Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I'm on vacation but there still be some railroading going on

We are in Memphis for the Holidays.

This little guy is too cute for words... bought this for my Harry Potter addicted daughter but guess who likes it? We are not allowed to turn it off while he is awake.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

ML home LM up, Dodging Winter - 135 to go

Caught the ML ribbon rail home and turned right around to catch the LM back out on our rest... at least that is what the current lineup shows... never mind we are not rested yet so it won't really happen... this is bogus information.. I sure get tired of that.
Train Call Time Assign Rested Available
MLAUMIS118 09:30-17 R LA26 LA26 07:55-17 09:55-17
Helper Arrive Depart 11:30-17 E

I love my job, I love my job, I love my job. Last trip before vacation for 6 weeks. I'm dodging winter.

EDIT UPDATE 0930: we ended up getting a Grain Train at 1130... rather have the LM!
GTHPKAL915 11:30-17 R LA26 LA26 Rested 09:55-17 EBLGS A 09:30-17
Helper Arrive Depart 13:00-17 E

2045 Update 2 from Helena... tied up at 2045... that's 8'45" on duty on a "heavy"... very rare, very rare

Didn't work much last half - put in a bunch of vacation days -


2011/12/04 2130 2011/12/05 1015 LA24 LA24
Job: LA24 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: HKCKPAS902
2011/12/05 2320 2011/12/06 0745 LA24 LA24
Job: LA24 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: ECECSCM139
2011/12/09 2230 2011/12/10 0845 LA26 LA26
Job: LA26 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: GSSDTAC909
2011/12/11 0230 2011/12/11 1030 LA26 LA26
Job: LA26 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: ECECCAM001
2011/12/14 2145 2011/12/15 0945 LA26 LA26
Job: LA26 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: GHGMINB913

Friday, December 16, 2011

You would think they would learn - 136 days left

I hate to complain... it's so common.

Dispatchers have got to where they are hard pressed for some reason to give us information.

We caught the U-MISLAU... it was an empty ribbon rail train.

Years ago they tacked one of these trains on the rear of my 196 train. I warned the Helena trainmaster it wasn't a good idea. The equipment is old and the cars are light. It's a recipe for sliding wheels. My complaint was ignored. We went through Lombard and the crew there told us we had wheels sliding. It was so cold that it was impossible to get a good release. I had stopped the train, made a full service and continued but because the ribbon rail train was so far back there we could not see it. 5-7" flat spots on 9 cars were the result. We set 7 of them out at Stanley and 2 more at Clarkston.

I caught this one today at 0035. Dark but only 35 cars... We had the MRL 256... the bell quit, the radio didn't have a screen, it had flat spots and we had to inspect the power. We also had the MRL 290... both with red ball paint. I intended to get pics after I was off duty but it didn't happen. Photo above is my file photo in the old paint. Is this the last blue power I will ever run?... kinda fun, I do like the old stuff.

I thought maybe they had learned a lesson with these trains. Nope... doomed to make the same mistake they wanted to have us pickup the east ML traffic at Livingston. Too bad they didn't ask us until we were nearly to Big Timber. We did pick up the Mean Green Machines (The shuttle power) It would have worked as it has been unseasonably warm so far this year.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

163 left - Deadhead...NOT!

Pretty good snowstorm overnight.

RR: Looked at the lineup and stood for a deadhead at 10am but it was already past 8. Called the crew caller and let him know I was willing to deadhead BY TRAIN ONLY. The roads are way too slick to deadhead by crew van. Now I'm on the lineup for 1600 Coal load. They do listen? Who knew.

Tried to fire up the new snow blower... it would not start. Diagnosed it as old gas. Draining it now while I post this. Piss poor design... impossible to get to the air inlet... there is no air cleaner! There was one bolt behind a welded bracket. The engine would have to be removed to get to it. Bent the bracket - hey it isn't an airplane so what.

Update: As I left to go to work I noticed the snowplow had buried the sidewalk again.... grrrr

RR update: under 10 hours on a Coal load in 3F weather... pretty much unheard of and surprising cause the power looked like junk. Heat did not keep up... we were wearing 2 coats and 2 sweatshirts and the winter gloves that my coneheaded boss gave me. Also the fridge didn't work... had to ask for ice and it was 3F outside.

