Train Blog
OpsLog - FEC - 7/30/2016 PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 30 July 2016 20:45

itting in Palm Bay on a hot Florida day, up in the cab of 208 (a through freight with a sprinkling of setouts), looking at a red board.

Not going anywhere.

Turns out a train up the line in Melbourne has tripped the new automatic detector, identifying something dragging, hanging, or on fire. So his conductor is out walking the train. And for the thirty minutes that takes, we're waiting for the line to clear.

Finally, finally, finally I see blue boxy engines pushing through the heat simmer, running south towards me. I nod to the crew of the delayed train as it goes by. And then more waiting as a second delayed southbound comes through, running the yellows on the tail of the defect-thrower. Finally the line is clear. I notch up and start rolling, 45 minutes in the hole but making up time. A quick stop to pick up a reefer at Melbourne. Then I'm around the long curve, horning across the grade crossing and cutting under the detectors, heading for Eau Gallie and further, to the siding I'll drop some ballast cars on, to the red light ahead...

Wait, what?

I knock the throttle back to neutral and apply heavy brakes, bringing my train to a stop before the red board. A call to the dispatcher.

"You're dragging something. The detector picked it up."

"Oh, you gotta be kidding."

But he isn't. I start filling out the new paperwork with the train phone under my chin, telling Smitty in the caboose to get out in the superheated air and walk the train, looking for something hanging off. About thirty minutes later, he calls back.

"Looks like on of the timbers on the flat shook loose from its banding. We tucked it back aboard. Ready to go."

I call the DS back. I'm not happy that the new device actually found something wrong. Now I'm really running late and all down the line, I can hear trains north of Cocoa Yard bitching, wondering where I'm at.

And I still have work along the way to perform. And all because of that board shook loose. What a way to run a railroad.


p.s Ol' Bob, my buddy, managed to run a red signal, forgot to drop off one car, and nearly left half a train-length behind at Cocoa yard.

p.s.s. I did leave a turnout open by accident. And I did eat a donut. Somehow he thinks these are equivalent.

Last Updated on Saturday, 30 July 2016 21:02
OpsLog - LM&O - 7/27/2016 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 27 July 2016 22:30

as shaping up to be a good night. Came in and the lot was filling in front of the clubhouse. Everyone cleaned. We had all sorts of improvements ready to try. A bunch of new people upshifted their jobs to more difficult ones. The crewcall sheet filled up. I set up in the office, got everything running, and we were off.

A good flow. The Harris Glen summit was packed and along the river route, a general freight, a passenger train and a coal drag chased each other along the winding route. The newbies picked up the warrants pretty well and were holding their own. Good session...

Matthew came back - it's his last run before heading off to university. I even managed to cut him a final hyperspace warrant for the run into Cincinnati. Once he finished, he came in and offered to take the panel. Fine, I could jump on that last freight. Helped a young guy get his train out of the yard after reviewing his switching instructions. Hooked my own lashup on and eased out of the yard. And bang - a quarter of the layout from Calypso to Hellertown went down.

We all worked on it for a while. Tried this. Tried that. Cut out the steel mill. Looked over the new end of the yard. The thing was - it was hard to point at anything - we'd gotten something like six-eight trains through that area without a single fault. And now this. Dead as a doornail.

Frank, myself and several others stayed a little late looking things over. The problem seems to either be the Calypso booster or the loconet though that area. We found as we cut it off, the system would come up. Plug it in and down it would go. We traced this weird trick all the way to to Champion Mine before we ran out of time.

We've had one session end prematurely before, and that was someone working on a live track in the office with a metal coupler gauge. Outside of that, this is the first time in two decades of ops that we DNFed. I can only be honest and say that was a disappointment. So apologies to the crews who took it in stride. I'm just annoyed that so many people were having fun when the system went down.

We'll continue to work this until we figure which component failed. Next month folks...!


Last Updated on Thursday, 28 July 2016 15:33
OpsLog - FEC - 6/25/2016 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
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
Written by Administrator   
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

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