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Railroaders' Nostalgia > You've got to be kidding me!


Date: 06/28/19 12:08
You've got to be kidding me!
Author: atsfer

For me at least, and I know it was for a lot of other railroaders, the most precious commodity on the RR was time.   The less time you spent on a train, the better.  So, one trip while on a high priority train time seemed to be on my side.   Running with four engines and a relatively short train we were almost halfway on a good trip, when the alarm bell in the cab sounded.   I glanced in my mirror and saw smoke pouring out from underneath the 3rd unit of my consist.   We stopped and investigated and I found the cooling ports on the number 3 traction motor full of chunks of copper, the motor had unwound, the unit would have to be set out.   I reported all this to the dispatcher and then he said that when I set the unit out at the next siding, I would have to have cars on both ends of the locomotives as we could not leave the unit all by itself, dead or not on the siding.  "You've got to be kidding me" I said.   Nope, new guidelines dictated that be done.   But, my problem was the "cars" on my train were all five pack double stack units, and my conductor was on his second pay trip.   Going from a nice short fast trip to being dead on the law now seemed possible.   My depression was in high gear when suddenly like a voice from above, a roadmaster radioed and said he was nearby with two portable derails in his truck, would that work?   After some conferring with someone, the dispatcher said yes, that would be acceptable.   I had the conductor ride on the dead unit on the catwalk above the unwound motor with his packset, and as the wheel would still turn, we could limp (20mph) to the next siding with him listening for a sound like bacon frying in a pan which would mean the wheel was sliding, and we would have to stop.   We made it to the siding, set the unit out with the roadmasters help, and lost a fracton of the time we would have without him.   It was seldom the job, but the time it took, and luck was with us that day.



Date: 06/28/19 17:37
Re: You've got to be kidding me!
Author: engineerinvirginia

I lost the lead axle on an AC unit, similarly, I noticed when going through a ten MPH curve that some smoke was issuing from the lead motor on my Conductor's side. My mistake was stopping to inspect it just short of a small yard a few miles west. That's when the motor locked completely. The roadmaster on the line happened to be nearby and he volunteered that he had hired out as a brakeman (39 years before).....and could help get that motor into the yard. We cut it off and I condtioned the trailing unit as lead power, leaving the Conductor aboard so we would not have to tie the train down...it was on a steep grade and would have needed many many handbrakes. The roadmaster opened the switch to the yard, and as it happened all the tracks were occupied...but we had to get the engine into the....ahem...engine track, which was the only place a truck and big hook could get to it to put a dummy axle on it. So we hooked onto the least occupied track, which was ten loaded coal cars, and still on a significant grade with one axle sliding....and shoved the whole works into the engine track. The roadmaster then hi railed me back to my train! By then a trainmaster showed up to survey the situation, and finding us out of time, agreed to sit on the train while we taxied back....and I found the train sat there for 8 hours while the recrew had to bring lite engines out, since what I had left behind wouldn't pull that train!



Date: 06/30/19 05:42
Re: You've got to be kidding me!
Author: Bob3985

One trip I came out of North Platte with a super "Z" train with four units and about 20 loads of trailers. To say the least it only took me a mile to be up to 70+mph. Before I was 10 miles down the road I noticed smoke coming out from under the third SD40-2. So I stopped to inspect it. With the help of the conductor at the brake handles I discovered that the unit's brake shoes would not fully release and were over heating. It had been adjusted wrong the last time it was changed. So I got a bar and knocked the slack adjuster keeper out and reset the adjustment so it wouldn't be riding on the wheel. We had no trouble after that.

