It was good to be back in the saddle again, and tonight I was breaking in the new guy. Brian, who had been to the layout only once or twice previously, and I ran mainline trains as is the custom with a rookie, so he can familiarize himself with the overall layout, rules and particulars before trying other more complex jobs. Brian is a member of Op Sig, so he has plenty of experience, and he caught on quickly.
|A switcher sits quietly in a Flora Street Yard track with a long string of autoracks filled with freshly built Fords. I guess the work day is over here, as no one is in sight and the locomotive isn't even on.|
We first ran OWPX, an eastbound freight expediter to Salt Lake City. I tried to explain as much about radio protocol, yard procedures, horn blowing, how to call the signals, etc. on the first trip and then just remind on the subsequent runs. He had operated on the layout before, so this was already familiar material. Here's some of the stuff we saw along the way.
|We didn't stop at the call box today, so it was a quick pass through the sleepy control point at Trevarno.|
|A Merchandise Dispatch box car sits by itself on a track at the Kaiser gravel company at Radum.|
|A front loader works to load gravel beyond the shack that houses the office at Kaiser.|
|The crossing to get to Kaiser.|
|Gravel hoppers ready to be picked up at Kaiser. The Rockswitcher didn't run tonight, so this will probably get picked up next session.|
|Stockton depot is always busy.|
|The depot was built by Mike Barrett after a trip to California to measure the existing building. Excellent work!|
|Headed into the hole at West Staging through the SP crossing at Radum.|
|Blowin' and goin' through Flora Street (although in this part of the railroad, it means we were probably going about 15mph...) This is Weber Ave. with the SP tracks crossing in the foreground.|
|Brian minds the signals moving through Tracy on the west bound extra out of Stockton.|
We ran a couple of other trains including the Auto Parts Forwarder (APF) and a westbound freight extra (WPW) without incident. The extra was the last train of the evening for us, so I let Brian take it solo, and I just hovered in case I was needed. He did great, and from what I could tell, he enjoyed the evening tremendously.
The ongoing conversation for us this evening was about how long it took to learn all the rules and how we were trained, etc. I can't remember exactly how long I've been operating at Tommy's, but it has been close to 8 or 10 years. Sounds like a long time, but it isn't if you remember that at best we operate 10 times a year and there are at least 8 different jobs on the layout. That means out of about 80 possibilities to do a job in 8 years, you probably have not done each job more than about 10 times. This is not a lot of practice when it is spread out over several years. With this in mind, it is impressive that there are several people who are really good operators of the layout. At this point the evening is usually uneventful in terms of mistakes. We can now concentrate on efficiency and enjoying the ride more now that we are not trying to remember rules or procedures. Even after a year long lay-off, we all just fell back into the groove.