Train Blog
ConvLog - Open House 2 - 8/1/2017 PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 01 August 2017 20:51

o how do you get ready for a visit from a busload of modelers at your club? In this case, John L. and I were up a ladder, replacing that troublesome light in the afternoon heat.

Bunch of the regulars showed up at DQ, where we had a chucklefest talking about the session the night before. Then we went over, set up trains and got ready for action.

This time, the bus driver evidently had not checked his route. First he missed the entrance and went touring down the street. Then he tried to hook a fifty-foot bus around a 90 degree turn on a two lane road. I couldn't watch - I was sure he was going to tip it into the ditch and there would be dozens injured and our club would look bad. But after all that he got onto the property, we got everyone in the door and the boys launched their trains (all eastbound this time, thankfully).

Not much to say. Everyone seemed to enjoy our ambiance, our modeling, and our effort. Lots of questions about how we got the building and how we don't owe money on it. Several people said they were looking forward to running with us Thursday (attention all members - respond to the ops session at the club!). So it's building up to that crescendo.

Tomorrow, we build a sectional layout in the convention center and then stage the railroad for our next session. Here we go. The shit just got real.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 August 2017 21:02
ConvLog - LM&O Ops - 7/31/2017 PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 31 July 2017 21:54

oly Chrome!

It was the first ops session (of two) that we're staging for the convention. Five newbies (though I think we had more) along with a couple of new club members. Every experienced man I had was conducting (i.e. writing warrants and assisting new engineers) in what had to be the craziest, busiest, and most intense ops session we've ever had!

Wall-to-wall operators! (Credit: Frank Zvonchenko)

At the start, I asked newbies what they wanted to do - Freight? Locals? Each guy I'd shove towards a conductor. "Give him Zanesville!" "Drag freight this guy!" Turns out visiting college-boy Matthew wanted the panel so I gave it to him and took to the road. Hooked up with Paul, a Brit from over yonder who brought (I drool as I type this) an LNER Flying Scotsman. Now, Silver Bullet One has been pulled by a lot of crazy motive power, but this one took the cake. It was a delight to watch.

With a 5:30 timetabled departure and a warrant in my back pocket, Paul and I sat on the green-flanked tender, probably eating Bangers and Mash and swapping stories until departure. When the time clicked through, we gave two sharp toots and rolled. Pounded down the long grade out of Bound Brook, cross a soaring viaduct, and drifted into Bethlehem Station crack on our 6:30 arrival time. Things were looking good.

You fool, Raymond!

We were out of Bethlehem and climbing through Robert's Run in a whirlwind of steam and litter, clattering into the mountains, making good time. Then, as I tended the firebox, I noticed burning flares on the track. A westbound freight (that was specifically ordered not to foul us) did. Slowed through the spiral tunnel, we crawled into Harris Glen just off the caboose of 223 which was sheepishly taking the siding. Unfortunately, Harris is short so we lost even more time for a saw by to win clear. With 223 behind us, we spanked down the long slope, popping through Burtnett Tunnel. I began to think that we might win back out time. And then we got to Pittsburgh.

Yeah, Pittsburgh.

A combination of badly spotted coaches, some out of service turnouts, the long-overdue Silver Bullet Two and an overlong coal reroute screwed us. We were two hours down before we could even shift off the platform (I figured the charm of the thing was wearing off for our inconvenienced passengers). With warrant in hand, we nearly ducked out in front of 202, a long-overdue freight that was just getting out of Martin. Regardless of what the dispatcher might think, he’d issued a lap order. Nearly killed us. Thank goodness LNER installed good brakes. I nearly went into the firebox.

Silver Bullets jammed in Pittsburgh (Credit: Cody Case)

Clear of these hijinks and goings-ons, we desperately tried to make up time but the dispatcher was bunny-hopping up along the river route, siding to siding. Finally we lugged into Cincinnati four hours late. We joked about which nation had the worst rail service.

