Train Blog
TestLog – WAZU – 10/29/2017 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 29 October 2017 18:11

y weekend of too-many-trains continues with a test run over at Doc Andy’s clinic, running the new Wazu Lines (where Wazu comes from or what it means is anyone’s guess). The Doc has moved mountains, installing solid benchwork and a great point-to-point run with a lot of sidings along the way for meets galore. Trains ran pretty smooth (that Kato track is hard to beat for operations). But there were more turnout controls than the inside of a C-130 and without markings, we were knocking each other off our trucks, tossing and listening for the throws. Easily correctable and already underway.

I’m glad to see that a number of members came out for the test run. These things are always critical for getting a layout worked for future ops. I even sat in the outer room for a half-hour, setting up a dispatcher panel. Next time we’ll run this thing live, full go. That should be a lot of fun.

I got to run three long trains, and outside of some clearance problems, we ran pretty smoothly. Watch this space for more on this up-and-coming epic!

Oh, and nice painting, Doc. smiley


Last Updated on Sunday, 29 October 2017 18:41
OpsLog – FEC – 10/28/2017 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 29 October 2017 18:09

rains running at night are very mysterious. They boom in the moonlight, the details are lost in shadows, the signals glow like stark binaries of red and green, and beyond the headlamps all is lost in gloom. And that’s why running the Florida East Coast in the simulated darkness (lit by streetlights, building windows and pocket flashlights) is a lot of fun. And a lot of challenges, too. I ended up working the Buenaventura industrial yard (I suspect the fact that I got lost on my well-traveled way over, missing an obvious exit, and also confusing the Wendy’s order-drone might have had something to getting tossed off the DS panel), swapping out FEC hoppers at MacPhault’s. And this is tricky enough to do when you can see. Under penlights, trying to work out your paperwork, that’s a real load of eye-squinting effort. Fortunately I got all the cars in and out (though, to be truthful, I nearly left a tank car behind – caught that at the absolute last second). But it was a load of fun, which is the point of the thing, day or night.

Second train was an empty rock train (my lot in life, it seems) out of City Point. Got stuck behind one train working the team track opposite, and with other trains eagerly waiting for use of that main (and another guy needing to switch around me) I wasn’t going anywhere. Turns out that by the time the knotted traffic unraveled, I was a couple of hours late. Not like MT hoppers are perishable in any sense, but still.

Unfortunately we had some electrical difficulties with the DCC system (the same sort of thing we had at our club the other night, a full register). But we got most of the session knocked out and I got a couple of smooth runs in so I’ll take that as a win. I need to start bringing my red astronomy light in my throttle bag for future sessions – it sounds like the FEC will be running more night jobs. Gotta be ready for anything.

Maybe we’ll do Florida downpours by setting a sprinkler off in the shed. Who knows?


Last Updated on Sunday, 29 October 2017 18:15
OpsLog – LM&O - 10/25/2017 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 25 October 2017 22:29

o I’m rolling out of Calypso Yard on the head end of 271. I didn’t bring enough power to run a westbound freight so I’ve got loaned Funits on the head end, ATSF units as round and yellow as a jar of mustard. And I’m rolling slowly, mainly because a turnout in front of me broke a while ago and I’m having to tip-toe a forty car train over it. And this is made worse by the fact that, instead of helpers, I’ve got a turn coupled on the back, pushing. My caboose crew is screaming as their frame groans, I’m twelve hours late and the dispatcher is looped out on pain meds. Can it get any worse?

Can it get any more like real railroading?

So, yeah, rough session tonight. I already built up my fears; one guy at dinner. Everyone else late. Nobody at the club. Then people started showing. More people and more. Cub scouts. Visitors. Old members. And suddenly where there was famine, there is feast – too many! - and I’m tour guiding while my Weirton to Carbon Hill run idles unrun. And we’ve got a new dispatcher, and if he wasn’t on meds when he started, I’m sure he’s dropping meth now. Trains were crazy late and I was running with a kid who’d never even heard of ops (but he got really into it as I let him figure out the moves). Total chaos.

