Train Blog
OpsLog – LM&O - 3/28/2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 28 March 2018 22:43

s the forward trucks of 247 West rattled over the points of Bound Brook throat, I figured this was shaping up to be a strange run. I’d only just scrambled aboard ten minutes before – she was already four hours late (her original crew had been pulled for a coal run earlier). And strangely, 271 (not due out for two more hours) was running ahead. They were already nosing into Calypso Yard some distance ahead of me – heard it over the horn. The problem was, all our pickups were on a shared yard track, meaning they’d have to dig their cuts from behind my cuts, both there and Martin.

Was wondering how this would resolve as I pushed into the upper runs and gassed 247 through the beautiful spring midday, sending ballast over the side of the Lackawanna bridge to bounce off the roofs of the new housing below. Easing into Calypso, I was happy to see 271 was doing setup switching. They’d just gotten their own cut out and set mine aside. Even better, the crew was willing to let me run ahead. And even betterer, they’d work up my warrant while I cut in these pickups and run the air up. As we rolled past his cab, Sarge handed the paperwork across. Now built, I cracked the throttle to run 2 and took her out on the high rail, getting a short run over to Hellertown. After meeting 244 there, we had an uneventful run over the summit (well, uneventful other than relying on magic helpers to cross the top).

Martin Yard was a busy place. We came in and followed Yardmaster Frank’s instruction (does he ever use his own units?), pushing and fetching and backing. Just as we built our train up, 271 eased in next to us. It as actually pretty cool. With that, I cracked into run 3 and angled across the shiny new turnouts to departure track 1, watching the river flow past and noticing a yard flunky chasing my caboose furiously waving a red flag. Dumping air, we stopped. Turns out there was a local coming in on our departure track. Frank was reading the riot act to the dispatcher but finally I got a way to worm out of there. Worked up to Mingo Junction where the following occurred.

Took the main (as order) to meet a train (as ordered). Actually met two train, train 298 and train-X, a “special train” (three units just test running without dispatcher authority). Train-X held the siding and remained after 298 cleared. My new warrant said I was waiting for the Zanesville Local to arrive before running to Cincinnati. The Zanesville Local showed me his paper (technically a small operations cheat) and he was waiting for 271 (who was currently going into emergency after the nasty shock of emerging from Jackson Tunnel to find my caboose occupying the main.

So, see the problem? I was waiting on the train in front of me to come, but he couldn’t until he met the train behind me, who was blocked.

There comes that moment in operations when the dispatcher comes out of his room to fume and fluster at all us idiotic crews for following his orders. That was one of those moments.

We worked it out, of course. Train-X backed down into Mingo Industrial, freeing 271 to go around me and unlock the local, which unlocked me. I followed 271 (musing on how I’d passed him, only to be passed in return) and ease in beside him in Cincinnati. Came out of staging to return some engines, to see a crazy long train (lead units – 298 – midtrain units – 414 (coal drag) and helpers behind working their way over Harris Glen.

Yeah, one of those nights. But fun.

Final thoughts: I’m sure Bad Johnathan is pissed that he ran a solid session and dicked up the final meet in the eleventh hour. That’s railroading. But he did yeoman’s work through the balance of the session. So the club now has another trained dispatcher (meaning I can run even more). Good job!


OpsLog - LM&O - 2/28/2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 28 February 2018 23:21

razy night at the club. Not only were we a bit short-handed but we had VIPs, namely the superintendents for the FEC of who I’ve blogged about on this very train blog, Ken and Bev Farnham.

Figured it would be a good session – Cody on the panel (a firm hand) and Frank in the yard (rock solid). I rolled the Zanesville Turn out (or tried to – the DS pushed a long-range warrant against me so I idled in the yard for a bit). But once I hit the rails, everything was fine.

The switching was orderly but I was running twin four-axle units. Problem here was that we’ve been rotating turnouts out and haven’t gotten all the frogs powered so lots of stalling, lots and lots of it, second helping please, Mr. Scrooge. And of course, there are the visitors running with us and we’re coming off the rails or baulking or fussing. But Ken with the perfect guest – when he saw what we were going through, he just smiled. “It’s how it goes with Visitors”. Yeah, really.

Still, the moves were fun to get Zanesville sorted. Made a run back nice and smooth (other that a long hold while the Mingo turn picked through gons at Weirton). Then got to run 298, the last freight east. Had to tack on Sparkly Power (i.e. CPs) to get over the hill – the two geeps weren’t going to cut drag freight.

