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Opslog - Longwood & Sweetwater - 5/9/2011 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 09 May 2011 22:02

It's feast or famine with ops attendance sometimes. This weekend's session, we had a number of no-shows. Tonight the L&S looked like a popular nightclub - the room was packed, close, and very hot. Trains were going out with two-man crews (or husband-and-Kimmy crews) to get their work done.

Snatching up a final car on the way to the barn.I crossed my name off the engineer's list, picking instead to run over to Hunt Club with Engineer Steve. He was an old hand at ops, so mostly my job was keeping the paperwork straight and lining turnouts from a distant panel. Easy enough. We clattered home with plenty of time.

But its nice as the session winds down, after a lot of folks have gone home (I like my many friends, but they do clog an aisle). Took out the second Hunt Club turn (with, suspiciously, cars that looked exactly like the ones we'd brought back on the earlier run). Had to hold on a siding to let a couple of trains get into the yard. Finally I could work Hunt Club, just an easy out-of-the-way job. The steam engine I had had a good sound system, so I could tap the whistle signals crisply. Sorted everything out, ran around the train, and picked up a final car on the way out of town. Easy job. It's nice when they are aren't... epic.

Last Updated on Monday, 09 May 2011 22:17
OpsLog - Southeast Virginia Division - 5/7/2011 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 07 May 2011 20:06

Imagine two railroads, competitors forced by narrow river valley geography to wiggle together like snakes in a drain pipe. That gets you in the spirit for John Wilkes' Southeast Virginia Division, a joint operation of the L&N and Southern Railroads.

Its really neat to dispatch - the two lines cross and recross each other, actually sharing a long section of right-of-way. When two dispatchers work it, they have to clear such moves back and forth, keeping the traffic rolling but not into each other. Today we were short (pregnancies and diarrhea cut back our staff). I ran both desks. Great fun.

There is one section around Goodbee (in the joint trackage) where two shorter sidings form a lag siding, where if you route it right, you actually can have one long passing siding. I remember three decades back where my dad told me about them, wishing that he could site on on his own railroad. Space, of course, kept that from being used. But now I had one right on the panel in front of me. And John, as he passed through the room, half-implied it would be a shame to lose such capacity. If one looked past the fact that it was on prime rails, the shared section that everyone used, it was really low-hanging fruit.

Midway through the session two opposing L&N freights vectored in on one another. I could have passed them anywhere on L&N iron just to play it safe, but that would be inefficient - someone would have to wait. No, Goodbee was dead between them. I angled them in with carefully-constructed warrants to make sure both crews knew which sidings were being used. Wished I could have seen it actually go down, the yellow-nosed diesels edging past one another in the narrow river valley, the turnouts clattering as they threaded past. But I was in the office, reading the next set of warrants to their crews, keeping them moving, getting them on to Tifton and Norton. So cool. I think Dad would have loved to watch it.

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 May 2011 20:26
Signal Maintainer 2 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 01 May 2011 09:56

Why do I do this to myself?

I've built two small layouts and worked on our club layout for years. I've wired and rewired as parts failed and needed replacing.

There were all sorts of problems in my last ops session - four failing Radio Shack toggles as detailed HERE. The first two (in Salinas) I replaced quickly. The next two in King City... I put off. For months. Every night I was too tired, something came up, whatever. For the last two weekends I've been meaning to do it. Never got to it. So finally, like Black Bart of Blazing Saddles, I drew a gun on myself and forced myself to do it.

This morning I woke up, realized that the first thing I had to do after my shower was work on this, and groaned.

It took about 45 minutes. It was easy. I just listened to Prairie Home Companion and it was no trouble at all.

I worry so much about everything.

Fixed now.

Time to start worrying about the next session.


Last Updated on Sunday, 01 May 2011 10:28
OpsLog - LM&O - 4/27/2011 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 27 April 2011 21:48

The problem with operations on a huge model railroad is, well, operations on a huge model railroad.

It takes 15 people to run this thing. We might be able to double a couple of jobs but it takes some juggling. So I was already feeling like we might be understaffed when my dispatcher called in sick. Then another guy canceled. Got to dinner tonight and there were only three other guys at the table (some ops night there are a dozen). I was figuring we might manage a reduced session, or mother-may-I, or just sit around and yack.

So the four of us walk into the club and look over this huge room-filling layout.

"Okay, so?" someone said.

"So," I answered, "we clean."

So we started, just because. Came out from doing staging and a couple more guys came in. Working around a curve and there was another guy. A couple of old members I hadn't expected. A drift by the sign-up sheet showed the jobs filling up fast. Heartened, I went back to the office and fired up my dispatching software, put on the headsets and brought the fast-clock up. Checked the phones. Check. Check. Everything in order.

"Are we ready to go?" I phoned.

"We're waiting on you."

"Clock is hot."

And the thing is, with guys who have been operating for years, with a fun train-control system, with a clean layout, with everyone on the ball and happy to be there, it was a delight. The passenger trains hummed across the division on time. The coal train ran down to Calypso and turned for the run back. The yard was sharp as a tack. Crews finished one job and jumped on the next. At the end, we all just looked at each other, smiling like dopes.

Great session. Thanks, guys.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 April 2011 22:08

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