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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Film/TV Series Ideas
PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 12:06 am 

Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 6:45 pm
Posts: 253
J3a-614 wrote:
Bulby wrote:
You mention the aspect of the mechanical side of ancient equipment; on some railroads I've been with, train down on it's knees, old GP just died on the ruling grade with a tonnage train, alarm ringing, two other online locomotives in notch 8 and slipping; engineer screaming over the radio at the conductor to figure out what's wrong and get the GP back online! Throw in the engineer's best French, and you might get a picture of the situation.


Whooee!! I can now understand your "fantasy" (and a nice one it is!) about this road (or at least its crews) wanting to keep steam around in the 1970s!


Fantasy? What? I just hate GP-20s that fail at the drop of a hat.

My locomotive list goes something like this:

F9s are a nice ride, they pull hard, but you can fry eggs in the engine room in the winter.

SW-1500s have good visibility and are easy to get on and off, but are not a real road engine.

GP-16s are less than comfortable to ride in, but they pull hard.

GP-20s are garbage without a very very competent shop.

GE anything is garbage.

Most steam repairs can be done with simple machine tools; what can't be fixed with that, contractors can be found who can do the work.

Back to the topic at hand:

A thought I had today; why don't we do this (unfortunately, fictional for now) as a sitcom ala dragnet "The story you are about to see is true"? Protecting the crews who may be not so innocent of rule violations; as well as make it clear that this is closely based on reality.

Another thought would be that we shouldn't neglect the normal day to showcase "action" The ordinary is sometimes the most extraordinary. The "action" can very quickly get old.

A final thought would be that any project along these lines should have a liaison(s) with the AAR, ASLRRA, and FRA involved.

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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Film/TV Series Ideas
PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 3:45 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
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Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Bulby wrote:
A thought I had today; why don't we do this (unfortunately, fictional for now) as a sitcom ala "Dragnet," "The story you are about to see is true"? Protecting the crews who may be not so innocent of rule violations; as well as make it clear that this is closely based on reality.

Another thought would be that we shouldn't neglect the normal day to showcase "action" The ordinary is sometimes the most extraordinary. The "action" can very quickly get old.

A final thought would be that any project along these lines should have a liaison(s) with the AAR, ASLRRA, and FRA involved.


Great minds think alike! This, or at least elements of it, was what I had in mind for the TV series I tried to sell.

Classic example, from "No Royal Road;" apprentice engineer (who has been a fireman for a while) is learning to run engines. Crew consisting of student Edgar Custer (who wrote the book), a senior engineer named Brady, and a fireman named George get called for a westbound passenger train out of Altoona for something like 4:20AM. The train is, as usual, 12 minutes late. Crew gets engine, train, helper engine, goes up hill to Galitzen, drops helper and proceed on to Pittsburg. Take water with the scoop and track pan at Sang Hollow, get train orders at Johnstown to drop off a passenger at Greensburg (which is not a scheduled stop for this train). Crew reads orders, and then Brady, who has noted Custer has been doing well in the past, and has even let him run the engine without supervision in the past, says to Custer, "OK, Custer, come over here and look out for cows," and goes over the coal bunker to visit his friend in the baggage car.

Custer smiles at George, and George smiles back. Although the railroad has standing orders that late trains are not to attempt to make up time on this mountain division, the two decide they are going to try to gain back those 12 minutes. They have the train rolling at 70 mph on this mountainous line.

They are approaching the station at Greensburg, which at this time was at the west end of a tunnel (since daylighted and expanded to four tracks--the original incident takes place in the 19th century). Custer and George have forgotten that order for the stop at Greensburg! Custer is about to blow the whistle to warn anyone in the tunnel when he happens to look over his shoulder and sees Brady coming over the coal bunker. It's at this point he remembers the stop at Greensburg, and big-holes the train at 70 mph.

The brakes go on with a crash, and in spite of this the train slides through the tunnel and past the station for several hundred feet. Custer got tangled up with the Johnson bar, George landed on the hot lamp tops of the lamps that lit the gauges on his side, the passenger they were making the stop for, having just stepped into the aisle, was sent rolling up the aisle with his suitcase to land in Compartment A of the Pullman he was in, and Brady, just poised at the top of the coal bunker, came through the coal "like a trolley car through a big pile of dirty slush at a high rate of speed"--in other words, he made a bow wave--after which he bounced over the coal gate and hit the backhead of the boiler, somewhere in all this breaking his left arm.