While (like every club) we had our share of faults and failure, everyone seemed to have a good time. Was riding with Paul on helper extras (after helping to boost a westbound drag through Glen). Now on the siding at RedRock, we were verbally told to wait for the next eastbound and ride him back up to the summit helper pocket (I suspect the dispatcher didn't feel like cutting paper to get us home). And here it came, with Shawn the Kid conducting a gentleman guest. I flicked the red flag at him and explained that he'd have our company going up. I don't think I've seen a more overstaffed attempt - both drag and helpers had two-man crews, meaning four guys were all jammed together, trying to work things out. So we tacked things together, the engineers exchanged ideas on how they'd combine to take the hill, and off we went. And nobody noticed that Shawn had gone off to find a phone. Yes, as the conductor of the drag, he was the head man. Me, I thought we'd had clearance up the hill (given that I was told to tack on to the next eastbounder). Bad guess to make, in retrospect. Got to Glen and there was a long coal train getting ready to come down. No way to get around him, not with Harris Local working the sidings. So back we humped, tail between our legs, to derail getting into the siding (God, I hate backing long N-scale trains). And there was Shawn, waving a warrant at us. "We gotta meet a coal drag here!" Tell me something I don't know.

As a record of sorts, I saw Mr. T running 202, just clearing the division in twenty four hours. Yeah, normally he does it in half. If you think I was going to chip you, Dispatcher Matt, here it is.

But overall, it was a riot of fun and frustration and craziness. Great to meet so many modelers and to shake so many hands. After everyone left, there were some political/religious arguments about the finer points, but there is always a bit of that. Whatever. I'm just glad that we were able to entertain so many ops fans. I hope they had as much fun as we did.

And Thursday, we'll get even more! Looking forward to it.


Last Updated on Monday, 31 July 2017 22:56
ConvLog - Open House - 7/30/2017 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 30 July 2017 15:59

kay, first thing - these entries are going to be short. We're facing a very busy week and I'm not going to use up all my vowels in the first few days.

So, first bus tour - I think that everyone who signed up to staff showed (thankee kindly, there). Mom Shawn came up with a platter of cookies, brownies and fruit. Everyone set up to run east, just parading for the masses (except one guy who didn't get the memo wink). A couple of hiccups and the booster maxed right before the bus showed, but we held our breath and ran things. Overall I think we did really well. Felt bad that one couple came because they heard we "modeled" Bound Brook. Told them, well, maybe not "modeled" (more like "acknowledged"). But overall, it was a lot of fun.

I heard we hosted forty-one (or three) people. They clean off our plates and signed our book. They even stole JW's bumbershoot (wait, strike that). Lots of fun.

Tomorrow, we've got ops at seven, five guests signed up. We do a quick chat at 7pm and roll after that. Dinner is at DQ at 5:30 - bolt your food and run for your engines. Remember, engines and throttles, guys!

One day down!


Last Updated on Sunday, 30 July 2017 16:10
ShowLog - Deland - 7/8/2017 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 09 July 2017 09:33

3’s idling on the Waycross siding, brakeman out at the forward turnout, waiting for the dispatcher to confirm me out. I’ve got a long line of PFE reefers, empty, but why I’m here aboard Southern Pacific units heading south in Southern Georgia*, I can’t say. I’m way off my preserve.

I’ve got a fleet of traffic heading south coming down behind me. Cody, Jeff and John each walk by with a train, their controllers held in the hands of their little engineers (we let any kid who asks run with us and at 2pm at the Deland Train Show, we’ve got the high iron humming with traffic). I decide that rather going out and dropping a signal on a kid, I’ll wait. Finally the last one rolls past. Okay, I tell my brakeman to toss the turnout over – we can roll soon as that last southbound clears the block.

“Scuse me,” a little kid says, tapping my arm. “Can I run a train?” He’s so soft-spoken, I nearly don’t hear him. “Why sure.” I proceed to explain the throttle and how the signals work and off we go, our short-version setup filled with trains and kids, just a lot of fun and run. And over next to us, that floor-poaching club who sprawled all over our space this morning and forced us to squeak in, they don’t have so much as a single person looking things over.

“It’s us they’ve been coming to see,” as the song roughly goes. This is confirmed when I run down the show organizer after the club has struck the layout and gone. “You guys get a lot of great feedback. We get emails and letters with people asking if you’re going to be here.” And we do – we recognize some of the kids and have seen them grow over the years. And that’s nice to know – people love our layout and the way we run things. So, man, if they’d give us more space for the full monty, and not give it over to those lame floor-sprawlers, we’d really give them a show.

There’s always the big two-day January show.

For now, see you in October!


* I just used the word “south” three times in the same sentence. A no-no in literary terms, but I’m leaving it.


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