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Railroaders' Nostalgia > "I don't own a bolt of this....."


Date: 10/16/16 19:12
"I don't own a bolt of this....."
Author: cewherry

TAW's recent posting about engineers thinking they couldn't make the grade brought back this memory.

​I was working the BNSF's freight pool between Interbay (Seattle) and Vancouver, WA when I was called at Vancouver one morning for a loaded coal train
​destined to the coal fired electric plant just north of Centralia, WA. When I arrived at the yard office at Vancouver, I was met by my Manager of Operating
​Practices (MOP) who, if memory serves correctly, today is TO's member 'SD9'. He was going to ride with us and informed me that this coal train was
not the normal coal train we had been used to seeing. This was an experimental train composed of what was called "Trough Train Cars" which were, I believe, 20
connected cars between couplers. The train weighed a whopping 21,000+ tons, which by the standards of the day was quite a lot more than normal.
It certainly was a lot more than I had ever handled and it remains the heaviest train I handled in my career. Of course it was a distributed power train with
a 3-2 arrangement; all five units were SD70 MAC's.  

​Soon, the train pulled up in front of the yard office where I conferred with the inbound engineer and he indicated everything was 'OK'. Soon we were on the move.
​We had an uneventful trip up the railroad and began our climb up Napavine hill. Passing Winlock, I thought the speed seemed a little bit slower than usual but owed it
to the high tonnage. The Centralia South DS, Earl Johnson, called our train to ask how we were doing. Fine, fine I replied. Now were getting into the slowest
​part of the hill owing to the curves just north of downtown Winlock and our speed was down in the 15 MPH range. The speed was dropping slowly....14........13.
​The MOP got up and crossed the cab to look at my speedometer. I'm still in run 8. Earl Johnson called again wanting to know our speed. I think he probably
​had a Chief or two looking over his shoulder. Speed is now at 11......10. I'm still in 8. In the back of my mind I am remembering an oft used phrase that an
old school hogger would use when starting a difficult train: "They're either going to come or bleed, I don't own a bolt of this mess".  I admit now that I had some
reservations about how things were deteriorating. Now we're down to 8 mph and I'm still in 8. Earl chimes in with his question about current speed. The MOP
​comes closer to me and asks what I think. I gave him my best impression that I knew what I was doing and followed up with the ....'I don't own a bolt of this'..... line.
​We both laugh which breaks the tension. The speed has stopped dropping as we pass the Evaline school. Sloooowly it rises as the grade begins to ease.
Once again Earl asks about the speed. He's happy with our report and that's the last we hear from him.

At Centralia we are supposed to pull the DP units up to the depot where either the yard crew or another road crew boarded them and we un-link the DP.
​While sitting, the crew chimes in with the news that the rear unit of the DP is dead ​and isolated and want's to know if I knew about that? Of course I didn't
​but that explains some of the recent nail-biting that had occurred. So much for the "everything's OK" report at Vancouver.

​The Trough Train equipment didn't last very long before they were withdrawn; at least around where I saw them. Somebody said that they were literally being pulled apart
​from the strain being placed upon them.
 
Charlie
 



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 10/16/16 22:46 by cewherry.



Date: 10/16/16 20:10
Re: "I don't own a bolt of this....."
Author: boomer

That's hilarious!

Posted from Android



Date: 10/16/16 21:00
Re: "I don't own a bolt of this....."
Author: Fredo

We used to get that all the time on the UP west out of Yermo from the inbound Las Vegas crews and west bound out of Yuma from the Tuscon Crews. They all would say, "GOOD OUTFIT". Ya right !.



Date: 10/16/16 22:30
Re: "I don't own a bolt of this....."
Author: TAW

cewherry Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> that the rear unit of the DP is dead ​and
> isolated and want's to know if I knew about that?
> Of course I didn't
> ​but that explains some of the recent
> nail-biting that had occurred. So much for the
> "everything's OK" report at Vancouver.

