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Railroaders' Nostalgia > SHUT IT DOWN !!!


Date: 12/27/22 13:24
SHUT IT DOWN !!!
Author: train1275

In 2007 - 2008 when the Alaska Railroad got delivery of the last two SD70MacHEP locomotives, 4327 and 4328, I was General Foreman of Anchorage Shops.
The late afternoon that they arrived on the fuel rack direct from the barge at Whittier a number of us management, supervisors and shop craft went out to the pad to take a look. Being Alaska it was more like twilight in the afternoon. Having a camera handy I did get a shot that January 2, 2008 day.

Well as we moved the two units into the shop to set them up for service, a problem was discovered with the #1 traction motor of the 4328. Upon inspection it was full of a watery gray liquid substance instead of the expected "honey" gear lube in the gear case. So what was it ?  Our erstwhile mechanical engineer dipped his finger in it and tasted it !  Salty !!
I then got the idea to send a sample off it to our oil analysis lab to confirm what we had. That way we could prove a case when it came to putting in a claim. This was discussed between myself, the roundhouse supervisors, and my boss the AVP Locomotive Mechanical. The lab was expecting it and they always would send a fax to my office, the roundhouse office and my boss for any critical lube oil test results. So off it went.

Fast forward several days and a fax comes in on my machine. Our Mechanical Engineer is there and we look at it and indeed, it was salt water. We had a salt water traction motor !
And we had proof for the record, as it didn't seem possible that such could really happen. The M.E. and I went over to the roundhouse office and they also had received the fax as it was an "out of parameters Code Red - Shut down. So as we are congratulating ourselves  the phone rings. The roundhouse foreman picks it up and puts it on speaker as it is my boss. He is agitated, badly. "Where is the 4328?" Well, it is out on the north lead to go to Fairbanks (we had quickly changed out the bad TM and the unit was put in service). "SHUT IT DOWN !" The roundhouse foreman tried to explain and got cut off, "Get out there and SHUT IT DOWN !!!"   I tried to explain and he was now screaming, "Don't argue with me, this is serious, SHUT IT DOWN, the engine is full of SALT WATER !!! - SHUT IT DOWN ..... NOW !!!   By now we realize he got the lab fax with the Code Red and the fact that the liquid was Salt Water and that he had forgotten the discussion sending it in.. He didn't seem to realize if the engine was full of salt water it would still not be running at this time, and probably would have never started. This last outburst of his and the realization of what caused it made us laugh so hard we could hardly speak. That made him all the madder; "I AM TELLING YOU, ORDERING YOU TO GO OUT AND SHUT IT DOWN AND NOW !!  All he got on the other end was laughter which enraged him. He said he was coming over and slammed the phone down.  His office was over in Building 63, maybe a two minute walk away. He made it in about 90 seconds flat, stormed up the stairs and came in red faced. I think he was still yelling but we were all bent over laughing. "WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING ?"  GO OUT THERE AND SHUT IT DOWN !!", as he was shoving the fax in our faces.

Finally we got composed enough, and he got calmed down enough so we could explain it was the gear case fluid in the 4328 #1 traction motor, not the engine crankcase. He came out with a low gutteral "Oh" and asked that everything was ok. "Yes", everything is fine. "Ok he says, carry on" and he left. Never did see the humor in it we did ! EMD was having some bearing issues with traction motors and needed us to change some of the TM's in the fleet out under warranty work. The 4328 salt water motor was an added addition to that warranty work and we made out really well in a "deal". We got a three digit $$$ cache of parts for free which covered our labor and shop time related to the warranty and the replacement of the motor. Actually we really made out as it was not a big deal to salvage the motor as we had a motor shop. So we got a replacement, and fixed the salt water motor. However, no good deed goes unpunished.

That parts inventory we had was found by the stores dept and finance and charged back to us on expense making my parts budget for that month go to the moon. I got keel-hauled for getting free parts. No amount of explaining could convince accounting or stores that we didn't deserve that debit. It was so simple, but ....... Anyway, after all these years and when I think of the 4328, I think of the salt water motor and hear the voice of my boss screaming at the top of his lungs "SHUT IT DOWN !!!"  ....  and the laughter and feeling of busting a gut trying to hold it in.



