Train Blog
OpsLog – LM&O – 8/23/2017 PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 25 August 2017 07:57

’ve gassed long and loud about all the physical improvements across the division (Calypso Yard, Martin Yard, the Zanesville alignments). I’ve also talked about our increasing membership and how new (and returned) club members are filling our ranks. What I haven’t mentioned is how everyone is expanding their roles on the pike.

This session, I was really happy with seeing members pushing their abilities and learning new things. Bruce (after getting slugged down in Mingo a few months ago) rattled out of the yard with the Mingo cut again, off to slay dragons. Both Dwaine and Craig rose from the figurative dead to pick up ops after several years away – I didn’t even know they were out running without conductors (i.e. guides) until Dwaine went past me on a passenger train (with pretty Santa Fe F’s on the head end, all flashing yellow and silver (you drab N&S guys could learn something here)). Loved seeing Craig try to take Harris Glen with a drag freight behind a steam engine (with helpers assisting helpers) (yes, we run LONG freights now). Even Doc was back, still raw-new but actually conducting for a guy even rawer, running a train that was almost more engines than cuts. Cool. But everyone was moving up in the ranks, leaving people like Sparky and me to run the dustup jobs (the little runs that move stuff off-the-timetable from point A to B).

To wit: I found myself on the tip end of a bunch of coal cars in Carbon Hill, my two SD-7s so unsuited for the task that I had to pull them out in sections (my request to the tired dispatcher were met with confusion, so I just got some “use all track” paperwork and did it anyway). Once I got both cuts out, I rumbled over to Weirton, one of the nicest-sceniced and little-used areas) where I spotted everything on the coal docks. Then I drove over to Martin Yard to pick up the last of the racks (the cars now unloaded) and moved them back (under new management – see below) to the GM plant. There, I found another cut that Bill had left me (plugging the industrial track – Sparky, put yer toys away next time). So I finished my night pushing racks up in groups of three, spotting them into the plant, so nice with those new turnouts and new panel. All done.

Back on the topic of new blood – Cody’s been asking for a shot at the DS board for a time so we agreed that if he ran on the road in the AM, he could learn the trade from Bob (the dispatcher this time) in the PM. Well, Bob sounded exhausted (as exhausted as a man who’s been welding in a hot shop all day can). We were on a 45rpm railroad, listening to orders dictated at 33rpm (google it, kiddies). Apparently, and as I heard it, Cody’s familiarization at the desk was one warrant before being left (like a baby on a doorstep) by Bob. That’s it – throw him in the river to see if he could swim. But not only did Cody work it just fine (having practiced with the DS software the week before (thank God)), but he actually complained that all the traffic was westbounds and he didn’t get any real meets to set up. So, yes, good for him – looks like I’ll running in the cab more in the future.

And as if my position of skill (i.e. head office) could not be made any more tenuous, a limping bruised Crash (formerly known as Bad) dragged in after the session finished, noting that he’d like a shot at the panel as well. So now I see if this DS job gets poached (i.e. people signing up a month early). Look for more on-the-road reporting from me.

Overall, a great session from guys who’d already run the layout with a million guests twice earlier this month.


Mike works Harris Glen (photo by the engineer)

OpsLog - SD&EA - 8/20/2017 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 20 August 2017 18:46

his was going to be a difficult session – first off, it’s in the back of the clinic where I had my cat put to sleep less than a week ago. And second, we hadn’t run there in forever.

But Doc’s been thinking about things. Fortunately his track plan is pretty much the same so there were only minor corrections to the panel program. We had an odd assortment of operators show up – some ex-club members (hey, I don’t care if you are a Nazi, as long as you run a train)(well, maybe I do). And we had some new/old members (guys who have recently returned). But once everyone was in position with all trains dialed, we started.

I’ll give Doc this – his line was crowded for much of the time, San Diego to Market Street. I was ducking them in and out and passing them in three-packs around the Coronado Loop. We did suffer a strange short about a third of the way in – Doc thinks it’s the throttles, me, not so sure. But what matters is we cleared it and kept running. After that, things smoothed out. Trains rolled with little delay, and people had a lot of fun.

I even got to pick up the last manifest out of Los Vegas, streaming across the desert like a bullet, meeting Bruce down the Riverside Siding, then down through Diego with a bee-line through Market Street yard. Got in just north of the border – pulled in at San Ysidroand neatly reversed my train, caboose on the front, engines on the back for the final backing move across the border into TJ. That was a lot of fun, just tucking it away in the last ten fast-minutes, dropping the engines and shutting down. Good session.