I wonder if that was the same SP&S guy that came into Wishram on an east man and told the relieving engineer that everything was fine. However, the relieving engineer noticed that the 3rd unit was on fire, in fact, it was an inferno. The inbound eingineer said that this train doesn't need it anyway - runs fine without it, so I didn't pay any attention.

TAW



Date: 10/16/16 22:48
Re: "I don't own a bolt of this....."
Author: imrl

I don't have enough fingers and toes to count the times I've boarded a train at a crew change, asking the inbound crew if they are all online, only to feel it in the seat of my pants the very first hill that they in fact are NOT all online. 



Date: 10/17/16 04:09
Re: "I don't own a bolt of this....."
Author: SanJoaquinEngr

I remember my first call as an engineer.  Deadhead from LA to Mojave to patch the Mojave Local from Mojave to LA Taylor Yard.  Upon arrival at Mojave talked to the inbound engineer.  He , Fred Towsey, better known as Fred Lousy, told me that the 4 inbound units did not have any dynamic brake.  The consist was 4 SD-9 s.  I had worked with Fred a few times and he was not one to learn any train handling techniques from.  Upon inspection of the units all of the DB switches were in the cut out position.  I cured the problem in just a few minutes.  We boarded the train and finished the local work to Palmdale and went into LA under 8 hours on duty.  Taught me a lesson that I have done and continue to do in my own career..  set up your consist the way you want it.. and do not leave a trap for someone else.. walk the power check all of the switches and MU hoses, power cables, pull in the mirrors and awnings  and angle cocks.  Many times at various roundhouse facilites have found shody workmanship .  Plus units not fueled, low on colling water, piston travel in excess of the law, brake shoes missing, sharp flanges, thin wheels worn down to the witness grooves, air tests not done right, excess brake pipe leakage, leaky maintainers, oil on the running boards, missing safety chains, burned out headlights , class lights, plus many more.

 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/17/16 16:48 by SanJoaquinEngr.



Date: 10/17/16 08:05
Re: "I don't own a bolt of this....."
Author: DrLoco

"Do not leave a trap for someone else."  That, right there folks, is BIBLE truth at the railroad.  I try to get that through to the next generation of railroaders that I am (surprisingly) now training.
Sadly, we have a culture of railroading today that does not palce very high priority on setting things up right for the next guy.  I was lamenting this last week with a few other engineers I work with.  We used to get our posteriors handed to us  by the old heads if we didn't leave a cut laced, on air, with an airslip, or have a work report on a consist correctly updated...Now it seems the mentality is "I got what I needed done for my own train--I'm in a hurry; the next guy can deal with it later."

As a side note, I thank all of the guys on here for taking time to actually retell these stories for all of us to enjoy, and to commit them to a permanent place on the internet where they can be enjoyed and studied for years to come!

Someday, when the guity parties and time limitations run out, I'll add my harrowing adventures to the mix!



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 10/17/16 08:08 by DrLoco.



Date: 10/17/16 08:08
Re: "I don't own a bolt of this....."
Author: TAW

cewherry Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> ​Soon, the train pulled up in front of the yard
> office where I conferred with the inbound
> engineer and he indicated everything was 'OK'.

> ​While sitting, the crew chimes in with the news
> that the rear unit of the DP is dead ​and
> isolated and want's to know if I knew about that?
> Of course I didn't

In train dispatcher lingo, that kind of transfer was called being left a package. One guy I worked with was famous for that. You started looking for the trap as soon as he left.

TAW



Date: 10/17/16 08:32
Re: "I don't own a bolt of this....."
Author: TAW

DrLoco Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> Sadly, we have a culture of railroading today that
> does not palce very high priority on setting
> things up right for the next guy.  I was
> lamenting this last week with a few other
> engineers I work with.  We used to get our
> posteriors handed to us  by the old heads if we
> didn't leave a cut laced, on air, with an airslip,
> or have a work report on a consist correctly
> updated...Now it seems the mentality is "I got
> what I needed done for my own train--I'm in a
> hurry; the next guy can deal with it later."

