Operations Sessions are very serious…..

…Unless you engage in one of Tony’s freelance industry pickup and drop off events.  The plan was to have 4 loco operators pick up and drop off 2 box cars from each of 5 industries. The dispatcher would sign off on each drop off and pick up. Successful car switches would then qualify people to enter a draw for prizes.

The industries overlapped between operators so in order to successfully negotiate the sequence of events, the loco engineers sat down to work out a plan of who should go where and when so that operators wouldn’t get in the way of each other…. Just kidding.  What did “we” do?

This was a race! Off we went at maximum speed. The first car drop off and pick up went smoothly, then all hell broke loose.

Bill arrived first at one industry and began to shuttle aimlessly back and forth at the Oil refinery. Keith waited in the wings and patiently stood by. After 5 min of the shuttling back and forth, Keith saw his opportunity, flicked the switch and jetted through on his way to the lumber yard. Unfortunately Bill decided to reverse course and T-boned two of Keith’s box cars off the track. Words were exchanged.

Keith then decided to take the two cars at the lumber yard. Unfortunately his loco was at the wrong end to drop his two other cars off. So what to do? As Bill was still shuttling back and forth at the nearest loop, “I will come back later” he thought, and dashed off with all 4 cars.

Lou, meanwhile, tried to negotiate a tight turn in a siding and his 6 axle loco came off the tracks.

Tired of fighting with Bill, Keith steamed off in the opposite direction to try his luck at Waynes Meats only to arrive at Dutch Flats a fraction behind (yes you have guessed it) Bill! Trying to avoid a repeat of earlier, Keith waited whilst Bill negotiated his way into Waynes Meats and picked up 2 cars.  However he then had the same problem Keith had earlier in that the Loco was on the wrong end to drop 2 cars off.  So he decided to go to the nearest loop to orient his loco correctly. Meanwhile an evil grin came over Keith’s face.  Seeing an opportunity, he then rushed into Waynes Meats and dropped off 2 cars and then retreated. Bill was furious. “now what do I do? He said to the Dispatcher. Much whispering occurred between Bill and Keith and they negotiated a car transfer and pretended that 2 cars had been exchanged. Unfortunately the Dispatcher overheard and on signing off on both operators car switch lists, wrote in the words “weak” on both operators sheets.

Lou’s 6 axle loco then left the tracks again.

Lou arrived at the Lumber Yard to discover no box cars. Keith then kindly offered to drop the cars he should’ve left in the lumber yard earlier by the cross over at the oil refinery. “you can pick them up there!” he magnanimously exclaimed.

Lou’s 6 axle went off the tracks again.

At this point the dispatcher christened Keith with the term “disease”. But was this malaise temporary? Absolutely not! Bill and Keith then headed off in opposite directions on the same main line…. Only to meet around the other side of the layout. A corn field meet was inevitable! Both locos butted up against one another in a gentle fashion. Did the operators retreat to the nearest siding and negotiate a pass? No. Both decided to push the other out of the way by going full throttle. Bill’s loco was stronger than Keith’s which resulted in Keiths train being pushed backwards through the tunnel to the Roseville yard.

At this point Lou’s loco came off the tracks.

On returning to Dutch Flats to complete another exchange, Keith was then boxed in the siding by Lou’s train trundling into the same siding. A polite exchange of words ensued although in hindsight it may have sounded like a rant since terms like “get out of my siding!”, “how on earth are you going exchange any cars with me in the way?” were overheard. Keith distinctly remembers the term “disease” being used again by the dispatcher…

Meanwhile in other parts of the layout Josh successfully completed his task list without any issues and more specifically any intervention with the others.

After the sun had set, Bill finished up his switch list. Keith had long given up and provided the dispatcher with his partial list. When the dispatcher had finished laughing, it was time for the raffle.  A  playing card for every successful switch was drawn by each person although the dispatcher felt sorry for keith and allowed him 5 cards. A raffle ticket was given for each face card. Despite the 5 cards, Keith had no face cards. Following another prolonged laughter session, the dispatcher then drew the raffle with the wine being won by Lou and the cap being won by Josh.

Keith’s switch list is now pinned to the notice board…..


The Disease, Apr 28th 2018