Train Blog
ShowLog – Makers Faire – 11/10-11/2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 11 November 2018 19:58

hen the scenery guy put small sections of clear plastic over some of the more delicate scenery, I thought it was excessive. After Makers Faire (a showcase for all sorts of builders, dreamers and geeks) I think six-foot sheets of bullet proof glass would have been more appropriate.

We’ve never faced a more difficult show.

First off, Friday night, we had three people building the layout (out of the half-dozen or more who’d agreed to it). Finally two more people came in and we were able to finish up, but that was a lot of work for the reduced squad.

Saturday was hell-day. We were mobbed – all day, throngs of coked-up over-stimulated brats and their oblivious, distracted step-parents treating our layout as either a Discovery Zone touch-space or a bar (people leaning both-elbowed on the layout!). And, of course, again more than half the club members committed and signed to coming didn’t. This left us with three guys running non-stop for seven hours and a couple of backups helping (including my dear wife, who came out with snacks). But yes, we were fending off the hyperactive cakerolls with boathooks.

The final day we were better staffed (still missing a few). And while the crowds were a little thinner, the damage seemed greater. We’ve got a lot of fixing to do.

I’m not sure if we’re getting anything out of this. We might have picked up another member (Mike was dealing with the guy). But otherwise, it’s a lot of effort on the shoulders of a few. And really, if I want to deal with waves of screaming children, let’s just set up the layout at the exit of some thrill ride or maybe the ball pit at Chuck-E-Cheese. And if someone’s going to suggest this for next year, that someone better be on the floor both days, beating back the fingers with a throttle. Money where your mouth is, and all that.

The only good that came out of it was the takedown. Frank marshalled the forces and we struck the layout in a clean and concerted effort. And we took our time – 20 minutes. In the end, while the racks were being rolled into the truck I passed on guy who was watching, who said to his friend, “I like watching the model railroaders take down their layout. They should do that as their show.”

Yeah, since the crowd doesn’t seem to like trains. Just fingering them and breaking things.


The survivers - Sparky is weeping in his truck

Last Updated on Sunday, 11 November 2018 20:03
OpsLog – Tehachapi – 11/4/2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 05 November 2018 19:58

unny day in the high hills over Caliente. Birds are singing, the sun is high, and everything smells like creosote.

I'm backing a steam engine up the grade from Caliente to Allard where some future track work will take place. Off my pilot coupler I'm dragging a gondola filled with railroad ties and a crane car, along with a little caboose bumping along for the ride. My job was to get up in that remote location and work on the siding, unloading ties for at least an hour (a real hour).

So I worked it like a real job. Pulled off the main just past the west Allard switch, dropped a covering flag man and called the dispatcher to let him know I was on site and had an order form to get back home. He told me I needed a flagman up past Bealville to keep down trains out of my shorts. After that, I imagined how the real crew would work.

So, the first thing, I put my crew to work. Uncoupling from the gon and crane and leaving them, up the hill we chugged, all the way up to the far end of the Bealville siding to drop off my flag dude. By the time I ran back down, it was time to move the gons along to the next site. So up the hill we went. Three sites, fifteen minutes at each. Lunch (real lunch) was served while at site three; not one to equally sacrifice, I left my fictitious crew to manhandle those sun-sticky ties into position and had a burger and coke in the crew lounge, door open so I could watch for passing trains. Finally I was through with the job. With the worksite providing a flag east, I ducked out behind a Caliente-bound train and drifted downhill. Once past the west Allard switch, I backed in and picked up my flagman from that end. Back up at the site (with the engine now on the right side of the wreck train) I broke out my tooth-gnawed pencil and greasy order form, called the office and wrote (and repeated) the following:

Eng 3765 run extra Allard to Kern Jct and has right over second 804 Allard to Bena and wait at Caliente until 1:50pm.

Yessir, the end of a perfect day.

Because I was driving a train, not tossing railroad ties.


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.


* 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...


Last Updated on Monday, 05 November 2018 19:58

Page 3 of 77