Monday, October 31, 2011

182 - New car smell

0610 Caught the Pasco-Kansas City... very long at 8147 feet. 3 big units and uner 6000 tons. Solo Bozeman pass. I jumped onto a temp so that I could watch the World Series. First time I saw every game.

Had the Roadmaster with us and then was banner tested by the Roadforeman. Last test ever for me he says!.

We set about 50 (of the 122) cars out at *****. Made for a long day but at least it was a long DAY not night.

Drove around the Convoy new car depot in Laurel to see if my new car was in. I must have missed it because when I drove by the dealer it had just unloaded off the truck. I remembered I bought my first Honda (used) on Halloween. It was a 1984 Civic S. Not an Si... the Si didn't come out 'til '86. Last car I'll ever buy... right Kelly!?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

191 - Reflections and Baseball

191 days 'til retirement.

A few posts ago I promised more about the RR and less about me. Forget that for a bit.

After a very busy period at the RR I qualified for Federal Rest. It was good fortune for it to occur during the World Series. I'm not a rabid fan but I do still enjoy baseball. I was too small to be effective but I did have good fundamentals and was quick enough to steal bases. I hate what has happened to the proffesional game with the money and steroids.

There was a time when the game had more honor. Mickey Mantle would have played for free. He often said so. Each year during the playoffs and the Series I get reflective at what a perfect time that I was a kid. Baseball was good, but the world was not always.

Mickeys career was over in 1969, the year I was a Senior. Martin Luther King was shot on my birthday in 1968. We were embittered as a country by the Viet Nam war. We did learn that peaceful demonstration could change the world.

I was nine years old when Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris had their run at Babe Ruth's homerun record in 1961.

Bob Turley was a pitcher for the Yankees and won the Cy Young in 1958. He was a great friend of Yogi Berra. We have no Idea how he is related to us, but it was alot of fun that he was on the same team anyway. Greed ruined my affinity for the Yankees.

My Stepmother was big on nicknames and called my Mickey one time in 1961. I liked it so much I quit answering to anything else. My family still calls me Mick or Mickey on occasion. Even a couple of co-workers do too. They know I am a fan. I still prefer Michael or Mick to Mike.

Side note: As I wrote this post. I was watching a movie "Something God Made" about Vivien Thomas... I thought to include this link as it made another impact on me. I remember White Only Signs even though I was unaware of the treatment of folks in the south. The photo at the top was taken in New Orleans about 1963.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

193 - Federal rest

It is no easy feat to achive federal rest but I've just done it. So a few days off. Here is some of the stupid parts of the Federal Rest regulations. Excuse the RR jargon. Just a few points:

1. Our clock can be reset at the AWAY from home terminal.
2. Longer trip duration makes it harder to work 2 days in a row because there are only so many hours in a day. Example a couple of months ago I worked 16 hours and could not possibly get rested in time to work the next day, so it was a "day off" This actually happens without the 16 hour tour... that is just an extreme example.
3. Justice Scalia.. who coined the term Limbo Time... I dare him to follow me for 3 months... it would kill the old geezer. Finally they have started counting the Limbo time like it was intended.

On a lighter note...

Photo above from a railfan from Ohio that I met as we were changing crews at Reedpoint

Monday, October 17, 2011

196 - Now and then

CEBMSPB114 22:45-17 R LA21 - that's 5 days in a row, tomorrow will be 6
they will freak, We will have required federal rest upon returning to Laurel

Railroaders have a tradition of bitching. Now and then I fall into the trap.

I have edited / deleted this paragraph!

I don't do blame or grudges and I'm hard to hurt with 196 days left, 6 weeks of vacation looming and a new car on order.

We had such a bad meet at Lombard, (and no, that wasn't the issue I had)
I had time to take some legal photos.. I stole the idea from an actual photographer / author Martin Burwash

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

201 - last RR rules exam... or is it?

Today I'll ride the ST over to Laurel for the last RR rules exam ever. Maybe I'll be the giver instead of the givee huh John?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

204 Stack train

Stack Train... remains to be see if this thing has any priority.

