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 Post subject: Diesel Stories
PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 6:08 pm 

Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:23 am
Posts: 197
Location: Sheboygan County, Wisconsin
To avoid getting too far off topic on the Steam thread, I thought it better to try a separate one for diesel locomotive experiences. I'm certain that there are plenty out there.

While stationed at Edwards AFB near Mojave, CA in the mid 60's, I frequently found myself without much pocket money, so I'd often get rides or drive myself out to either Mojave or Rosamond, mostly to view the SP.

While sitting in the shade one afternoon at Rosamond in the early Fall of 1968, I got invited by an engineer of a helper set to come up and visit. His name was R.R. Maren, he lived in Bakersfield and we kept in touch for years. Anyway, he first pointed out to me that the power was nearly brand new. They were a pair of G.E. U-30Cs, numbered 7917 & 7913. There was no smell of tobacco, the upholstery on the seats still looked new and there were no boot marks up on the control stand like you usually see.

He watched a couple of trains go by us on the main and commented that he might not get a call to help and have to return to Bakersfield light. After some talk on the radio, that's just what happened. Did I want to ride? Damn right I did. He said he'd let me off outside of town and I could just walk over to Hwy 58 and thumb back.

I was really elated about the trip ahead, but not prepared when he got up out of his seat after the brakeman lined the switch behind us when we got on the main. I remember a few things well about the trip. One was going through Mojave at around 40 and up the hill to Cameron and beyond. The next was him showing me how to get out of motoring and into dynamic as we passed the west end of Tehachapi. Going through all of those tunnels was something that is difficult to express well.

When we got down off the hill, it was back to motoring. He suggested that I slow way down around Edison so I could get off. Before I did, we shook hands and I also thanked the brakeman. He was right about hitchhiking back, I got a ride almost immediately after crossing the hwy.


Last edited by tom moungovan on Tue Mar 14, 2017 7:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Diesel Stories
PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:43 pm 

Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:07 pm
Posts: 954
Location: Leicester, MA.
About two years ago at this point I took to do an article on the Seaview operation down in Rhode Island... That was my first published article, getting into the April 2016 issue. As part of that I spent the morning riding around with both crews (usually there's two on duty. One handling the auto-racks, while the other switches out the other industries). If I remember correctly I visited on Patriots Day 2015, and even with industries closed up they were still busy. Around that time 60-70 autoracks at a time were the norm. Now it's up to around 80, and that doesn't take into account all their other traffic. After an hour with the crew at NORAD one of the owners guys gave me a lift down to the switching crew that I stayed with until about lunch time. We had Brian (pure-blood New Yorker, accent and all) and Jeff on there. That was my first real cab ride, on their SW7. It was rather comfortable, but d**n was that thing LOUD. When I left at noon I had a massive headache and didn't manage to make it all the way home. Instead I stopped at my office, grabbed some Advil out of my desk and slept the headache off in my car. But I did learn a few things about those guys on that trip;

1) They don't know the meaning of "take five" or "day off". The lot of them just keep going, and that includes the owner, Eric Moffet (who is not above going out and doing the switching when needed).

2) From the best they could tell, what Seaview uses as their engine house was some sort of commissary at one point.

3) All of the staff I dealt with were some of the most socially adept professionals of any field that I've ever met, and I deal with quite a few different people through my work at Al's Oil. Not only that but they were all honest, something that I've found a bit lacking at both my current and prior jobs.

Since then Seaview's traffic has only been steadily increasing, and Eric expanded into the scenic railway side of things with the purchase of the former Newport Dinner Train (right across the bay from Seaview's dockside customers), now known as the Newport and Narragansett Bay. Still need to get down there to check it out and see the improvements that have been made since Eric bought it, but if how Seaview is run is any indication I doubt that it'll be anything less than excellent... I'd also be lying if I didn't admit that I want to try and check out the only surviving G&U 44-tonner that is reportedly out of service down there.

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 Post subject: Re: Diesel Stories
PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 7:43 am 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 4:59 pm
Posts: 322
Location: western Maryland
It was August 2000. I was still living in Silicon Valley but had traveled to Baltimore to consummate my transaction with the B&O Museum for the purchase of LIRR HEP Cab 607.

Having lived in the Midwest and California for the past quarter century, I planned my return trip to the left coast in such a way as to be able to visit some Western Maryland locomotives that I never had the opportunity to see.

