Train Blog
OpsLog – LM&O – 12/19/2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 19 December 2018 23:56

ake a good look at this picture.

Photo credit: 271 West (Jim M)

This is Red Rock, a siding in the middle of nowhere on the western flank of the Appalachians. It’s full of trains.

If you follow the rails east to the opposite flank, you’ll find Lehigh siding. It was really fulla trains. I think at one point we had six pushing down that furnace-side main-siding combo.

We had a full, full house – guests and new members and visitors from England and, who knows, maybe a Martian out there. In the course of the evening, we ran every scheduled train and a load of extras – twenty movements all told. I wrote ninety warrants. Bob K sat back in the office with me and I don’t think I’ll see him again – he ran off screaming halfway through.

Yeah, the railroad was packed, made worse by the disastrous ascent (and not much better descent) of 223 which suffered everything possible a train could suffer. All in all, it took him three or four scale hours to get over the top at Harris. This meant that all the trains I latched to do things after him got stuck. So the session compressed and all the moves bunched up on either side of the mountain. At one point, I was fleeting them through, three or four at a time.

We also had a train pick up another’s running ID (never seen that before). The next thing I know, I’ve got two Extra 87s. So I’m talking to one 87 live in the office and another one is one the radio. Nothing like total freaking confusion while the radio is crackling, the line is packing, and my anus is quacking.

Anyway, nobody died and eventually all the trains ran across the summit. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the board that full before, a total mess.

I remember way back when – how I’d come out of the office and say, “Hey, I have a couple of trains that need crews. Can someone take the last two freights?” Yeah, the good old days when ops was slower. What a shit storm it was tongiht.

So, yeah, it was fun. And in the end, everyone was broadcasting Merry Christmases back and forth – so a pleasant session to end the year on. Great fun!


Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 December 2018 23:59
ShowLog – Tampa – 12/15/2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 15 December 2018 22:22

his was a new one for us, a long ride over to the west coast for a show. Of course, there were two club-related hospitalizations and heavy rains to cope with, but other than that, everything went well.

We managed to hold to our schedule and everyone showed up. Unlike Makers Farce, we had more than enough people to do this and everyone pitched in. Better, we all proceeded slooooow, so outside of the sign stand breaking (again) we set up in our usual hour and had things running when the crowds came in.

Overall, the show was a real success – strong crowds and we were swarmed (but not in that breaky-way we faced at Makers). People were enthusiastic to see our layout in this new venue. And everyone was running – lots of trains and lots of complements.

The nice moment came before my end of the show (a number of us were going back early to make it to the Club Christmas Party). I’d been pulling the club’s business car (the Bithlo) around on the back of my PFE train, basically playing the part of the president of the line. However, this is my last show as president. To commemorate this, right before heading for the yard, I pulled up to the Jacksonville Amtrak station and dropped the business varnish off on the interchange track. Then Frank (the incoming president) backed in and coupled it up. With that, I ran back to the yard, broke the train down and headed home.

Off with the old, On with the new!

Overall, it was a very good show for us. It goes on tomorrow but I won’t be there, so I wish the boys well.

Oh, and the Party – great fun! One of the best parts was Cody and Bruce battling like gods over our railroad trivia contest.

Thanks for the great term, guys!


Last Updated on Saturday, 15 December 2018 22:27
OpsLog – LM&O – 11/28/2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 09 December 2018 15:25

t was the Tale of Two Kiddies at the club tonight. First, we had AJ, a young guy who’d come the week before and have found the idea of ops cool. So I invited him to this week’s session and so he’d shown. Since I’d just gotten booted off the panel by Cody (right after setting up my patented 202/SB2 flyby) I picked up the Harris Glen Local. So AJ and I ran up and did the lumber and limestone shifts. I even let the kid figure his own moves (he had a great time figuring out how to do a runaround to get the engines onto the proper end). We also moved hoppers from Carbon Hill to Weirton, sweeping the docks. His last move, I let him do the warrant with the dispatcher – he got up clearance back to the mine in proper order. Good kid.

And then we had Shawn. I explained to him how the paperwork went and he bobble-headed his understanding. In the end, we were finding his cuts as far away as Calypso and twenty or more cars on the receiving track, unsorted. Yet while all pandemonium was breaking out in the yard, he still had time to play games with cabooses. So, yes, lessons learned.

Speaking of lessons learned, we were still instituting our new card system. Bruce and I were answering questions all night. And not all of them were dumb – we got a number of solid ideas from the crews. For example, it made perfect sense to simply list the first car and last car of a string, and the number of cars in that cut. Until, of course, someone grabs one too many cars and suddenly it’s not that clear at all. So something that saved us a minute of writing cost us five minutes of head-scratching.

So live and learn. Still, it was a good session with some sad disasters. Looks like the new rails at Lehigh need some more work (I’m being generous). And there are a couple of turnouts that need tinkering too. Work work work.


OpsLog – FEC – 11/17/2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 09 December 2018 15:23

ell, if mistakes were a physical thing, we could have spread them on every slice of a loaf. And put it on thick. Goofup sandwiches for everyone.

I mean, pretty much everyone was B-listing on today’s session.

The dispatcher was cratering on the panel, just struggling to get traffic moving. And across the division, mistakes were rampant. I saw trains sitting on wrong tracks, trains dropping cars at the wrong place, paperwork going into the wrong boxes, even trains T-boning other trains.

Got in an argument with the superintendent about my train taking the wrong yard exit track. But no, I was wrong. But wait, I was actually right (and too far along to correct it). So, yes, I pulled a cut of Georgia limestone (is there such a thing) southbound rather than lugging it northbound. We just ran with it. And frankly, given the cockups going on across the lower deck, I wasn’t going to argue.

And just to show that I’m not wafting on angelic wings looking down over this apocalypse, I was caught pre-dropping box cars on industrial track where they shouldn’t be. And I backed over a couple of turnouts I’d not set correctly. And I got in the way of the Juice Train (though I was told to refer to my timetable on this, where the Juice Train is mysteriously absent). Even had one engine run away and smash into another train working on the main. So yeah, ops on the Florida East Coast was like the last reel of a Stooges movie.

Not sure what was going on in the yard. It was probably fine. Given our stagnant train throughput, they certainly should have been able to keep up.

And poor Ken – at one point he came in and I thought he looked like Father Christmas looking over a workshop of idiot, scrabbling elves.

On the plus side, after all this, with trains that never finished (even though they had four real hours to do it), with trains on the ground and even in trees, it was still a good session. And that’s the great thing about the cooperative game of model train operations. We all win. Or we all look inanely stupid. Together. A team.

Great fun!



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