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Opslog - SP&K - 9/25/2011 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 25 September 2011 19:31

The Stuyvesant Poolsburgh & Kinderhook railroad had its shakedown ops today. It's a slick space-age layout with optional computer control of trains (in fact, during the session, the RDC line (small interurban transports) ran across their own line and met at the Stuyvesant Central Station). It's pretty much a passenger effort, lots of station stops, mostly double-tracked main (other than one death-defying tunnel where the line is single track). Train handling is superior to anything I've seen in N-scale.

Of course, that's not to say we didn't have problems (it was a shakedown session, after all). At first, everyone was trying to MU consists together, and evidently we'd lost all our brains. Then there were problems with becoming comfortable with turnout controls (you control them from the throttles, meaning you've got to switch between modes). Overall we looked like the Polish Air Force scrambling. Owner Steve smiled through it all and kept us running.

I was dead last out of staging and across the division but I used the time to get very comfortable with the turnout controls, dropping into sidings along the way, experimenting with it. After a while, no problems. It's very slick.

The SP&K will be a good addition to the local layout scene - can't wait til we have a working passenger schedule to time our way into and out of stations. Also, this is going to be another hot layout for the dispatcher to run - always fun.

Welcome aboard, Steve! Good job!

Last Updated on Sunday, 25 September 2011 19:51
 
OpsLog - Nebraska Division - 9/11/2011 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 11 September 2011 19:26

I start to forget how far the group has come with model railroad ops. Oh, we're not those super-prototype groups that do everything by the book (that's what November at Tehachapi will be about). But over the years, everyone has learned to work radios and throttles simultaneously, and to generate more solutions than problems. And with my dispatcher program, I can keep the railroad moving like an air-traffic controller.

So just as contrast helps to define, we had a visitor at Doc's session today, a nice gentleman from England. He'd come to the club last Wednesday and the offer had been extended. He wasn't sure if he could attend. I was delighted that he did.

As I understand operations in England, it's done with one or two people on a small "station" orientated layout. The UP Nebraska is a sprawling double garage packer, two mains, all sorts of interchanges, locals out the yoohoo. I'll generally have six trains in motion. And these are American trains, multi-unit monsters with the impressive lengths N-scale allows. So our guest got to run a train or two with a conductor, chatting with the remote dispatcher, following orders, interacting with numerous other trains. My guys took good care of him so he wasn't frustrated, abandoned, confused, neglected or cornfielded.

In the end, I nipped down the stairs during a slow spot to ask him what he thought about it.

"Brilliant!" he glowed.

Last Updated on Saturday, 08 October 2011 22:34
 
Opslog - LM&O - 8/24/2011 PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 24 August 2011 22:16

All operators know this one.

Zanesville has a main down the middle, a siding to the left and a parallel industrial track to the right. With the throttle humming in Run 1 under my glove, Train 244 trundles down the main, passing thorough the zebra shadows cast by the Zanesville local parked on the industrial iron. A flash of light off the rails, and here's 233 tucking into the siding opposite, the brakeman swinging back aboard as it rounds the switch stand. Watching the three trains line up, I hook up a phone.

"244 in on the main at Zanesville." The DS acknowledges. I hand the phone over to 233 (let's pretend he's got his own cab phone). He calls in, flashes me a knowing smile, reaches for an order pad. Sunovabitch, he's getting out of Zanesville before me. And the local is casting a sigh - no chance for him.

As 233 rumbles past, the engineer hands me the phone. "I got your trailing point turnout" I tell him and he nods thanks.

"244, you there?" asks the DS. I pick up a warrant pad, still rolling, thinking I'll have just enough time to take an order before I run off my old warrant.

"Warrant number thirty-nine to Train two forty four East at Zanesville. Checkbox two..."

On the fly. So cool...

Last Updated on Saturday, 08 October 2011 22:34
 
OpsLog - Nebraska Division - 7/31/2011 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 31 July 2011 20:14

I knew there was trouble when I came into North Platte yard limits with my second local of the day. The first cut was still sitting there, the yard was filling up and the yardmaster was ripping out tufts of hair.

Operations, like any other social organizations, can suffer breakdowns. In this case, the owner (a veterinarian) had lost a lot of setup time to clearing his train room of remodeling debris and also got called into two emergency surgeries that morning. Hence, the normal administration sorting had not taken place. The yards began confused and couldn't catch up. Add to this that the yardmaster was new at his job and didn't know the yard's functionality. And worse - there were two card systems in play, a new one and an older one, further confusing the issue.

Even though I'd run two locals up the hill (Sterling and Denver) and come back all neat and tidy, I felt the need to help out. Dropping my cut, I ran down to the east end of North Platte and started sorting out the cuts to pull the Columbus and Grand Island locals together. When I mentioned that the locals' waybills were all color-coded, the yardmaster just looked at me with survivors' eyes and said, "Nobody told me anything".

I rolled out with a local longer than most mainline trains, with four extra cars stuck in it (they should have gone west but that would have taken too long to pry them out). If anything, it unplugged the yard somewhat, but I think it's going to take manual sorting to get everything organized before the next session. Thank goodness its not a real railroad that runs 24/7 with no downtime, otherwise we'd never had a chance.

Still, bottom line was that it was fun (well, fun for me, not the North Platte yardmaster). I got to do three hours of interesting switching, dodging mainline movements while getting my job done. Before the next session. maybe we can tighten the paperwork and processes that go behind all the jobs.

After all, it's not just toy trains.

Last Updated on Sunday, 31 July 2011 20:41
 
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