Update: It didn't... 9 hour trip on a 6 hour train... 4 sidings.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

213 - unit train

I've got a picture somewhere of the blade train

It'll be another all nighter but a 55 mph train helps if traffic is light

Thursday, September 29, 2011

214 - never fails again

Got a call from Underiner Honda... they found me a 2011 Si... that'll work
Waiting for a new car makes it easier somehow

RR content - never fails again... take some time off.. deadhead and catch the ML... little sleep, 13 hour trip all night, non promoted asst., they are killing me. I love my job, I love my job, I love my job.
Deadheaded up to Helena yesterday arriving 1140.
ML for 0245, should be the end of the half

2011/09/18 1000 2011/09/18 1345 DEADHEAD LAUREL POOL LA12
2011/09/19 0115 2011/09/19 0935 LA12 LA12
Job: LA12 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: MSPOLAU118
2011/09/20 2215 2011/09/21 0810 LA12 LA12
Job: LA12 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: GBYLRGT919
2011/09/21 2245 2011/09/22 0735 LA12 LA12
Job: LA12 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: XKALMNS921
2011/09/23 1500 2011/09/24 0005 LA12 LA12
Job: LA12 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: MLAUMIS124
2011/09/24 1745 2011/09/25 0100 LA12 LA12
Job: LA12 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: ERBESXM156
2011/09/28 0800 2011/09/28 1140 DEADHEAD LAUREL POOL LA21
2011/09/29 0245 2011/09/29 1530 LA21
Job: LA21 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: MMISLAU128

Friday, September 23, 2011

220 - faster, faster, faster.

220 - quick turn around but more daylight... it's a good trade.

They cut the board/turns so we will work faster, faster, faster.

And I have a different asst. The King is back.

more to follow... right now chores, I'll actually get something done a home
(I don't usually do these posts at home)

2011/09/16 0001 2011/09/16 0001 LAYOFF for CoSTOC
2011/09/16 2400 2011/09/16 2400 TRAVEL BACK
2011/09/17 0001 2011/09/17 0001 MARK UP
2011/09/17 2400 2011/09/17 2400 TRAVEL BACK
2011/09/18 1000 2011/09/18 1345 DEADHEAD LAUREL POOL LA12
2011/09/19 0115 2011/09/19 0935 = 8'20"
Job: LA12 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: MSPOLAU118
2011/09/20 2215 2011/09/21 0810 = 9'55"
Job: LA12 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: GBYLRGT919
2011/09/21 2245 2011/09/22 0735 = 8'50"
Job: LA12 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: XKALMNS921

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

221- Waiting on an empty

And yet another all nighter... Sitting in Helena waiting for a train home.... I know... I go to bed... they will call me for sure... the train last showed Clinton... that's barely out of Missoula.

Been a good summer, I made all but one motorcycle trip that was planned.

Kinda of a short half... I was gone the 2nd week of the month too!
Thanks, Conehead.

Job: From To Train:
2011/09/18 1000 2011/09/18 1345 DEADHEAD LAUREL POOL LA12
2011/09/19 0115 2011/09/19 0935 LA12 LA12
Job: LA12 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: MSPOLAU118
2011/09/20 2215 2011/09/21 0810 LA12 LA12
Job: LA12 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: GBYLRGT919

222 - Hired out 2/22/88 on MRL / Do Deer Whistles really work?

222 days to retirement. I hired on MRL on 2/22/88... never dreamed I'd still be here. Best RR in the USA to work for.

I changed the date of this old post to revisit this as we hit about 8 deer all at once last night. At the last minute they ran in front of the train. Got all ground up and separated the air hose between the first two units causing us to go into emergency brake application. You would think that all the noise we make at 29 mph wide open with two big 4400 hp GE's on Winston hill would be a deterrent but obviously not

Do Deer Whistles really work?

It's an issue that keeps coming up on both of the motorcycle touring forums I attend. These guys are my very best friends. I am fond of all of them (some more than others) Some are morons (not nec the same some)

Some think deer whistles work, or a least hope deer whistles work. Or deer avoidance system. Can I say 4 words?
Anything for a buck. Get it? Sorry.