It's not just railroading; it's, quite sadly, an integral part of our society in general.

>
> As a side note, I thank all of the guys on here
> for taking time to actually retell these stories
> for all of us to enjoy, and to commit them to a
> permanent place on the internet where they can be
> enjoyed and studied for years to come!

I think the stories are valuable. They come as close to replacing missing experience as one can come. I read everyone else's stories and learn something regularly. Long ago, a future engineer spent a lot of time firing for old heads and had a lot of experience before being put in charge of an engine. Trainmen started as part of a crew, surrounded by 60-100 years of experience. Yardmasters pounded the lead, directed by old head yardmasters - and they started on the lead with a crew that had 60-100 years of experience. Train dispatchers started in stations or towers, listening to old head dispatchers work before they were ever invited to come in and apprentice with one. I started out working for bosses who forgot more in an afternoon than many today will ever know. I paid careful attention. There is a lot to be learned from the experience you train with. Now, everyone goes to IES (Instant Expert School) and is put in charge of something, including the ones who go to IES and are put in charge of the railroad. They have no knowledge of anything out of the ordinary. I always hope that in some small way, something that I have done and written about comes to mind for someone someday and helps them deal with some situation successfully. The least I can do for the guys who preceded me is to pass the knowledge along to whomever is interested.

TAW



Date: 10/17/16 08:39
Re: "I don't own a bolt of this....."
Author: mundo

Thanks TAW, need more like you.

Ed



Date: 10/17/16 09:34
Re: "I don't own a bolt of this....."
Author: SP4360

Reminds me of a joke that was played on a railfan over the radio in Mojave.  "We're coming around the big curve, the 1010 is dead and the 1600 won't load." Being slugs............... 
SanJoaquinEngr Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I remember my first call as an engineer. 
> Deadhead from LA to Mojave to patch the Mojave
> Local from Mojave to LA Taylor Yard.  Upon
> arrival at Mojave talked to the inbound
> engineer.  He , Fred Towsey, better known as Fred
> Lousy, told me that the 4 inbound units did not
> have any dynamic brake.  The consist was 4 SD-9
> s.  I had worked with Fred a few times and he was
> not one to learn any train handling techniques
> from.  Upon inspection of the units all of the DB
> switches were in the cut out position.  I cured
> the problem in just a few minutes.  We boarded
> the train and finished the local work to Palmdale
> and went into LA under 8 hours on duty.  Thought
> me a lesson from my own career..  set up your
> consist the way you want it.. and do not leave a
> trap for someone else.. 



Date: 10/17/16 09:43
Re: "I don't own a bolt of this....."
Author: spnudge

We had a hoghead that worked the long haul passenger 98 & 99 SF to SLO and then Atk 12 & 13 Oakland to SLO.  He would tell you everything was just fine and head for the depot. I would get on, sit down and not have much time until the highball. When that came, I would kick the brakes off and start pulling them up to speed to make the running test. Only trouble was it didn't sound or feel quite right.  Sure enough, he left the brake valve in freight instead of passenger.  No, it didn't effect the end result of using the brakes but it changed the" way" you would use them.  A fireman that worked with him told me years later that he thought it was funny and wondered how long it would take before it was discovered. 

Oh, I've had my share of guys tell me, "The power is just fine.", only to stall on the hill with a dead unit that was already isolated or one that wasn't loading.  As far as DB, I always tried them out somewhere down the line so I didn't get that "E" ticket surprise after starting down the grade. Back when they were mixing the power on the Zippers you had to be careful of the old old style "Loop" engines and the new style DB. They would throw as many as 6 to 8 old F's or GP's on the point so you could make the running time but you couldn't count on the DB. (The F's and old passenger GP's were okay when they maintained them but in 68-69 to the end, they were a pain in the a-s to keep running.)

