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Railroaders' Nostalgia > Handing off a 'Hot Shot'

Date: 12/08/19 08:46
Handing off a 'Hot Shot'
Author: Cabhop

Railroading, unlike a lot of jobs was never routine, every trip or day switching was unique.  But even then we sometimes we needed to spice things up with a shenanigan.  Harmless but certainly not something approved of by some straight laced scissor-billed officials.  I’m sure other rails have stories of their own fun on the run.  Let me share just one that we did.
To set the background, in the late 1960s or maybe early 70s  we were called for the MSE, “The Merchandise”, Southern Pacific’s hottest eastbound out of Los Angeles.  The “West End” crew would take the train to Indio where we would change crews, handing it off to a “East End” crew who would take it on to Yuma AZ.  The East End transits probably the hottest desert in the country.  Not unusual for summer temps to reach 120 degrees or more.  The Merch’ was a ‘rubber stamp’ call out of LA for 3:00 am.  Always way too early for the train’s actual departure which was more like 5:00 or as late as 7:00. 
In early June, the LA Basin is famous for it’s ‘June Gloom’ weather, a marine layer of fog that can have it chilly until it burns off later in the day.  So as we boarded the caboose first order of business was to start a little fire in the stove.  Even into the early 70’s we could get an older hack with a “Genuine Smoke Consumer” coal pot bellied stove.  Way before we dropped into the Coachella Valley the temperature would be climbing and by the time we would get to our crew change in Indio it could already be in the upper 80s or even 90s. There was always a little, how do I put this, rivalry between crews on different runs, nothing serious but still . . .  So me and my conductor decided to have a little fun with our East End brothers.  A few miles before the Indio crew change we loaded the stove up to the top with coal and opened up all the vents and dampers so by the time we got to Indio the stove was glowing red hot.  On all through trains the rear-end crews would change on-the-fly.  We would swing off just a few yards ahead of them swinging aboard.  [Oh my God what were we thinking on and off moving equipment]  Of course within a matter of seconds the East end guys would be on the back platform shaking their fists and calling us names that would embarrass a sailor.  And as anyone who ever dealt with a coal stove, there is no way to cool it down, you just have to wait for it to burn off the fuel.  By the time they got to Thermal the only thing hotter than that caboose would have been their tempers.  As the rotation of the crews was so random it might be months before we would interchange with this same crew.  So they couldn’t get back to us for our prank.  But I’m sure some West End crew paid the price for our little bit of fun. 

Then there was the time . . .

Date: 12/08/19 09:57
Re: Handing off a 'Hot Shot'
Author: Fredo

Back when UP still had incenerator toliets it was common for someone to go down into the nose and turn the knob on the wall to start the outbound gift.Knowing who the outbound crew was the usual reason for this.After the chemical toilets arrived all that was left was to do was to turn up the heaters up and close the doors and windows , but that wasn't as good as a well done smoking turd.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/08/19 10:09 by Fredo.

Date: 12/08/19 17:45
Re: Handing off a 'Hot Shot'
Author: Copy19

Fredo Wrote:
> Back when UP still had incenerator toliets it was
> common for someone to go down into the nose and
> turn the knob on the wall to start the outbound
> gift.Knowing who the outbound crew was the usual
> reason for this.After the chemical toilets arrived
> all that was left was to do was to turn up the
> heaters up and close the doors and windows , but
> that wasn't as good as a well done smoking turd.

I wasn't going to bring this up but  remember it happening at Provo, Ut in the 80s between UP and Rio Grande crews.

JB - Omaha

Date: 12/09/19 08:58
Re: Handing off a 'Hot Shot'
Author: Zephyr

Then there was always the different kind of "Handing off a Hot Shot" when we would hand off VPO (at that time) Rob Krebs to the next division.  After a couple of days with Rob learning how we should be operating and maintaining the LA Division it was always a relief to hand him off to the next Division.  Mr. Krebs always got a little hyper when he'd ingest a couple of candy bars.  The sugar high kind of put him in "Run 8" and the red zone.  We first learned that the hard way while he was still on our Division.  Then it became an unwritten rule to offer Rob a couple of candy bars just prior to handing him off to the Tucson or San Joaquin Divisions.  It wasn't long before the phone calls came in asking if we had given Rob some candy bars.  Of course, we never knew what they were talking about...!  Some of you on TO know what I'm talking about as you experienced it!