The train grinds to a stop, with Brady bellowing like a wounded bull and his clothes bulging with coal (and very likely having swallowed some of it, too). Custer tries to release the brakes and back the train into the station, but they won't release because he's blown all the air. The conductor comes up under the cab, bleeding from his nose and mouth and holding an apparently sore head, and roars at Custer, "You curly-headed --- -- -----! What are you trying to do?!"

"I was making the stop at Greensburg."

Custer recalled that "they carried the passenger back to the station." I can imagine them propping him and his mangled suitcase on a baggage wagon.

Custer and George (interesting name combination!) patch up Brady with a splint made from a spare pick handle on the locomotive, and proceed on to Pittsburgh. The stop has flattened every wheel in the train, and the ride is "like a cordoroy road." The crew has a heated discussion of what they will tell the division superintendent, Robert Pitcairn.

That afternoon, the crew is in front of Mr. Pitcairn. The inquest starts with Pitcairn speaking to Custer, "Young man, as few words as possible, tell me what happened."

More than anything, Custer wants to protect Brady, who as the man in charge of the locomotive, will most strongly feel the sting of discipline.

Custer: "Well, sir, it was like this. Mr. Brady was showing me how to take water with the scoop at Sang Hollow, and I held the handle down too long [hitting the sloped end of the track pan with the scoop], and the handle [came up and] caught Mr. Brady's arm. That's why I was running the engine, until we made that stop."

Pitcairn: "Where was Brady at that time?"

Custer: "Left side, sir. He was feeling pretty bad."

Pitcairn: "Did you both forget to stop?"

Custer: "No sir, we were running kind of fast--behind time, you know--and I gave her a service application, but the brakes didn't seem to hold. I kind of panicked then and put her into emergency. They went on with a chug."

Pitcairn: "I see, I see."

According to Custer, Pitcairn took out a cigar, and a match, and lit the cigar, continuing between puffs: "Young man, you have the makings of a first class railroader. You can lie with the best of them. About two weeks' [suspension] will fit your case."

Custer said it was a long, long time before he heard the last of this little incident.

I would use that story in talking with railroaders to give them an idea of what I was looking for in the way of material. Two reactions followed. One was an expression of surprise that the crew got off with only two weeks' suspension for this; apparently they were used to seeing more draconian punishment for an error of this sort.

Then there was the comment by a pretty blonde secretary to a shortline railroad president. She said, "That sounds like the employees we have working with us now!"

Had (and still have) 12 complete episodes, plus material for at least 20 or 30 more, but I couldn't sell it to save my soul. Tried to get agents (which you need for something like this), but none showed any interest; only about a third of the dozens contacted even bothered to reply to my inquiries. The only people who showed interest were those at Gaylord Entertainment, which then had the Nashville Network (which has since been sold and is now Spike TV); this series was to be set in West Virginia on the eve of WW II, and I anticipated it having a blue grass soundtrack. Gaylord liked it, but thought it would be too expensive for them; at that time, the Nashville Network's programming consisted of country music videos, interview programs with country music stars, and reruns of "The Dukes of Hazzard."

This was over 20 years ago; wonder if the timing might be better now?


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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Film/TV Series Ideas
PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 6:42 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 6:45 pm
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J3a-614 wrote:
Bulby wrote:
A thought I had today; why don't we do this (unfortunately, fictional for now) as a sitcom ala "Dragnet," "The story you are about to see is true"? Protecting the crews who may be not so innocent of rule violations; as well as make it clear that this is closely based on reality.

Another thought would be that we shouldn't neglect the normal day to showcase "action" The ordinary is sometimes the most extraordinary. The "action" can very quickly get old.

A final thought would be that any project along these lines should have a liaison(s) with the AAR, ASLRRA, and FRA involved.


Great minds think alike! This, or at least elements of it, was what I had in mind for the TV series I tried to sell.


Maybe it could be better said that if it's a good enough idea, more than one person will happen upon it.

