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OpsLog – LM&O – 5/23/2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 23 May 2018 22:38

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 radio throttles seemingly not working. Rolling stock hitting the floor. Even I bungled an order. Some sessions are like that.

I remember pausing to meet another freight at Red Rock passing track. We pulled next to each other, as pretty as you please. And while we were sitting there, Jeff ran through the Mt Jackson Tunnel, curling under us, his engines passing under us (on one end) while his caboose passed under us (at the other end). I just stood there and exclaimed how amazing that was – the scene, the trains, the operations – it all came together for that moment. The club is like that.

And regardless of the crazy hijinks on the main (mechanical and mental), we had some rising stars increase our overall skill level. Bruce and Chris both took locals and handled them well for a first go-round, which is good to see. Cody did really well on the panel (even with the haunted ghost train prowling his rails, as lost as the Flying Dutchman). And most amazingly, Shaun did really well in the yard. Crazy to be bumping and pushing through adults in a packed ops session, only to come around the corner into the yard and see a young kid running things (and ordering people four and five times his age around), clipboard in one hand, throttle in the other. I’ve hope for the future, having seen that.

So, yes, there are some things to fix and some things to look into. But we ran great (what with all the crashing and burning). Great session, guys. Thanks for coming out!

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Last Updated on Thursday, 24 May 2018 21:04
 
OpsLog - FEC - 5/19/2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 19 May 2018 19:12

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 F-up.

Terrible, terrible.

But really, there were other accidents on the FEC today that were not as bad but impacted the session more. Like a local that, given a green light, backed out of Palm Bay, through a red signal and a locked turnout, derailing itself and causing its slow passage to even become slower (perhaps the detectors that triggered down the line were because of the damage taken in the prior derailment?). And there were crews that advanced through reds. And crews that apparently went into Cocoa Yard, went for beans, went on the law, and possibly vacation (how long can it take to pick up a car?). I even watched a train roll through a red and couple onto the back (‘couple’ being a euphemism for ‘rear end collision’) of another train. No cups got filled there.

If only the superintendent hadn’t been at the throttle of my train. I might have gotten away with it. Anyone else, I could have convinced them they’d run a signal or not followed procedure. Oh well.

Life lessons in model railroading.

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Last Updated on Saturday, 19 May 2018 19:15
 
OpsLog – FEC – 4/28/2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 28 April 2018 19:51

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, the engines running up and down the length of the oversized cut as if trying to determine what to do with it. All the brakemen were out throwing mainline switches (your references list these as fairly new interlockings, so why are they overriding?). As the lead units roll past, you hear the increasingly shrill dispatcher yammering on the cab radio, the engineer shaking his head. Finally the entire overlong cut is pushed back into Titusville, the main and siding now clear. And well down the tracks to the south, you see shimmering headlights. You get your polaroid camera ready for a shot.

It roars in, the brakes squealing as the train (a general freight number-boarded 208) eases to a stop at the Garden Street crossover. Now why would…?

The opposing train, rumbling up behind you, catches you by surprise. It’s down the siding before you know it; you catch 311 on the boards, more freight. Brakes squealing, it rounds the long curve out of town and grinds to a stop, the caboose juuuust clear of the crossover. And from behind it, you see exhaust rising. Clearly, another train is holding just outside of town behind 208. What’s going on?

The twin turnouts in front of you throw over with a heavy clunk and 208 begins to slowly ease into the siding behind 311, shaving it so close the caboose grab irons are nearly carried off. You snap shot after shot as the heavy freight cars sway their way onto the siding. As it clears, the points come over with a second resounding crash and suddenly 208 is backing up until the cabooses actually couple. It seems that Titusville siding is packed today, perfect for dozens of pictures (you don’t have time to peel the photo paper off the shots you’ve taken).

With a mad ringing of bells and a series of sharp honks for the benefit of the well-blocked grade crossings, a third train hurtles past, glimpsed in the space between freight cars, gathering speed for its run to Jacksonville – bright orange Tropicana cars. 202, a reefer block.

Shortly after this, 311 is on its way. 208 finally gets a yellow board to proceed out of town in the wake of fast-moving 202. And you are left on the side of the tracks, peeling paper off your photos and applying the fixing agent to them. Action shots! These ones are keepers. You are still at it when lowly 360 rumbles south to continue its work down the line…

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And, full disclosure, while Bruce had his hands full with the Titusville Turn, he did save me from running over a cyclist on the way over today so there is that.

 
OpsLog – LM&O – 4/25/2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 25 April 2018 22:34

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 (where I lost track of the Mingo Jct Turn and caused a lap order (i.e a fiery cornfield meet (i.e. popcorn))) to occur, something which shames me. But otherwise, the survivors reported good times across the railroad. I know Silver Bullet 2 ran ahead of schedule (much to the dismay of the people left on the platforms) and Silver Bullet 1, even with a late start, managed to climb back on time.

Even more interesting, we had young Shawn running the yard (yeah, how many clubs have a pre-teen running a major classification facility?). He seemed to do well but time will tell (as will my friend sheets when I review them to set up for the May session).

But overall, a lot of fun and train running late into the evening. I’m still sitting here smiling (even with the smell of popcorn haunting me).

Great session, guys!

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