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OpsLog – LM&O – 11/28/2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 09 December 2018 15:25

t was the Tale of Two Kiddies at the club tonight. First, we had AJ, a young guy who’d come the week before and have found the idea of ops cool. So I invited him to this week’s session and so he’d shown. Since I’d just gotten booted off the panel by Cody (right after setting up my patented 202/SB2 flyby) I picked up the Harris Glen Local. So AJ and I ran up and did the lumber and limestone shifts. I even let the kid figure his own moves (he had a great time figuring out how to do a runaround to get the engines onto the proper end). We also moved hoppers from Carbon Hill to Weirton, sweeping the docks. His last move, I let him do the warrant with the dispatcher – he got up clearance back to the mine in proper order. Good kid.

And then we had Shawn. I explained to him how the paperwork went and he bobble-headed his understanding. In the end, we were finding his cuts as far away as Calypso and twenty or more cars on the receiving track, unsorted. Yet while all pandemonium was breaking out in the yard, he still had time to play games with cabooses. So, yes, lessons learned.

Speaking of lessons learned, we were still instituting our new card system. Bruce and I were answering questions all night. And not all of them were dumb – we got a number of solid ideas from the crews. For example, it made perfect sense to simply list the first car and last car of a string, and the number of cars in that cut. Until, of course, someone grabs one too many cars and suddenly it’s not that clear at all. So something that saved us a minute of writing cost us five minutes of head-scratching.

So live and learn. Still, it was a good session with some sad disasters. Looks like the new rails at Lehigh need some more work (I’m being generous). And there are a couple of turnouts that need tinkering too. Work work work.

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OpsLog – FEC – 11/17/2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 09 December 2018 15:23

ell, if mistakes were a physical thing, we could have spread them on every slice of a loaf. And put it on thick. Goofup sandwiches for everyone.

I mean, pretty much everyone was B-listing on today’s session.

The dispatcher was cratering on the panel, just struggling to get traffic moving. And across the division, mistakes were rampant. I saw trains sitting on wrong tracks, trains dropping cars at the wrong place, paperwork going into the wrong boxes, even trains T-boning other trains.

Got in an argument with the superintendent about my train taking the wrong yard exit track. But no, I was wrong. But wait, I was actually right (and too far along to correct it). So, yes, I pulled a cut of Georgia limestone (is there such a thing) southbound rather than lugging it northbound. We just ran with it. And frankly, given the cockups going on across the lower deck, I wasn’t going to argue.

And just to show that I’m not wafting on angelic wings looking down over this apocalypse, I was caught pre-dropping box cars on industrial track where they shouldn’t be. And I backed over a couple of turnouts I’d not set correctly. And I got in the way of the Juice Train (though I was told to refer to my timetable on this, where the Juice Train is mysteriously absent). Even had one engine run away and smash into another train working on the main. So yeah, ops on the Florida East Coast was like the last reel of a Stooges movie.

Not sure what was going on in the yard. It was probably fine. Given our stagnant train throughput, they certainly should have been able to keep up.

And poor Ken – at one point he came in and I thought he looked like Father Christmas looking over a workshop of idiot, scrabbling elves.

On the plus side, after all this, with trains that never finished (even though they had four real hours to do it), with trains on the ground and even in trees, it was still a good session. And that’s the great thing about the cooperative game of model train operations. We all win. Or we all look inanely stupid. Together. A team.

Great fun!

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ShowLog – Makers Faire – 11/10-11/2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 11 November 2018 19:58

hen the scenery guy put small sections of clear plastic over some of the more delicate scenery, I thought it was excessive. After Makers Faire (a showcase for all sorts of builders, dreamers and geeks) I think six-foot sheets of bullet proof glass would have been more appropriate.

We’ve never faced a more difficult show.

First off, Friday night, we had three people building the layout (out of the half-dozen or more who’d agreed to it). Finally two more people came in and we were able to finish up, but that was a lot of work for the reduced squad.

Saturday was hell-day. We were mobbed – all day, throngs of coked-up over-stimulated brats and their oblivious, distracted step-parents treating our layout as either a Discovery Zone touch-space or a bar (people leaning both-elbowed on the layout!). And, of course, again more than half the club members committed and signed to coming didn’t. This left us with three guys running non-stop for seven hours and a couple of backups helping (including my dear wife, who came out with snacks). But yes, we were fending off the hyperactive cakerolls with boathooks.

The final day we were better staffed (still missing a few). And while the crowds were a little thinner, the damage seemed greater. We’ve got a lot of fixing to do.

I’m not sure if we’re getting anything out of this. We might have picked up another member (Mike was dealing with the guy). But otherwise, it’s a lot of effort on the shoulders of a few. And really, if I want to deal with waves of screaming children, let’s just set up the layout at the exit of some thrill ride or maybe the ball pit at Chuck-E-Cheese. And if someone’s going to suggest this for next year, that someone better be on the floor both days, beating back the fingers with a throttle. Money where your mouth is, and all that.

The only good that came out of it was the takedown. Frank marshalled the forces and we struck the layout in a clean and concerted effort. And we took our time – 20 minutes. In the end, while the racks were being rolled into the truck I passed on guy who was watching, who said to his friend, “I like watching the model railroaders take down their layout. They should do that as their show.”

Yeah, since the crowd doesn’t seem to like trains. Just fingering them and breaking things.

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The survivers - Sparky is weeping in his truck

Last Updated on Sunday, 11 November 2018 20:03
 
OpsLog – Tehachapi – 11/4/2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 05 November 2018 19:58

unny day in the high hills over Caliente. Birds are singing, the sun is high, and everything smells like creosote.

I'm backing a steam engine up the grade from Caliente to Allard where some future track work will take place. Off my pilot coupler I'm dragging a gondola filled with railroad ties and a crane car, along with a little caboose bumping along for the ride. My job was to get up in that remote location and work on the siding, unloading ties for at least an hour (a real hour).

So I worked it like a real job. Pulled off the main just past the west Allard switch, dropped a covering flag man and called the dispatcher to let him know I was on site and had an order form to get back home. He told me I needed a flagman up past Bealville to keep down trains out of my shorts. After that, I imagined how the real crew would work.

So, the first thing, I put my crew to work. Uncoupling from the gon and crane and leaving them, up the hill we chugged, all the way up to the far end of the Bealville siding to drop off my flag dude. By the time I ran back down, it was time to move the gons along to the next site. So up the hill we went. Three sites, fifteen minutes at each. Lunch (real lunch) was served while at site three; not one to equally sacrifice, I left my fictitious crew to manhandle those sun-sticky ties into position and had a burger and coke in the crew lounge, door open so I could watch for passing trains. Finally I was through with the job. With the worksite providing a flag east, I ducked out behind a Caliente-bound train and drifted downhill. Once past the west Allard switch, I backed in and picked up my flagman from that end. Back up at the site (with the engine now on the right side of the wreck train) I broke out my tooth-gnawed pencil and greasy order form, called the office and wrote (and repeated) the following:

Eng 3765 run extra Allard to Kern Jct and has right over second 804 Allard to Bena and wait at Caliente until 1:50pm.

Yessir, the end of a perfect day.

Because I was driving a train, not tossing railroad ties.

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