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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
OpsLog - LM&O - 5/25/2016 PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 25 May 2016 21:55

ight night at the club - it's like that sometime. But the crew runs sharp - we're cleaned up, set up and away when the clock goes hot.

Matthew made it on time so I gave him the panel - he's off to College soon. This let me out to run the Shelfton Turn - interesting note about Shelfton; it's the oldest section on the layout. It's been in operation 25 years. And I've never run it. Nope, not once. So tonight I did. Worked it smooth - I don't know if the usual crews do my trick - I ran down with everything, ran around the cut on the passing siding and shoved them all into the tail track that runs under the passenger station. More than once, people stopped to watch and asked if I could really do that. The general opinion with that this track only held a couple of cars. Nope, I pushed at least ten in. If you are working an industrial area with tight tracks, then you want to take advantage of a long slice of empty tail.

Did all my work by noon, so it was pretty easy (especially since I wasn't digging my way into Federal Cold Storage). This gave me enough time to hop onto my second train, 271, and roll out of Bound Brook with it.

Didn't get to far - my Geeps were flaking out on me by the time I got into Calyspo. Thankfully Yardmaster Frank loaned me a couple of sound-equipped CSX monsters - rumm rumm! Swapped out in Calypso, tacked on helpers, and had a beautiful run up and over the summit, just one of those model railroad smile moments.

I was thinking how this might be Matthew's last time on the panel. He's been with us for years; came in as a young kid who wanted to learn dispatching. Of the three dispatchers, he was the butt monkey, getting kidded (and blogged) about his cornfields and laps. Just flip back through the LM&O reports and you'll see many examples. But he's grown on the job. Tonight, no headlights, no deaths. Everything was running hot and on the dot. Picked up a warrant out of Red Rock and smiled when he cleared me all the way to Cincinnati - smart move. Most dispatchers don't think it through and figure they gotta give you a warrant to the yard and another past it. But Matthew cut it correct - he could clear me to Cincy on track one and it would be my responsibility to stop in Martin Yard for setouts.

And before I could get impressed by this, I heard him cutting his last warrant of the night to the Harris Turn. And here, he pulled a sharp trick - he wrote the warrant using the Work between Calypso and Harris Glen. This gave the local total operating authority across the line between the yard and industrial area. It was a slick move that saved paperwork.

Which means he's fully fledged.

And now we're losing him, goddammit.

Good job, Matthew. And good luck on your future endeavors.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 May 2016 22:17

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