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Railroaders' Nostalgia > An SP parallel to "16 Hours on a Caboose."


Date: 03/21/17 20:21
An SP parallel to "16 Hours on a Caboose."
Author: ExSPCondr

In 1982 the enginemen were going to go on strike, so the SP stopped ATK #1 at Phoenix and had ATK bus the pasengers to LA.  I was riding as the Trainmaster, which was really a travellng electricians job, so I went to a motel and tied up with the Chief Dispatchers office in Tucson.
About seven hours later the phone rang, and I was asked if I could make the 8am Greyhound from Phoenix to Tucson.  I jumped up and took a quick shower, ran up front only to find that the motel's van was gone.  By the time I got a cab and got to the bus station, the "dog" had left.  So, I went back out the front of the bus station and got back in the cab I had taken from the motel, and had him take me to the airport.  The SP provided us with a booklet of "form 762s" which were a travel voucher, so I used one to buy the plane ticket, and beat the bus to Tucson by at least an hour.

At Tucson I found out I stood to be the engineer on the BSM (which was the SP's equivalent of the Super C.)  My head brakeman was a surveyor, and my conductor was supposed to be the water and fuel service supervisor.  We had 6 SD45s, 44 pigs, and a business car behind the caboose, with a Vice President on board.  The head end traded at the fuel spot, then we started to pull down toward the depot to change the rear end.  The superintendent came out of his office with a handset and said to "pull down here and change crews."   I thought here goes my ride on the hotshot, I'm a 'system' guy, and one of the local road foremen is going to get this shooter, and I'm going to get a drag.  As I slowed down the Supt. said "No, pull on down, I want the rear end."  He pulled the water service supervisor off and told the VP he had to be his own conductor, as we were short on crews.

Away we went, with plenty of power to make the 70mph track speed.  The normal crew change would have been Yuma, a little more than 200 miles West, but we went right through on high green.  West Colton is 198 miles West, and an LA crew relieved us there for the last 57 miles to LA.

Me and my surveyor got a motel, and about eight hours later a van picked up about ten of us and took us to the Ontario Airport for a Southwest flight back to Tucson.  At Tucson me and my surveyor got the manager from the rail detector car for a conductor, and a 65 mph pig train.  This time we had 6 units with 67 pigs, so our horsepower per ton wasn't quite as good.  Tucson to Indio was pretty good, but we had to have a helper up Beaumont.  A Fresno Trainmaster was there with 3 big units, but the "crew dispatchers" had made a mistake and sent a crew for the train as well as the helper.  Needless to say, we would rather go 65 up Beaumont in a van instead of 30 uphill on the train.

When we got to Colton, they put us in the mods as there was room, and eight hours later they get me and my faithful surveyor up for another trip to the Ontario airport.  My conductor had been stolen during the night, and with us in the van was another engineer and his head brakeman, also without a conductor.

When we got to the airport, the driver drove around to the commercial entrance to the loading area, and we figured the SP was holding a Southwest flight for us.  It was quite a surprise when he drove us up to the president's Lear Jet.  The flight crew said they serve the board of directors, but would we mind getting our own soft drinks?  We said that would be fine, you guys just fly the plane.

This turned out to be a deadhead to El Paso, or about 700 miles.  The other crew on the jet was first out, and his train was ready when we got there, we got about two hours sleep while ours arrived and was serviced.  Again it was another 65 mph pig train with 6 units and about 70 cars.  We had arrived Colton about 2am, gotten about 5 hours sleep, deadheaded to El Paso about 11am, arived El Paso about 330pm, and departed for the 312 mile run about 7pm.  We pulled up to the fuel spot in Tucson about 8am, dead tired and expecting to get off, as Tucson was where we had started out both trips before.  As I got off the engine, the Chief Clerk was walking toward me with a large cardboard box.  I turned a little right to miss him, and he turned a little left to stay lined up with me.  After a little dance, he asked "if I was the engineer on that train?"  I told him I was the inbound engineer, and he said I was the outbound also, as they had no crews in Tucson.  Told him we were dead tired and my surveyor wasn't qualified to run an engine, and he said I would have to go because there was another train stopped behind us.  Turns out the big box he was carrying was full of food, unlike Norm's there were four big deli sandwiches, four bags of Potato Chips and Fritos, apples and oranges, candy bars, and four six packs of Coke.  The Chief Clerk insisted I pull down to the depot to talk to the Supt about being tired, so we did.

