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OpsLog - LM&O - 1/25/2017 PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 26 January 2017 16:16

Some sessions are great sessions that put a smile on your face for the drive home, and have you flipping through your railroad books long into the night.

And then there was last night.

Actually, it wasn't bad. Not bad. Not too BAD. Not too much. But...

Well, yeah, apparently we found the niche Ringling Brothers has left.

We were packed, always good, lots of guests, but then again it makes running a bit tricky and our mistakes all the more embarrassing. And then everyone seemed a bit "off" (more on this in a bit). A couple of crews left turnouts open on the main. A couple of crews drove into those spurs with mainline trains, forcing sheepish backing moves. And a couple of crews complained about turnouts that threw every car on the ground (and which were set against them). So most of my effort was spent getting the clocks working, getting equipment on the rails, getting dodgy turnouts to throw, answering questions. I did get to run the Harris Glen turn up the hill, a fun job married by one of my locos blowing a chip (meaning I ran it with a single four-axle). Got everything put away and made it back to Calypso - fun run.

I was going to run 271 after this but someone called for helpers and the usual crew was out on the road. So I dialed up and lugged a freight over the hill. Was going to cut off at the summit and slip into the pocket but an eastbound coal drag called for help in Pittsburgh, so I rolled on point down the Red Rock and dropped off. Eventually they showed up (and good thing I was there - I had to drag them fully into the siding). We got over the hill fine, and yet another call, this time at Hellertown from a crew on a potentially-stalled freight that would need a boost. So over I went to them. Coupled up and sat for a bit (as usual on busy nights, the DS was new and starting to slip backwards into time - bad sign to see every callbox in use). I was enjoying the irony of the fact that the crew I was helping was the usual helper crew. I was in the midst of coming up with a sharp crack - "So, the shoe is on the other foot, eh? The helper becomes... the helped" when the guy one-upped me by suffering a medical emergency. He had to go sit down and sip water, but he looked bad. I asked if we needed an ambulance but he said no (frankly pal, you looked like death microwaved for 10 seconds). With him weakly waving me back to the cab, I left him to die in that metaphorical ditch and, with a throttle in each hand, coaxed the drag freight up and over the summit. Rode out my warrant to Red Rock and had just gotten into a siding and snagged another just-off-the-footplate crew to run the freight in to Cincinnati when our fallen member decided to even look worse (and I haven't finished getting that dead-guys plaque fixed up yet). He needed to take his engines and get home, and he really couldn't drive like that. So I'm standing there like Han Solo in the snows of Hoth when the TaunTaun dies, looking around, trying to figure what to do.

Good John, my relief crew, said, "I'll run it in." "But he's taking his engines. And what about the helpers? Who will get them back to the Glen?" Jonathan considered it. "Pull the engines off. I'll run it to Cincy on the helpers."

That was such an unconventional, outrageous plan that we went with it. While Frank (ever as friendly and smiling as the Red Jack) gathered our member's things, I found Bob the Veep in the back, looking over my Harris Dead engine. "Chips fried," he told me.

"Not as fried as that guy out there. I gotta drive him him. And you gotta drive me back." Thankfully, for all his political faults, Bob agreed without a moment's doubt (the gun pointed at his head might have helped). So off we went into the night, carrying our critically injured member home, who, in the spirit of Monty Python, "got better" as the miles rolled by.

Got back to the club at 11pm and saw one car. Came in and found Bad Jonathan sticking around for my return, running the final freight (my freight) in. This will make out automated freight forwarding for next month a lot easier, so maybe he's Not So Bad Jonathan now. While he ran off its final miles, I looked over the ladings for Martin Yard and wondered if the yardmaster had actually followed his sheets or had another system in mind (numerical sorting perhaps). That's going to be a cleanup job for myself and Bruce to tackle next week.

But, yeah, we shut things down at half-past 11pm (7am on the clock) and locked the place up.

But no matter how bad the session was, it was still good. I don't know how many trains we ran (when you aren't the DS, you can't see the big picture). But it was fun.

And we'll try to make the next one even "funner".

The helpers running off station, dragging a disabled freight (Photo: J. BradBury)


Last Updated on Thursday, 26 January 2017 17:15
ShowLog - Deland - 1/(14-15)/2017 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 15 January 2017 18:43

t's five o'clock on a Sunday, I'm sitting on the club bench on our porch waiting for the truck to arrive for unloading. I'm beat. But I'm happy.

Wotta show.

Came back to Deland for their two-day - haven't been out since last April. The club's been a little staggered, what with the passing our our treasurer. But this got the dust and frowns out.

When you think about it - our two track main had nothing short of three trains (and often up to eight) for the thirteen and a half hours we displayed. People stuffed the tip jars. People came up and talked about how we were their favorite. The show sponsor came up and said how many good things they were hearing. Even chatted with a couple who lived near Folkston and were excited (just from our three preliminary buildings and our pencil scratchings) about the recreation effort we were making.

And the trains. Double-heading Mikados. Pennsy ariticulateds. The snaking VIA train. Miles of coal and oil. At one point, we looked like Grand Central with all the passenger trains rattling past. Even had my new F units with that take-charge horn. And, of course, our LMO hoppers and Conrad Yelvington cuts. Finished the show with our own fireworks - everyone pacing the bullet train around the layout, just running like mad dogs (I discreetly slipped into a siding - speed is not an SP thing).

Made a little kid's day - we moved the gons with aluminum blocks from the interchange back to the recycling facility. He backed in so carefully and looked so proud.

So yeah, we got shit done. I'd look around and we were engaging the crowds as we always do. And when it was time to take down, bu-bye. By the time I'd gotten four clamps off from muscle-man Loiselle's twistings, half the layout was put away.