Date: 12/09/19 10:13
Re: Handing off a 'Hot Shot'
Author: alcoc636

I frequently used similar pranks to mess with our local weed weasel company officers. Many years ago, working one of those hot summer days on a yard job at West Colton, I played a prank on some unsuspecting officers. It must have been well over 100 degrees and my switch crew were all "newbies". Running west down track 109 to switch Dalton Trucking and Weyerhaueser, we were about to be "bothered" by a car load of officers. It was really just too darn hot to be bothered by these clowns and I used a tried and true technique to get rid of them in short order.

I quickly switched off the roof top cab air conditioner and told the switch crew to turn on the front heater and the sidewall heaters to "HIGH". These kids all gave me puzzled looks. I told them again to do it, don't ask any questions or say anything, just follow my lead, if needed. Soon after, we were told over the radio to stop our movement, which of course I did. Here they come, the weed weasels climbing aboard our locomotive. After a brief minute or two of interogation, one of the officers exclaimed that it was awfully hot in the cab. I told them that I was cold, in fact, very cold, as I was sliding my side window closed. Another question or two and the weed weasels were off the engine and gone for good. They couldn't get out of there fast enough. As we went back to the business of railroading, the young "newby" switchmen all began laughing and giggling. Of course we immediately returned to air conditioning the cab. These young guys now understood. Years later, I would have ocassion every now and then to run into one of those young railroaders who would always remind me of the fun we had that day. Thinking about that day still brings a smile to my face . . . . .

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/09/19 10:14 by alcoc636.

Date: 12/09/19 14:25
Re: Handing off a 'Hot Shot'
Author: Trainhand

Alco, sounds like something I would do 


Date: 12/09/19 22:50
Re: Handing off a 'Hot Shot'
Author: kingwestinghouse

Not a rail, union elevater constructor. We had a little worm of a super that hated smoking of anything and was trying to fire my apprentice for anything he imagined was a possible wrong doing. Well he shows up one fine day and wants to inspect the hoistway (shaft) all 30 floors to pick apart the kids work. I had the cheapest of the cheap Wm. Penn cigars I think like a buck for 6 left over from a bachelor party at least a year previous. These these smelt worse a burning dog turd.I kept that little jerk for over 6 hours inspecting every thing possible and smoked every one while we were on top of the car while doing so. When he cried 'UNCLE' and we went down he promptly filled the pit with last nights dinner and his breafast into the pit. Never bothered us again. Go figure

Date: 12/10/19 09:34
Re: Handing off a 'Hot Shot'
Author: Shafty

One of the few times I saw a ATSF trainmaster at Hobart Tower was a friendly visit.  While he was there a signal would not clear for Amtrak.  With the trainmaster there, I was careful to go by the rulebook.  Amtrak did not know that the ATSF trainmaster was with me, but they responded in the proper manner. 

The ATSF trainmaster was happy, he would write up the incident as two separate tests for his quota. 

One time a U.P. trainmaster came up in the tower when there was a U.P. train getting ready to go to the Harbor.  He wanted me to throw a red signal in their face as they came up to the signal.  I did not think it a very good idea, and they were a good crew.  He was not the type of man that I could disagree with.  I asked the him as nicely as possible if he really wanted me to do that.  He said, "Yes".  Fortunately, something happened elsewhere and he had to leave the tower before the U.P. train began moving. 

And then there was the time I gave a new U.P. trainmaster, a nice guy, but off the street and fresh out of trainmaster school, a quick and friendly lesson about what was going on around the railroad, and how the rules applied to the particular situation. 

Eugene Crowner

Date: 12/16/19 16:54
Re: Handing off a 'Hot Shot'
Author: engineerinvirginia

You could drop a signal in my face and have no fear.....I know that all I have to do is make a normal stop, where ever it WILL stop....and tone you up to discuss the matter!

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