My first detour took me to Arkville, New York to see a Delaware And Ulster Rail Ride GE 44 tonner which was built new as Western Maryland 76. From there I had originally planned to go via Chicago on a direct route to Anaconda, Montana to visit GP9 44.

By the time I got into Western Ohio I got the inspiration to call Indiana Southern and inquire as to the physical location of 4041. Much to my surprise the lady on the phone told me that it was in Petersburg, Indiana and was in the power set to travel south that afternoon to bring a coal train north.

I headed for Petersburg and got there at about the same time as the crew. I was quickly taking as many pictures as I could before they departed. One of the train crew approached me and made a comment about the California plates on my car and I told him that I was a big fan of the Western Maryland Railway and that I had come there to take pictures of 4041 because of its heritage.

He asked if I was in a hurry, and I said "yes", that I wanted to get the pictures before they left. He said, "no, are you in a hurry to get back on the road"? When I said I wasn't, to my delight he invited me to ride with him to pick up his train.

To this day, that experience was my biggest rail fan thrill. On the way back to Petersburg, 4041 was in the lead position and the train stopped at a crossing. When we resumed the trip north, he invited me to sit in the engineers seat. We were in run 8 and there really wasn't much to do except reset the alarm and I did blow for a couple crossings.

Upon arrival back at my car, we exchanged goodbyes and I drove off into the sunset to my next destination, basking in the moment and realizing that I had just had one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Western Maryland GP40 3798 is still alive and well. After the purchase of ISRR by Genesee and Wyoming, 4041 was reassigned to the TP&W. It is now on my bucket list as an acquisition target for George's Creek Railway.


Attachments:
File comment: Indiana Southern GP40 4041, nee WM 3798, Petersburg, Indiana August 28, 2000 Gerald Altizer photo
IS4041.jpg
IS4041.jpg [ 67.89 KiB | Viewed 2390 times ]

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 Post subject: Re: Diesel Stories
PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 9:26 am 

Joined: Tue Jul 05, 2011 1:18 am
Posts: 155
wm303 wrote:
Western Maryland GP40 3798 is still alive and well. After the purchase of ISRR by Genesee and Wyoming, 4041 was reassigned to the TP&W. It is now on my bucket list as an acquisition target for George's Creek Railway.


ISRR 4041 is actually assigned to the Bay Line Railroad in Florida at the moment. Enjoying a work life under the palms!


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 Post subject: Re: Diesel Stories
PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 9:27 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 5:10 pm
Posts: 928
In 1983, I was working for the Maryland & Delaware Railroad, usually on the Snow Hill branch. The only locomotive assigned to the branch at that time was No. 21, a tired Alco RS-1. The primary customers were several feed mills that catered to the chicken growers in the region. We received interchange at Frankford, Delaware from Conrail.

On this particular night, we received about 40 covered hoppers loaded with corn. I was the conductor, and after turning in the air, I walked the train for the brake test. When I finally got back to the engine, I wondered out loud whether No. 21 was up to the task. The engineer looked across the cab at me and said, "Let's find out." He opened the throttle and we watched as the needle on the load meter climbed. The MacIntosh & Seymour 539 revved up and the needle climbed higher. The engineer had his head out the window, intently watching the ground as the entire locomotive began to bounce up and down. He took some more throttle and the bouncing intensified as the ammeter needle was now against the peg. Almost imperceptibly, we began to move, and he stomped on the sander control.

Slowly, slowly we continued our forward motion. I looked out the front window of the cab and saw sparks swirling out of the stack as the engine roared. I'm sure if it had been daylight, there would have been a Vesuvius-like cloud of black exhaust. Old No. 21 had them rolling, and while we never got up to track speed (10 mph), we managed to keep everything moving to our first stop. Ever since that night, I've had huge respect for the sheer guttiness of Alcos.


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 Post subject: Re: Diesel Stories
PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:47 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2015 12:36 pm
Posts: 170
Quote:
My first detour took me to Arkville, New York to see a Delaware And Ulster Rail Ride GE 44 tonner which was built new as Western Maryland 76. From there I had originally planned to go via Chicago on a direct route to Anaconda, Montana to visit GP9 44.



Too bad you didn't take the short trip to Clinton, Mi to see the other WM 44 tonner number 75, and still in WM paint.


https://www.flickr.com/photos/23711298@N07/28651563641

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 Post subject: Re: Diesel Stories
PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 1:03 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2015 12:36 pm
Posts: 170
My first experience driving a locomotive solo.

