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Railroaders' Nostalgia > A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 1)


Date: 12/13/16 20:27
A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 1)
Author: cewherry

In the fall of 1985 I was assigned to Ft. Scott Kansas as Road Foreman of Equipment for the BN.
One Saturday morning I was instructed to drive to Lincoln, NE and there to meet up with the System RFE and
​Superintendent of Air Brakes Art Fiedler. No other information was provided. Just get to Lincoln ASAP.
​I had met Art, briefly, while working as a fireman in Seattle and I knew that Art's seniority was on the Pacific Division
​as a former Northern Pacific-Tacoma engineer so we would have something in common to talk about when we next met.

I managed to find the division offices and wandered down some empty hallways until I heard voices in a room.
​Opening the door I asked if they could point me in the direction of Art Fiedler. Somebody said he could be found in the
​roundhouse at ​'the' business car. With instructions in hand I found the roundhouse and sitting on a spur
​was the BNA1, Mississippi River. I climbed the steps and saw a hand written note taped to the inside of the
rear door saying: "Be back in 10 minutes--Jim". The door was locked and I looked into the observation area.
What I saw was puzzling. There were cloth runners covering the carpeting and the chairs were also covered with form fitting covers.
It looked to all the world that there was some kind of painting either going on or planned inside the car. Thinking there must be some kind of mistake 
but seeing no other business car I decided to go sit in my car and await developments. In about 20 minutes a small economy car drove up and the driver
​began unloading grocery bags and cardboard boxes of foodstuff from the trunk onto the rear platform of the car. I asked the driver if he could tell me where I might find
​Fiedler. "Oh, he's around here someplace; come on up". Just as I was about to enter the rear door, the driver stopped me and said that I would have to
​take my shoes off before I could enter the car. "​They're letting us use the car but we can't wear our shoes; thats why there's all these runners and seat covers".
​Who am I to question the customs? The shoes were left on the platform. I helped the driver, who introduced himself as Jim Cane--cook and all around attendant,
move the groceries into the kitchen while we awaited the arrival of Art. Shortly, another guy showed up and introduced himself as a RFE from Omaha, I believe.
He was just as puzzled about the goings on as I was.

​Art arrived and in what I became to know as his 'all-business' manner explained what was going on. The BN was exploring  the possibility of doubling up
​empty coal trains and running them with distributed power between Lincoln and Alliance NE with the obvious savings of a couple of crews between
Lincoln and Alliance. At this time crews ran from Lincoln to Ravenna, about 125 miles, changed crews and then Ravenna to Alliance about 237 miles.
There was no plan to double up the loads moving eastward over the same route. He went on to say that two of these 'test' trains were going to be dispatched
that evening from Lincoln and, looking at us, asked which train we would like to be on.

There is an old saying about being stupid around the railroad that goes something like: ​I may have been born at night but I wasn't born last ​ night.
As I sat there my mind is whirling. I figured that Art is probably going to have the comfort of the Mississippi River available for his use and those groceries
​I had helped Jim Cane load into the pantry are surely not just for Jim. It was easy to do the simple 2 + 2 math and come up with the fact that whereever
​Art is the groceries won't be far away. Siezing the moment and before my brother RFE could respond, I asked Art if this business car was going to be on
one of these trains? ​Yes, the first train, ​Art replied. "I believe I will take the first train", I chimmed in. The brother from Omaha was left with his jaw slackened.
I explained to Art that I had never been aboard a 'Remote' train much less operated one. Neither had the Omaha guy.
​"That's no problem, here's a couple of pages of instructions on just how to set them up" ​Art offers. We then spent the next couple of hours going over step-by-step
every thing you would ever want to know about Locotrol.

​Later that evening the Mississippi River was moved off the spur and into the roundhouse where we were coupled to our road power led by SD40 7270 and two GE's. The
​lead unit of the remote can be seen a few feet behind the biz car. The second photo is my home for the next week. Pretty nice!
The next photo shows the Harris Control head-end device for 'Locotrol' in use on the BN at that time. Sorry about the admittedly poor resolution but you can get
some idea of what the engineer faced from his position at the head end of a train being operated with remotes in 1985.
​I don't believe any railroad is using this (Harris) equipment today. I could be wrong about that so feel free to chime in with corrections.

​Next: The Big Red Button.

Charlie


.  
 








Date: 12/13/16 22:11
Re: A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 1)
Author: JimBaker

What is the heritage of the 'Mississippi River', is it a Santa Fe car?

James R.(Jim) Baker
Whittier, CA



Date: 12/13/16 22:14
Re: A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 1)
Author: cewherry

JimBaker Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> What is the heritage of the 'Mississippi River',
> is it a Santa Fe car?