J3a-614 wrote:
According to Custer, Pitcairn took out a cigar, and a match, and lit the cigar, continuing between puffs: "Young man, you have the makings of a first class railroader. You can lie with the best of them. About two weeks' [suspension] will fit your case."


I can't stop laughing at this. I can literally see this playing out with a crew that I know.

J3a-614 wrote:
Then there was the comment by a pretty blonde secretary to a shortline railroad president. She said, "That sounds like the employees we have working with us now!"


That's about the size of it!

J3a-614 wrote:
[I] Had (and still have) 12 complete episodes, plus material for at least 20 or 30 more, but I couldn't sell it to save my soul. Tried to get agents (which you need for something like this), but none showed any interest; only about a third of the dozens contacted even bothered to reply to my inquiries. The only people who showed interest were those at Gaylord Entertainment, which then had the Nashville Network (which has since been sold and is now Spike TV); this series was to be set in West Virginia on the eve of WW II, and I anticipated it having a blue grass soundtrack. Gaylord liked it, but thought it would be too expensive for them; at that time, the Nashville Network's programming consisted of country music videos, interview programs with country music stars, and reruns of "The Dukes of Hazzard."

This was over 20 years ago; wonder if the timing might be better now?


Can't hurt to try. It would certainly be interesting if it was every made. (I can think of a few railroads that would be willing to host the filming; for a fee. (and are long enough so you aren't replaying the same scenery over and over))

I've probably got enough material or ideas for at least a few more episodes for your series. (You just have to pull it out of the mountains and into the midwest.)

J3a-614 wrote:
[earlier post] Do you think these fellows still have jobs on NS?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOj6gPwkiXg


Finally watched this. No, I don't think that NS still employs them; however, CSX may have picked them up.

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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Film/TV Series Ideas
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 12:12 am 

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Another idea--an updated, or modified, or at least Americanized version of the delightful British film, "The Titfield Thunderbolt."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Titfield_Thunderbolt

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046436/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYUZCp_ynyg

I imagine this as being set in the late 1940s or the early 1950s, or, technically, as late as 1970, and our threatened railroad is a Colorado narrow gauge line. Road is about to be closed, partially due to the expense of fighting winters at over 10,000 feet, but gets a shot in the arm from a questionable Western movie shot on the line, complete with ridiculous attempt to make a 1920s heavy 2-8-2 look like a 19th century locomotive, complete with a craa-zee-lee tall fake woodburning stack that gets knocked off when the engine goes into the roundhouse or through a tunnel.

Real savior, or at least a part savior, is a colorful, bombastic, and somewhat eccentric journalist (on radio, perhaps)-movie critic who is also a rail enthusiast, and who also is wealthy enough to have a yellow Rolls-Royce, is able to charter a train to see the line, and is able to hob-nob with the owning standard gauge line's president, who himself is an interesting character ("My time belongs to the stockholders and the Lord. Would you like some more whisky?") This journalist-movie critic pans the movie, but sings the praises of the location, and somehow, he and others influence people to check out the last passenger train on the line, driving up patronage and thus saving the line.

OK, just for fun, who recognizes the prototype for my journalist, and for extra points, who recognizes the railroad president devoted to the stockholders, the Lord, and good living, too?


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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Film/TV Series Ideas
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 12:32 am 

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Not necessarily answering your questions, but an added thought.

Anyone up for crews that resemble those on McHale's Navy? McHale styled crews for the narrow gauge, Lt. Carpenter styled crew for the standard gauge.

I'm gonna take a wild guess that this is absolutely not at all based on the San Juan extension of the D&RGW, condensed history edition.

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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Film/TV Series Ideas
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 1:08 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
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Location: Inwood, W.Va.
J3a-614 wrote:
[I] Had (and still have) 12 complete episodes, plus material for at least 20 or 30 more, but I couldn't sell it to save my soul. . . . this series was to be set in West Virginia on the eve of WW II, and I anticipated it having a blue grass soundtrack.


Just some thoughts about my "casting" of the road and iron members of that series. . .