As far as getting over the road we had a single GE on the point of the mty beet racks coming into Salinas one morning. We only had about 15 cars left. The engine started to die when we left Chualar. We came to a stop and restarted it at Firestone  and took off again. After 3 miles it died again.  It died again after we went by the east crossovers The siding and storage tracks were all full of refers waiting for #14 (The Plug) and us to clear so they could switch the spots.This was one of the "New" 8700s GE did not have a lay shaft (no GE's did) and the low oil button reset was not only on the back of the governor where you had to lean over the whole engine with a flag stick to push it back in but also an electric push button on the fireman's side below the cab. It was behind a 50 pound steel door that swung down. We all knew where the designer had his head when he drew up the plans.

Cut to the chase, here we come up the main into Salinas, No. 14 has us lined in the crossover and it was a sight. The head and rear man hanging on a monkey wrench that was hooked around the lay shaft, the fireman leaning out his window with a flag stick so he could hit the reset button and me going between isolating the engine, cutting the brake valve out  (when you went to start the engine it would trip the PC and try to dump the air the way we were doing it) and then starting the whole sequence again. The fireman would reset the button, I would nod to the guys on the gangway and they would put their weight on the wrench, I would start the engine, the PC would reset, I would cut the brake valve back in then would open the throttle and we would be off again for another mile. All the time we we were moving at about 10 to 15 MPH until it would die again. Repeat.  We made it in the clear with 8 minutes left to work.

Back then we liked to the TMs & RFEs we had and it worked both ways. I remember MDO asked me on this site once what could I say that would have made him sleep better at night back then? Well, it was not so much saying but doing. Most of us did back then but that was when we worked for an outfit that knew it was a two way street and there was respect on both sides.


Nudge

 



Date: 10/17/16 18:04
Re: "I don't own a bolt of this....."
Author: joeygooganelli

MY favorite way to brief a crew I'm swapping with is, "You've got a kicker, no dynamic brake, and the speedo is off by 10. Good luck!".  It usually brings a good chuckle but then the guy is paying attention for me to give him a heads up of what's going on with the train.

Joe



Date: 10/17/16 18:06
Re: "I don't own a bolt of this....."
Author: roustabout

Once upon a time, I took over a train from a crew, the inbound hogger said all six units were on line.  I turned on the rear headlight and walked through the power and found the rear headlight was not on.  Walked up on the outside, found the MU cable between the third and fourth unit plugged into the dummy receptacle.  I mentioned it to that hogger the next day and he said he had wondered why he needed air going down the hill with 6 units and not many cars. Maybe he learned something...

SanJoaquinEngr Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I remember my first call as an engineer. 
> Deadhead from LA to Mojave to patch the Mojave
> Local from Mojave to LA Taylor Yard.  Upon
> arrival at Mojave talked to the inbound
> engineer.  He , Fred Towsey, better known as Fred
> Lousy, told me that the 4 inbound units did not
> have any dynamic brake.  The consist was 4 SD-9
> s.  I had worked with Fred a few times and he was
> not one to learn any train handling techniques
> from.  Upon inspection of the units all of the DB
> switches were in the cut out position.  I cured
> the problem in just a few minutes.  We boarded
> the train and finished the local work to Palmdale
> and went into LA under 8 hours on duty.  Taught
> me a lesson that I have done and continue to do in
> my own career..  set up your consist the way you
> want it.. and do not leave a trap for someone
> else.. walk the power check all of the switches
> and MU hoses, power cables, pull in the mirrors
> and awnings  and angle cocks.  Many times at
> various roundhouse facilites have found shody
> workmanship .  Plus units not fueled, low on
> colling water, piston travel in excess of the law,
> brake shoes missing, sharp flanges, thin wheels
> worn down to the witness grooves, air tests not
> done right, excess brake pipe leakage, leaky
> maintainers, oil on the running boards, missing
> safety chains, burned out headlights , class
> lights, plus many more.
>
>  



Date: 10/17/16 19:14
Re: "I don't own a bolt of this....."
Author: TAW

roustabout Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Once upon a time, I took over a train from a crew,
> the inbound hogger said all six units were on
> line.  I turned on the rear headlight and walked
> through the power and found the rear headlight was
> not on.  Walked up on the outside, found the MU
> cable between the third and fourth unit plugged
> into the dummy receptacle.  I mentioned it to
> that hogger the next day and he said he had
> wondered why he needed air going down the hill
> with 6 units and not many cars. Maybe he learned
> something...