CB&Q. Others can give a complete pedigree. I believe it is now known as the Gerald Grinstein on the BNSF.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/13/16 22:16 by cewherry.



Date: 12/14/16 02:26
Re: A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 1)
Author: The_Chief_Way

It was built by Budd for CB&Q as the "Burlington."
After the BN merger, it became the "Burlington Northern"
and then "Mississippi River."  After the BNSF merger,
it took on the "Gerald Grinstein" name and is rumored to be 
the car preferred by Executive Chaiman Matt Rose.



Date: 12/14/16 08:49
Re: A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 1)
Author: ntharalson

I did not realize that any of the 7200's were set up for Locotrol operation.  BN later abandoned it
because it was very unreliable.  The Santa Fe, however, continued to use it right up to the BNSF
merger.  BNSF for a while eschewed DPU operations, I sure because of the BN's experience with
Locotrol.  I believe current DPU technology is a major upgrade from Locotrol.  I can be corrected
on any of this.  

Nick Tharalson,
Marion, IA



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/15/16 08:30 by ntharalson.



Date: 12/14/16 13:48
Re: A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 1)
Author: hoggerdoug

BC Rail used Locotrol I and then Locotrol II, the last units we had, had the newest DPU type setup. Locotrol I was primitive, Locotrol II was a great improvement. Out of the 3 systems I preferred Locotrol II as it seemed more operator friendly.  I don't know if many railroads used the Locotrol II system, without prior use of remote control units, most seemed to have jumped head first into the new DPU system.  Doug



Date: 12/15/16 16:51
Re: A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 1)
Author: DrLoco

Harris is still around today--just GE/Harris now.
Great story and pics to go with it.



Date: 12/15/16 20:29
Re: A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 1)
Author: MW810

...and still labeled locotrol.

I'm not sure what Southern used on its "radio trains" but the "Harris box" as we knew it by was still used on my railroad until 2012? until the all in service equipped locomotives had it intergrated.

SOU training video for Saluda Grade
https://youtu.be/9IABM8UPplY



Date: 12/15/16 22:31
Re: A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 1)
Author: SD45X

Surprised they didn't put it behind the leader. Usually have a drawbar restriction on passenger cars. Two steel empties would exceed that I would think.



Date: 12/16/16 21:16
Re: A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 1)
Author: burlingtonjohn

JimBaker Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> What is the heritage of the 'Mississippi River',
> is it a Santa Fe car?'

​Forgive me for answering this, as I am not a rail. The office car Burlington (as the Q called them) was built by Budd for Q President Harry Murphy at about the same time Budd was building the 'Santa Fe' for AT&SF President Fred Gurley, a former Q man. When Murphy heard of this, he directed his people that the Burlington was to cost at least $1,000 more than the Santa Fe. Bragging rights, if you will.

​The Burlington / Mississippi River / Gerald Grinstein was the only Q car in service on the BNSF until dome Canyon View (nee Silver Veranda) entered service recently after a long period of storage in Topeka.

Regards,
Burlington John
 



Date: 12/16/16 21:39
Re: A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 1)
Author: Waybiller

DrLoco Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Harris is still around today--just GE/Harris now.
> Great story and pics to go with it.

I have a feeling any Harris people still left at GE would say Harris is gone.



Date: 12/16/16 23:41
Re: A Road Foreman's' most excellent ride (Part 1)
Author: JimBaker

Thanks to all who answered my "Heritage ' question.
I thought the car looked like a Budd Santa Fe Business car, The Atchison, Topeka or the Santa Fe.
I saw all three cars being loaded onto the Santa Fe Ferry at Richmond, CA back during the 1964(?) Republican Convention in San Francisco.
Ike and Mamie Eisenhower took a limo over the Bay Bridge instead of riding all around the Bay into San Francisco.

James R.(Jim) Baker
Whittier, CA



Date: 12/26/16 19:54
Re: A Road Foreman's' most excellent ride (Part 1)
Author: Brasspounder

BC rail units roaming around still have that system installed. Some of the old UP C44s still have the old Harris box, although they are deactivated, but a very few were in service and working as recently as a couple years ago. There are some UP C44s with the Harris box in place but they've been fitted with the integrated guts.

Posted from Android



Date: 01/11/17 21:04
Re: A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 1)
Author: SPMemphisFreight

Thanks for posting this video, very interesting.  

MW810 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ...and still labeled locotrol.
>
> I'm not sure what Southern used on its "radio
> trains" but the "Harris box" as we knew it by was
> still used on my railroad until 2012? until the
> all in service equipped locomotives had it
> intergrated.
>
> SOU training video for Saluda Grade
> https://youtu.be/9IABM8UPplY



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