My choice of railroad and time period admittedly came out of personal favorites (don't they all?), but my choices here came with what I thought would be several interesting wrinkles from the story standpoint. For me, the choice was the Chesapeake & Ohio between Huntington, W.Va. and Clifton Forge, Va. Advantages for this, as I saw them, included:

(1) Spectacular scenery and motive power. The scenery is self-explanatory, but the locomotives would be important, too. It's my opinion that a lot of the audience (i.e., the general public) may think we went from locomotives like Sierra No. 3 to F-units. I wanted to show how modern and impressive steam could be. How much more impressive can you get than Kanawhas, Greenbriars, and especially Alleghenies? Even the Big Boy comes out second best in looking ferocious the way a 2-6-6-6 is.

Connected with this is the reason for the big engines and the desire to stay in steam--all that coal traffic. It's a motive shared that was shared with the Virginian and the Norfolk & Western.

(2) Varied operations. Between Huntington and Hinton, the C&O is a river-grade line, capable of high speeds in spite of all the curves, and with long tangents west of Charleston. East of Hinton, it climbs into the sky, with, in steam days, a helper district 50 miles long. Add in the coal branches, and a logging line with Shays, and you have a lot of colorful operations and people, too.

Of course, there's more traffic than the coal. There are the manifest trains and passenger jobs that the local freight crews and the men on the coal drags have to clear for, even though this is a largely double tracked line. I particularly liked the way one episode turned out where the local freight crew has a locomotive that won't steam, and they are about to delay a following passenger train. Their only real hope is to get on the opposite main, but that will involve a backup move through a crossover, and there is another passenger train due in the opposite direction on that other track, and all this is taking place at night and in rain and fog. . .

About our locomotive casting, and the time period. . .the series was intended to open in 1940-1941, and go into the war era and possibly beyond, showing the railroad and the world it runs in changing due to this conflict. As far as locomotives would be concerned, it would open with hand fired and stoker fired engines, mostly from the drag era. New power would come in the war, but this is a coal road, and instead of diesels, the management goes in for modern Super Power steam. I would say about all of us know what the modern power looks like, but what about the opening roster, since there isn't much older C&O steam around?

Well, obviously we have to substitute. . .

Freight power: something like Southern 630 and 722 and the 4501 (all hand-fired, this was long before 4501's current rebuilding and modernization) for the river line; bulky stoker-fired 2-8-0s and flying pump 2-6-6-2s (i.e., C&O 1308 and 1309) for the mountain and the coal branches, and for the coal trains on the river line. An older Super Power type occasionally shows up on a heavy manifest; I imagined this being represented with either T&P 610 or B&LE 643 (this was before the troubles that have plagued the owner of the 643).

Passenger power: Pacifics on the river line, in two sizes--a heavy type, possibly a rebuilt B&O 5300, and a light hand-fired type, represented by L&N 152 (?). Our principle character and the crew he is with has some fun with those two, when the heavy engine won't steam and otherwise gives trouble. The engineer reports this to the shop foreman at Huntington, and also reports this to the headquarters in Richmond, much to the consternation of said shop foreman, who is a fussy stuffed shirt who doesn't think highly of the engineers. Perhaps partially out of revenge, and partially because it's just been overhauled, the replacement engine is the light 4-6-2, which is really not as big as it should be for the train it has to pull--especially when three heavyweight Pullmans are added for movement to the resort hotel on the line. I'll let you imagine what the engineer has to do to get the train started, including the effects of taking slack to jerk it into motion. . .

I pictured the mountain passenger power as being represented with Frisco 1522--a beautiful locomotive, made more so with those air tanks topside on the boiler, a real railroady look to my eyes, shared with some of the 2-8-2s and 2-10-2s of the DM&IR.

Bulby wrote:
. . .I've probably got enough material or ideas for at least a few more episodes for your series. (You just have to pull it out of the mountains and into the midwest.)


A potentially great location, though at least partially from my own prejudices, not what I would have chosen; doesn't seem to have the potential for drama that a mainline mountain railroad has. Still, I'm curious, what would make you choose the relatively flat, somewhat less spectacular Midwest?


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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Film/TV Series Ideas
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 1:18 am 

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Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Bulby wrote:
Not necessarily answering your questions, but an added thought.

Anyone up for crews that resemble those on McHale's Navy? McHale styled crews for the narrow gauge, Lt. Carpenter styled crew for the standard gauge?

I'm gonna take a wild guess that this is absolutely not at all based on the San Juan extension of the D&RGW, condensed history edition.