As a teen growing up in Tiffin Ohio Dad's farm was within sight of 2 rail lines. In a few spots you could see both lines just by turning your head. TO the South was the very active CSX Williard sub. To the East was the one train a day Seneca Sandusky Port Authority line operated by Indiana Hi-Rail.

When Dad did not have me slaving away on the farm I found myself with an hour or two of free time in the heat of the afternoon. I would hop on my moped and go find the local Indiana Hi-Rail train who was usually switching industries or better yet out on the CSX as Z611 interchanging cars on the Keller siding about 2 miles east of town. Frequently I would recieve a cab ride from one end of Keller siding to the other, maybe 1/2-3/4 of a mile.

One afternoon the normal IH GP-35 was down for maintenece and the crew was using an SW-1200 that was on loan from a local quarry that leased the unit from IH. So of coarse I had to check it out. We were switching Coleman yard North of town with the engine at the south end about to run around the cut to switch out Ameriwood. The brakeman was at the North end and to save time the engineer Steve Sadleclap jumped down to pull the pin. As Murphy's law dictates the slack was not in favor of this move.

Steve calls up to me in the cab and shouts "Hey kid, I know you know how, go over there and run the engine forward and give me some slack" Having been given the engineers seat a few time to run the horn and bell I never expected this special assignment. Recalling all my knowledge from reading Trains and studying any operating manual I could get my hands on I jumped to the other seat and put the reverser in forward pulled back on the train brake and notched her up. To my surprise she would not move, so what does a farm boy do but give it more throttle. I think I had her up to notch 3 or 4 before she started rolling. Steve pulls the pin and jumps back on the loco and by this time I had her shut down again having moved about 6 ft. Steve was laughing and said something to the effect of "kid, good job but you left the independent on."

It would be another 25 years before I had the chance to drive another loco, this time in museum service at the SMRS. I am still not 100% qualified and need a few more trips under my belt but I never leave that independent on.

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 Post subject: Re: Diesel Stories
PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 2:30 pm 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 pm
Posts: 2019
I remember reading somewhere a story of a former NKP steam engineer running a diesel on the same train he would have run a berk. He had 4 diesels on his Indiana run, and he tells he could barely make the run in time, with the berk, it was Nooo prob.


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 Post subject: Re: Diesel Stories
PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 2:36 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 4:59 pm
Posts: 322
Location: western Maryland
"Too bad you didn't take the short trip to Clinton, Mi to see the other WM 44 tonner number 75 . . . "

I did take that short side trip. But to my dismay, I learned upon arriving that the "operation" was on an Air force Base and it was closed to visitors during week days.

It was after I struck out in Clinton that I learned the location of 3798 and decided to divert south.

Kudos to the folks there. WM 75 has never looked better than it does now. I'm thankful that it has a good home, AND people who acknowledge and respect its heritage.

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 Post subject: Re: Diesel Stories
PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 7:56 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2015 12:36 pm
Posts: 170
I think you may have us confused with another operation. We have no military basses anywhere even close to us. We own all our track and all of our equipment is easily seen from public roads.


wm303 wrote:
"Too bad you didn't take the short trip to Clinton, Mi to see the other WM 44 tonner number 75 . . . "

I did take that short side trip. But to my dismay, I learned upon arriving that the "operation" was on an Air force Base and it was closed to visitors during week days.

It was after I struck out in Clinton that I learned the location of 3798 and decided to divert south.

Kudos to the folks there. WM 75 has never looked better than it does now. I'm thankful that it has a good home, AND people who acknowledge and respect its heritage.

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"What smells like Lube Oil and Diesel? Oh It's just my Locomotive Breath"


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 Post subject: Re: Diesel Stories
PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:54 am 

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 5:05 pm
Posts: 512
Back around 1976 my friend John Henderson and I were watching Weyerhaeuser dump logs near Olympia, WA. We asked the engineer if we could ride up to the Vail reload and he said sure, hop on. They would only take one of us in the cab so John rode the caboose out and we switched for the ride back.

It was a stiff grade up from the South Bay log dump. The locomotive was a leased Milwaukee SW 1200. The engineer opened her up and we started to move. As more cars came off the level dump track and headed up the grade the old SW started to bog down. The amp meter was in the red before we crested the hill and all of a sudden a circuit breaker blew. The engineer slammed the throttle closed and the head brakeman grabbed a broom and shoved the breaker closed. The throttle was yanked open again before we lost momentum and we made it over the hump.