Can I say just a few words? Nope. Don't have the ability to remain silent.

OK... here goes, I have hit about 800 deer... I hit on the average about 20- 25 deer every year.

I am a locomotive engineer, that's right I run the train in Montana

The locomotive is equipped with a 165db whistle... we call it a whistle 'cause horn does not begin to describe how loud it is. Get in front close and it will damage your hearing forever in one 8 sec blast.

The locomotive also has a very loud bell AND 4 70V headlamps that put out 300,000 candle power EACH... that's right, 1.2 million candlepower. The heat from these actually hurts as we walk into the front door.

Now, add to all this the 90+db from the engine itself plus the high pitched squeal from the steel wheels on the steel track.

Deer respond in any number of ways.
1. They completely freak and jump 30+ feet, zig, zag... fling themselves into a river etc.
2. They do absoulutly nothing
3. They don't even break stride, just continue slowly step by step into the path of the locomotive which at 60 mph puts out a bow wave that will nearly tear your unbuttoned light jacket off
4. Look up, hesitate, turn, turn again, stop, either step in front of the train enough so just the head gets hit and is thrown 300 feet down the track in front of us. (OK, just one time)

Now the abuse that will get me the boot from Mellow possibly... bear in mind I am trying to save a life here and emphasize how STUPID it is to rely on deer whistles. Nothing works, Deer have very primitive brains and are even stupider than people who believe in deer whistles.

They do however work against elephants, giraffes, zebras etc. I have never hit one of those.

I have had close calls with Eagles, Hawk, numerous birds.

They do not work against elk, dogs, oppossom, porkupine, black/brown bear, people (standing or sitting), snakes, turtles, owls, ducks, white pelicans, rabbits, but most of all they do not work against cows, sheep and (drum roll).....Deer. I have hit all of those so many time I lost count. Many times multiples at one time.

Get real people, everyone here is smarter than this, just cause we would like 'em to work does not make it so. Sorry Jack.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

229 - Now back to work

I'm bumped... I'll have to mark up tomorrow. I noticed I am granted time off for 2 days then denied the days I asked to have of to return from Colorado. I guess I was expected to use the transporter again. (See the BearSTOC blog here...) I had to return earlier than planned because of it.

I had a great summer. Now back to work. I do get to run the train.

Here is a map of the from the SPOT device of the STOC events I rode. See the BearSTOC blog here

Click the map to enlarge

Short half:
2011/09/03 1630 2011/09/04 0325 LA13 LA13
Job: LA13 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: CEBMSPB087
2011/09/04 1520 2011/09/04 1900 DEADHEAD LAUREL POOL LA13
2011/09/06 1443 2011/09/06 1443 LAYOFF
2011/09/14 0001 2011/09/14 0001 MARK UP
Job: From To Train:
2011/09/14 1903 2011/09/14 1912 NOTIFY PLACE LA13
Job: From To Train:
2011/09/14 1912 2011/09/15 1040 PLACE..BUMPED
Job: From To Train:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

242 left - work, work, work... lucky 13

The usual here:

I was bumped off Turn 06... the Engineer on it now will carpool with my student (his student now) to Laurel from Livingston

I went to Lucky Turn 13, just after it left town... already it's lucky!

I'll finish putting brakes on the truck today... (I traded my car and the new one ain't arrove yet)
Tear down the front of the ST... Tire, brakes, fork oil, clutch fluid

Hope the RR OK's the time off for CoSTOC
I'll have to work a least a couple more trips between now and departure.
I do have 3 days off starting today to get these chores done... so, far, so good.

It's actually been a good summer despite the RR floods

Click the 6 month popup instead of 3 weeks, then zoom out... we got around pretty good!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

244 days to go - Holy Cow

Holy Cow at Shellies... Hey, I didn't eat it all AND I went for a 4 mile bike ride after soooo... about 9000 calories divided by 2 minus 600.... AND I watched 'em play tennis at the park, that's good for something .... now I'll sit on my butt and run the train for 12 hours... Dr. Cabel would be thrilled... 244 days to go

Standing for a Stack train... there was a derailment near Havre... this might be a reroute

UPDATE: Called for the stack train but I think it should go first... there is an empty called right ahead of us... we should get it, but what do I know?

