Train Blog
OpsLog - LM&O - 2/28/2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 28 February 2018 23:21

razy night at the club. Not only were we a bit short-handed but we had VIPs, namely the superintendents for the FEC of who I’ve blogged about on this very train blog, Ken and Bev Farnham.

Figured it would be a good session – Cody on the panel (a firm hand) and Frank in the yard (rock solid). I rolled the Zanesville Turn out (or tried to – the DS pushed a long-range warrant against me so I idled in the yard for a bit). But once I hit the rails, everything was fine.

The switching was orderly but I was running twin four-axle units. Problem here was that we’ve been rotating turnouts out and haven’t gotten all the frogs powered so lots of stalling, lots and lots of it, second helping please, Mr. Scrooge. And of course, there are the visitors running with us and we’re coming off the rails or baulking or fussing. But Ken with the perfect guest – when he saw what we were going through, he just smiled. “It’s how it goes with Visitors”. Yeah, really.

Still, the moves were fun to get Zanesville sorted. Made a run back nice and smooth (other that a long hold while the Mingo turn picked through gons at Weirton). Then got to run 298, the last freight east. Had to tack on Sparkly Power (i.e. CPs) to get over the hill – the two geeps weren’t going to cut drag freight.

But long view – it was a fun session. We just need to keep working on those horrible turnouts.


Bob and Ken go for the run-around record while every train looks on


Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 February 2018 23:29
OpsLog – FEC – 2/24/2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 24 February 2018 19:30

t was a bit of a struggle getting over to Ken’s Florida East Coast– we fought through a pointless battle on the Beachline (five miles of bumper2bumper and no cause for it) (there, Bruce, I mentioned that). And Ken’s was understaffed – five people dropped the night before leaving him a little short. I posted the club list – last moment stuff – didn’t get any takers.

So, with Bev on the yard (one person doing the job for three), Ken on the panel, the shed  held only Me, Bruce, Andy, Monty and John. But we were the gold crew. Ken reduced his schedule and we just ran stuff pretty much back to back.

In a way, sometimes a short staff session is a better session. I took 915 out of the yard – the run to Buenaventura. Had a lot of switching to do, working around the packing sheds, spotting out at the ballast yards and over to the truss-maker (roof, not medical). Not a train went by, meaning I had more elbow room to work than normal.

Later I took a mainline train through the division. I thought it would be easy but when I got to Cocoa, I found myself wading through paperwork to make sure I only filled out my consist with MTs going my way. Happily I found a cut of six, perfect. Pulled the string, dropped a gon and was out the throat in ten minutes.

It was such a relaxing day that we all stood around afterwards in the glorious out-a-doors, just chatting about the session. And it was so easy we got on the road a little earlier (a gain Bruce squandered fussing outside the car with his sunglasses - cheeky (There, Bruce, I did find a negative comment for the session)).


Last Updated on Saturday, 24 February 2018 19:33
OpsLog – LM&O – 1/24/2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 24 January 2018 23:34

o now I know what having a stroke is like.

Usual session. Everyone came. We cleaned. Trains went on the rails. People signed up. In the back office I booted my computer and readied the fast clock. Odd, it booted up at 15:1. Normally the club runs at 10:1. That was a problem a few years back but I easily corrected it. And then it was hot, and then we were running.

Just like a chess game. 202 went into the siding at Zanesville as it had for at least a hundred times. Silver Bullet 2 stormed by on the main. Behind the pair, coal drag 414 rolled out. We managed to get Harris Glen Local up the hill to do its work before things topside got hot. When you’ve dispatched as much as I have, you can run this pike by rote. No sweat.

About ten minutes into the session I got a line error on the clock. No problem – I fiddled with it and got it back. Since I was in the middle of writing warrants, I didn’t give it a second thought.  We had a lot of extras out so my hands were occupied, kicking warrants out briskly.

I can’t think about to where it all went wrong. I could sense things building around Harris Glen. But this time it was worse than normal. The 6am freights were out. The Silver Bullets were heading towards their summit meet. But now suddenly it’s climbing towards noon. I’ve got even more trains out. And before I knew it there were too many trains on the mountain; three eastbounds, an unprecedented five westbounds, and at the summit two helper sets and a local wanting down. And this doesn’t include the rest of the railroad where everything was buzzing about.

Seriously, I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I’ve never had so many crews waiting on sidings. I wanted to sob how it wasn’t fair. I couldn’t think back and see any point I’d goofed up. Everything had been by the book.

And now I could hear the crews laughing at my discomfort. Humiliating! I did everything I could to move trains, fleeting them across the summit in fast parades (which is mathematically more efficient than exchanging directions on each one). That helped but even as I cleared that set, more took their places. This was hell, a literal hell where a skill you had is suddenly lost. I couldn’t do this anymore.

And finally it was over. Four freights rolled off the railroad. A local was still out and the helpers finally rolled down to refuel in their houses. I just leaned back in my chair and gasped. I felt like I’d been hit in the head with a brick.

And in the real world, it was 9:40pm.

That made me blink. Normally we run a 2.5 hour session and finish about 10:20pm or so. But this was early, way early. Frowning, I checked the clock.


Well, bugger me! When we got that line error in the early part of the session the clock seemed to have shifted back to the faster setting. This meant that trains were entering the railroad at a higher rate. And with all the extras we were running we were now at capacity and beyond. Even the people who’d waited twelve hours for a warrant realized that it was sure a quick twelve hours.

What a nightmare it was. I’m sitting here writing this, just beat.

I guess if you are going to count chickens before they hatch, don’t count rapid-fast. Shit.


ShowLog – Deland – 1/13&14/2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 14 January 2018 20:02

irst show of the new year and the railroad was staffed and run at full capacity for the two day Deland show.

FEC crosses McQuade Street

A good group showed up on Saturday morning for the miracle (with donuts) set up – one hour from truck tailgate to basement-sized railroad. And all day we were packed. Lots of visitors. Lots of favorable comments. Lots of kids running. Lots of money in the donation buckets. And lots of lots of trains on the railroad. Like a leaky hull, trains kept squirting out of the three yard exits. When one train came in, you’d see two or three guys stand up and sidle over to their throttles to dip out onto the main. Honestly, it was like rush hour with all the reds. Not that this is a bad thing – it’s great to see all that participation and friendship on our double-main (man, imagine if that was single track with sidings?).

Also great to bump into three founding members of our club. Two of them I hadn’t seen in thirty years. It was great to see their reaction to our work – when they left decades ago, we were still on a random collection of wooden modules running DC-stations. Now we’re on space-aged milled aluminum frames, DCC controlled with signals, the trackwork bulletproof, the scenery neatly representative of the area we run through.

Also picked up another CSX transfer caboose (perfect for adding resisters to for complete train protection) and a log car to push the saw-mill guys into getting their project moving.

Normally I’d take Monday night off after this sort of a show. But I’m jazzed to ballast the Folkston module – once that’s in, the roads will be secured and the scenery installed – the town is already half-built. So yes, if you came to our event and thought what we do is amazing, it’s about to be more-so in three months. Come out and see our new scenery then!


Big steam, little coal, tiny Xmas trees (Photo: Frank Z)

Last Updated on Sunday, 14 January 2018 21:03

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