A possibility, though not one I considered. My own inspiration for part of this was Gilbert "Snap" Lathrop's book, "Rio Grande Glory Days." One incident that stands out from that book was a bit of a dispute with a lumber operator who placed his piles of cut lumber too close to the track, creating a real safety hazard. He wouldn't listen to the road's management about moving the lumber, so a trainmaster took care of this on his own during the winter with a snow spreader. . .

Great book, and one I highly recommend.

How much would it take to "rebuild" the dual gauge facilities at Antonito, Co.?

In regard to "McHale's Navy," how many of us know that Ernest Borgnine was a Navy vet of long service, including time in WW II?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McHale's_Navy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Borgnine


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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Film/TV Series Ideas
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 1:41 am 

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J3a-614 wrote:
Bulby wrote:
. . .I've probably got enough material or ideas for at least a few more episodes for your series. (You just have to pull it out of the mountains and into the midwest.)


A potentially great location, though at least partially from my own prejudices, not what I would have chosen; doesn't seem to have the potential for drama that a mainline mountain railroad has. Still, I'm curious, what would make you choose the relatively flat, somewhat less spectacular Midwest?


I can think of two midwestern railroads that stretch over 50 miles in length that would be more than willing to allow a movie or t.v. series to be filmed on their property; provided that the filming is run by someone who does not have an agenda against the railroad, and the railroad is fairly compensated. One of these lines is fairly flat, but the other is up and down heads-up railroading. (Though, admittedly, the owners, while not being anti-steam in the sense of CSX, are not currently a pro-steam outfit; dead-in-tow or in light steam is about all you will get)

J3a-614 wrote:
[My own inspiration for part of this was Gilbert "Snap" Lathrop's book, "Rio Grande Glory Days." One incident that stands out from that book was a bit of a dispute with a lumber operator who placed his piles of cut lumber too close to the track, creating a real safety hazard. He wouldn't listen to the road's management about moving the lumber, so a trainmaster took care of this on his own during the winter with a snow spreader. . .


O boy, I can see this happening...On a few current railroads I know...

J3a-614 wrote:
How much would it take to "rebuild" the dual gauge facilities at Antonito, Co.?


Most of the track is still there as either standard or narrow, the biggest trouble (IMHO) would be finding frogs for all the dual gauge switches. The operator of the standard gauge is actually pro-historical presevation; so who knows?

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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Film/TV Series Ideas
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 5:32 pm 

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Bulby wrote:
I can think of two midwestern railroads that stretch over 50 miles in length that would be more than willing to allow a movie or t.v. series to be filmed on their property; provided that the filming is run by someone who does not have an agenda against the railroad, and the railroad is fairly compensated. One of these lines is fairly flat, but the other is up and down heads-up railroading. (Though, admittedly, the owners, while not being anti-steam in the sense of CSX, are not currently a pro-steam outfit; dead-in-tow or in light steam is about all you will get)


Ah, availability, as good a reason as any. . .no complaints on that. . .

I'm glad you've apparently been enjoying the material I thought would be good for adaptation to film or television. . .have to include one more, from Lathrop's "Rio Grande Glory Days," one that while it takes place on the narrow gauge, could be on any railroad. . .

I don't own a copy of the book, and thus have to remember it, but another incident that is a jewel involved the cooking "ability" of the rear end brakeman of one crew. As Lathrop described it, "a starving man might enjoy his cooking."

Anyway, the conductor in this crew was always groaning about how he wished he could have gravy with his potatoes. One day, the brakeman-cook in question announce he was going to make gravy. The conductor was delighted at this.

First the cook poured off his meat drippings into a big skillet. Then he went banging around in the food locker looking for something, and came out with a can of some sort of powder, from which he dumped a generous dose into the meat drippings, along with some water.

Almost immediately the concoction began to foam and swell and overflow the skillet. The cook poured a big portion of the contents of the skillet out into a large bowl, but as soon as he set the skillet back down, it began to overflow again. "Quick, get me another bowl!"

Finally the stuff settled down, and the cook brought a bowl of the gravy over to the table. There were another four or five bowls of gravy in other places in the caboose.