Monday, August 29, 2011

245 days left - I really like...

I really like a noon call. Choo Choo.

On another front, I have managed to disable my pickup trying to fix the brakes... things used to be held together with bolts. Chevy used a clip I could not get off. Bent up the backing plate. Now I get to remove the axle and the backing plate to fix it.

And I get to ride the motorcycle to work as I have no car anymore... see post below

Sunday, August 28, 2011

246 - a semi daylight trip

HAVRE - A 93-car freight train en route from Spokane to Minneapolis has derailed on Montana's heaviest used rail line, injuring two crew members and leaving several cars and locomotives piled on their sides along the tracks.

Here we go again... we will be expected to run their detour trains.

Not much to report on last trip other than 2 little gripes... the dispatcher stopped us at Muir on a underpowered coal load on the way to Helena last trip. I had my student start the train... he had never done that before... he did nothing wrong but the power tripped the local control and the resulting slack was huge. I even cracked my elbow.

I have been working alot of nights... the return trip from Helena was 1500-0001... dark but not all night like they have been lately.

2011/08/18 0001 2011/08/18 0730 LA06 = 7'29"
2011/08/18 2200 2011/08/19 0650 LA06 = 8'50"
2011/08/21 0700 2011/08/21 1050 DEAD
2011/08/21 2220 2011/08/22 0550 LA06 = 7'20"
2011/08/24 0200 2011/08/24 1400 LA06 = 12'00"
2011/08/25 0130 2011/08/25 1730 LA06 = 16'00"
2011/08/26 1630 2011/08/27 0330 LA06 = 11'00"
2011/08/27 1500 2011/08/28 0001 LA06 = 9'01"

Friday, August 26, 2011

249 - flashback to 16 hour HOS law

Took this picture after covered service.
After seeing it I reactivated my old phone... it has a much better camera.

I'm just wore out... 16 hours on duty yesterday. What is this? The 30's? The intent of the 12 hour law is to have us in the terminal in 12... not off the train 3 hours by car from home. Treat me like that I'll eat on overtime... everytime. I'l go to work this evening again about suppertime. Sure glad I love running the train.

The front of the engine in the picture above is past the signal but the front wheel is behind the bond. The rear of the train is 20 feet from the signal at the rear. ML 139 cars, 10,800 tons, 7,300 horepower, 7555 feet... barely fit at Logan with 20 feet to spare after picking up 62 cars on the rear of the train while westbound traffic was waiting... pretty stupid. 0.7 hpt, We are saving fuel now!

After we left here I did have a meal on overtime... stopped at Franks in Manhattan... looks nice outside... what a dive.... best Philly Cheesesteak ever... not going back there... like I said, it's a dive. The clients were right out of deliverance. We should have stayed in Logan and eaten at the Land 'o' Magic, Martin

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

251 - and so it goes / last Car?

The lineup was off by 27 hours... now it says 1300 tomorrow... yesterday it said 1000 today.
I try not to complain but this is not safe.

On the upside yesterday, we went to see Harry Potter last night and I did get to have lunch with my sweetie today.
The Red Door Rocks... it funny the demographic is white haired folks at lunch and 20 year olds in the evening.

On the upside today... I ordered a new Car today... might be my last one... it will not arrive for a few months as it is special order only. I traded my car in already so I'm driving the old S10 pickup... no A/C... I'm so spoiled but it is going to be in the 90's all week

it's a 2012 Honda Si Sedan... I thought they only made it in a coupe... a rare combo of fast and great mileage (if I keep my foot out of it)

The plain Jane DX-VP I traded... a basic version of the hot number I ordered... they want 19 grand for it... just about what it was new.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

253 but really 252

Once again I am working twice today.

