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Railroaders' Nostalgia > The Saga of the Crystalized RR Torpedoes


Date: 04/03/17 07:59
The Saga of the Crystalized RR Torpedoes
Author: KeyRouteKen

Ok-- I know you guys like "explosives" and my old stories too. So here it goes !!

" Some twenty years ago, while still living in the SF Bay Area, I drove from Union City to a little town near Pittsburg, via Altamont. Thought I would never get there because of the route.
My destination was the home of a deceased SP Trainmaster's "SON".. His Father had died and thru a friend, got in touch with ME to dispose of all of his Father's RR Goodies...

I picked up boxes of employee timetables, switch keys, signal flags, control stand reverse handles and who knows what. Most of the stuff I donated to "PLA" in Niles Canyon, although the control stand reverse handles were donated to Brad Lomazi's railroad show in Sacramento.
Now then, let's get to the "humorous" part of this story ........
One of the BOXES I picked up from the "Son" was packed full of "railroad torpedos"...
I placed them in the trunk of my car and went bouncing over the backroads of the Altamont to get back home to Union City. They appeared to be crystalizing like dynamite !!

I found out that "railroad torpedos" are officially classified as a "Class C Explosive" and it appears they are illegal to possess. After having the torpedos for several days in my garage, my dear wife "urged me" to get rid of those suckers !!

We tried to take them to the Union City Fire Department.. They wouldn't touch'em with a ten foot pole! They said I needed to contact the Alameda County Bomb Squad. I said OK!
Rather than call them on the phone, my wife was rather upset and agitated, and suggested WE take them to the Bomb Squad folks.

SO--- We loaded the torpedos back in our car and took them up to the Sheriff's Substation at 150th Avenue in San Leandro near Fairmont Hospital. We really had no idea where the hell we were going anyway! We parked in the parking lot and carried the box of torpedos up to the entrance doorway. There we were greeted by a typical "warning sign" that said it was illegal to enter the premises with "weapons, drugs, EXPLOSIVES, and other forbidden items" ...

Without hesitation, we entered the building, torpedos in hand, and placed the box right on the desk sergeant's desk in front of his eyeballs. He asked what we had! "Railroad Torpedos" came the answer from the innocent railfan couple.. Railroad WHO ??
I explained what they were and that they were considered "Class C" ...
He called a Lieutenant from the Bomb Squad who appeared in "shorts" as he was on his way out to vacation. The Lieutenant told the Sergeant to give me a "receipt" and place the offending items up on top of a file cabinet in the office. This was done and crazy KRK and wife got the hell out of there!

We never heard anything more to this day. But I figured there were enough torpedos in that box to blow that file cabinet clear thru the exterior wall of the building !!

Be SAFE out there guys-- and know what the item is before adding it to your Collection!"

Cheers.   All you old railroaders have a great week and thank you for your service !!

KRK



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/03/17 08:00 by KeyRouteKen.



Date: 04/03/17 13:58
Re: The Saga of the Crystalized RR Torpedoes
Author: roustabout

Great stories, confirming that this forum is my favorite on TO.com.
 



Date: 04/03/17 15:17
Re: The Saga of the Crystalized RR Torpedoes
Author: whistlepig

I was pulling into LAUPT one day on 775 from San Diego.  One of the redcaps was going in front of me with one of those flatbed golf carts.  He had several flagging kits (the old red tube types)  as he ran over the tracks at the end of the platform they all bounced and a couple of them fell off onto the ground.  Scattered fusees and torpedoes all over the place.  If I haqdn't stopped, it would have been quite a sound as I ran over them.  Terminal Tower called and asked why I stopped.  I told him look in front of my train.  He called back and said thanks and "never mind".



Date: 04/03/17 18:31
Fusees & Torpedoes
Author: spnudge

Ken,
We had a brakeman in the 714th in the Army and he was off the NYC. I will call him BY. Well, we were up on the 3rd floor an he and the CQ had a running feud. (The CQ was a real A@%hole) Well the barracks were all concrete with open stairways about a third of the way in on each floor, and thru to the other end, then there was another bunk area. There was a hallway between with rooms for 5s and above between them along with the latrine with open bunks on either end. On our end, the stairway went down to the first floor and that was where the CQ was stationed.