"Oh, boy, finally, gravy," said the conductor, as he mashed one of his baked potatoes with a fork. He then took a spoon, and ladled out a nice scoop of gravy to pour on his potatoes.

The problem was, it didn't pour. It all kind of came off the spoon in one piece.

"What the hell is this?" said the conductor.

Everyone took a look at the bowl of "gravy," and noticed there was a hole where the conductor had scooped some out.

Lathrop commented, "That's the funniest damn gravy I've ever seen. What did you put in there?"

The cook replied, "Well, we didn't have no white flour, so I used pancake mix. I guess it don't work too good."

Man, with stuff like this, would someone tell me why we can't get anything done?


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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Film/TV Series Ideas
PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:29 pm 

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J3a-614 wrote:
I'm glad you've apparently been enjoying the material I thought would be good for adaptation to film or television. . .have to include one more, from Lathrop's "Rio Grande Glory Days," one that while it takes place on the narrow gauge, could be on any railroad. . .


I've definitely enjoying this stuff, partially because I can see so much of it actually happening.

J3a-614 wrote:
Man, with stuff like this, would someone tell me why we can't get anything done?


I'm with you. This material is a gold mine.

J3a-614 wrote:
Anyway, the conductor in this crew was always groaning about how he wished he could have gravy with his potatoes. One day, the brakeman-cook in question announce he was going to make gravy. The conductor was delighted at this.

First the cook poured off his meat drippings into a big skillet. Then he went banging around in the food locker looking for something, and came out with a can of some sort of powder, from which he dumped a generous dose into the meat drippings, along with some water.

Almost immediately the concoction began to foam and swell and overflow the skillet. The cook poured a big portion of the contents of the skillet out into a large bowl, but as soon as he set the skillet back down, it began to overflow again. "Quick, get me another bowl!"

Finally the stuff settled down, and the cook brought a bowl of the gravy over to the table. There were another four or five bowls of gravy in other places in the caboose.

"Oh, boy, finally, gravy," said the conductor, as he mashed one of his baked potatoes with a fork. He then took a spoon, and ladled out a nice scoop of gravy to pour on his potatoes.

The problem was, it didn't pour. It all kind of came off the spoon in one piece.

"What the hell is this?" said the conductor.

Everyone took a look at the bowl of "gravy," and noticed there was a hole where the conductor had scooped some out.

Lathrop commented, "That's the funniest damn gravy I've ever seen. What did you put in there?"

The cook replied, "Well, we didn't have no white flour, so I used pancake mix. I guess it don't work too good."


Reminds me of some of the cooking I've seen (and unfortunately eaten) courtesy of Boy Scouts (The individuals involved will never be allowed to cook my food again)

Back to story ideas:

I seem to recall hearing a story about a not-to-be repeated run of the Nebraska Zephyr over the former CB&Q, a deadhead move in which the BN executive (Road Foreman of Engines?) was impressed with the 9911A's ride and told the engineer to open it up. They decided to slow down once they realized they were beating the gates to the crossing. (I may have this story incorrect, but this is how I've always heard it told)

Then you can always do a piece on the Keokuk Junction Railway's bridge collapse last summer from the crew's perspective. As the (extremely shook-up) conductor stated to the V.P. Safety/Compliance and the General Counsel:

Quote:
We were going along just fine, we felt a tug like a derailment, the train went into emergency, we looked back and there was no train (Pause) and no bridge.

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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Film/TV Series Ideas
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 4:09 am 

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Bulby wrote:
Then you can always do a piece on the Keokuk Junction Railway's bridge collapse last summer from the crew's perspective. As the (extremely shook-up) conductor stated to the V.P. Safety/Compliance and the General Counsel:

Quote:
We were going along just fine, we felt a tug like a derailment, the train went into emergency, we looked back and there was no train (Pause) and no bridge.


Some of the funniest punch lines seem to come out of accident inquests. The bit about how Edgar Custer would make a first-class railroad man because of his ability to fib is one. Herbert Hamblen, in "The General Manager's Story," has a superintendent who "figured out the truth from the pack of lies we told" after a collision (one lady, listening to my talk about that TV series, made the comment that those superintendents reminded her of a mother who knows all about what her kids can be up to!)