Deadhead at 0700 - 1050

11:50 off in Helena... I did play some tennis

Now a Grain mty for 2250

it's going fast... the countdown I mean

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

256 - nothing new

Seems like a rule... everytime I have an extended time off I catch an all night heavy

0001-noon (probably) Coal train

Monday, August 15, 2011

259 - less about me, more about trains

I suddenly realized that this blog needs to be less about me and more about trains for the railfans. Still, I have gotten some good comments about the life of an Engineer even when it leans to grumbling. Hey, I'm not as bad as most as I really do like running trains.

It's difficult because all I want to do is go home when I am off duty. And the govmint takes a dim view of photos while on duty. I am planning a GoPro unique view video soon. The camera will be on it's own so it should be legal as I will not be in contact with it during the filming.

I changed turns to LA-06-01 today... remains to be seen if I go right out

UPDATE: Didn't the turn went out without me... so a few days off... damn, damn, damn

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

264 - less than 100 days less than a year to go

Update: Boss Heffe is the best. I'll NOT be working this trip even though the MRL golf tourney is FRI ... instead we are leaving the country for our 39th. Recapping the WeSTOC venue at the Pestige in Nelson, BC. Track us on SPOT

Photo: by MDT - Near New Denver

and this is why I am counting down to retirement... HAPPY BIRTHDAY CADENCE!

Here she is in a Christmas video from one of my first posts.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

265 - Did I really have a day off?

Recent work history
2011/08/02 0330 2011/08/02 1405 LA14
Job: LA14 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: CSCMCEC078
2011/08/03 0200 2011/08/03 1130 LA14
Job: LA14 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: XKALRSC931
2011/08/05 0300 2011/08/05 1425 LA14
Job: LA14 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: CSXMRBE122
2011/08/06 0330 2011/08/06 1500 LA14
Job: LA14 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: MMISLAU105
2011/08/07 1630 2011/08/08 0330 LA14
Job: LA14 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: CRWMCEC038
2011/08/08 1815 2011/08/09 0400 LA14
Job: LA14 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: ERBESXM120

Now we get to my pet peeve. The Federal law regarding the hours Locomotive Engineers work are just stupid. I work all night and yet they count days. I got off work at 0400 this morning and yet I did not work today according to the Feds. As I post this it is actually 1215am WED. I changed the date but left the time the same.

Point is I have worked part of the last 5 days but the count got reset because I didn't actually START work today. I would get a couple days off if they counted the day. Now I cannot sleep because I napped off and on all day. I'll feel like shit when I go to work tomorrow... I know this because, been there, done that. About the time I get called will be about the time I want to go back to sleep! Gotta love it. (And I do love running the train)

Rant off!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Thursday, August 4, 2011

269 -

Expecting a 0245am Coal Train with Blaine THEN but had Little Dougie instead


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

271 - Change the title

I changed the title of this post.

It was going to be "Trips don't get better than this"
"Great trip to Bozeman"

Even though I didn't sleep much yesterDAY and got a one hour call (they usually don't remember) the 0200 am to 1130 am trip on a 112 car grain empty was looking real promising until Bozeman. Stopped at West End for one coal train... managed to get through Livingston on the mainline and then it started. Track work, form "B"''s and slow orders and CTC outage from Columbus to Rapids. Restricted speed that entire stretch. What was shaping up to be a 7 hour trip turned into 9 1/2 hours.

I recorded the trip with my Garmin and I'll post that HERE

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

272 - Can't count and 33 Handbrakes

I'd just about catch a Coal Train as anything else anymore. 3+1 power (17,200 hp) and helpers to the rear account 17,515 tons is less than the 17,600 tons that require them to be cut in.

0330 am to 1405 pm

Pretty much straight shot to Louisville but parked the train there. It took 33 handbrakes... wheww

Stand for 0130 empty tomorrow am... night night... or is it day day?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

274 - Countdown continues

I did manage a minimum Bicycle ride in Helena before going to work. I could see the backside of this Church (file photo) for more of another bicycle tour in Helena go here

In the Hotel van a Pilot asked us how long we have been running trains? Adam said 7 years I said 41 years that was fun.