I commented that such ruff handling couldn't be good for the locomotive. The engineer just grinned and said that if they broke it the company would just get another one.


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 Post subject: Re: Diesel Stories
PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 5:04 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2004 9:48 am
Posts: 430
Location: Byers, Colorado
Thank you for starting this thread, Tom, I had the same idea.

About 30 years ago, a BN coal load ran away descending Monument Hill, south of Denver. Two engineers had reported squirrely air (it was winter weather) on that consist before it arrived. When they tied up in Sterling and Denver, both had commented that the train nearly got away from them. Everybody working in Denver terminal back then remembers the third engineer's name, but I will not include it here. Opinion was divided among employees, half the operating department said the engineer was promoted to satisfy an employment quota, that he was inexperienced and had caused the wreck because he pissed all his air away. I don't know. I wasn't there. This is how the conductor told it to me, but I can't remember his name....

Everything was normal leaving Denver, until after we cut off our pushers at the top of Monument hill. Maybe we had a frozen airline, I dunno. The gauge in the waycar read 90 pounds, and we started speeding up, but I didn't hear any air being drawn off. We had three jacks and 110 loads, no way did we have enough dynamics to hold us, and we only got one trainload of air.

Anyhow, it was obvious we were in trouble, I turned up the radio and went out on the front platform to try and pull the pin. NO WAY. We were going faster and faster, the slack was stretched out all the way. There's just no telling how damn fast we were going. We would have derailed for sure, but these cars all had rotary couplers, which allowed the train to flex like the coils of a Boa Constrictor. On all the curves, all the cars rose up on their wheels on the outside rail, and on the S curves, some of the train tilted to one side, and some tilted the other way.

Riding on the bottom step, one minute the weeds were brushing my face, and the next minute I was looking up at the stars. I could hear the dispatcher talking to the engineer, they knew we were in trouble, too. Finally the grade began to slack off a little, and I jerked the pin out of the coupler, and started spinning the handbrake. The train sped off ahead of me as the waycar settled down on both rails and the handbrake took hold.

We were getting close to Colorado Springs now, and had two other trains to meet there. There was no way to get them out of the way in time, since we must have been going ten times track speed, and it was coming down to the dispatcher having to decide where we were going to wreck. So he told the engineer to take his power out of dynamic, put it back in motoring, throw the reverser, get down on the floor, and open the throttle.

I could see the train up ahead, like a wiggling snake, and ran back to the rear platform in case we should hit it when the inevitable happened. Of course I got down on the bottom step and prepared to jump. There was an explosion of hopper cars up ahead as the power jumped backwards against the train. Then the pile of wrecked coal cars kept getting bigger as more and more of the train stacked up. The back end started to move slower and the waycar started to get closer and closer to it. It stopped less than a carlength away from hitting the train when it was all over. Never did jump...

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 Post subject: Re: Diesel Stories
PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 4:26 pm 

Joined: Thu Mar 16, 2017 11:39 am
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I have been reading with interest, this topic and have to relate my first cab ride many years ago. back in 1950-51, I was living with an Aunt & Uncle in Darby PA and about that time, my Uncle lost his job in a print shop and through a old friend was able to get a new job as maintenance worker in a large cemetery in Frazer PA. Part of the salary was a house to live in, which turned out to be a converted train station on the Chester Valley Railroad, at that time a branch line of the Reading railroad. We would come out at night for several weeks to get the house ready and the best part was the the Reading was running two trains a day from Bridgeport to Downingtown, one during the day, the other at night. At that time , the Reading was still using steam and I was in Heaven as they had to stop right at the station in order to flag the crossing at Rt 29. The bad part was the night before we moved in, they switched to Diesel!

During the summer, I could hear them coming and would be waiting for them when they stopped. My Aunt at that time did a lot of baking and one day she came out and asked the crew if the wanted a Apple pie that she had just finished! Needless to say, they jumped at the offer! Funny that the next day, as they approached the crossing, there were two bushels of Apples that were dropped off and the next day, on the return trip, was a sack of flour that was rejected by Pepper Ridge Farm plant in Downingtown. This started twice a week treat for the crew which led to my first trip in a locomotive.

One day they asked if i wanted to ride and with my Aunts OK, I was up in the cab in a flash! I was told to keep low as the Conductor was a grump and didn't approve of riders! It was about two hours of running and stopping in the middle of the woods for lunch before I got back! To this day, It's still etched in my memory banks. However the conductor did see me and reported the engine crew to the brass and they got their hands smacked but they all laughed about and cared less! It was always fun to watch three grown men hanging out the cab windows as they approached the crossing to see what was on the menu for desert most days!