So that’s, Doc, for providing a Sunday smile for all of us. Wish me had more layouts on the rotation.


ConvLog - Convention Show - 8/4-6/2016 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 06 August 2017 20:02

ell, that's done. The convention is history.

I gotta say I'm totally beat, having be involved in every minute of every event over the last week. I opened the gate for Saturday club cleaning, and closed it for the module drop off. And I did everything in between.

So think of this - over the last three days, twenty-four hours of it was convention center activity. For each of those hours, and the minutes and seconds contained within, two to five trains were in motion around our 30x40 layout. At one point we were up to nine. And for each of those trains, an engineer was plodding along them, running them.

Yeah, I must have walked many long slow miles over the last three days.

But it was fun. Saw a lot of trains. And I was pleased that we picked up three awards for our club (two for individual modules, one for a set of them). I got to see a lot of old friends and maybe discovered new ones (I know of at least one membership application (with money) that was accepted).

I also got to see other modules, and frankly, our swinging the main through the scenes, back and forth, really makes a difference. You get to see trains from different angles doing more than racing in straight lines.

And when it was winding down, I had a lot of folks there to help. We lined all the carry-boxes up, all in their back-side rest-points. And when 5pm rolled around, we had teams removing the curtains, striking the sign and the electronics mast, dropping the clamps. Then we rolled the racks into place and started racking them up. I think we were doing it perhaps a little fast but people were just excited to be through and moving fast, like a team of horses on the verge of running away with a cart. I did all I could to slow them down but still, with all the help and everyone in their correct places, we broke our record - nine minutes from a train still moving to everything in the racks and ready to roll. Everyone gave a cheer when the final rack was locked up. Matthew and I went to find how we could get our truck in (frankly, the NMRA didn't believe that a "module" club could be ready to leave in ten minutes flat). When I was walking back, a member from another club was going the other way and said, "You and your fifteen minutes". "Nine," I smirked.

Rode over to the club and met the truck to stow everything away. And then I drove home. We pulled it off.

Next time, whoever proposes we do something like this will be in charge of it. Lesson learned.


Last Updated on Sunday, 06 August 2017 20:21
ConvLog - LM&O Ops - 8/4/2017 PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 03 August 2017 23:13

can't speak for everyone else, but after Monday’s convention op session at the club, I wanted to do better. While it wasn't baaaaad  (in that condescending tone) we've had better. I wanted our guests to see what a good session is like, when a club which operates using the more difficult N-gauge really takes advantages of longer trains and high mountains, really giving the engineer a feel of place and scale, without leaving them sitting and waiting while six people yabble on the phone.

At dinner, that seemed to be the touch-n-go discussion, how we wanted to run well but, oh crap, we had at least fourteen guests showing up. With our folks as conductors, we were swelling the number of people in the aisles by a factor of two. Like Monday, it would be really easy to go off the rails again and bog down.

But we didn't.

We grabbed each newbie as they came in, assigning them to a train. At the start, I'd already prewritten six warrants (live and learn, Matthew). That way, when the bell went off, we were off and running and I was working on the next series of trains. Happily, the radio calls were sharp, everyone spoke quick and took their warrants like men, and we even got the potential tangle in Harris worked out (though I'm thinking I heard some doubters out there).

So get this - freights cleared the division in twelve hours each. We ran three of the four passenger trains, and those completed on time. We got three coal drags over the hill, two autoracks down the valley, an extra passenger train, an extra TOFC, and the four locals. The only reason we went over the midnight number was because the guests wanted to keep running.

We even figured a way to get the Harris Glen Local home in 12 hours. Two little pieces of red cloth is all it takes.

At the end, our visitors were happy, handshakes all around. The members were grinning as only a winning team can. We're really happy with Martin Yard and the new flexibilities we get (the double lead and Martin crossover are real blessings). We are now able to really take advantage of the double track (unlike before). Even Zanesville got a good workout, with autoracks being worked in the plant.

It must have been a good night since a lot of folks (guests and members alike) hung out and talked about it.

Mission accomplished. On to the convention center tomorrow!

Mingo Local works as a coal train rumbles past (Credit for train & photo: J Mathis)


Last Updated on Thursday, 03 August 2017 23:41

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