Thursday, December 4, 2008

Where is my bailout?

Seems like everyone is asking the question... where's my bailout? The elitist CEO types expect it... they actually think they are entitled to make millions while their workers make a fraction of their salaries. They think they are entitled to fly around on the private jets and throw 1/2 million dollar parties while the workers wonder if they are going to have a job next week. Citi Bank gets a huge bailout then the legislators turn around and refuse to pass a bill prohibiting them from gouging customers with high late fees and loan shark style interest rates.... the very next day... Smith takes a Golden Parachute that was nearly the exact amount of the UAW wage concession.... that's ballsy! Elitist bastards. The CEO types actually don't see that they are killing the golden goose. The very people that payed the taxes to bail them out. Shamefull. And the government lets 'em get away with it... shameful.... God isn't gonna let 'em buy their way into Heaven... remember you can't take it with you.

See my related blog about Public Transportation, Airfares vs. Train fares

Monday, October 27, 2008

RR content / No more movies? Nearing the end. Only 1283 days to go.

Tomorrow it will no longer be legal for me to use my camera on a moving train. I've removed my movies from You Tube and will not be posting new photos taken from the cab unless I am stopped and other duties permit. So obviously I'll only be able to take movies from the cab if I'm deadheading by train in the rear units. It happens but not often.

The picture above was taken near Northport, NE sometime in the early '80's and no, I'm not moving. The Helpers are getting on my point in preparation of pulling Angora hill toward Alliance. Notice the cable driven Barco speed recorder and the "Flimsys" Click the photo to enlarge.

I seldom have an original thought but it occurred to me after looking at Martin Burwash's blog that I should post some of my old scanned photos as I near retirement. I'll do a career blog here soon... in the meantime...

I was talking to my wife about the 3 1/2 years 'til I retire. I will retire May 1, 2012. She pointed out that 2012-2008 is 4 years. I got a little disappointed but then because I'm not very good at math I turned to the Internet.

It is 1283 days from today until I retire.

Or 3 years, 6 months, 5 days including the end date.

But who's counting?

Of course my 401k is DOWN 30.2% since the first of Jan so I may have to work forever.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

RR content? - Off sick again / the greedy bastards

I managed to go all month nearly without taking off work. Most Engineers take off about two trips a month. I missed four trips in August do to some fatigue and vertigo issues. I've been under the weather and I think it may be my medicine making me sick. Still, I probably could not work at all without it so, Oh Well.

Of course it might be that I lost 6k in my 401k in one day today... that would make anybody sick!
Wall Street is now officially recognized as the world biggest casino. They no longer sell stock in manufacturing companies. they now sell stock in finance. True. The biggest industry in America is Credit. When, I was a kid it was GM then Exxon, now it's credit. The Greedy Bastards - sounds like a rock band.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

RR content - Save the F-45's!

Me running the F-45's
Photo by Dave Belcher taken 9/28/03

I ran this train way back when I worked the extra board. Our F-45 have dwindled from 4 to 2 as far as I know. And were the only ones used in regular service in the world.

I'm encouraging a postcard blitz to Save the F-45's... move them to Missoula for use with the Biz cars or other excursion trains. 2 of the F-45's were ruined when they were out on lease (my opinion) The other 2 are still reliable. If they could just be moved inside in Livingston for now might be a good idea too. At one time a F8 was acquired for the Company train but it turned out to be in to bad shape to restore. So there was interest at one time in a dedicated power.

Save the F-45's!

Friday, August 29, 2008

RR content (kinda) - this is realy stupid

This is really stupid... I'm not going to offer an opinion on what part.

I got stung by a bee a few days ago... again... it's the second time this summer. I've figured out I'm slightly allergic. Before the fever I wasn't allergic to anything. If I don't take some benedryl, I'll get some mild hives. The bee sting was right in the web of my hand between my thumb and made it difficult to use the thumb. I have had muscle and joint aches like a mini-flu too.

I had to lay off work... If I had my bosses job, I would have not even mentioned it. They consider it an off duty injury.
Now that I'm better, the RR wants me to get a return to work OK from the Doctor...

It's all unbelievable... I'll miss 3 trips because of this.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

RR content - Helper train for sure

We are waiting for helpers. I steal the internet connection near the Livingston NP depot. Later we will come out of the Bozeman tunnel with bell ringing on 2 rear units. Slow going today... 12,000+ ton regular freight train... unusual

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The tendency of Blog

I don't add to the Blog much other than RR photos 'cause the tendency is to bitch about stuff. I mange to keep pretty quiet about stuff on the RR that gripes me but I've been sick again (CFS is a roller coaster, but not much fun) so here goes...