Robert Banks Empty coal today. Parked it at Elton. I don't know why. Cut off two of the lead units leaving one on the train for air. Had to be done to cut the crossing at the east end. It wasn't that good of trip (8'30") considering we rode in the deadhead van for 90 miles.
We waited a bit before leaving Helena because 33 cars had rolled out of the yard onto the long lead right through the new CTC control point so I imagine there was some 'splaning to do by someone. We also met 2 at Clarkston where the meet are never great. I noticed the road to Clarkston was paved while I was gone. Deadheaded from Elton to Laurel, man it was a dark night.

2011/07/31 1645 2011/08/01 0115 = 8'30"
Job: LA14 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: ERBESXM114

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Countdown continues

375 left

Actually because my home page on computer startup brings up a retirement countdown so it is easy to keep trak of. I have 1 more rules exam I'd love to dodge... doubt full if I can stretch it 'til May as I'm on the schedule Sept 30.

We had the grain train toady BNSF7681... very new ES GE. Only 104 cars. We had a bad order at Laurel but got out of town in pretty good shape. Hash kicked it out for us. Straight short to Livingston only to wait for helpers for 4 hours and 10 min. Howe shoved us after cutting in. Raining a bit but it was 92F. The air conditioning was so fantastic I had to turn it off and on as it would get too cool. Adam was my Asst.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

277 left

Another underpowered grain train yesterday.

Older unit on point and a Mac included in the mix. Slow slug up the valley. Cut in helpers... we were 112 cars this time. The rear DP unit only loaded 880 amps when it should load 1450. I had my doubts about making Winston as we went up Bozeman pass at 10 mph. The detector at Toston hit us and sealed our fate. I walked back to check out dragging equipment. There was none. We were running out of time so shoved back about 4 miles to Toston and parked the train there. On duty at 1900 of duty at 0815. 1'15" limbo time.

Layed over in Helena about 22 hours then long deadheaded home via van at 0630-1020.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Even an eastbound nearly dies

2011/07/25 1545
2011/07/26 0305


Nice afternoon call but no luck... 8000 foot train, power work at Livingston

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Deadhead by Cessna 414

Last Deadhead by Air after the flooding

Friday, June 17, 2011

One more trip (before WeSTOC)

Photo by a railfan... look careful, might see someone you know

I'll be posting my annual motorcycle trip stories here starting the 20th

I was granted 20th thru 24th after requesting a month leave. I'd say I've stepped up!

Thanks to the Supt. I get to go on my trip to Canada, eh?

I'll be posted the travelouge over on my other site. Michaels Bicycle

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sometimes we are on opposite sides but say the same thing

For years the RR has acted like our wages is the undoing of profit for the RR. I thought that was nonsense (and still do) when compared to the cost of fuel. The RR has proved my point.

Yesterday I had a chat with the Roadforeman about our long trip hours and weather or not we are saving money by combining trains and working overtime and using two crews and the cost of crew van transportation. It was particularly annoying to me as a crew deadhead right behind us. He asked me to talk with the Asst. Superintendent and the Superintendent about it too. I know he has gone to bat for us as has the other Laurel Roadforeman.

Yesterday (and the day before... it was an all night trip) we had a 126 car train out of Helena. It was combined Spokane-Laurel / MRL Missoula Laurel. We did a power swap with the MRL LM at Livingston that took about an hour. Then I prepared 46 more cars with the intent of picking them up. We set out 26 cars so the train total would be about 150 cars and 9100 ft. This train will not fit anywhere and cannot be built within the guidelines of blocking crossings at Livingston as it is 8000 feet between the crossings there. The Livingston clerk was on vacation so the list was a mess and it all took 3 1/2 hours. We ended up air testing the pick up then securing that cut for a later pickup by the next crew as we were running out of time. We put the power back on the train that we had left on the mainline and then pulled it down to ready it for the double up. 10 more handbrakes there.

My question was is it all cost effective? I suspected it is all about fuel. We used the BNSF power only from Helena to Bozeman pass. Is the fuel savings to MRL vs. the cost of new crew and crew van service off set by the fuel savings? At $3.50 / gal, I bet it is.

