Train Blog
OpsLog - FEC - 6/25/2016 PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 25 June 2016 18:28

nother big day over at the FEC. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, and in retrospect, I got some pretty sweet jobs - just easy run throughs with a minimum of switching. And that's fine - sometimes I like the air-traffic-control nature of dispatching, sometimes I like the stress-puzzle of industrial switching, but sometimes I just want to run trains, blow the whistle correctly at crossings, ring the bell while passing stations and yards, just doing everything by the book.

Funny, but my buddy Bob got all the jobs I had last time, the tough limestone trick, the devilish Titusville tangle (I won't say how he solved this one, but it was unconventional). But yes, while everyone else was fussing in and out of sidings, I was just rolling along at track speeds, two longs, a short and a long at the crossbucks, just moving freight with an occasional easy trailing point setout. Nice.

I even called down Thor and this thunder on Bob while he worked Eau Gallie - lighting and all those effects while he was trying to switch. Yeah, I was such a 'hole. But it was fun.

So a good session even with spotty signals (real-world lighting might have damaged them). And the new defect detector never fired off (and we had a lot of defective people running through it). And there was also a report leaked by inside sources and broken by this blog that two trains cornfielded in Bowden yard. The home office hushed it up, but yes, we did get a whisper of that. Hard to hide two mangled multi-ton locos but that's precisely what management did. Remember, you heard it here first!

Thanks again, Ken and Bev, for hosting!


Last Updated on Saturday, 25 June 2016 19:02
OpsLog - LM&O - 6/22/2016 PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 22 June 2016 22:11

ummertime, and the ops are uneasy...

Yeah, summers - we always have a dip in attendees. Our roster drops off. Worse, some of our good operators are off to college soon, so we're screwed in the near future.

It was pretty light tonight - had all the opening train warrant moves figured. Then I got one of the weirder calls from the Mingo Turn, just out of Martin Yard, crossing over to track two to work the quarry.

"Snakes on your train?" I had to ask, not sure what I heard from him.

"No, snakes in my house. Wife called. I'll back this into the yard and I gotta go."

Like, WTF?

So this caused a ripple. I needed the local to run, so suddenly crews were shifting down, trying to get the lower-order trains out. In fact, with all the shuffling, it was easy to miss the slick three-trains-by-at-Harris move.

With the usual peeter-outs, by the end of the session we were making drastic moves to get all trains run. Even the yardmaster and myself, the dispatcher, ran a train. Some people we jumping from cab to cab, scrabbling trains back out. In the end, I have to thank Mike, Frank, Matthew, John and Jonathan for really pushing the Johnson Bars. We got the entire roster run with a very smooth session. Thanks, guys! This makes restaging a lot easier when all the planed moves actually take place.

Okay, and now, a call to repair. We've got to get some of the worst sections of the layout relayed. And that starts next week!


Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 June 2016 22:23
OpsLog - WBRR - 6/11/2016 PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 11 June 2016 20:32

ooks and movies never work well if nothing goes wrong. The excitement comes from complications and deviations from the plan. Like in the  movie Alien. Would you really want to watch it if, after the facehugger thing got that guy, they locked him down in proper medical observation, saw the seed, removed it, squashed it? Then you'd have ninety minutes of them getting themselves ready for cold sleep, just SOP, nothing more.

Well, in model railroad operations, running the timetable is the goal.

Immediately after our last session in March, Al, Phil and myself took Al's original written instructions for each train (detailing who a train was supposed to meet, and where) and condensed it down to a very nifty timetable. Before the session I helped give a five minute clinic on how to read it correctly, what it all meant. Engineers were nodding, getting it. Yes, and that's fine, but it's when you're in the siding at Delores, trying to see who you have to meet with people pushing against you, a simulated church bell ringing, and trains tooting all 'round - that's when the rubber hits the road. Or, conversely, when you are in the dispatcher's office, trying to keep everything moving.

Which is where I was at.

And that's where my greater familiarization with the railroad, its crew, its operations, and the new timetable helped out. Yes, we did find some typos but overall it worked. I kept the clever moves out of the session, focusing on running trains to their scheduled meets. For a while, it was overwhelming. And then when #35 was plugging Navajo, Express #1 ten minutes behind him, and two opposing freights clogging Division 1, I thought everything was coming apart. But the crews picked up their calls. They backed out the east side of their towns, and rerolled back into the sidings, clearing the main. #35 cleared the Ute cutoff, #1 spooled up its delays with clearance directly through to Denver, and suddenly we were unplugged and back on the beam.

Even had a cool moment where I gave #122 working Navajo an order to "use all tracks, but clear into the siding at 2:00pm". Why this was cool was because #2 (running west really late) was firing white and trying to get back on his time. He was scheduled to pass through Navajo at that time. Heard him go by, leaned sideways and poked my head through the DS office curtains, and there was #122 sitting clear with #2 coasting to a stop at the platform. And that, if you don't know any better, was cooler than cool.

So outside of moving two meets east to accommodate the overdue #1, everything rolled though on the dot.

Dull reading.

Exciting railroading.


Last Updated on Saturday, 11 June 2016 20:58
OpsLog - FEC - 5/28/2016 PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 28 May 2016 20:52

ust another day on the railroad. Ran the 940 rock run under great difficulty - a car on the team track, my trick siding packed to full, and a boxcar coming in and out. Yeah, it was a stumblefest. I wasn't sure if I'd ever get it worked. But the weather held off and soon I was ready to highball out - I just had to let about three trains, a railcar, and two trudging hobos get past before the DS would let me out. So that's why I was an hour late.

That's usually the most tricky turn on the pike so I thought it would be all downhill after that (and in flat-Florida, that's saying a lot). But then I took the next train, 930, Cocoa to Titusville and back. How hard could it be?

So there I am under the hot tropical sun, my diesel idling, the heat shimmering off the ballast, the switchmen standing here and there near fry-an-egg-offa switch stands, everyone waiting for me to figure out what to do. Titusville "Yard" is a bit of an overstatement - an off-the-main industrial area with a short run-around track, maybe good for three short cars. And I'm on the wrong side of four; two long fifty footers, my outbound covered hopper and my caboose. I actually shut off my warning bell and stood there, looking up and down the yard as the clock ticked away, thinking this is bloody impossible!

Usually I can plot out a couple of moves ahead. I can see what I'll have to move where to get the train untangled. But this time I didn't see it. Just no way, outside of the humiliation of calling the DS and using the main and Market Street crossover for a very inefficient (and defeatist) run-around move. So I was moving cars this way and that, trying to get around all this mess.

The speaker: "930".

930 (me): "..."

The engineers in the room: "Hey, 930, the dispatcher is calling you.!"

930 (still moving cars about, trying to untangle this mess while fumbling up the phone) ", yeah, 930 here."

Dispatcher: "How soon before you can get out of town?"

930: (lying through my teeth): "Oh, maybe twenty, thirty minutes."

Dispatcher: (Tells me about traffic stacking up, dire predictions, hinted threats, but I'm not really listening)

So I hung up the phone and moved a final car at random.


And there it was. Without seeing how I did it or how it worked (I still can't figure it, given the track arrangement (and no, I did not pick cars up and move them around)) everything was suddenly in its place. I was sorted. I was ready. I could get outta town.

I called the dispatcher.


(well, actually, I got to wait ten minutes for another train to go by. But I did get to leave).

I still don't know how that worked.


Last Updated on Saturday, 28 May 2016 21:17

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