But long view – it was a fun session. We just need to keep working on those horrible turnouts.


Bob and Ken go for the run-around record while every train looks on


Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 February 2018 23:29
OpsLog – FEC – 2/24/2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 24 February 2018 19:30

t was a bit of a struggle getting over to Ken’s Florida East Coast– we fought through a pointless battle on the Beachline (five miles of bumper2bumper and no cause for it) (there, Bruce, I mentioned that). And Ken’s was understaffed – five people dropped the night before leaving him a little short. I posted the club list – last moment stuff – didn’t get any takers.

So, with Bev on the yard (one person doing the job for three), Ken on the panel, the shed  held only Me, Bruce, Andy, Monty and John. But we were the gold crew. Ken reduced his schedule and we just ran stuff pretty much back to back.

In a way, sometimes a short staff session is a better session. I took 915 out of the yard – the run to Buenaventura. Had a lot of switching to do, working around the packing sheds, spotting out at the ballast yards and over to the truss-maker (roof, not medical). Not a train went by, meaning I had more elbow room to work than normal.

Later I took a mainline train through the division. I thought it would be easy but when I got to Cocoa, I found myself wading through paperwork to make sure I only filled out my consist with MTs going my way. Happily I found a cut of six, perfect. Pulled the string, dropped a gon and was out the throat in ten minutes.

It was such a relaxing day that we all stood around afterwards in the glorious out-a-doors, just chatting about the session. And it was so easy we got on the road a little earlier (a gain Bruce squandered fussing outside the car with his sunglasses - cheeky (There, Bruce, I did find a negative comment for the session)).


Last Updated on Saturday, 24 February 2018 19:33
OpsLog – LM&O – 1/24/2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 24 January 2018 23:34

o now I know what having a stroke is like.

Usual session. Everyone came. We cleaned. Trains went on the rails. People signed up. In the back office I booted my computer and readied the fast clock. Odd, it booted up at 15:1. Normally the club runs at 10:1. That was a problem a few years back but I easily corrected it. And then it was hot, and then we were running.

Just like a chess game. 202 went into the siding at Zanesville as it had for at least a hundred times. Silver Bullet 2 stormed by on the main. Behind the pair, coal drag 414 rolled out. We managed to get Harris Glen Local up the hill to do its work before things topside got hot. When you’ve dispatched as much as I have, you can run this pike by rote. No sweat.

About ten minutes into the session I got a line error on the clock. No problem – I fiddled with it and got it back. Since I was in the middle of writing warrants, I didn’t give it a second thought.  We had a lot of extras out so my hands were occupied, kicking warrants out briskly.

I can’t think about to where it all went wrong. I could sense things building around Harris Glen. But this time it was worse than normal. The 6am freights were out. The Silver Bullets were heading towards their summit meet. But now suddenly it’s climbing towards noon. I’ve got even more trains out. And before I knew it there were too many trains on the mountain; three eastbounds, an unprecedented five westbounds, and at the summit two helper sets and a local wanting down. And this doesn’t include the rest of the railroad where everything was buzzing about.

Seriously, I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I’ve never had so many crews waiting on sidings. I wanted to sob how it wasn’t fair. I couldn’t think back and see any point I’d goofed up. Everything had been by the book.

And now I could hear the crews laughing at my discomfort. Humiliating! I did everything I could to move trains, fleeting them across the summit in fast parades (which is mathematically more efficient than exchanging directions on each one). That helped but even as I cleared that set, more took their places. This was hell, a literal hell where a skill you had is suddenly lost. I couldn’t do this anymore.

And finally it was over. Four freights rolled off the railroad. A local was still out and the helpers finally rolled down to refuel in their houses. I just leaned back in my chair and gasped. I felt like I’d been hit in the head with a brick.

And in the real world, it was 9:40pm.

That made me blink. Normally we run a 2.5 hour session and finish about 10:20pm or so. But this was early, way early. Frowning, I checked the clock.


Well, bugger me! When we got that line error in the early part of the session the clock seemed to have shifted back to the faster setting. This meant that trains were entering the railroad at a higher rate. And with all the extras we were running we were now at capacity and beyond. Even the people who’d waited twelve hours for a warrant realized that it was sure a quick twelve hours.

What a nightmare it was. I’m sitting here writing this, just beat.

I guess if you are going to count chickens before they hatch, don’t count rapid-fast. Shit.



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