And I hate getting older.. At this point I don't tolerate the schedule (or lack of) an Engineer anymore. I have little energy, less exhilaration, etc. OK, I feel better - <- note... this was edited... it was just too much... see!

Well, at least I don't have a beer and a remote in my hand... If I could just get away from the stupid computer it would be great.

Today I went to the airport to watch the Fire Tanker airplanes today... that was it, I didn't do one thing other than that.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

RR content - POD

Picture of the day... like that's going to happen everyday!

RR content but On Vacation Jun 15 - 29

I was on vacation... most of June!

the original intent was a once a week update for the railfans that read my blog but summer is just too much fun...

I made my annual motorcycle journey and it included a ride on the Cumbres and Toltec Steam train... click here for pics

I was able to talk my way into a cab ride for my friend Hans from the Netherlands

Monday, July 21, 2008

Summer months

I have been really busy this summer... haven't really had time for the blog... it's going to turn into a once a onth ting for awhile.... more later

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wellsville, MO - Wal Mart Blight?

This article was written 11/23/2012 Black Friday... the Americas Still out There Trip was in 2008.

It's Black Friday.  I have not written much.. I'm retired now and will post some old RR stuff at some point, but, for now...I had been avoiding the whole spectacle of the election.  Whole thing turned my stomach.  I had to avoid it a bit as it would cloud my happiness. Not intending this to be a political rant or some leftist blog but this whole greed thing it outta hand.

I picked today to write because I have been recently encouraged to relate some stories of my motorcycle journeys with print and photographs. Also, over 100 Wal Mart stores have been picketed by non-Union workers today.

This is a two fold story about a motorcycle journey and Wal Mart.  The town of realization became Wellsville, MO. The date was June 19, 2008. Actually there will be another America's Still Out There story that happened on this same motorcycle trip.  It involves a Horse and Buggy and a Soda Fountain and a Barbershop. I'll relate that soon and link it to here.

The downtown area was all but dried up. Just one lone skateboarder (no one to run him off) a bunch of boarded up buildings, a information booth in the form of a caboose and a town square with over 4400 American flags planted to honor or dead in Iraq. Stopped for some reason long forgotten... probably to honor the dead.

The skater kid comes over to admire the motorcycle.  That still happens in backroads of America. Strangers are still approachable.  I stuck me that Downtown Wellsville had probably dried up because of Wal Mart.  So I asked the kid,  "is there was a Wal Mart in town"?  Sure the kid says, "over in Mexico" ((18 miles away).... suspicion confirmed.  I had been running into this in town after town. Reminder to self... take pictures of the kids.  All the pictures from this trip are available here

Now, do we blame Wal Mart or ourselves or was it just all inevitable?  Hard to say... perhaps "Pay less, Live better" works.  I admit I have been in Wal Mart a few times.  But I would rather find those hard to find eye drops in a Mom in Pop Drugstore that was right behind that motorcycle pictured above.  Or get a battery at the Farm Equipment store.  That used to be the way of things. Life was slower, better and more personal.

How can you not like this guy?

It's Maggie's Great Uncle Harold.  She has fond memories of his Drugstore and Soda fountain in Detroit and the penny candy and Grape Nehi... America's Still out there

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Will the thrill - atgatt

The Motorcycle group I am with have a saying... atgatt... All the gear all the time
This is why. It can happen so quick. Riding in the rain the bike hydroplaned and dumped Will off on his left side. He was doing 75 mph and came out of it all just very sore but no major injuries and no head injury. He still is a cerebral guy. And a friend... whew!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

RR content - Der Undercutter

An undercutter isn't a big weed whacker... it actually recycles ballast and lowers the track ie. in a tunnel to allow larger equipment to pass through. As RR equipment has gotten bigger more room is needed. Most tunnels are lined with concrete and it is cost prohibitive to enlarge the openings.

Friday, May 23, 2008

RR content - Greycliff day

Raining for the 4th day in a row....

I'm in the siding a Greycliff on a 17000+ Coal train using the KOA campground connection...

Broken rail ahead.... Officers special behind us

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Summer is coming... finally

Worked a LAUSPO last night 1430-0400... 6 hours to Livingston. I ran LIV-HEL after that straight shot.

