Thursday, July 12, 2018

Ops Session: June 28, 2018 (a.k.a. October 5, 1948)

Dick on PDX-1 (the Cedar Hill-New London Shoreline local), left, works Old Saybrook while Roman works PDX-2 (New London-Cedar Hill local) from Saybrook up the Valley Line to Essex.
So finally, after a much-longer-than-usual hiatus, the Valley Line operated again in June - but just barely. Although I'd had an open house and ran some trains during NEProtoMeet weekend, this was the first time we'd officially operated since January. So I was a bit nervous, but I needn't have been.

I sent a short-list invite to my core guys since this was, for all intensive purposes intents and purposes a "shake down" session to make sure everything would work right. During the open house, the radio throttles had inexplicably gone on the fritz and there were a few of the inevitable coupler issues and communication snafus that happen when you're rusty and trying to stay to a fast-time schedule.

But all in all, I'm really very happy with how the session went. The throttle issue ended up being a faulty splitter in the cab bus which splits the bus between the radio antenna and a dead-end plug-in at the end of the Berlin Branch. (click here for more info on how I did it). Turns out, gravity was the culprit: there was just enough play in the connection that the splitter, weighed down by the weight of the two cables, made only intermittent connection which, in turn, wreaked havoc on the radio throttles. Go figure.

Since October 5, 1948 is (was) a Tuesday, the Valley Local heads down to East Haddam rather than East Berlin, so I simply disconnected the Berlin Branch cab bus and splitter and plugged the bus from the radio antenna directly into the back of the UTP. Problem solved, for now

The rest of the session went relatively smoothly, despite having a newbie operating the tower (which he did in stellar fashion, although he was "illegal" having failed to sign-in on the register :^), despite the increasingly-apparent lack of adequate power for the Shore Line (need more DL-109s!), and despite the fact that 3/4ths of my so-called "locals" still typically have in excess of a dozen cars each to start with, which is in addition to all the work they have to do along the line (I'm going to be tweaking the spreadsheet to generate fewer cars). Oh, and there were - again - the "usual" glitches: a "pulled drawbar" (a coupler fell off), a greenhorn engineer (they should be qualified on a particular engine before operating it), and the manual switch throw in Middletown became disconnected.

That's all pretty much par for a typical ops session, but this time there were a bunch of additional suggestions to add to the Punch List. Fortunately, they're all relatively minor and didn't at all diminish another fun session operating the Valley Line.

So, without any further ado, here are some photos from the night!

BobV on duty at Saybrook Tower

Dick working PDX-1 in Old Saybrook, assisted by Randy - who's enjoying a break between running trains out of New London/Fort Yard

Roman working PDX-2 north up the Valley Branch, just crossing the old Middlesex Turnpike, which has been dead-ended at the tracks since the 1920s in favor of an overpass to the east of the station (the model of which still needs to be built)

Tom working the west end staging yard (New Haven/Cedar Hill Yard) while Pieter switches the Air Line local in Somerset.

The star of the layout - The Valley Local (HDX-7) switching in Wethersfield with Pete as conductor, Greg as engineer, and John Wallace as technical consultant. The Goff Brook scene is in the foreground.

On the model as on the prototype, the Air Line local and the Valley Local meet in Middletown. Valley Local crew on the right, and Air Line crew on the left - including Pieter's grandson Logan, working the throttle.
As I mentioned, while the session went well, it did cause a bunch of "bubbles" to surface, which need to be popped before the next session. But none of that detracted from the fun - at least I hope what I saw were smiles and not grimaces!

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