Edited 6 time(s). Last edit at 12/27/22 14:34 by train1275.




Date: 12/27/22 13:32
Re: SHUT IT DOWN !!!
Author: engineerinvirginia

Nice to see that AKRR is like all other railroads....disfunctional to point of comedy! And yet...we love our jobs!



Date: 12/27/22 13:53
Re: SHUT IT DOWN !!!
Author: wabash2800

Thanks for sharing. Ok, maybe I missed it, but how did salt water get in the gear case?

Victor Baird



Date: 12/27/22 13:59
Re: SHUT IT DOWN !!!
Author: train1275

wabash2800 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Thanks for sharing. Ok, maybe I missed it, but how
> did salt water get in the gear case?
>
> Victor Baird

Well, I am not sure but coming up on the barge in rough water in winter with the winds and wave action I guess somehow it got in. The gear case seemed all sealed up and nothing at all was amiss with the 4327.



Date: 12/27/22 15:44
Re: SHUT IT DOWN !!!
Author: PHall

train1275 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> wabash2800 Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Thanks for sharing. Ok, maybe I missed it, but
> how
> > did salt water get in the gear case?
> >
> > Victor Baird
>
> Well, I am not sure but coming up on the barge in
> rough water in winter with the winds and wave
> action I guess somehow it got in. The gear case
> seemed all sealed up and nothing at all was amiss
> with the 4327.

Let me guess, 4328 was closest to the front end of the barge and drenched by more then a couple big waves.



Date: 12/30/22 04:19
Re: SHUT IT DOWN !!!
Author: dcfbalcoS1

             Many accountants are unfortunately disfuctionaly math and counting morons.



Date: 12/30/22 05:00
Re: SHUT IT DOWN !!!
Author: train1275

dcfbalcoS1 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>              Many accountants are
> unfortunately disfuctionaly math and counting
> morons.

It was a pretty bitter pill, even after all these years. One thing that helped out over my career is that by education I am a finance major. I could link operating, engineering and mechanical departments with finance and accounting. In other words convert their language to finance language. But not in this case and it was so simple. I was in a meeting with the VP Finance and the inventory accountants and the stores management. Stores understood it but no amount of clear concise common sense explanations could convince the bean counters, even to the point of my explaining how to make the entries. I think maybe there were other factors in play for what and whatever reason and this was an opportunity to cover some past thorn or sin. I got totally reamed out by the VP Mechanical for going over parts budget for the month of over $100,000. Never mind the fact we actually made money on the warranty work, got over $100,000 in parts delivered free, picked up a new traction motor and enhanced the reliability of the fleet.



Date: 12/30/22 11:41
Re: SHUT IT DOWN !!!
Author: TAW

train1275 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I got totally reamed out by the VP
> Mechanical for going over parts budget for the
> month of over $100,000. Never mind the fact we
> actually made money on the warranty work, got over
> $100,000 in parts delivered free, picked up a new
> traction motor and enhanced the reliability of the
> fleet.

So much like the out of the box move I made to save BN a unit train load of cash on crew cost. The Superintendent of Transportation told me that he didn't care if it saved money, he didn't understand what I did, so don't ever do it again.

TAW



Date: 12/30/22 12:10
Re: SHUT IT DOWN !!!
Author: Dick

At least the water wouldn't freeze,
Dick Eisfeller



Date: 12/30/22 19:11
Re: SHUT IT DOWN !!!
Author: wabash2800

Thanks for discounting my profession for 30 years... We often don't make the decisions but provide information to management when requested. And accounting is more than just numbers. Often law and policy are involved.
Victor Baird

dcfbalcoS1 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>              Many accountants are
> unfortunately disfuctionaly math and counting
> morons.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 01/06/23 19:24 by wabash2800.



Date: 12/31/22 10:21
Re: SHUT IT DOWN !!!
Author: loleta

Where's my mirror?

dcfbalcoS1 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>              Many accountants are
> unfortunately disfuctionaly math and counting
> morons.



Date: 12/31/22 21:00
Re: SHUT IT DOWN !!!
Author: 567Chant

Sounds like a case for hiding the free parts off the books in a backwater location.
Alas, the experts [ me ] always arrive after the shouting.
...Lorenzo



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