It is 86F in Helena and a bit windy. i got in at 0400 and got some decent sleep. Went for a bike ride.

5.69 miles
avg spd 11.3
max spd 43.4

avg hr 121
max hr 218
above target 3:16
below target 10:40
in target zone 32:57
total miles this season 546

called for 1735 on PASSAG

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

RR - Careful what you wish for

I had never had the opportunity to br qualified for DP's by a roadforman... I finally just talked my way into it. Careful what you wish for. Yesterday I had a Coal mty that had DP problems not covered in the guides (imagine that) The DP's would drop out of normal and go to idle... I could feel the train run out then about 40 seconds later, an alarm light and indication of idle and DP brake valve cut out. Executing normal would get it to load but the brake valve would stay cut out and did not reset until stopping and running the train check. It wasn't a problem really on a Coal mty but I sure as hell don't want this setup on a load.

I love the DP's on a Coal Load

8800hp front, 8800hp rear and the MRL aces 13000+ hp in the middle... 30500+hp total

photo above... retired Engineer Goodson in the middle 11/07

No worries!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Is Chronic Fatigue Real?

Here I am awake at 013am. I'll need to take a pill to sleep... I took a pill this morning to stay alert today. I will go to work about this time tomorrow so It's better to sleep in tomorrow (or today really) I'll get up about noon probably.

Yesterday I rode 9 miles into the wind on my bicycle to get the motorhome out of storage. Then I mowed the yard for the first time this year... we have had a cool spring....

Ididn't believe in Chronic Fatigue Syndrom until I began to get better. The symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are real, but I refuse to believe that we have to live with it the rest of our lives. It last so many years that it gets to be a lifestyle... I ready for a change.

I have felt like crap for the last two weeks but I felt terrific today. Is it possible to be Bi Polar Physically? I call it the Roller Coaster. TAll are remnants of the fever. At least my moods aren't so up and down as they were right out of the hospital. I never thought I was depressed but I sure would get frustrated from being soooo tired allll the time. My new doctors ( I fired all the men Docs) are now treating me for "Shift Workers Syndrome". Everything is a syndrome nowdays.

My job is killing me as I get older. I'm on call 24/7.
This health setback didn't help.

And, I'm on the lineup to go to work at 0400... I was first on the lineup at 2330 yesterday, then 11am then 0100, then 0300, then 0400. This is typical... are you sure you work like to be a Locomotive Engineer?

About 10 years ago I had a fever for nearly a month that included a stay in the hospital and the loss of about 4 years of memory. It also has trashed my short term memory and still affects my sense of smell and taste. I'm lucky 'cause the Doc figured I would not get my sense of smell back. A fever of such duration causes brain damage and can be irreversible. The fever commonly triggers Chronic Fatigue Syndrome... not something you want to have and still drive the train for a living. It's been a long haul but I'm finally having more good days than bad days now that the Docs are approaching this from another angle. I got pissed and asked her (the doctor) to either send me home and tell me to stop whining or do something! She gave me a drug called Lyrica for nerve pain witch promptly gave me hives and caused some tingling and I still have ultra sensitive spots on my body.... Never guess where... A bad drug. She also gave me Provigil to stay alert.. kind of a Ritalin for Adults! Also Ambien to sleep... not AmbienCR... it sucks... and don't get generic Ambien. Synthroid for low Thyroid. No side effects from anything but the Lyrica. The Provigil makes me chatty and that can be annoying.

At anyrate, I have fought Chronic Fatigue for over 10 years and I think I'm finally getting better. Laying on the couch becomes a never ending cycle that becomes a lifestyle. The doc wants me to lose 23lbs in the next year. She also wants me to exercise at 75-80% of my max heart rate (140) for 30 - 5 days a week.

I did 1 hour at 125-140 bpm today.
9 miles.
Avg speed 9.9
Max speed 18.
I weighed 228 last week and 223 today.

Tennis tonight from 6-930
I weigh 222 tonight... I'll eat a tiny piece of cake... we went over to see our little grandson Connor and Maggie has been in a class to decorate cakes.

Tomorrow (May 1) I'll have exactly 4 more years to retirement.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Vacation - APR 1-10

Marker for vacation blog... let's just say it was wet for now


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

RR Content - no layoffs

I have not taken any extra time off for some time. I was unaware that there has been a no layoff policy for quite some time. This blog was started in part to document my last few years as an engineer. If this no layoff policy continues I'll retire early.

