Train Blog
OpsLog – Tehachapi – 11/3/2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 05 November 2018 19:56

oday was a much better start for the day. The crew caller handed me a soup ticket for 56-2, an eastbound passenger that sounded more romantic then it actually was (two clapped out steam engines and a string of mismatched baggage and express cars, real City of New Orleans stuff). And who should I see  in the next train over (56-1) then my traveling buddy John. Yeah, he'd be proceeding me up the hill. And another nice guy, he'd be the final section of the parade. So, three friends out for a stroll.

And at train time, off we went.

I followed John by two minutes, riding his ass up the dual tracks to Bena. Came down the long slope and didn't see anyone there – I was expecting him to wait for 57, the Owl, running the other way (and superior by direction). Checked my timetable and there was a scheduled meet listed at Ilmon for the two, the next siding up. Pulled up to the spring switches at the end of the dual and waited to see the fireball rise over the horizon if John didn't keep track speed up. The third section pulled up behind me. “What's the hold up?”

I pointed out 57 in the timetable and the blood drained from his face. “Shit, I didn't see that. Thank goodness you were holding here” *

But the rest of the run was flawless. We didn't get any orders, we just ran on each other's yellows, clicking through the signals and riding as close as possible, the way God intended sections to run. I heard one operator remark in his OS that the 56's were running tight, which I took as a complement. 56-3 dropped away from the parade at Tehachapi, stopping to toss off his helper. But me, I rode John's markers all the way down into the Mojave sink, a nice sharp run with a minimum of fuss. And that's what railroading is all about.

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* Before I get too cocky, I did the my own boner at this same place six hours later when I sailed past, thinking I had an hour of free time before another passenger movement and realized I'd been reading the timetable reversed and it was actually a five minute shave. Gulp. So we all have our brain farts...

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 November 2018 20:16
 
OpsLog – Tehachapi – 11/2/2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 05 November 2018 19:55

hey say railroads, like any other slumbering beast, arise slowly.

The SP/SF Joint Line across the summit at Tehachapi came awake like a mean drunk, cursing and swinging and then puking into a bucket.

My job should have been easy – I picked up Extra 167, four Santa Fe F's idling at the famous loop at Walong, a caboose coupled on for no reason I could discern. Anyway, I was looking at two facing trains, both sections of 802, one nailed down at Cliff, the other at Bena (I had rights over both across the line). Should have been an easy run.

But then the dispatcher came in and messed with me. As it was, I rolled down through Woodford and got a green board at the station, so on to Rowen. Got there just as the Woodford operator chased me down on a handcart. “Come back to Woodford for orders.” Eh? So there I was, backing up along the mainline, the caboose (now on the head end) airing out nicely.

There, the operator ground out four new orders for me, including more orders to physically hand the crew at 802-2 holding at Cliff. Fine. So I looked at the orders and what I realized was:

1)      I was to go to Cliff and give 802-2 orders

2)      One of my orders told 802-2 to meet me at Woodford (where I was currently sitting)

So, the moment I handed the orders across, I would be busted for running ahead of my meet. It was, evidently, a trap.

I looked at the station operator and showed it to him. Like, WTF? He blinked. Yes, WTF indeed. So he called the dispatcher and picked up another order, putting my meet back to Cliff. Just so we're effing clear on this.

Once again I rolled down to the lonely siding at Rowen. Waited there for the unlikely appearance of 804, now due. After ten minutes someone walked by. “The dispatcher would like you to ring him on the callbox phone.” What now? Picked up the phone and that's how I found myself writing my own order to myself, giving rights to advance against 804 so I could save the helpless 802-2.

Nice run. I handled four diesles and a crummy and got paid as a station operator for the day. Good work if you can find it.

Got into Bakersfield, noted my passage in the register book and proceeded Goshen Junction where I got caught in a range war / wienie measuring contest between BNSF Bakersfield and the Goshen engine house. But that's another story...

