Tuesday, February 7, 2017


Formal operating sessions on my SP Cascade Line finally started off in early February. For many model railroads, twelve sessions would be accomplished in a single year of monthly sessions.  Schedule conflicts, holidays and weather extended the time for me to reach that milestone to almost a year and a half.  Still it is gratifying to have a dozen sessions completed.

Nineteen operators joined me for this session.  As recorded in these pages previously, this session marked the introduction of two important supporting structures.  The new operator platform for Crescent Lake retired the use of step ladders, much to my liability relief.  It helps Crescent Lake operations a great deal.  A crowd of three or four operators easily fit on the platform, allowing a couple of train crews (e.g., in-bound and out-bound) to coordinate and control their activities.

Dick E., serving as Conductor of a RR-East train talks to the Dispatcher as he and his engineer look upon their train at Crescent Lake.  The new platform helps a great deal!

The second construction project of the last couple of months was a new Dispatcher’s Panel (model board) mounted to the desk.  The desk was modified to put it on wheels.  This allowed the Dispatcher’s desk and panel to be wheeled into our exercise room.  That, in turn, provided the noise isolation my Dispatchers have craved.

Mike Y. serves as Dispatcher in a room with a door he can use to shut the noise out.

This operating session used the same train line-up we have used since starting full mainline operations in June, 2015.  A dozen trains travel the full mainline, while five locals serve on-layout industries.  A yard crew of four (yardmaster, Santa Clara Tower Operator, East and West Switchers) keeps the action going by making or breaking up trains as needed. 

Action is heavy in the Eugene Classification Yard across from the depot.  Left to right, West Switcher Rick A. works his end of the yard.  Mike L. with the Eugene City Switcher (one of the locals) works industries in the depot area.  Engineer Brigg F. runs his train through on the mainline.  Yardmaster Dave H. is organizing the yard work while East Switcher Scott B. awaits instructions.  Tom D. passes by, having completed his work with the first Springfield local.

Santa Clara Tower Operator Vic N. hostles road power from the engine facility to a waiting RR-West train.  With additional crew members, a hostler can be assigned to help the tower operator.  Though the job is titled “Tower Operator,” it actually involves controlling operations in the Eugene Arrival/Departure Yard.  The tower function of the job controls the many switches in the yard throat.  Vic has helped define this job, but will soon move on to learning additional jobs on the railroad.  This job became much easier by moving Crescent Lake operations up onto the platform seen behind Vic.

Model Railroad operation involves waiting.  Two crews wait for clearance out of the Eugene Arrival/Departure Yard.  Assistant Chief Dispatcher John B. tries to get traffic rolling by coordinating among crews, train availability and the session Dispatcher (in the room behind the slightly ajar door).  Mike B. and Brigg F. form one crew, while Josef B. serves as another crew.  Both are awaiting clearance out of the yard—a common situation for railroaders.

Out on the line, up in the mountains, Greg P. copies train authority from the Dispatcher, while Rodger C. controls his train down through Cruzatte (RR-Eastbound).  In the distance, helper engineer Norm A. and train crew Dick E. and Dave C. hold in the clear on the Wicopee siding for Rodger’s eastbound. 

Harry B. and Tom D. teamed up to work the first Springfield Turn.  This job switches the industries on the depot side of the mainline.  Harry B. built the model of Tilbury Cement, the green structure close to the backdrop on the right. 

Bill M. works the Oakridge Turn.  This job starts the session in Oakridge, providing activity that does not require Eugene Yard interaction until the Turn returns to Eugene. 

Some of the “activity” is simply waiting.  Helper engineer Norm A. and road engineer Josef B. wait with their train at McCredie Springs.

The wait at McCredie Springs eventually yields a meet with a RR-Eastbound train.  Both will be moving soon.

At times, one could capture multiple trains in action.  Rodger C. is barely visible underneath Cascade Summit bringing a train through McCredie Springs.  Josef B. has made it to Cascade Summit.  In the foreground, Jim M. awaits another RR-Westbound to put his helper set on.  Bill M. continues to work the Oakridge Turn.  He has just delivered cars to the engine facility at Oakridge (oil and supplies).  Norm A. set his throttle for his helpers, so he is just biding time and movement—much like full-sized helper operations! (wink)  Mike B. watches the action up high as a train crawls up-grade out of Cruzatte toward Cascade Summit.

A critical part of my operating sessions is lunch!  We often serve chili while the crew brings potluck.  Nobody goes away hungry!

A mid-session break for lunch allows the crew to relax a bit and converse.  This social aspect of operating sessions is important and should not be overlooked!

Toward the end of the session, traffic got snarled at Springfield.  A mainline RR-West train occupies the main.  The second Springfield job occupies the siding and Booth Kelly tracks.  The Marcola Turn is using the depot and drill tracks.  Unfortunately, there is a RR-East Train just outside of view to the right with no place to go.    This turns out not to be a Dispatcher error, but rather a missed communication by the Springfield local crew who failed to get Dispatcher permission to exit Eugene, use the Judkins block and then occupy the Springfield Siding to do their work.  Count this as an example for a teaching moment for the next operating session.

The railroad performed well and the crew had a good time.  Most were already “marking up” for the next session in four weeks.

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