We are headed for Memphis leaving Sat or Sun I hope.... my vacation officially starts Mon Mar31. Hopefully my turn will get out on Sun without me. It will not be nice to drive 2-13 hour days to get there, 2-13 hour days to get back and only get to see my family for 3 days.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

RR -content- Up All Night?

As you can see I am up in the middle of the night.. Often I have to catch a bit of reast and it ends up putting me up at least a good portion of the night.

There was a bit of a slowdown after the derailment on Bozeman pass even though the cleanup effort was very quick. My turn LA28-01 was pulled and I'll be bidding an Asst. Engineers job soon.

These are from a couple of days ago so I'll do a before and after essay of sorts. I'll post the Coal train derailment aftermath photos that I took today, it has been dark each time we went through the derailment site. They sure have done an excellent job cleaning it up.

More later... the sleeping pill is working

I've been busy:
2008/03/02 0001 2008/03/02 1215 LA01 12'14" on duty
Job: LA01 04 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: CSCMCEC069
2008/03/02 2020 2008/03/03 0550 LA01 11'20" on duty
Job: LA01 04 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: HPASKCK901
2008/03/04 1830 2008/03/05 0425 LA28 7'55" on duty
Job: LA28 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: MLAUPAS104
2008/03/06 1630 2008/03/07 0100 LA28 8'5" on duty
Job: LA28 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: HPASSAG904
2008/03/07 2100 2008/03/08 0925 LA28 12'25" on duty
Job: LA28 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: MLAUPAS107
2008/03/09 0045 2008/03/09 1245 LA28 12'00" on duty
Job: LA28 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: XKALHNL908
Job: LA28 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: MLAUPAS110
2008/03/11 1555 2008/03/12 0055 LA28 = 9'00"
Job: LA28 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: QTACDEN109
2008/03/14 0400 2008/03/14 1630 LA28 =12'30"
Job: LA28 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: CSCMCEC083
2008/03/15 0430 2008/03/15 1030 LA28 = 6'
Job: LA28 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: HPASSAG913
2008/03/17 0300 2008/03/17 1050 LA28 =7'50"
Job: LA28 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: QDENTAC115 BNSF4444
2008/03/18 0210 000/00/00 0000 LA28
Job: LA28 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: XKALWMI915 Busted
2008/03/18 0415 2008/03/18 1225 LA28
Job: LA28 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: XVAWGLE916
2008/03/18 0415 2008/03/18 1225 LA28
Job: LA28 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: XVAWGLE916

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

RR content - Engineer again

I'll retire before I will be the Engineer regularly instead of the Assistant Engineer. Each time I am assigned my own turn as Engineer, I wonder if it will be the last time.
Yesterday I was installed as the engineer on Turn LA28-01 (for those interested)

Today I stand to go out at dark thirty 1830.

Last trip up to Helena on the Coal train (no report yet) I ran Distributed power for the first time. But I wasn't qualified as the rules require a non crew member to do the qualifying.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

BearingSTOC - Spring is coming, GO RIDE

Place holder - photos and blog to be posted soon about replacing all 6 bearings in my motorcycle headset and wheel bearings

Monday, February 25, 2008


Place holder

Friday, February 22, 2008

2/22 20 years

2/22/08 2330

I've been with MRL 20 years today... hard to believe... where did the time go?

On the lineup for 1800 Grain Train tomorrow

Thursday, February 21, 2008

BBBN - Been Busy.. Blog neglect

I've been busy with the RR Safety Committee... I swear, I'd rather just run the train.

A few days ago I did go for a short motorcycle ride to relax... winter took a break and it was in the mid 50's.
I'll be adding 3 more states to my motorcyle's journeys this year. Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. I had originally hoped to ride to Nova Scotia but I'll be in Iowa instead for the famous ST1100 28amp to 40amp alternator upgrade. Then continue to WeSTOC. For a map click here.

At any rate a few new RR photos are available in the Train Trip 2008 galley at Smugmug

Friday, February 15, 2008

RR trip report - 290 leads!