The Supt said that it showed I was rested, and I said yes I was half rested at 11am yesterday morning, and had been up ever since.  He said if I could take the train to Casa Grande which was the first siding that would hold us, he would have us lined in, and have rooms lined up for us in a motel with the air conditioning on before we got there.  He was true to his word, it was Red over Yellow, and in we went.  I told the motel owner we didn't want to be disturbed for any reason, to put plugs in the switchboard, we didn't want maid service, and to call us in eight hours, not 6 1/2 plus a call.

We walked down the street to eat, and when we got back on the train to call the dispatcher and tell him we were ready to go, he said the strike was over, and when we got to Yuma, we would be relieved by an enlisted crew.  
G



Date: 03/22/17 00:37
Re: An SP parallel to "16 Hours on a Caboose."
Author: jointauthority

Just out of curiosity what type of training would a surveyor and water supervisor receive before being called upon to crew a mainline freight train back in the day?

Posted from Android



Date: 03/22/17 05:53
Re: An SP parallel to "16 Hours on a Caboose."
Author: trainjunkie

Sounds like a living hell. Were you paid hourly to boot? Can't do that today with CFR Part 240 and 242 requirements.



Date: 03/22/17 07:47
Re: An SP parallel to "16 Hours on a Caboose."
Author: Railbaron

trainjunkie Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ... Can't do that today with CFR Part 240 and 242 requirements.

Make a bet on that!!!

​UP did it 13 times that are known of on the Portland Service Unit alone this year (January / February) when we were getting hit with heavy snow. They evidently had an FRA supervisor on speed dial or something and supposedly got "exceptions" for these violations due to the heavy snow and "emergency conditions". The reality is the "emergency" was simply management's incompetence and lack of planning. To make matters worse is that it wasn't just to get the crews to safety but once they had the exceptions they generally had crews complete their runs/work - it was all about avoiding calling extra crews and to cover up their inability to plan. The union is appealing these violations due to the fact they were basically "rubber stamped".

​In comparison I spent just under 43 years on the railroad and was instructed to "violate" just once in all that time and that was way back in the early 70's. I spent almost 30 years working "the Hill" out of Eugene under conditions worse than this winter and was never instructed to violate nor do I know of any other crews being instructed to violate the HOS.

​So, the HOS is evidently simply a "suggestion" any more since there are FRA managers who have no problem handing out "exemptions" to it to allow crews to violate it.
 



Date: 03/22/17 08:03
Re: An SP parallel to "16 Hours on a Caboose."
Author: trainjunkie

I'm not talking about HOS, I'm referrring to certification. Labor strikes are not "emergencies". Managers who want to fill conductor and engineer slots during labor strikes have to be certified.



Date: 03/22/17 08:10
Re: An SP parallel to "16 Hours on a Caboose."
Author: Railbaron

trainjunkie Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I'm not talking about HOS, I'm referrring to certification. Labor strikes are not "emergencies". Managers who want to fill conductor
> and engineer slots during labor strikes have to be certified.

​Ah, misunderstood - didn't think about certification. Sorry about that. I'm sure the companies could manage to find a magic wand for certification purposes.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/22/17 08:10 by Railbaron.



Date: 03/22/17 09:02
Re: An SP parallel to "16 Hours on a Caboose."
Author: trainjunkie

Pretty sure Hunter Harrison put a bunch of managers through cert training on the CP a number of years ago to protect vacancies in terminals with short crews. He called it his “Street-to-Seat" training program. Huge violation of the CBA IIRC, but he did it anyway. Not sure about Canada, but many of CP's U.S. managers went through cert training according to what I've read on this.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/22/17 09:04 by trainjunkie.



Date: 03/22/17 10:17
Re: An SP parallel to "16 Hours on a Caboose."
Author: the_expediter

To OP...

Sounds like some crazy-as*
Sh*t...

Posted from Android



Date: 03/22/17 10:57
Re: An SP parallel to "16 Hours on a Caboose."
Author: ExSPCondr

In answer to jointauthority's question, the surveyor probably got no training.  It is possible that the w & f supervisor might have gotten a day or so of rules class, but I don't think so.  I don't know what would have happened had we been in single track train order territory.

