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!