Bob Krieger
Cheyenne, WY



Date: 07/01/19 07:25
Re: You've got to be kidding me!
Author: 3rdswitch

I once had a "shooter" Barstow to LA four big jacks and seven cars. Half of a second section of a train, half of which went north at Barstow. Of course followed a slower train ALL THE WAY TO San Bernardino, set out four cars, then a quick shot to LA where we had to wait more than three hours for a train to leave the "staddle buggy" yard so we could shove the THREE CARS! into a buggy track for unloading. Some hot loads! Of course the cars would have fit just about anywhere and one of the two "buggy" yard jobs that worked each shift could have easily spotted them. Similarly had a westbound early Q train with a great trip Barstow to LA via the Pasadena Sub, then, for unknown reasons sat at Hobart Tower for more than two hours before allowed into the "buggy" tracks to spot the train. That's railroading.
JB



Date: 07/01/19 08:15
Re: You've got to be kidding me!
Author: crackerjackhoghead

3rdswitch Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I once had a "shooter" Barstow to LA four big
> jacks and seven cars. Half of a second section of
> a train, half of which went north at Barstow. Of
> course followed a slower train ALL THE WAY TO San
> Bernardino, set out four cars, then a quick shot
> to LA where we had to wait more than three hours
> for a train to leave the "staddle buggy" yard so
> we could shove the THREE CARS! into a buggy track
> for unloading. Some hot loads! Of course the cars
> would have fit just about anywhere and one of the
> two "buggy" yard jobs that worked each shift could
> have easily spotted them. Similarly had a
> westbound early Q train with a great trip Barstow
> to LA via the Pasadena Sub, then, for unknown
> reasons sat at Hobart Tower for more than two
> hours before allowed into the "buggy" tracks to
> spot the train. That's railroading.
> JB

Many times, I had to "shove" a Santa Fe train all the way to West Riverside, on hotshot. Finally, with that guy out of the way, we'd shoot to Commerce, yard our train and then have to sit on the east leg of Hobart wye, for hours, waiting to turn our power, while that same ATSF guy yarded his train! Unless Clyde was working. Then I'd be home in bed before that ATSF hit L.A.!
 



Date: 07/01/19 09:53
Re: You've got to be kidding me!
Author: Railbaron

Many years ago, when we were still SP, I got augmented to Brooklyn (Portland, OR) for a week off the Eugene engineer's extra board. This was a common occurrence and I personally enjoyed it as it gave me a chance to run the Brooklyn Subdivision, which was fun. 

On this day I got called out of Eugene on a train that was just under 8000-feet long - and it was restricted to 45 MPH. With a train that size there was just 1 siding we would fit in. We called the dispatcher and told him we were ready to head "east" (north by compass direction). To our surprise he gave us authority to depart even though an eastward Amtrak train was getting close - off we went though. Since maximum passenger speed in those days was 70 MPH, and we were restricted to 45 MPH, it didn't take much calculating to figure Amtrak would catch us around Albany and he would have to follow us until at least Hito, the only siding we would fit in. Sure enough, around Millersburg (first siding north of Albany), Amtrak caught up to us. I called that engineer and told him what was going on so he could run accordingly; he just laughed and thanked me. 

As it turned out, Brooklyn had also sent a train out that was just under 8000-feet. It would turn out he took up residence at Hito to wait for us and Amtrak. As such Amtrak had to follow us all the way to Brooklyn, plus wait for us to get off the mainline. It was certainly not a good day for Amtrak that day.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/01/19 10:07 by Railbaron.



Date: 07/01/19 13:16
Re: You've got to be kidding me!
Author: TAW

atsfer Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>  We
> stopped and investigated and I found the cooling
> ports on the number 3 traction motor full of
> chunks of copper, the motor had unwound, the unit
> would have to be set out.  

One night on the SP San Joaquin Division at Bakersfield, No 375 (LA - Portland pigs, competing with trucks on I-5, and hotter than the hottest train on the railroad) birdsnested a traction motor at Fleta CA (for SP guys, if I remember correctly, the engineer was "Triple H" Hunter. The axle was locked up tight. The unit was set out at Fleta. The next morning after the morning conference call for managers, I was, let's say "sternly admonished" for unnecessary delay to No 375. I should have just told the engineer to cut out the traction motor and keep going. To show how indoctrinated management was, our Superintendent was a locomotive engineer.

