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Railroaders' Nostalgia > A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 2)


Date: 12/13/16 22:05
A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 2)
Author: cewherry

About 7 or 8 o'clock that evening we were told that a crew had been called for our train. Since I had been so quick to volunteer for the first train and its
​attendent comforts ala Mississippi River, it befell me the pleasure of trying to fake my way through getting the operating crew thoroughly checked out
​on all the ins and outs of Locotrol.

One thing I learned as a very young lad in the Boy Scouts was don't try to bluff your way in ​anything. ​It's best practice to admit right up front if you don't know what
​youre doing. With this axiom in mind, when the engineer showed up on board the 7270 that evening, I told him from the outset that I had never been aboard a
​distributed power train, I knew nothing about them from any experience of my own but that I had a couple of sheets of paper that somebody had given me that
​supposedly would guide us through the procedure of setting them up for service, making a brake pipe test and hopefully if everything worked out OK be able to
move a train in the general direction of Ravenna. He looked at me with a slight grin on his face and said: "Where's that paper?, Let's get going". We spent the next 20-30
​minutes following the instructions that Art had, in his thorough way, written down step-by-step. To my relief and amazement everything worked, just like Art had said it would.
Another item that I made sure to cover with the engineer was the operation of the "Big Red Button". Essentially it was that if all else was failing, don't hesitate to push the red
​button. Better to stop and re-group than to risk a collision or getting by a stop signal.  We left Lincoln and headed west. Two empty coal trains; 3 locomotives,
business car Mississippi River with Art Fiedler and Jim Cane in attendance, one complete empty coal train, 3 more locomotives, another
​complete empty coal train and a caboose bring up the rear. One proviso that Art told both myself and the Omaha man was that if at any time these trains encountered
any difficulty that required us to stop we were not to try to troubleshoot any problems out there in the middle of the road. This piece of BN railroad was too busy for such shenanigans.
We were to immediately take steps to un-link the remotes and manage to move all power to the head end and then operate as a conventional train from that point.

​About 45 minutes after departing Lincoln, The radio came to life. It was Art Fiedler's unmistakable voice: "​Calling Road Foreman Wherry", I looked at the engineer. He
handed me the handset. ​"Road Foreman Wherry, come back to the business car". ​Oh oh, something must be wrong I thought. I told the engineer to just keep on what he was doing
​and remember that if all else fails ​push the big red button. With that said I worked my way back through the units and entered the kitchen end of Mississippi River. Remembering
​the no shoes edict, I unlaced my boots and padded my way into the car.

​Art was sitting at the dining room table, a full spread of food laid out before him. "​Come on, let's eat" ​he said.  ​But Art, I've gotta get back to the engine, I plead. "​Why; that engineer
​knows where he's going, It's his railroad."
​ "Well, yes but...."  "​Aw, come on, sit down and enjoy the food that Jim has cooked up". "You did ​ tell the engineer about the
big red button, didn't you?"  "
​Well, yes but....don't you think I need to be up there? "Naw, ​lets eat. You can go back up at Ravenna, if you want to". Those pork chops looked very
inviting, and they were just as delicious as they looked.

I did go back to the head end at Ravenna only to find the cab occupied by the local trainmaster as well as a promoted fireman.  I rode along for several miles
​and then the TM says he's got it under control and if they need anything they'll call me. I went back to the biz car, found one of the bedrooms empty, took a nice hot shower and
​went to sleep. The next morning Art was up when I came out of my room. He told me to go up to the engines and ask the crew to come back to the car for breakfast, one at a time.
​They all did, and there was no griping about going around in socks on the Mississippi River that trip.

​We made two round-trips during my 5 days aboard that week and the only trip where we didn't have problems was on that first westward run. Every other trip was beset with
radio communications problems and I don't think BN was very encouraged by our performance. But Art and Jim and I had a grand time. Yes, Art Fiedler knew how to travel in style and
he was very sharing of the 'perks' of the job and I came away from my time with him convinced that he was a bit of a railfan at heart.  I wonder how the Omaha RFE fared. Probably not as well.

Photo 1: "The Red Button" as well as the airbrake control buttons
​Photo 2: Jim Cane, great chef. Jim started in the dining car department of the Great Northern. His son Mark started working summers with his dad as a dish washer and then,
​               after college, worked for BN rising to VP level. I think he also was with Amtrak after leaving BN.
​              Art Fiedler at the desk. Notice the covered chairs. Art had to promise to not dirty the carpet or uphohstery as a pre-condition to using BN's finest. He also slept in Bedrrom A,
​              the one that Lou Menk, also a 6'+ guy had equipped with an oversize bed.
​Photo 3: In the Sand Hills of western Nebraska. The subdivision between Ravenna and Alliance was called the Sand Hills Sub.

Charlie



 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/13/16 22:10 by cewherry.








Date: 12/14/16 15:52
Re: A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 2)
Author: 3rdswitch

Great story.
JB



Date: 12/14/16 22:05
Re: A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 2)
Author: 567Chant

In pic one, the upper LH corner of the Locotrol panel has either sustained a lightning strike,
or was attacked by a drunken arc welder.
I dunno.
...Lorenzo



Date: 12/14/16 23:08
Re: A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 2)
Author: cewherry

567Chant Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> In pic one, the upper LH corner of the Locotrol
> panel has either sustained a lightning strike,
> or was attacked by a drunken arc welder.
> I dunno.

​Unfortunately, it appears to be a standard after-market modification. All too regular
​in this industry.

Charlie



Date: 12/15/16 09:23
Re: A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 2)
Author: spider1319

Great story and photos.You had the foresight to take pictures.Good job.Bill Webb



Date: 12/15/16 19:08
Re: A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 2)
Author: mococomike

Great story and experience thanks for sharing.



Date: 12/15/16 22:06
Re: A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 2)
Author: SD9

Great time capsule, Charlie. Thanks.



Date: 12/16/16 11:36
Re: A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 2)
Author: Wurli1938

The engine crew must have really been surprised at having such a fine breakfast, and a newly developed respect for Art.



Date: 12/20/16 18:58
Re: A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 2)
Author: mthidemann

Great story. So how did they handle the train when it got to Alliance? 



Date: 12/21/16 20:16
Re: A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 2)
Author: Quakerengr

Ditto great story.  had Art as one of my instructors in 1979  going thru BN's LETP ( Locomotive Engrs Training Program).  " No fuel like an old Fuel"   and "You as a Locomotive Engineer"



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/22/16 10:23 by Quakerengr.



Date: 12/23/16 07:39
Re: A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 2)
Author: 90mac

Great story Charlie.
Merry Christmas
TAH



Date: 01/03/17 08:54
Re: A Road Foremans' most excellent ride (Part 2)
Author: OregonOldGuy

mthidemann Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Great story. So how did they handle the train when
> it got to Alliance? 

Several possiblilties.

Pull through the yard stopping when the remotes jsut reach the entrance, cut off, and a yard crew or the outgoing crew pulls the pin, the front half pulls the rest of the way in.  The rear half then enters a different yard track..

Train pull into and through the yard until rear is clear.  Front half cuts off, pulls forward, then backs into a different yard track, or has new crew aboard and heads for the mine.

I don't know if they ever ran the doubles all the way to Gillette (East Donkey Creek).  I did see a few of them east of Alliance in the late 80s/early 90s.  I do recall they were all power up front then.

Rob



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