A special thanks to Larry, Marcus, Jeff and Steve for coming out to operate today. It was a great time as usual!
The session started off with Steve taking the #110 Illinois Shorts train which is a road local from Chicago to Silvis. He made set offs in Joliet, Ottawa, LaSalle and terminated at Kelly Yard in Silvis.
#110 IL Shorts held up at LaSalle for the #6 Quad Cities Rocket (Marcus) to pass and then slipped down past Bureau before #12 Peoria Rocket (myself) bound for Chicago passed by.
Jeff worked the #113 Joliet local.
Larry took on the daunting task of the new #217 Ottawa Local. I think Larry summed up well by calling it the beast! Larry worked Peru/LaSalle first. Good thing I made the Philadelphia Quartz lead long as Larry had to clear up on the lead twice for passing trains.
Marcus engineered the extra loaded grain train from Iowa bound for the Pabst Brewery plant in Peoria. This train took the wye at Bureau to head south to Peoria. Very neat negotiating the tight curve at Bureau.
Steve took the #112 Rock Island local.
Marcus engineered #1 Chicago to Tucumcari freight encountering Jeff working in Joliet, Larry working in LaSalle and Steve thrashing around in Rock Island.
Trains #90 Peoria to Chicago and #95 Chicago to Peoria were operated by Jeff and myself passing in Bureau.
Jeff took #2 Tucumcari to Chicago freight. He was delayed by the #112 Rock Island local. I blame that on the CEO (myself) for giving poor instructions to the crew. My bad. This is the ROCK. We can't expect every train to run on time.
Marcus scored another hot train (third in a row) engineering #57 Chicago to Council Bluffs Auto Parts/TOFC. Train #57 was scheduled to meet #2 at Blue Island, but the meet was moved to Bureau due to #2s delays. They would have fit at LaSalle, but it would have been close. I wasn't sure so the dispatcher played it safe holding #2 at Bureau which is a much longer siding.
Marcus' luck ran out as his next assignment was #221 Blue Island local. He went from #1 to zero. The Blue Island local is a tough one. You can be looking right at the tracks thinking it will lead to a certain industry to find oh....no, it doesn't. I have determined no local is easy on the ROCK. All of them have their various challenges.
Jeff took over 2nd shift of the Ottawa Local at 3pm. Larry was ready to give it over by that time. Both operators were found to be sweating. It could have been the temperature in the room, but I think it was the stress from the mental challenge presented by the local. :-) The Ottawa local is a puzzle.
I engineered #43 Chicago to Council Bluffs freight encountering Marcus at Blue Island, Jeff at Ottawa and Steve at Rock Island.
The locals were able to thrash about for two hours or so before the evening parade began.
Larry started it off with #5 Quad Cities Rocket. He encountered locomotive issues at Blue Island. Welcome to the ROCK! The trainmaster decided to take #11 train (not scheduled until 7:25pm) to rescue #5. Larry combined the two trains and departed westbound.
A storm was brewing in Bureau. The dispatcher had given Steve clearance to work in Bureau and clear up on the Peoria branchline before trains #44 Council Bluffs to Chicago freight (myself) and #5 Quad Cities Rocket met in Bureau. That would have all been fine and dandy, but Larry needed to setoff the Peoria Rocket's cars at the wye. #44 Council Bluffs to Chicago freight held out at Rock Island until #5 arrived. #44 received clearance to Bureau and further east allowing for #112 Rock Island local to complete his work.
Larry shortened his stops to five minutes (normally ten) and arrive in East Moline one minute behind schedule. Excellent job Larry!
Steve ran the last train of the day #23 Chicago to Houston freight.
Pretty good stuff! We ran 18 trains during the session operating from 4:30am until roughly 9pm on the fast clock.
We did encounter a lot of locomotive issues today. They mainly revolved around the Proto 2000 and Kato RS2s. Usually, these are great runners, but today, they all seemed to be possessed. They will all have to undergo some major cleaning and TLC to get them back in top shape.
So, a few changes are being considering.
The LaSalle local is born!
I knew the Ottawa local was a beast, but never thought that the work at LaSalle would be enough for a separate local. I was proven wrong. The work is steady enough, plus dodging passing trains adds up to a fair amount of time (roughly 6 hours today). The local will be based out of LaSalle, perform work in Peru and LaSalle, travel to Ottawa to exchange blocks of cars, and switch any industries on the way back as required. So, the #118 LaSalle Local is born.
It appears that I need to revamp the waybills with the changes to the layout. It was confusing for some operators where cars needed to go and how to block them. It can be confusing for even myself at times. I'm still working out the details with operators from today's session, but I will post my findings later. Changes will occur though to simplify the waybills so crews can easily identify where to route cars.
Abolishing Train Registers at Stations
I have decided to abolish the train registers at the individual stations. It's a great idea, but cumbersome on a smaller layout like mine. If there was more distance between stations, I think it would work fine.