There was nothing said about HOS, they just expected us to go.  The surveyor was actually one of the best people I could have had for a head brakeman.   I had been working AMT #1 and 2 between LA and El Paso for at least a year, but as they went via Phoenix at that time, I hadn't been between Wellton and Picacho via Gila, where all the freight ran.  The surveyor knew the degrees and minutes of every curve, and the grades.  I had been hoping for a Roadmaster or a track supervisor, because I figured they would know where they were, and where the bad spots were, but the surveyor was far better.

At that time there was no certification.  The SP had given the engineers a "Permit  to Operate Railroad Locomotives" to show police officers who wanted to see their driver's license.  This kept the cops from threatening engineers from going to jail because they wouldn't let the cop see their drivers license and get the number in the wrong box so an accident showed up on their private insurance.

The new firemen got three weeks of eight hours, five days training in the simulator.  The officers got seven twelve hour nights after the firemen went home.  Then the company took two officers with a road foreman along with a regular crew from Colton to Yuma as a training and qualification run.  Apparently that didn't go over well, so they leased back about 40 miles of the SD&AE between Plaster City and Dos Cabezas.   PC to Coyote Wells was 40 MPH ribbon rail, almost flat, while Coyote Wells to Dos Cabezas was 2.2%.  We had a GP40X, a B30-7,  an older GP9 with a 24 brake valve, and 25 aluminum hoppers of ballast.  The geep helped the other two units that were back to back, up the hill from Coyote Wells to Dos Cabezas.  At DC we both ran around the train, the geep just laid against the rear, while the other two worked at balancing the grade.  This took about an 8-10 pound reduction, and about 600 Amps of dynamic.  Between CW and PC, we accelerated to 40 and practiced stopping streched or bunched.  At PC, the geep cut in, and some engineers were able to get the train started without help from the two on the rear, some had to get help. Then the geep crew practiced stops until the train got back to CW where we ran around the train to go up the hill.   We did this for 6 twelve hour days, along with an hour of class in the trailer afterwards.  We started at 3am because it got to be 110 degrees by abou 4 in the afternoon.

Students were rated A through D I think, with an A rating allowing you to run anywhere, a B rating allowed pool freight operation in flat territory, I think a C only allowed slow speed local freight in flatlands, and a D was restricted to switch engines with only a few cars.



Date: 03/22/17 14:27
Re: An SP parallel to "16 Hours on a Caboose."
Author: spnudge

After "Hate Week", all the crafts stayed out and it was "interesting" watching them in SLO, trying to get out of town.  There were only a couple of  RFEs that knew the road, LA to SLO & SLO to SJ.  Lots of scrap iron in the toe path. Guy in a pickup stayed close by with knuckles and help. We did have an RFE take a train to LA from SLO. He went to stop at Chatsworth to head in but broke in two. Didn't get a knuckle or draw bar, tore out the whole end sill of a car , 3 behind the power. 

The SP later had officers train on Altamont when it was closed before they tore it out.  

The HRS was violated a lot but the FRA guy in SF was in the companies pocket. He was later fired from the FRA for it but low and behold, he showed up in Sparks as an officer a week later. His name was  J.F. Broschart.  No seniority, just off the street. We figured something was up when we would turn in a violations and when he showed up in SLO those engines were out of town on helpers or gone to Guadalupe on a turn. We had an engine sitting on the stub of 3 rail in the yard that had a loose fuel tank. He looked at it and said it was okay to the next inspection.  You could see daylight between the frame and the tank bracket. The lines where grease and crud would build up were gone, showing the the tank was loose. 

Love that FRA.


Nudge

 



Date: 03/22/17 15:10
Re: An SP parallel to "16 Hours on a Caboose."
Author: ExSPCondr

Hmmm,

Once upon a time a helper crew left SLO with one unit to go to Santa Margarita and pick up a unit off of the head end of an Eastbound, then cut into the Eastbound and help it over Margarita.
When the train arrived SLO, the helper crew was screaming loudly that the U33C they picked up at Margarita was in power while the SD45 they were running from was in dynamic.

