Train Blog
OpsLog - Chicago Union Pacific - 2/21/2011 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 21 February 2011 22:06

Tonight's session found me running Chicago's primary yard, a busy place that forwards loads to Proviso, North Platte, the coal fields and, eventually, Cheyenne.

Yard working isn't my big cup of tea. I can do it, I'm okay at it, but there is always that busy-and-now-interrupted feeling as trains barge in while I'm in the middle of shuffling a cut.

Worse, I wasn't on my game tonight. Twice I broke trains down and sorted cars onto receiving tracks, popping their identifying paperwork into the matching slots, only to find out I'd screwed up along the way. There is no gut-clench moment like looking at track four, seeing a green Tropicana reefer, yet the paperwork in the slot is for a UP flat car. Add to this a freight calling on the inbound and you've got a sweat-beading moment. And I did it twice!

I was really only saved by the fact that both my yard and Cheyenne were pumping out locals that locked up the main and slowed the traffic, otherwise I would have been snowed under.

I'm still not sure how I mangled it so badly.

Still, the layout purred tonight. Always nice to be part of a good sessions (even with my screw ups - I guess I make graceful recoveries).

Last Updated on Monday, 21 February 2011 22:16
Live or Memorex PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 19 February 2011 00:00

How serious should modelers get with following their prototype?

My first layout, Donner Pass, was correct in that it had pines and a mountain, and the names of the towns matched. I ran SP equipment (from all eras) and really didn't worry about it.

But it started bugging me. The more I learned the railroad's history in that area, the more it chafed. I considered a change. Then, on a stop during a cross-nation train trip at the small Californian town of San Luis Obispo, I got out to walk the platform. And here I was hit with a sense of having been to this spot before. Eerie. That is, until I got home and realized much of the SP promotional photography I'd been looking at had been taken in this tiny, tidy railtown. We ended up visiting again - I got a million pictures, and I also read (and reread (and rereread)) John Signor's books on the Coast Route.

And then I knew.

That would be my place. And the early 1950s would be my time.

The station is to the lower right

Oh, I can't make it perfectly correct, not without a room 4,950 feet long to cover the distance from Watsonville to San Luis Obispo. In my small space, I have numerous compromises. The slope from Serrano to SLO is actually reversed. The towns are smaller. My turns are tighter.

But we run all the scheduled trains (and extras like PFE movements and beet hauls). And I've got recognizable places such as the SLO station complex, the Stenner Creek trestle, the horseshoe just beyond (complete with a horse who'd lived in the loop at that time), the Salinas packing sheds, and so on. Little touches here and there.

But that is all it takes. Had a visitor from "out west" come run with us once. How gratifying for him to stand in the doorway and say, "Oh yeah. You got it. Dead on."


Last Updated on Thursday, 17 March 2011 17:41
OpsLog - Pricthard & Charlotte - 2/15/2011 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 15 February 2011 23:23

Nice to see the Pritchard & Charlotte up and running.

Our club mentored this club in the basic of ops, a very easy-going format. No waybills, just a list of trains and an agreed-upon route (their twice around becomes a double-loop mainline). Ran them under warrants for a few months. Now they took over and are setting up their own sessions.

A relief, just come in and run.

Got to take 111 west out of Charlotte, way underpowered with a single GP38 on the front. It didn't help matters that I pulled into Division Yard and sucked up another dozen. Kept up my speed to maintain way but eventually bogged down in the middle of nowhere. Shut the unit down and waited for Larry to come up in a handy set of Dash9s. With all that power, there was no hill too steep for us. Into Pritchard in good time.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 February 2011 23:33
OpsLog - Saluda Grade - 2/14/2011 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 14 February 2011 22:47

Today I had to fix everyone's little work problems, putting out fires, taking three hours of process training, and researching another ill-conceived tool.

But tonight I worked the Marion local, pushing the cars into Dunn's and Tricky Dick's paints. The cars bang and clatter as they go together - just fine - because when I pull them out, they uncouple right at their docks, a satisfying trick. And now I'm done. I swing across the main, pick up my outbounds off the CSX interchange and roll out of town. I've even got two cars for Florida Chair at Old Fort behind the caboose, an easy drop. Ten fast minutes later I'm sweeping through the loop below Coleman, grinding towards Black Mountain. Once in Asheville, I dump the cut on track two then teleport over Spartanburg to run the chip train up Saluda Grade. But I've got to step lively; I've got to get the front section to the summit before 720 comes through. Natch!

Guess which effort was more satisfying.

Last Updated on Monday, 14 February 2011 23:01

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