I'm tired, and tired of the long long days with no layoffs allowed. I agree with the RR when considering the fuel issue even though I am sure they will pitch a fit about wage negotiation like our wages are killing them. I'll not be voting on the new contract as it won't affect me. I will go into effect APR 1 and I'll be retiring MAY 1.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

And end of an era... headed for the scapper... not many of these old girls left anymore... I still like running them for a lot of reasons. The 111 has a 5 note whistle, I should have grabbed it

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Power swap

2011/05/31 1700 2011/06/01 0530 = 12'30" on duty
LA14 LA14
Job: LA14 04 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: MLAUPAS129

Swapped power at two locations trying to get units that worked. We had a couple of old Santa Fe Warbonnets that were not up to the task of pulling this 11,500 ton train.. We died at Townsend.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


I let my co-workers down...

sorry... it turns out we were asked to step up for the good of the country while I was dealing with the doctors... dang... sorry guys... I didn't know... really

And this happened while I was gone.... can't leave 'em alone for a minute

Friday, March 11, 2011


Most by now have figured out that it is unlikely that I'll ever pedal across the US of A. The blog "Michaels Bicycle" has turned into Michaels Motorcycle and is mirrored on this blog "A View from the Locomotive"

Little Salem Marie Turley was born yesterday. As I get older, like many folks, that get older, I've beginning to worry (not a lot) but a bit, about what the world is coming to. There is a glimmer of worry what this little glow worm is getting herself into.

Then a pause. To travel on a motorcycle is just the best. We have all heard the cliche'... freedom, open road, one with one's self (what does that one even mean?)

For me, I restore my faith in people during my travels. I can relate story after story of the people I come across on the 2 lane backroads of America. Yes, America is still out there.

There were three America stories on this trip but my favorite to date is the time we rolled into O'Keene, Oklahoma after dark. Danny was counting on his version of Primrose Patty (my GPS) to secure motel accommodations for the night. Turned out the motel was closed and literally boarded up. The City Park sign read, "NO Camping". We went over to the only establishment that look open. A Convenience store. Bars never look open to me. The front door was not locked but it turned out the store was closed. Beth, a stunningly pretty girl was cleaning up and getting ready to close. There were a few patrons sitting a a table. We wanted just a sandwich so Beth drug out all here wares and made the three of us sandwiches. We asked about Camping about town and one of the fellows at the table said to wait that Keith Richard.... son would be there soon. Keith as it turned out was not actually a cop but worked for the city water department. He indicated that he might forget to lock the bathrooms over at the city park and that if someone slept on the lawn over by the airport it would be out of sight. Next morning back to the store we went. Everybody was there including the mayor. Nice breakfast with few stares. As we left and I paid the bill, I told Beth, "You must be the prettiest thing in town". To which she replied, "You ought to see my sister".

What does all this have to do with little Salem Marie Turley? Well, it's a pretty good place she has joined. Welcome Salem.

Monday, January 17, 2011

RR content? - just a reminder

I have been on vacation this first part of 2011. I have not missed working in the bad weather. Railroading in this stuff is miserable. As this is my last full year of Railroading I will try to update the blog more. I cannot take on the fly photos from the train anymore unless I am deadheading on the train and not a crew member. (I happens now and then) but there are many opportunities for photos within the guidelines of Emergency Order #26

The Smugmug link to photos is here

I also reset the SPOT for 2011. It doesn't transmit well from inside the locomotive and inside my grip. I use it primarily for the motorcycle trips but I have had requests to turn it on in the locomotive. We railroaders have groupies that tend to be techie guys.

I have an idea for mounting the goPro in unique locations on the locomotive. Look for those later.
GO to my BearSTOC.blogspot.com site for examples of the GoPro camera... say Happy Christmas present.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Happy New Year - new location link

Happy New Year everybody.

I am on vacation and just hanging out by the fire. It's been nice not having to Railroad in the bitter cold. Sometimes vacations are more work than working but this one was the exception.

I have created a new SPOTWALLA page for Where's MD (that's me)

I have PMS really bad... (that's parked motorcycle syndrome)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Do we really want to go there?

I miss the old super. I was forced to work one of my vacation days last monday. Do we really want to go there? As short handed as the RR can get they have never made anyone that I knew of work their vacation unwillingly. I was told I had to work. Maybe my new boss knew I needed to pay for the new snowblower!