Maybe he was related to this guy? http://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?11,1045490,1045490#1045490

TAW



Date: 10/18/16 07:39
Re: "I don't own a bolt of this....."
Author: Cabhop

I remember changing out and in response to "how's things" the in bound engineer said "you've got and damn good Mars light and a a hell of whistle, the rest is a piece of s_ _ t!

Pat



Date: 10/18/16 10:22
Re: "I don't own a bolt of this....."
Author: tehachcond

   I remember one time at Yuma, we relieved an old-head Tucson crew who said they'd picked up a unit at Wellton, and placed it second out in the consist for some reason.  "Good outfit," we were told.
   Away we went with everything seemingly in good shape.  The first time my engineer used the air coming into Ferrum, we got a smashing run-in!.  The engineer said, "somethings screwed up.  I did bail the jam.'
   We came to a stop, and I found that the other crew in picking up the unit had crossed the actuator and application and release hoses.  So much for a good power air test!  We corrected this state of affairs, and continued without further incident.
   In all fairness, I imagine us Colton/LA guys left them a few packages too.

Brian Black
Castle Rock, CO
 



Date: 10/18/16 20:12
Re: "I don't own a bolt of this....."
Author: sphogger

It wasn't necessarily a matter of indifference, there were a few that thought it good sport to set you up with a nightmare train.  "Good outfit".  Get on to find full service application on the heavy grade with 50psi on the rear, one unit working out of 3, dynamiter, no speedometer and a cab full of cigarette smoke.  Lol.  Of course on the SP we made do with what we had.  Some folks didn't trust anyone insisting on making their own inspection when changing crews.

Nudge - probably the same GE unit I nearly ruined a down vest on trying to get the beets over the road.  Ran enough to get up to 8-10 mph then died.  The little GP-9 (might have been an SD) coupled to it couldn't keep us going south,  I think we died somewhere around McKay.  Typical railroad, keep cycling the junk back and forth.  Willian Finnegan ("Barbarian Days, A Surfing Life",  writer for the The New Yorker) was working those jobs back in his time with SP.  

Sphogger



Date: 10/20/16 15:13
Re: "I don't own a bolt of this....."
Author: hogheaded

This story was told to me in my Tucumcari brakeman days in the early '80's by a known-liar hoghead: He claimed that one day after his train rolled into town off the Cotton Rock, the engineer that he was to relieve leisurely climbed down from the cab and reported "everything works", to which my buddy says he responded, "Even the unit back there that's on fire?" The Cotton Rock E cooly responded without lifting an eyebrow, "Yep, for the time being."

It only seems like a lie the first time you read it.

EO



Date: 10/20/16 15:34
Re: "I don't own a bolt of this....."
Author: TAW

hogheaded Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> This story was told to me in my Tucumcari brakeman
> days in the early '80's by a known-liar hoghead:
> He claimed that one day after his train rolled
> into town off the Cotton Rock, the engineer that
> he was to relieve leisurely climbed down from the
> cab and reported "everything works", to which my
> buddy says he responded, "Even the unit back there
> that's on fire?" The Cotton Rock E cooly responded
> without lifting an eyebrow, "Yep, for the time
> being."
>
> It only seems like a lie the first time you read
> it.
>

Having experienced something similar three times (twice with a locomotive and once with a flat car of lumber in the middle of a 20 car train), I find it entirely believable.

TAW



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