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Last Updated on Monday, 05 November 2018 19:58
 
OpsLog – LM&O – 10/24/2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 24 October 2018 21:57

hings keep evolving at the club. Shelfton industrial has been re-tracked. Hellertown is now Lehigh. And the paper warrants are in to their second session.

Photo Credit: Frank ZI was dispatching so I wasn’t outside to shepherd the paperwork. Overall, it went… okay. One problem – crews would mix their pickups and drop-offs and would end up holding paper for both. I hadn’t anticipated that and now it looks like some cars went to their local deliveries and were immediately picked up and brought back as outbounds. One of these actually was delivered, returned to the yard, then placed back on the local track for re-delivery. The best one was a tank car we found on the other side of the division. I think it was one of those Incredible Journey things – you know, a lovable dog, a sassy cat and a Shell oil tanker, making their plucky way across the mountains at Harris Glen and onward to Bound Brook. So, yes, just like a real railroad (I’ve got an easy fix for this next time).

The real cakeroll came when the young yard master didn’t realize that there were Calypso cuts to go onto eastbound trains. The first train through arrived at the Calypso drop point with nothing to jettison. When I called the yard, I found out it had been overlooked. Already the second eastbound was coming into yard limits. “Okay,” I told the yardlet with three trains on the horn holding for warrants. “The cars that should have gone on the first train? Combine them with the second and put them all on 244”. Seemed a good solution. But somehow the yard bungled it and put all the outbound cars (three trains worth) on 244. And that train, with its can-do outlook and five heavy engines, accepted the mega challenge. There were some issues in Pittsburgh (this bloody monster train was too long to fit through the double-back diamonds). Thankfully he got over the hill without stalling (since he was part of my eastbound parade and I needed to keep things moving). But yes, that was a crazy long train, and it was a crazy busy night, and now I’m blogging with a crazy happy smile on my face.

Oh, I know there were problems on the floor as well. I’m sure I’ll hear about them in the next business meeting.

All I care about is that trains didn’t hit and we moved a lot of traffic with very few delays. Great run tonight, guys. Next time, the paperwork will be a little clearer.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 October 2018 22:02
 
OpsLog – FEC – 9/29/2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 30 September 2018 10:37

’m washing my wife’s car the morning after (which was only fair since we rolled over to Palm Bay to run on Ken Farnham’s FEC and hit all sorts of bugs on the way). Even waxed the hood and roof for her – she earned it. She (and buddy Bruce) rolled over to run a railroad. It’s not what she chooses to do but she’s a good sport and, yes, she has fun after a fashion. So she was yardmaster again, and I was right next to her working the classification end, sorting cars off inbound trains. It’s fun and I like seeing her push out of her comfort zone. Once she gets rolling, she’s fine.

Fine was not the word our dispatcher would use for her first time on the panel. Yes, I can sympathize – right HERE in my first session at Ken’s panel back in 2010. Yes, I thought I was going to piss in my pants (and I’d been dispatching for years). Bonita is going for her NMRA qualification on this effort (and she sure picked a king-sized layout for her first attempt). Poor thing – she was hammered by the complexity of the massive sweep of toggles and buttons. I’ve done it many, many times and every so often, I start to slip (especially when Ken breaks a rail or dumps a hopper, those superintendent pranks). But she did fine for a first time. Trains got through (we’ve had sessions where the FEC actually locked up). In the yard, the departure tracks were filled and I’d broken up my trains (and tidied things up) so there wasn’t much to do.

However, there is a comradery on a layout like this – we’ve all run together for years and so if someone is learning a new position (be it the rocket-science DS panel or the Eau Gallie cement plant (first time I did that one, I also nearly peed in my pants)), we all understand. Everyone accommodates. In this instance, Ken shifted over to assist her on the panel and his wife Beverly took over the hostler job (along with doing the trim shift). On the outbound side, JB just called the crews and lined up the trains and passed the cards to the DS desk and didn’t comment about the stack up. We knew it was difficult work, just overwhelming, and so everyone cuts the slack for that.

Even with all this, we had a great time. Looking forward to the next session. Even if I have to wash the car again.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 30 September 2018 10:42
 
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