Bob Niblick


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 Post subject: Re: Diesel Stories
PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 11:04 pm 

Joined: Tue Mar 10, 2015 10:29 am
Posts: 41
Location: Michigan
1975 was a fun year for me touring the DT&I yard at Flat Rock with my great uncle who was retired from the line as a conductor.
The DT&I had new power at the time with brand new locomotives sitting silent among the tall grass and weeds. As much as running an SD-38 was a thrill, the diesel story that might be more fun to tell is what I experienced when the Grand Traverse Dinner Train was in operation in the 90’s.

They had two F units (F 7s? ) originally from the Great Northern at each end of the train.
The locomotive mechanic for the train would occasionally stop by the small repair shop I was working in at the time.
One day he had an issue with a ground relay on one of the locomotives and it was determined the rather large coil for the relay was “open”.
A quick turnaround of winding a new coil gained my son and I a ride on the train.

That particular season was somewhat dry in the north, and exhaust sparks from off road motorcycles were contributing to fire outbreaks in the woods. Well, the Grand Traverse Dinner train was thought to have started one too. For reasons forgotten now, the dinner train had to swap locomotive ends. The engine that normally idled along at the rear of the train during certain grades through the woods was now at the head of the train for this trip.

The locomotive engineer fit that classic retired fatherly kind of personality. The brakeman appeared more “green” per say, and a little more by-the-book. The mechanic was rather sharp, and a quit witted guy as I recall. With 5 of us in the cab, the train pulls away from the depot in Traverse City, and an enjoyable ride begins.

As we make it out of town and into a more wooded right-of-way, a grade was working this engine a little harder than it normally operated.
The mechanic, aware of possible exhaust sparks occasionally opened the door to the engine compartment to see how things looked and would reclose the door. Banter among the group was in progress and at some point, the brakeman decided he wanted to check the engine room also and opened up the door to discover, “HOLY Sh8T! We’re on FIRE!” and commences to grabbing a big fire extinguisher to put out the burning oil residue ignited at the roof exhaust stack. The mechanic immediately yells at the brakeman saying, “NO, no, no! Don’t use that”!
He grabs a little hand held extinguisher instead. Using motions similar to spraying paint from an aerosol can, he carefully puts the fire out, explaining that the other extinguisher would have made a huge mess that he didn’t want to clean up.

The engineer in the meantime is watching what’s going on, and says in the funniest tone of voice for the circumstances,
“I suppose I better stop the train, seeing as we’re on fire”. And slowly brings the engine to a smooth stop.

The fire is put out, and the engineer inspects the situation before returning to his seat.

The pause in the excursion generated questions over the radio from personnel aboard the dining cars.
Static, static the radio makes as a question again is asked by someone, “Why have we stopped”

The brakeman having put back the big extinguisher raises his radio to depress the transmit button and pauses
a couple of times before transmitting, “We hit a turkey and felt sorry for it.”

John


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 Post subject: Re: Diesel Stories
PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 5:34 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 716
Location: Tucson, Arizona
I remember one incident on TVRM where we had an issue with the hand brakes on one of the ex-USATC RSD-1s. Storage was tight, so during the day the two operable RSD-1s were spotted on Track 8. However, that was the track that the steam locomotive was tied up on at the end of the day, so the two RSD-1s had to be moved. One was spotted on Track 7 and the other on Track 2. We set the brakes and the fireman tied the handbrake down and we cut off and pulled down to back in on 8.

The fireman had just lined the switch for the backing move when I heard a strange noise and did a double take-the locomotive we had set off seemed to be moving towards us, which it was. I shouted a warning to the enginemen and the switch was immediately relined for Track 2. The engineman attempted to get the steam locomotive under way, but the RSD-1 picked up too much speed and hit the tender while the locomotive was still standing. It shoved the steamer about an engine length-whipping the engineman about in the cab. After recovering from the shock and inspecting the locomotives, we discovered that the brake rigging on the Alco was binding. The chain was hung up, giving the fireman the sensation that the brake was fully applied when in fact it was not. Track 2 has a barely perceptible grade as it is not entirely level like Track 1. We respotted the Alco in the same location, taking care to chock the wheels and wrote up the defective handbrake to be repaired.

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