As the working roundhouse foreman on duty at the time had been a machinist, I went to see if I could find out what was wrong.  After some looking, and yes I should have found it sooner, I found the MU cable hadn't been hung in the holder, and was pinched in the couplers.  Knowing the engineer, I put a tag on the squashed cable and left it in the Roundhouse Foreman's office.  Sure enough, the next morning here comes Jim Broschart wanting to know why we had run a bad order locomotive?

I told him we hadn't run any bad order locomotives lately, to which he replied that we HAD.  Okay, give me a number, which he did, the U33C which came in on the helper last night.  At that point I went over and picked up the squashed cable from the night before, which had both engine numbers, the time and date, and my signature, and handed it to him.  His response was SOB, and he got in his car and left.

A month or so later, Broschart showed up in Guadalupe one day, investigating a report that we were running the switch engine (an SW1500) with a dead speedometer, the cab heater was bringing in exhaust fumes, and we wouldn't fix it.  The regular engineer was very good about turning in daily work reports, and Ron the Foreman was good about keeping them.  No complaints for the previous month about either the speedo or the heater, and that unit had expired on its annual a week before, and was long gone.  We talked to the engineer who said the speedo had quit on the engine, but the replacement was already there, and he didn't write it up because he thought the LA roundhouse would find it when they did the annual, and he didn't know anything about the cab heater and fumes.  (Broschart's second trip after hearing wolf cried, and he really wasn't happy.)  He left the FRA because of an alcohol problem, and he didn't last too long on the SP for the same reason.
G



Date: 03/22/17 17:45
Re: An SP parallel to "16 Hours on a Caboose."
Author: spnudge

G,
Jim was with the SP for years before he pulled the pin. I guess he knew where the bodies were buried so they kept him on. I would love to know who the crew was on the helper. I never heard about that one or the GD switcher. I know Jim worked that job for years and he made sure everything was okay. If not, he got on the horn. Ron was pretty much a company man, hiding out in Lompoc most of the time. He would drive over to GD and sign the cards. He also would turn in conductors and engineers at Lompoc every chance he got.  Putting his nose where it didn't belong.

He couldn't cover up the car that got away (bad brake) that ran into a TMs car and a pickup, Rons?,  in front of the Lompoc depot. They were parked foul of the track and the car was B/O.  It was the rail that we used to build the train that went to Surf every day. 


Nudge



Date: 03/22/17 20:22
Re: An SP parallel to "16 Hours on a Caboose."
Author: Westbound

For the record, working during a strike can get old, fast. I worked that 1982 strike as a switchman / brakeman on a local running Oakland (CA) - Mulford - Newark - Hayward. You first put together your train in the yard, did an air test that would have been done for you by the carmen had there been no strike, spotted cars at industries where customers (shippers) we're out to make sure the job was done to their satisfactio, ate when you could and dealt with tower operators who struggled to find the correct combination of levers to align routes. 

Those twice-a-day movements through Jack London Square brought a group of 5 - 6 men running out of the Jack London Inn each time from where the engineers' union had set up strike headquarters. They wanted to see if SP was running trains with officers or if strike-breakers had been brought in (No - never even heard talk of such). Without the union workers on the job the railroad was running like a clock that was slowing down and in great need of rewinding.



Date: 03/22/17 22:18
Re: An SP parallel to "16 Hours on a Caboose."
Author: EtoinShrdlu

>J.F. Broschart.  No seniority, just off the street. We figured something was up when we would turn in a violations and when he showed up in SLO those engines were out of town on helpers or gone to Guadalupe on a turn.

Came to be known as (RFE) Boss Hogg at Sparks -- eventually went (or was banished) to Carlin. During his time at the FRA, he showed up one day to ride my switch engine (one of the 1100s) because we had filed a noise complaint. I had to wear this tape recorder microphone on my lapel right below my ear, and I made sure to bail the engine a lot more than normal. The thing which made the most lasting impression was his suit: it had been ironed so much that it had a sheen to it (somewhere in my stuff I still have his FRA business card).



Date: 03/23/17 09:22
Re: An SP parallel to "16 Hours on a Caboose."
Author: Chico43

EtoinShrdlu Wrote:
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>  The thing which
> made the most lasting impression was his suit: it
> had been ironed so much that it had a sheen to it.

A Jim Clinton suit, no doubt!



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