days, twenty-four hours of it was convention center activity. For each of those hours, and the minutes and seconds contained within, two to five trains were in motion around our 30×40 layout. At one point we were up to nine. And for each […]
August 3, 2017

ConvLog – LM&O Ops – 8/4/2017

can’t speak for everyone else, but after Monday’s convention op session at the club, I wanted to do better. While it wasn’t baaaaad  (in that condescending tone) we’ve had better. I wanted our guests to see what a good session is like, when a club which operates using the more difficult N-gauge really takes advantages of longer trains and high mountains, really giving the engineer a feel of place and scale, without leaving them sitting and waiting while six people yabble on the phone. At dinner, that seemed to be the touch-n-go discussion, how we wanted to run well but, […]