I had a BN train stop between Algoma and Sandpoint ID (just west of the Lake Pend Orielle bridge) because they finally noticed the smoke on the second unit. There must have been lot because they had a six inch flat spot. That sounded bad when they reported it, but the fact that it was six inches along the radius measured in from the rim, not a six inch long chord, was attention getting. How exactly did they do that? I called the Parkwater (Spokane) roundhouse. I related that story and he told me that it had to be wrong. How exactly did they do that? I told him the crew was adamant that their description was accurate. The location was inaccessible except by rail. This was in the days before Hulcher and such. It was a hook job. As soon as the crew reported the problem and the magnitude thereof, I dived the next east man at Cocolalla, two sidings back. I had them cut off the power, run to the rear end of the disabled train and pull it back to the siding at Athol, the first siding back from their train. That left Algoma, the siding behind the disabled train, open for the hook to run around.

That seemingly innocuous mater of not noticing a little smoke shut down a busy railroad for somewhere north of a long time. At least they didn't notice it out in the middle of the 5,000 foot long bridge just in front of them...and at least it stayed on the railroad.

How exactly did they do that?

TAW



Date: 07/01/19 14:51
Re: You've got to be kidding me!
Author: cewherry

Railbaron's account of staying ahead of a following Amtrak reminded me of a another occasion of mine.

I was working BN's Interbay (Seattle) to Wenatchee freight pool one morning and was called for the 'hottest of the hot';
westbound No. 3 a Chicago-So. Seattle shooter, plenty of power to handle the reasonable tonnage of the day.
As we passed the 'Amshack' shelter just west of our crew change point at Wenatchee a few patrons
could be seen standing about, obviously awaiting Amtrak's No. 7, the Empire Builder to take them
toward Seattle. I remarked to my conductor it looked as if we would probably take siding at Cashmere to allow the varnish to pass. 

When we got a clear signal at the approach to East Cashmere, indicating we were going to at least hold the main there that
meant there would be no delay for us today at Cashmere. As we were between switches at Cashmere, Amtrak's engineer
could be heard acknowledging his conductor's 'highball' to leave Wenatchee. Next siding was Leavenworth. Same clear
signals scenario; again, no delay for us. Now we're climbing the Chumstick grade up to Winton and Amtrak is getting his first 'color' that
he's following somebody. Never bashful, the the Amtrak engineer (a former BN man from this very territory, Dave L.)
shatters the radio solitude by sputtering out; "Hey, who are we following?" I decline the bait; I'm still getting fed these
luscious 'Greens' by the DS. Up the 2.2 grade west of Merritt we charge and into the Cascade tunnel.
I figure the DS will most likely head us in the siding at Skykomish to allow No. 7 to get around us. 

As we see another 'clear' in advance of the east end of "Sky", No. 7 is now out of the long tunnel and Dave L. rings up the DS;
Dave: "Hey, 'spatch when are we going to get around this guy?"
DS: "Not today", answers former SP dispatcher Thea, (don't know her last name) by then working for BN. 
Dave: "You've got to be kiddin'!!". 
DS: "Nope, Seattle East dispatcher, out".

And she wasn't. We got the same diet of 'Greens' all the way to South Seattle. I never took the time to ask Thea
just why but surmise we must have had something terribly 'hot' on board No. 3 that day. We'll never know.

Charlie



Date: 07/01/19 17:48
Re: You've got to be kidding me!
Author: Railbaron

On another time when I was augmented to Brooklyn (Portland) I was called for a train out of Lake Yard, the Portland Terminal yard just north of the passenger station in Portland. We'd get our power at Brooklyn, run over to Lake Yard, and then head "west" to Eugene. Trains out of Lake Yard were nobody's favorite catch but it is what it is.