Well, one Saturday night, this guy comes in and be is toasted. He goes to his locker and says, "Im going to get that SOB tonight." He goes into his foot locker and has crap scattered all over his rack when he hauls out a fusee. We used them on the Army railroad just like any pike.  Well he gets his bayonet, and opens one up. By this time  their are 3 or 4 guys standing around, laughing their butts off.  Well, BY goes out the door and comes back with a soda bottle and some cellophane stuff from an old sandwich wrapper in the trash. He then proceeds to pry out some of the fusee powder and put in the wrapper. Then he scotch taped the wrapper to the bottom of the glass pepsi bottle.  He walked into the latrine, filled it up with water. Said it needed some weight. Well, he waited until we were all back in our racks then dropped it.  He was just hitting his bed when it went off. It sounded like a bomb. (It went off in the bottom of the stairwell with a wall between the CQs office.)  

The CQ runner said the CQ went straight up in the air. He grabbed his light and whistle and started flying up the stairs, screaming BYs name. He threw open the bay doors and turned on the lights yelling and throwing trash cans. Everyone looked surprised, just waking up and all.  Well after 10 minutes he went out and down the stairs. Fifteen minutes later here comes 2 MPS, telling everyone to shake out.  We just stood there asking what was going on. They went after BY but everyone kept telling them the CQ was psycho and he was like this all the time. They left and we cracked up. 

The CQ never bothered BY after that.  BY did have a little of that, bite him in the ass when he was about to get out 3 months later.  Every once and awhile the CID would come thru a company and shake it down. Well, they got to  BYs foot locker and here is some powder. They asked him what it was and he told them, fusee powder. Nope. Cuffed, and they took the foot locker too. Well he was down there for 8 hours.  It came back negative for any drugs. Just tested out with the main ingredient being sulphur. One of the cops asked him if he sniffed the fumes or something.  Not smart folks. Well they let him go and gave him the foot locker back. Everyone had a good laugh.

There was another guy on a later raid and they found one, 1, seed. That's it. They kept him in 2 weeks after he was supposed to get out. I mean, one seed? It was so tiny it could have been in there for years with other EMs using the locker. 

As a matter of fact, we had a conductor that worked out of SLO who was there when it happened. He worked out of GD until just a few years ago. TN

So, Ken, its the same powder, just packaged in a different way. When we were bored, we would take powder out of old fusees and shake it down the ball of the rail in a siding or yard track. When a car rolled over it you would get some small red flashes and a snap, crackle & pop.


Nudge



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/03/17 18:33 by spnudge.



Date: 04/07/17 16:04
Re: The Saga of the Crystalized RR Torpedoes
Author: Northeaster

Many, many years ago, growing up next to the 4 track main line of the NYNH&H, a little buddy of mine and I would enjoy exploding various fireworks in his backyard. One day he appears with a number of what I later learned were railroad torpedoes, small gray lumps with lead tie down straps. We did not know how to explode these devises but my buddy gave one to me as I headed home on my old, fat tired bike.  My arch enemy, another red head, whose numerous offensive acts were frequently blamed on me because of the hair color, ambushed me on the way home and as I was peddling madly to escape his clutches, I turned and threw the little gray devise to the pavement  behind me.  The very astonished, and terrified bully never came anywhere near me after that rather violent explosion, perhaps assuming that I was able to pull that rabbit out of my hat at will.
,



Date: 04/07/17 21:31
Re: The Saga of the Crystalized RR Torpedoes
Author: wa4umr

I've heard they make pretty good targets to put on a shooting range.  I'd like to try it some time but I'm not foolish enough to carry a box of the in my car or truck.  You and anyone anywhere near the range would know you hit the target.

John



Date: 04/12/17 09:36
Re: The Saga of the Crystalized RR Torpedoes
Author: tehachcond

   Years ago on the SP, we had a conductor who worked between Los Angeles and Bakersfield who was noted for doing crazy thinks.  In fact one time, he handed up a bag full of snakes to another conductor at Lang.
   Anyway, one time, he strapped a whole bunch of torpedoes together in a big ball, hung it on a fence, and let fly at it with a 12-gauge shotgun.  Needless to say, the resulting explosion knocked him ass-over-teakettle a few times.  His nickname was "Creepy" for good reason.

Brian Black
Castle Rock, CO



Date: 04/13/17 08:33
Re: The Saga of the Crystalized RR Torpedoes
Author: spnudge

That wouldn't be the same conductor that had a card from the state hospitial that said he was sane?  If it is, he also tried out a vari or flare gun on the cut off, before CTC. He used it to call in the rear man that was flagging and started one hell of a fire.