Then there was the crew on the C&O, down in the New River Gorge, with an engineer who used a big rock in the New River as a landmark to initiate his brake application as he approached a coal mine that was on a dead-end spur. One day the river came up and covered up the rock, and he missed his stopping point until it was too late. It wasn't a bad accident, other than having to haul a 200 ton steam locomotive out of the mud where he ran off the end of the track. The interesting thing, of course, was what he said at the accident inquest. He claimed he should not be held responsible for the accident; it was not his fault that the rock had sunk.

His brother, working out of the same terminal (Thurmond, W.Va.), had previously had a similar incident. He was used to using a bush along the track as his landmark coming down from Minden, where the New River & Pocahontas Coal Company (West Virginia operation of Berwind-White Coal Company, and one of the the few "private car operators" of hopper cars in the steam era) had a mine and big repair shop. This was on the downhill approach to a switchback just above Thurmond, which ended at the highway that comes down into Thurmond from the south and then parallels the railroad over the shared bridge there. One day the maintenance of way crew cut down the bush--and the fellow's 2-6-6-2 attempted to take to the highway, which lined up with the end of the track.

How many people would believe that two brothers, working out of the same terminal, would have such similar accidents?

Bulby wrote:
Reminds me of some of the cooking I've seen (and unfortunately eaten) courtesy of Boy Scouts (The individuals involved will never be allowed to cook my food again)


Hmmm--that reminds me of me. For a while my mother had a job, and my father and my brothers attempted to cook things while she was at work. I got out of that with a bowl of mashed potatoes. I remembered that my mom would boil up some potatoes, drain off the water and then mash them by hand with a masher and milk. After that, she would add some butter and salt.

I got the milk part OK, and the texture was perfect. The problem was, I didn't know how much butter and salt to use. Not wanting to use too much, I added a couple of shakes out of the salt shaker, and a slice of butter you could see through. This was for a pot that was supposed to feed five people--my father, my three brothers, and me.

I can't tell you how disgusted my dad looked at the taste of those flavorless potatoes.

One of my brothers said they had all the flavor of air.

I can personally tell you they were awful--like eating pure starch.

Well, at least I got out of cooking after that and a few other episodes. Still had to help with the dishes, though.


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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Film/TV Series Ideas
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:16 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 6:45 pm
Posts: 253
J3a-614 wrote:
Bulby wrote:
Then you can always do a piece on the Keokuk Junction Railway's bridge collapse last summer from the crew's perspective. As the (extremely shook-up) conductor stated to the V.P. Safety/Compliance and the General Counsel:

Quote:
We were going along just fine, we felt a tug like a derailment, the train went into emergency, we looked back and there was no train (Pause) and no bridge.


Some of the funniest punch lines seem to come out of accident inquests.


Of course, in all fairness, it may be funny to us, but it sure wasn't funny to the crew in the situation above. Especially because now they have to wait til late spring to move anything more than storage cars.

J3a-614 wrote:
How many people would believe that two brothers, working out of the same terminal, would have such similar accidents?


Another one that I can certainly see happening today. Three family members work for the same railroad, division manager/engineer; his brother, an engineer; and his son, a conductor (who works on the other division). All three have trouble obeying the rule book's exact wording (among the fun ones, the rule about cell phones; anyone ever played hot potato with a cell phone?). The running joke amongst co-workers is that the rule book needs an amendment: No more than 2 (insert last name)'s are allowed to be on duty at any given time.

Names and distinguishing features removed to protect the not-quite-so-innocent.

Another story idea:

What it takes to work on the "World's Worst Maintained Railway" a.k.a. the Maumee & Western (MAW), where "we have the morning derailment, the afternoon derailment, and if we get those cleaned up in time, we'll have an evening derailment" (Only slightly exaggerating, but they were averaging more derailments than days of operation)

The Maumee & Western is no longer in business, having been taken over by Pioneer Railcorp's Michigan Southern outfit d.b.a. Napoleon, Defiance, and Western. Reportedly, the crews are very thankful, because it used to be that they were both the train crew and the track gang.