Westbound at Harris with helpers (Photo: Frank Z)

But you know, you hit a point (especially when you’re grinding up the hill with this Frankenstein monster – two trains grafted together. Sure, it’s weird, but it was also fun. I glided down that long hill from Harris Glen, just an absolute delight. And the new yard was a pleasure – Sparky was switching down one lead while I did my setouts on the other. And then the river level route, winding along those pretty hills on my way to Cincinnati. Sure, I didn’t get in until 6am the next day (eighteen hours after I started) but the running was fun.

And we’ll keep working on this massive layout to make it better.

We’ll get it right eventually.

For now, DS, hand me a couple of pills.


ShowLog - Makers Faire (10/21-22/2017) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 22 October 2017 17:33

akers Faire is a big crazy thing down at the fairgrounds every year, a place for all the droid-hoppers, 3D-printers, steampunkers, and general kooks to show up at – it’s like a county fair for nerds (not that it’s a bad thing). And since we’ve “made” this massive layout of ours, 90 feet of distance from one end to the other, it’s only appropriate for us to display there.

Half of the monster train (Photo Credit: Frank Z)So we set up Friday and Saturday at 9am trains ran. And ran and ran and ran. At a minimum there were three out at any time, and occasionally you start hitting red signals once eight or more hit the high rail. And that’s pretty impressive when you think that it’s non-stop for us, ten hours Saturday and seven Sunday. People pull into Bowden Yard to break for lunch, or go see the sights, or just collapse in a heap on a chair. But still trains roll on. Think about it. You walk from one end of the layout, ninety feet around to the other end, then walk back. All this while watching your tiny signals, making sure your train is together, answering questions and keeping little fingers (and some bloody stupid big ones) off the layout.

I noticed that running a show like this is kinda like being a real engineer – not because you are running a wee little train, but because engineers are special and different. A real engineer rolls through towns, waving at people at crossing gates, but pretty much being above and beyond mere trackside mortals as they fly along. Same thing here. I’ll be strolling along, answering questions and nodding at people’s compliments over what we’ve achieved, the scenery and the trains and the scale modeling and all.  But they aren’t club members. It’s when I’m walking and I see distant headlights and there’s a black shirt, a club member, and as we pass we nod or exchange information – someone’s bollixed the line north, or there’s a pretty mallet coming up from the south, or there’s a kid who keeps touching things. You might think we’re just running trains, but no, we’re guys who know how this layout works, how real railroads work, how model trains work. We chat amongst ourselves and suffer your questions about how much it costs and how fast they go.

Like today – I think Bob K. ran out the most miles. I’d pass him over and over on my run between little Jacksonville and soon-to-be Folkston, just passing his UP PA unit, sharing a joke and a laugh as we moved down the line, keeping the show running.

Really, if Makers Faire wants to highlight making things, they should have us build and take down the layout with an audience. People would be amazed if they knew how slick this was. Tonight we struck the layout in sixteen minutes, pretty much a casual pace for us, but people in nearby booths (struggling to take their own displays down) marveled as teams of four would go around each modules, two on the sides, two on the legs, one, two, three, up. Legs are off, module into the rack, legs on the back and on to the next. It’s really amazing to watch.

I gotta admit that while there is a bit of bitching about people running long trains, I have to say that I enjoy it. I ran a forty car freight, about ten feet long. But Bill ran out a seventy car CN grain train with a midtrain helper that snaked back nearly twenty feet. It was amazing to see that thing just go by, and keep going by, and go by some more. Wow. That shows how well our modules work – doing that on a show layout.

Anyway, it was a good show with some very interesting (and tip-generous) watchers. Who knows – maybe we’ll pick up a member or two. They’d be fools not to. This is like nothing you ever get to do, a show like this.

Good show, you black-shirt guys.


Last Updated on Sunday, 22 October 2017 17:37

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