2008/02/14 0600 2008/02/14 1715 LA01
Job: LA01 04 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: MPASLAU410
2 EMD former Oakways for power

Picked up the MRL290 at Bozeman to use as a unmanned helper

photos later

Thursday, February 14, 2008

RR trip - Yesterday's LM...died again

We died again... for those unfamilar with the term, it means we ran out of time on the 12 hours allowed by federal law. Called for the LM, we had the MRL4303, MRL4313 and the MRL703... It took more than 2 hours to get out of Laurel... and over 2 hours at Livingston setting out the MRL703, setting out 6 cars, picking up 19 cars and waiting for the helpers. We were 9107 tons out of Livingston. At Belgrade the signal department was working on the automatic gates and we had to flag our way across all 4 of them. Siding at Logan for 3 trains... so dying at Toston wasn't really annoying except we ended p in the van in baad weather again. It's snowing again in Montana.

I'm called for 6am to go back home.... more later

Sunday, February 10, 2008

RR Trip report - Plum wore out

First off...I get to run the train... it's a fun job.... but sometimes the timing is all wrong. Yesterday was a long day (or night). Then... it began... again...

Thursday were called for 0230 on the LM. It took 3 1/2 hours to get out of Laurel. Then waited for helpers for quite a while in Livingston. The dispatcher intended to relieve us at Winston when it became obvious we would not make it to Helena on our 12 hours. Then we went in the siding at Clarkston for a poor meet and again at Lombard for nearly an hour. After a train ahead of us stalled on the hill we parked our train at Toston and ended up in the van again. Unavoidable... I think the train stalled because of blowing drifting snow.

A total 12:55 on duty. Too tired to even stop to eat we went right to the hotel in Helena and I went right to bed. Awake again at 8pm I went to get something to eat and was up half the night. About the time I needed to go to sleep again and had just fallen asleep again, we were called at 0510 for the PASKCK. A nice little 57 car solo train, we had a good trip to Laurel, only to get held at Rapids for lite power, then Spurling and 5th ave. Laurel for 2 hours. There had been a little derailment in the yard last night. The yardmaster gave up and took us off the train. Tied up at 1500 after 9:50 on duty. I had been up from 8pm until 3pm and from 00:30 until 4pm the day before. I went home and went right to bed... so 2 days wasted. I don't make new years resolutions but I have been trying to get one thing done each day (besides railroading).

Now as I write this I am somewhat rested but need to get some more sleep. The timing is all wrong. When I went to bed the lineup said 0900 this A.M. Now the lineup says 1830 this next afternoon. I'll try to stay up a while and sleep in in the morning so that I can tolerate another all nighter.

Update: I am called for 1545... that gave me 24:45 off and we will chase down a crew on the train that we will run to Helena today. The crew will be short on time... so we will take over for them somewhere along the line.

Friday, February 8, 2008

RR trip report - LM

2008/02/08 0230 2008/02/08 1525 LA01
Job: LA01 04 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: MLAUMIS108

Called for LM at 0230.... it took 3 1/2 hours to get out of the yard...
Power = MRL4307, MRL314, MRL327 = 11,500
0950 - we are now waiting for helpers at Livingston

more.... later

Thursday, February 7, 2008

RR content - Winter blahs

Winter has caused me to hole up lately. I'm either inside the locomotive or in the car or in the house. Today I left the house for the first time in a while, did lunch with the wife, a little shopping a erand running. I'm trying to do one productive thing everyday. It doesn't sound hard but when all you are trying to do is catch up on rest... well it ain't easy. I did play tennis at the college tonight.

My little Asus laptop is now fully functional and legal to use at work in lieu of rulebooks thanks to Dave P at WashCorp IT. I called him today and I had the files in amatter of minutes. I figured the were PDF before they were repligo files.... at any rate it flys! He sent me all the PDF documents I needed so now I don't have to carry all 14lbs of books any longer. I'll just carry the laptop and a Timetable (although I have a PDF version of it too) I carry a HAZMAT book in my repair bag alog with a hazmat hood.

More on this later... I'm on the lineup for 0330 and I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

RR content - my turn is pulled

My turn was pulled so I have moved from the Engineer on turn LA27 to Asst. Engr on LA01.....

I'm on the lineup for 2300 tomorrow night... the turn was out of town when I marked to it.... looks like I'll go right back to night runs....

Sunday, February 3, 2008

RR Trip report - Super Bowl Sunday

Guys lay off in droves prior to the Super Bowl, they dream up any lame excuse to be off for the football game... some of them risk being AWOL and are evidently willing to risk discipline for being unavailable. The crew office has a heck of a time dealing with the absences. Right now there are quite a few guys layed off that were denied... of course it's the same guys as usual. How do they get away with it?