Track work under the MAW didn't amount to much, derailments were exceedingly common, speed was pathetic: 3 days to cover 15 miles! The middle of the line couldn't even be used safely. The last time major work had been done was under the N&W. Wabash built the line on a swamp, then N&W took over, to NS, to Indiana Hi-rail, to MAW. After the N&W, nobody cared about the little branch line (that by owner's attitudes, should have died 50 years ago)

Suffice to say, the ND&W has done quite a bit to bring the operation up. Train speeds are up, they are using at least one more crew, they went from four locomotives, to six, they are handling more cars with less costs, and the last time a freight car derailed was over a week ago.

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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Film/TV Series Ideas
PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2014 6:39 am 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 5:46 am
Posts: 2440
Location: S.F. Bay Area
Why did the reimagined Battlestar Galactica run for 4 seasons? Because it told stories about people. That's what Duck Dynasty, IRT, and certainly any scripted television is all about. WKRP, Wings, Taxi, MASH, Scrubs, they are all human comedy with the context just propped up as a backdrop. Even the car mod shows, the crux is human conflict, in Overhaulin' with the difficulties of the job, and in Monster Garage with each other. Even in Top Gear and Mythbusters, star power is a significant factor. How'd you feel if they replaced Jamie? Would it still be Mythbusters? Not really.

The closest you get to the tech being the star, is CSI or Bones. But even then, barely. Unless you get into those very dry "Mayday" sort of shows where the thrill is the disaster.

When you leave off the human story, you get a "Transformers" or "Battleship" which are just stupid, and forgotten in a year.


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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Film/TV Series Ideas
PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 3:36 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
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Location: Inwood, W.Va.
robertmacdowell wrote:
Why did the reimagined Battlestar Galactica run for 4 seasons? Because it told stories about people. That's what Duck Dynasty, IRT, and certainly any scripted television is all about.


Well, I hope that's been showing through in the stories I've been tossing out!


robertmacdowell wrote:
WKRP, Wings, Taxi, MASH, Scrubs, they are all human comedy with the context just propped up as a backdrop.


True enough, but sometimes I thought a lot of those comedies were, well, kind of generic. Fortunately for the people involved, they satisfied enough viewers to allow everyone to make a living--but I would hope we could go at least one better, with a different setting, one that in some ways, for many people, is as exotic as outer space.


robertmacdowell wrote:
Even the car mod shows, the crux is human conflict, in Overhaulin' with the difficulties of the job, and in Monster Garage with each other.


Hey, with what I've had in mind, we get both of those! A two-fer!

robertmacdowell wrote:
WKRP, Wings, Taxi, MASH, Scrubs, they are all human comedy with the context just propped up as a backdrop. . . The closest you get to the tech being the star, is CSI or Bones. But even then, barely.


Your'e right, the setting can be just a backdrop--but for this, it shouldn't be dismissed so lightly. If we're going to be entertaining and also attempting to at least look accurate, then the setting can be important in terms of things you can do and things you don't do. For instance, we wouldn't have cell phones in anything set before, say 1985, so cell phone stories are not around in a movie or series set before then. Go back to the 1950s or earlier, railroad radio is going to be unusual at least, and won't exist at all prior to the 1920s. Troubles with Nazi spies and Indian raids are separated by quite a few dedades and half the continent.

In many ways, the setting and hardware can be a sort of character, something the living characters have to deal with. That's part of the potential we have here that's missing from most situation comedies that consist largely of people talking around a couch in a living room.


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 Post subject: Re: Railroad Film/TV Series Ideas
PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2014 1:35 am 

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A great "human" story that would make a good Christmas movie is the pulp railroad fiction short story "The Night Run" by John Johns. It tells the story of an engineer who is grieving at the holidays for the loss of his son near the previous Christmas. Good railroad drama, bucking snowstorm & late trains, no heat in the passenger cars, red signals in the face, the usual lovable hash house queen, etc. During the his layover before the run through the snow on Dec. 24th, he befriends an orphan kid working at a diner... later finds the kid riding on his tender.... takes him home to the wife for Christmas Day.... Original setting is near Chicago during WWI, but I could envision it being filmed in SW Virginia set during WWII... starring 611, 1218, 475, 630, 4501, Southern E's..... George Clooney as the engineer, Matt Damon firing, Tom Hanks as the Conductor... Hallmark should pay for it as atonement for all the sappy historical tearjerkers they've subjected us to over the years.....

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