Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mixed Freight on the Salt Lake Southern

I had a wonderful opportunity to get out of the house and have some fun last night.  My new good friend Bob (not the legendary Bob the Builder but a new Bob) and I had dinner and drinks then proceeded to a local operating session at a nearby layout.  Was I amazed!

Gary had invited us to his monthly ops session at his fantastic Salt Lake Southern Railroad in HO.  When I arrived there were about a dozen folks there ready to eat my fresh baked brownies and run trains.  The layout is double (and triple) decked and scenicked.  Sorry, but I didn't ask to take pictures.  Maybe next trip.

Being a little bashful to grab a throttle, by friend Bob agreed to be the conductor and let me engineer an extra train so that I could get a feel of the layout.  It spreads out over three large rooms with two helixes so it is a little more complicated than normal.  However I was soon to find out that the layout was really well done and a breeze to operate with its fully signaled main line.

Once I went over the road on the extra I was fearless and ready to jump back in the pool.  The next train I picked up with the Steel Extra.  This time I had to add a helper in Hoover which took a bit of help from another Bob (why is everyone I know named Bob?).  The CVP digital control system is easy to operate and I picked it up quickly.  I loved the throttles!  Up and over the mountains we go!

Once I put this train back in the hands of the Dispatcher, I grabbed a water and some cookies and took on mixed freight 172.  This time I'm headed back across to Riverton to drop and pick up, while also going through another helper district.  What fun!  The mainline is long and there is amazing backdrop scenery painted by Rob whom everyone swears he paints in an hour or so.  It would take me years!

A new Dispatcher takes over the line at 11:00 pm and things get a little more complicated.  So far I've not made any mistakes and was trying to keep my head down.  After waiting at a red for quite a while I called in to the Dispatcher to ask if I was waiting on another train.  He said that I had a caution and could proceed.  Funny, but that light looked red to me.  After a few radio transmissions we figured out that he had me aligned the wrong way.

I got back into Hoover and dropped my helper unit and proceeded to Riverton.  After getting alignment from the Yardmaster I put the train in to the yard and split it for swapping out cars.  When the train was ready, I asked for clearance from Dispatch.  The throttle was cracked, the light was green and I proceeded onto the main with great confidence.  That is when I heard the distinctive 'crack' sound of my train running headlong into a fast freight.  Not my fault!  The turnouts weren't aligned right!  Still good!

I wrapped up the night feeling good that I had followed the rules, had not run a signal and hadn't put any rolling stock into the floor.  My friend Bob was pulling through Hoover and dropping the helper off his Soda Ash unit train.  Since his train was longer than the siding I agreed to grab a throttle and take the helper into the pocket for him.  NEVER agree to help anyone!

He already had local switching authority so I set the turnout to reverse and put the helper a safe distance from the other two on the track.  Calling Dispatch I released control of that section of the yard, zeroed my throttle and called it a shift.  Meanwhile a westbound auto rack came barreling through town...and right into the helper pocket!  It seems I forgot to go normal on the switch.

Oh much for perfection.  Looks like I'm sweeping the floors tonight.

What a great time!

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