So, as we went through the paperwork getting it together, the yardmaster calls down and tells us we have a "small chore" to do before going to Lake Yard. It turns out somebody down south failed to properly fuel Amtrak #14 and they ran out of fuel climbing the hill into Clackamus. Our chore was to run south, rescue #14 by pulling him to Portland, and then go to Lake Yard. I'm sure at some point one of us must have said, "You've got to be kidding me".

When we got to #14, who was stopped about 3/4 of a mile south of West Clackamus, it turned out the trailing unit was completely dead, out of fuel; it died near Eugene. They ran on 1 unit until they stalled climbing into Clackamus, where lead unit was idling but they couldn't get enough fuel pressure to get it to load. We coupled up and took the train into Portland, where we cut away and went to Lake Yard for our train. 

The fun part was that because we wasted so much time rescuing #14, then getting stuck inside Lake Yard waiting for it to depart, they gave up on us and relieved us before we even got back to Brooklyn.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/01/19 17:49 by Railbaron.



Date: 07/01/19 19:17
Re: You've got to be kidding me!
Author: 3rdswitch

Some times it seems like they just don't get it! Once at Barstow waiting to depart the Arrival yard with a crappy westbound 578 intermodal from TX with both power AND air problems. We were on duty nearly EIGHT HOURS already, a westbound Q train pulled right up next us to change crews which was a PERFECT oportunity to swap us, but no, fresh crew climbs on board and hiballs out of town. We actually left about an hour later making a non stop ALMOST best handling ever trip. At Fullerton we had barely a half hour to work and DS called to ask if we could make it to LA where I said ONLY IF YOU KEEP US MOVING. We used almost every crossover between Fullerton and Hobart tower just fitting between Hobart and Hobart tower dieing on the law with exhaust air blowing.
JB



Date: 07/01/19 20:39
Re: You've got to be kidding me!
Author: TAW

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

> DS: "Not today", answers former SP dispatcher
> Thea, (don't know her last name) by then working
> for BN. 

Former BN former SP dispatcher. She and some others went to SP in 1990ish. They went to SP trying to avoid what I have described was going on on BN. Then Anschutz bought the railroad and, well, that didn't work out. I didn't know she came back. One other ex-BN dispatcher that I know survived the Anschutz era and quit after UP took over.

Thea was 3rd trick Boyer East one night in the mid-80s when No 8 (AMTK) went in the ditch at Colburn. That was right after coming to work. She figured out there was bad trouble from radio contact with the engine, a faint unintelligible call from a portable, and nobody coming to the phone (we had them back then). She called the state patrol to investigate. Upon getting the report of a bad wreck, she stayed in the chair for nine solid hours putting away freight trains, ordering rides, coordinating rescue, answering management questions, keeping records, giving the Chief wire reports of progress, and other such things dispatchers (at least used to) do. I sat down to first trick Chief at 630a. About 8a, she finally finished transferring the railroad to the first tricker, came out to the Chief's office, sat next to me and filled me in on what was going on, and fell dead asleep because of exhaustion. Few are more dedicated than that.

She was way better than the move you describe, so it had to be "just following orders" like so many of us trained ourselves to do during the 80s.

TAW



Date: 07/01/19 22:04
Re: You've got to be kidding me!
Author: trainjunkie

crackerjackhoghead Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Unless Clyde was working. Then I'd be
> home in bed before that ATSF hit L.A.!

Clyde needs to be brought out of retirement to train the dolts at the BNSF dispatching center in San Bernardino. It's amazing anything gets over the road any more. He was one of the best.



Date: 07/01/19 22:13
Re: You've got to be kidding me!
Author: cewherry

TAW Wrote:

> ...."She was way better than the move you describe, so
> it had to be "just following orders" like so many
> of us trained ourselves to do during the 80s."

Oh, I know she was a much better DS, having seen her in operation over time. I got the impression that
she was enjoying being the bearer of bad news to Amtrak that morning for some unspoken reason; most
likely "orders from above".

Charlie  
 



Date: 07/02/19 07:15
Re: You've got to be kidding me!
Author: 3rdswitch

Yes, Clyde was THE man!
JB



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