So, yeah, no better way to make money unless you are a nymphomaniac call-girl (sorry, it was the only comparison I could think of) (JW would probably approve of it). But yes, we came in and made that show. Good work, everyone!


Last Updated on Sunday, 15 January 2017 19:29
OpsLog - SD&EA - 12/18/2016 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 18 December 2016 19:02

thought my layout had been mothballed for a long time - a year. But Doc's, with his life-changes and learning to run Coast Guard cutters aground, has had the SD&EA down for a half-decade. But he started prairie-dogging the club again, paid some dues, and the next thing I knew his clinic-back-room layout was back in the rotation.

Yeah, rotation of one. Things have changed in the club.

But this is about him and his phoenix of a layout. It's still the same old layout you remember, but with the mainline stretched (through wormhole sidings and hyperspace bipasses) to Los Vegas - I still don't quiet understand how to do that efficiently. But the thing is, now the run is a lot longer, giving trains a chance to stretch out. And while the desert might be a lonely place, the part of the line between Market Street and San Ysidro is a jumping mainline. For the full two hour session we were threading trains through, every siding groaning with cars. I enjoyed the brisk pace - we were busy the entire session. Even Tom ran a couple of trains, which puts him above Bill White, who I don't think even owns a throttle.

Yes, I've run "first time" sessions and there is usually a lot of backing and confusion but the crew took that room over and ran everything through their paces - good running, guys. Nobody bowed out early and everyone did their parts. I was up and out of my dispatcher chair the entire time, calling orders through the open door, but hey, it worked. And in the end of things, I think we did a pretty good job, as did Doc. I'm glad to see this railroad up and running again.

Now, I gotta see to mine. New Years' Resolution.


Last Updated on Sunday, 18 December 2016 19:15
OpsLog - LM&O - 12/14/2016 PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 15 December 2016 10:05

agle Day – that day in 1940 when the Luftwaffe, desperate to end the ongoing areal Battle of Britain, threw everything it had at the Isle. And everything the English had, every fighter, was up. As Park replied to Churchill’s question of reserves, “There are none.”

So that was last night. Never has ops been such an impressive effort with so many trains running. Overall, we didn’t finish until after 10:30 (3:30am on the fast clock). And we ran everything. Every damn train we could run made it over Harris Glen. Six freights, four passengers, three coal drags, a cement train, and a TOFC. Additionally, there were a couple of helper moves and four locals. And through it all there were no serious failures of the system. The clock got an error shortly after the start but I cleared it on the fly. All in all, we burned through 103 warrants which is a new record.

I started the session in the dispatcher’s chair, knocking out seventy-five warrants by 1pm. My best move of the night was meeting the Silver Bullets at Harris Glen with two coal drags lugging in the wake of the eastbounder while the Harris Local standing by. Yeah, Harris was packed. The locals kept busy and out of trouble, the passengers ran about an hour behind (not bad, considering the traffic) and I was writing at a furious rate. Had a phone call come in from my cycle wingman in the middle of the heavy moment – was in mid-warrant and he was explaining why he couldn’t ride. Told him, “Understood” and hung up. Yeah, the DS office was busy.

But (and I know at least one person who is cringing at the B-word) the second half of the session had its own moments. That’s when our off-to-school-and-home-for-yule kid came back. We missed him, and it was good to see him again. But yes, while he has been scholastic and enthusiastic and dedicated and committed, he was also rusty. So I turned over the railroad to him, which was currently running like a mid-race greyhound, panting and eager to dash. Told him “This is here, this is going here, the helpers are on this train, this train has orders to expect them, and the locals are both active in their industrial parks.” Got out of the seat, coupled up a couple of woefully underpowered SD-9s on the front of heavy 271 (westbound freight), and found myself holding (next to westbound 97) for a train miles away. Uh oh.

Yes, uh oh indeed. Things went downhill from there (which always improves my stock as a dispatcher, so thanks for that). Long hold out of Bound Brook. Longer at Calypso. Got my first order voided. Finally made Harris and got three orders voided, one after the other. Found myself meeting another freight there (which is about the worst thing you can do in this little simulated worlds – because life is difficult, love is eternal, but freight trains are long and Harris Glen siding short). Watched a freight claw its way into the Glen and grind down the rails next to me. And finally they were in, with six (scale) feet to spare between the caboose handrails and the turnout fouling point. Then I was spanking down the long grade, happy to be rolling (and kidnapping the helpers, since the DS forgot to order them off). Carried them all the way down into Martin Yard where an angry yardlet got snappy with me because he wanted to shut down and go home and I was running late (like, what, you think it was my idea?). And in real life, what’s the bloody rush? You’re retired. You get to sleep in. I’ll be on a bike riding in to work in six short hours. But that’s beside the point, ya pain-in-the-butt Jarhead. And you spotted local cars on the wrong end of the yard anyway. So, piffle.

And something I’ve never seen before – a crew stuck on a siding went to beans. Literally. Well, not literal beans but the waiting (and hungry) engineer set down his throttle, went out to his car, drove over to Wendy’s, came back with his order and returned to the siding with his grub. And yes, the dispatcher didn’t even know he was gone. This translates to at least a three hour wait for paper.

And where would we be without reintroducing our old pal Doc to operations by incinerating him in a tunnel, when his intermodal train slammed into up-bound helpers (the helpers I’d carried off to Martin) in the dark. And their lapping warrants went up in the burning hell that ensued. So, yes, the perfect end to a perfect shift.

But overall, the layout ran smooth, the trains ran hot, and a lot of people had a lot of fun. Mission accomplished.


My 271 in the foreground, just fitting (photo:Matt Linder)

Last Updated on Friday, 16 December 2016 21:30

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