Here's an idea, as far as I know, MRL is the only railroad that pays-time-and-a-half on holidays.... make Super Bowl Sunday a paid holiday.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

RR Trip report - Midnight one from Helena

Left: Lone tree between Winston and Louisvile

Yesterday we ran a very cooperative grain load to Helena. Stellar power.. it acted like it had gears on the rail. Absolutely no slip... of course we picked up the mighty MRL315 at Livingston... that's probably why!
on duty 2008/02/01 0220 - off duty 2008/02/01 1345 LA27
Job: LA27 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: GBDEINB929
New Rule... I think if we get a load up to Helena, we should get an empty back. Grain mty's are my favorite. Even better than a Coal empty... they have more weight and are easier to run at a constant speed. The aluminium coal cars are so light the momentum isn't there and the speed varies. I like to run at exactly the speed limit if I can... it's a challenge and helps me to concentrate. We were called for 0001 on a grain empty... best trip in some time. We took the siding twice.. 10 min delay at Lombard for the KCKPAS, a lengthy 30 mph slow order near Belgrade, and another 10 min at Craver. At Laurel right down the Eastward (my old partner Jack was waiting at West Laurel for us to slide through the crossovers.. he, he) to the "Hitchin' Post", a ride to the Roundhouse to my car and then home.
on duty 2008/02/02 0001 - off duty 2008/02/02 0710
Job: LA27 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: XTACMCU931
Power = 3 4400hp units

Right: I attempted to take a camera phone picture of all the snow on the front of the engine while we were at Lombard.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

RR trip report - Oh, no, not again

There have been 3 small derailments already this after a stellar year last year.
BNSF will pay for 2 of them as they were defective wheels on reroute trains.

We have had a unusual amount of very cold weather but that wasn't the cause.
The MRL351 was damaged a bit in the Helena incident but is repairable.

Yesterday I was on the lineup for 1400
at 1200 I'm on the lineup for 0030 tonight... another night trip... oh, goodie!
at 2200 now it has changed to 0430

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

RR trip report - Dark Thirty

Left, I call it lone tree... it's at the top of the first summit of Winston hill looking back to the west.

I'm in Helena looking at a 20 hour layover in Helena possibly...
The lineup shows the SEAPAS at dark thirty... Seattle-Pasco via Montana?
don't think I've ever had that train... wonder what/why?

update: literally 10 minutes after the above post I am called for the Unit train at 1400... it was at Garrison at 1227... hope we make good time like that!

update: a very nice trip up until we arrived at the bottleneck that is Laurel yard. We waited about an hour to pull thru the yard.. then we shoved this rail train into the rail plant then took the power to the roundhouse... all told about 3 hours yarding the train after a 8 hour run.

NACJAO = We originally stood for the ML at 1530... never get what they say we will... hard to plan... Not A Complaint Just An Observation... it's the nature of the business.

take care,

Opinion - Less than a year

I watched the President talk tonight... I could not help but think about the fact that he will be out of office in less than a year. He has been so bad even my Canadien friends have expressed dismay (and glee 'cause the US Dollar vs Canadien Dollar)

The first president that I actually remember was Eisenhower... when he left office he warned about the Military Industrial Complex. Boy, was he ever right, we cannot get out of the habit of war. Eisenhower was also the architect of the interstate highway system. It originally had a plan for dedicated passenger rail system between the lanes. We should have done this when he suggested it 50 years ago. A ticket on Amtrak costs 3 times what it should and an Airline ticket costs way less than it should. It's because the wealthy elite legislators fly. They approved billions for this stupid war and denied the 3 billion that Amtrak asked for ON THE VERY SAME DAY... they got balls, I'll give 'em that. Maybe I am just pissed 'cause they took my Amtrak pass away during the Reagan years.

Am I tired and grumpy after working? I don't think so... I'm just tired of listening to his lies.

take care,

PS. no one even checked to see if I had a ticket for the train or bus in Italy
(see photo below and travel photos at:

RR Trip Report - sub zero

Called for the LAUPAS at 1200 noon.
FURX former BN green unit on the point and an orange repaint SD40-2 unit trailing = 6000hp
25L 2E 4500T 1600FT 2.2HPT 109.2TOB

Out of the roundhouse in under 10 min... on train at 1230... needed a new train list twice... still, we left in 1'10'... my asst. Engineer layed off but I had a good extra board guy... it was snowing and a brutally cold -8 at Toston but everything worked.... no signal trouble, no power problems... we had a 27 car train... didn't stop for a meet... just thru the yard at Livingston... caught a grain train on Winston hill... the Helena helper crew was dog catching it.... they went into the long lead and parked it... got the Carter crossovers for us... we parked in south 2... Total time on duty 9'00"

No evidence of the derailment that occured at Carter Ave. during my time off at home... fresh snow covered it all maybe... the track showed no ill effects.

take care,
I took a little phone movie as we were coming under I90 and over the Yellowstone River just east of Reed Point, MT....

