Pembroke Southern Narrowly avoids Service Interruption

My friends Brian Rudko and Jamie Neilson were scheduled to stop by on the Thursday of what turned out to be a very busy week at work and in my various volunteer organizations. I’d hoped to have 1120 on the layout by the time they came, but work had other plans. However, 2543 had run several times during the week, so I was confident they wouldn’t be looking at a static diorama.

It was 6:45 and I still had to make up a fruit plate before my guests’ arrival at 7:30 when I finally turned the layout on to complete the schedule for August 22nd. I run enough trains that this is routine, and expect that it will run each time. Sure enough, 2543 pulled onto the Golden Lake turntable and ran around the combine just fine. It pulled all the way back past the Alfred Street crossing and then it stopped.


So dead that no amount of pushing or prodding would make it go. There didn’t appear to be any binding, and so, glancing at the clock, I pulled the volt meter out of the drawer. There was current in the rails, and the tyres were picking it up.

I flipped the little engine over in my handy cradle, and started prodding it. Sure enough, there was no continuity from the wheels to the frames. I whipped off the cover plate to probe deeper, and ultimately narrowed down the source of the failure: the shorting strips had separated from the tyres.

While the soldering iron was heating up, I nipped upstairs to sort out that fruit plate. Then without taking the wheels out of the frames, or indeed the engine out of the cradle, I slipped the iron in there and blobbed a tiny amount more solder on the shorting strips. I didn’t clean them up, but just left the blobs and flipped the tiny four-wheeler back onto the layout.

Thankfully, it ran! I figured the passengers would have all walked down the tracks by now, so I skipped the station stop, signed the register, and hustled the engine back to the roundhouse for a quick kip before it was to start another day.

Brian and Jamie arrived a few minutes later, and we had a pleasant evening of chit-chat. Jamie ran a full day’s worth of trains to the junction and back, and we had only the expected failures and derailments. It will be more fun when we have some freight service, but that’s a matter for another day.

Engineer Jamie and conductor Brian not only continue service, but avoid getting caught in violation of Rule #7: “The use of intoxicants while on duty is prohibited. Their habitual use, or the frequenting of places where they are sold, is sufficient cause for dismissal.”

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