Monday, December 27, 2021

More family ops

 Once again, with my granddaughter in town for the holidays, we set up an operating session. The layout had only been cursorily run in recent months, so the first need was a thorough track cleaning. And I suppose it was natural that something would fail. In this case, it was a point rail, breaking the solder joint between it and the throwbar of a switch (the East Main switch at Ballard). You can see the lower point rail below, with a dot of bare solder next to it, where it separated. This was quickly re-gauged and re-soldered.

I should mention that this switch has had its rails cleaned a couple of times in recent months, with no problems, until of course an op session was imminent. I have a friend who always refers to such events as “pure IO,” meaning the “Perversity of Inanimate Objects.”

I then set up the various industry set-outs and pickups, as I would for any session. This time, I wanted my granddaughter to do more than just run the locomotive, good as she is at that task, so I prepared a switch list instead of handing her a handful of waybills. My plan was to be more of a spectator and do less of the conductor role. 

Our layout rotation called for us to switch Ballard for this session. The eight-car local train pulled into town on the normal eastward main, then the locomotive ran around the consist. The locomotive, just visible here behind the consist at center, is running around to start work from the back of the train.

Shown below is the engineer-conductor preparing to start work at Ballard, holding the clipboard with the fresh switchlist. She is planning out the first moves for the session.

As switching progressed, all the cars to be pulled from the front-side tracks, north of the main track, were set over onto the westward main track. The locomotive here is pulling those cars down to the left to clear Bromela Road, which is just beyond the end of the train at far right.

With that work completed, the industries to the south of the main were switched, including Jupiter Pump & Compressor. Here you see the locomotive, SD&AE Consolidation no. 103, backing those pickups into the house track to acquire the caboose, preparatory to leaving town.

Finally, with all nine cars picked up, the train returned up the branch to the mainline junction at Shumala. Here is the train, arriving there.

This session went smoothly. The young engineer is pretty familiar now with the layout and how switching is done. She did a full set of set-outs and pickups, very much as any visiting operator would have done. Nice to be able to exercise the layout this way!

Tony Thompson

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