Saturday, January 26, 2008

RR trip report - More Winter Rules

Called yesterday for the LAUSPO
ON DUTY 1630
TT 15'10"
BNSF1072 & BNSF903 (former ATSF sil/red)
62 cars 4455tons 4200ft

Out of the roundhouse in under 20 minutes... TOE and TOW were out of the way... on train at 1700... air test took 50 min, no BO's...
SPURLING 1840-1905 meet 2
soloed Bozeman pass, the BNSF1072 dynamic suges wildly, it might have been the rail was slick, I expected 15 mph up the hill and we got down as low as 12 mph with 1.86 hpt.
BELGRADE 2310-2330 meet BNSF7776
LOMBARD 0035-0050 meet BNSF4746
then a track light and a broken rail... we died right there and the section high rail came to get us at LOMBARD at 0600... Everyone keep calling us to let us know they were coming to get us, like they felt sorry. It was unavoidable, we caught a nap, collected some OT... no big deal.

EShuttle to Helena...
Tie up 0740

all nighter no photos

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

RR trip report - Winter rules

Tied up in Helena at 0450 after 13'50" on duty... on the Coal train
I'm going to bed... more later

We got on the 1500 coal train yesterday at Spurling. 3 big units, an older EMD SDMac70BNSF9956 to lead 2 new GE's. It ended up being poor slip prone power and 115 cars with 16425 tons. High wind and snow didn't help. The switches at Big Timber were snowed in. It took us 45 min of digging snow to get into the siding to meet the Q train and a Coal mty. Picked up the MRL313 at Livingston and waited just a bit for the helpers. Stopped to cutoff the helpers at West End. Train went down the mountain with no struggle but after the air release it took 22 lbs to slow for the 35 at Bozeman and 22 again to stop at Belgrade. A high speed dynamic brake fault caused a brake warning light requiring more air brakes than usual. We were relieved at Townsend by the helpers... It was minus 8 at Toston. I didn't want to leave Toston with only 20 minutes to work... I knew our train needed helpers on the rear... I told the helper engineer who was instructed to put the helpers on the head end, that this coal train was a break in two waiting to happen without helpers on the rear... the chief knew it as well, but supposedly we were 15 tons under the "cutoff" guideline for helpers on the rear... I knew there was at least 15 tons of ice and snow on the train
Sure enough they broke in two on Winston hill I found out later.

And while I was asleep in Helena there was a derailment in Billings.
We deadheaded home 1330-1640

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

RR trip report - abandonment?

Temp Photo at left:
a random RR photo from my files.
Roma Termini

Railroad content: I am called for a Coal Train today with no DP. I still have not gotten DP qualified. I used to run slaves back when in Alliance but just a few times and it isn't really the same thing.

I have been awarded my own turn... that is to say I am the Engineer on a new turn (LA27) and not the assistant Engineer with my old working partner Jack. A bit more money, I hope he doesn't feel I abandoned him but maybe he will enjoy the break from me!

I was on vacation last week, I enjoyed just hanging around the house. I am already planning some vacation trips. I realize I am going to have to shorten this one ->

It has turned very cold.. it never got above zero yesterday. 19 today and the wind is blowing. Wish us luck.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Motorcycle trip - Nova Scotia this summer... maybe not?

The bridge at left is NW of Taos NM. The photo was taken while I was on a motorcycle trip with the Firefighters from Littleton.

Our WeSTOC motorcycle gathering is in Taos again this year. I'm rethinking my plans to motorcycle to Nova Scotia this summer and then continuing to WeSTOC. Just too damn far... I can do one or the other but not both. I may have to wait on Nova Scotia until I retire. It is such a cool place I want to include Maggie along on that journey anyway. Mebbe I'll just go to Bettendorf for the new 40A alternator. I'll work on the bike then go on down to Memphis then go to back west to WeSTOC and home... damn... damn... what to do... I already paid my $40 for the banquet. Maybe, I'll just see what the Railroad gives me for time off and play it by ear.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What the... Why?