Nudge



Date: 04/13/17 09:49
Re: The Saga of the Crystalized RR Torpedoes
Author: tehachcond

spnudge Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> That wouldn't be the same conductor that had a
> card from the state hospitial that said he was
> sane?  If it is, he also tried out a vari or
> flare gun on the cut off, before CTC. He used it
> to call in the rear man that was flagging and
> started one hell of a fire.
>
>
> Nudge

   No, not the same guy. "Creepy" worked back in the 40's and 50's...way before the flare gun guy.

   OK fans, get your popcorn and gather around.  Here's the straight story on the flare gun and brush fire incident as told to me by the brakeman who was on the caboose with him.  Yes, it was true that DDB used the very pistol to call his flagman in.  On the day in question, they were on a westbound crawling up Cajon Pass  somewhere west of Dike.  DDB was sitting at the conductors desk cleaning the pistol.  The brakeman wasn't paying too much attention to him as he re-assembled the gun when he got done cleaning it.  Suddenly there was a big "WHOMP" as DDB test-fired the pistol out the bay window of the caboose.  Somewhere up the line, they discovered they'd started a major brush fire.

   As a note, "Creepy" had a grandson who was an SP San Jouquin Division engineer.  He hired out about the same time I did in 1966, and retired about the same time as I did in 2006.  He also had two sisters that were clerks, and a brother who worked in the mechanical department at Taylor Roundhouse.

Brian Black
Castle Rock, CO



Date: 04/13/17 18:25
Re: The Saga of the Crystalized RR Torpedoes
Author: spnudge

Ah. DDB, thats him.  Thanks,

Nudge



Date: 04/16/17 15:32
Re: The Saga of the Crystalized RR Torpedoes
Author: CardinalFang

So I guess discusssing torpedo wars between crews would be over the line for this group?



Date: 04/16/17 15:53
Re: The Saga of the Crystalized RR Torpedoes
Author: LarryDoyle

CardinalFang Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> So I guess discusssing torpedo wars between crews
> would be over the line for this group?

Never happened.



Date: 04/16/17 16:38
Re: The Saga of the Crystalized RR Torpedoes
Author: Railbaron

LarryDoyle Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> CardinalFang Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > So I guess discusssing torpedo wars between crews would be over the line for this group?
>
> Never happened.

​But it was fun at times - even though it never officially happened. <G>
 



Date: 06/27/17 11:56
Re: The Saga of the Crystalized RR Torpedoes
Author: Shortline

wa4umr Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I've heard they make pretty good targets to put on
> a shooting range.  I'd like to try it some time
> but I'm not foolish enough to carry a box of the
> in my car or truck.  You and anyone anywhere near
> the range would know you hit the target.
>
> John


They do ok. Really just puff a bit, they don't explode like under a wheel, but it's a visible target. I still have a few boxes out in the garage, occasionally I'll take some out in the field, use the bands to strap them to a fence post, and plink away. I usually shot them with a .22, maybe a larger caliber would have more effect.....Guess I'll have to give it a try now with something a bit bigger!



Date: 06/27/17 13:10
Re: The Saga of the Crystalized RR Torpedoes
Author: RRBadTrack

Reminds me of one particular 4th of July at the BN's Clyde Roundhouse in Chicago.

All throughout the day, we were running torpedo's over out on the service tracks as we hostled units around. That was all well and good until someone placed about eight of them on the rail of one of the pit tracks in the engine house and then rolled some power over them. That was all the roundhouse Foreman could take and he brought all of us into his office and made it clear that if he heard one more torpedo, we would all be up for investigation.

Well, for some railroaders, a threat like that only served to fan the flames. During lunch, a person who will remain nameless, bought one of those big punch ball balloons and a ball of string and brought them back to the shop. He then quietly filled the balloon with 50% acetylene and 50% oxygen. He soaked the entire ball of sting in diesel fuel and tied one end to the inflated punch ball. He then took the whole assembly up into the rafters of the shop and let the string dangle to the floor. He came back down, lit the string, and went into the foreman's office and started shooting the bull with him.

When the thing went off, it sounded like a stick of dynamite. It blew out a few skylight panels and filled the shop with years of accumulated carbon and soot. The foreman stormed out of his office to find the culprit. He never found him, even though he was sitting right in front of him when all the mayhem took place.



Date: 07/01/17 12:01
Re: The Saga of the Crystalized RR Torpedoes
Author: 4451Puff

Oxyacetylene balloon bombs are no joke to play around with! I know someone who lit a "regular" sized balloon one off at the end of his cul-de-sac, & cracked a few street facing windows on his neighbors houses. There's also some videos on YouTube demonstrating how powerful those can be.

Desmond Praetzel, "4451 Puff"



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