Last trip the new trainmaster in Helena complimented me on this blog. I enjoy talking to him. He is from Houston and sounds like home to me as I was raised in Texas. I expressed to him how I really don't know where I'm going with this blog so it made me evaluate what I want to do. I recognise the life of a Locomotive Engineer is interesting to some and the majority of onlookers here will be railfans. This a just a journal of my last 4 years as an Engineer... sort of a think out loud record. I have some memory issues and need to write things down so it's mostly for my own use. More about the cause of memory loss another time. Let's just say I'm lucky to be working.

It is tough and precarious to convey the job without sounding like a complainer. I've always said it's fashionable to gripe on the Railroad. Any job has it's downside and Railroading is no exception. It's easy to criticize decisions of those in charge. I don't want this to sound like a gripe in any way. I truly love my job, just not everything about it.

As I said in the blog intro, my railroad photo emphasis will be on older fallen flag locomotives. I do enjoy the scenery here in Montana and the challenge of operating the train in bad weather., so there will be that too. I will not reveal Railroad information before it occurs. No scheduling or content information ever... you know why. And names used will be nicknames no real names.

I'll also express my view on politics (warning, I was once a Republican but now I'm, well, not), the medical community (don't get me started), global warming (it's real and we can do little to stop it) or whatever else comes to the clutter that is my mind. It is my blog after all. I am reminded of a co-worker who looked at my little ultra portable computer and complained, "I can't see it" I had to point out that it is my computer and YOU don't have to be able to see it or read it. Same goes for this blog. I do however hope you will read, enjoy and comment... I do like a "discussion"... ask anybody!

And now some actual RAILROAD CONTENT: ... last trip a 10,000+ ton train to Helena and a 4400ton train back from Helena. Both night trips. A 17 hour layover made it a 35'35" round trip. a bit on the legnthy side of the 24-36 hour normal average. A day at the hotel and all night trip requires some sleep when I get home so I really didn't have any productive time. My turn went out at noon today without me as I'm on vacation this week. I'm beginning to get something done... as soon as I finish this blog.

ON DUTY 2008/01/12 1730 OFF DUTY 2008/01/13 0405
ON DUTY 2008/01/13 2105 OFF DUTY 2008/01/14 0605

Saturday, January 12, 2008

RR trip report - Picking up where we left off last year

The picture at left (and this link) is a string of historic power that was at the roundhouse in Laurel yesterday. There is a GP30 in the mix... we don't see them much anymore. About a month ago I caught the Boeing train with a GP30 and a GP35. They have been putting two units on the Boeing train. One went out today. We went to work called for the MRL-LM at 0830
Power was not on the train... three hours and 3 bad orders later they took us off the train and sent us home. We went to the bottom of the pool as is our option.

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Picture is Priceless

Words are not necessary really...
Her expression reflects my feelings...
I'm just a little sad as they have gone back home... 1611 miles from us...
I'm so thankful...
she is the healthiest child I've ever seen.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Some things are meant to be

Last year on our way back from Memphis we made our way to Bonne Terre, MO... the place of my Grandfather's birth. It was raining and I chanced upon an old farmhouse with tall bird house on the porch. I got out of the car to take a picture and a short time later the farmer shows up. Wondering what's going on I explained that I was taking a picture of the birdhouse. He sees my Montana plates and wonders out loud why we are in the middle of Missouri nowhere. I tell him we are looking for the Turley Cemetery and I ask him if he knows any Turley's in the area. He turns to his grandson and tells him, "You may want to go get your Grandma" Turns out she is my 5th cousin. I didn't expect to find my Grandfather's or his fathers grave. He isn't buried here. But I did find my Great-great grandfathers grave. It has regenerated my interest in the family history project. That, and my little grandaughter is visiting from Memphis... she has to go home in a few days.

I'm online with the little Asus eeePC, I got for Christmas, it is a amazing little PC with a 7 " screen.
It runs Linux... I'm hoping to abandon Microsoft an be virus free in 2008
Link to the Bonne Terre Cemetery

Link to my Smugmug photo site

Some things are meant to be.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A New Year

Yesterday it snowed... Cady was thrilled, she went Cowboy counting at the mall. Now her trip is a success... if only her Daddy would get here soon so she (and Grandpa) can open presents!