Thursday, December 10, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Some of the cars in private ownership are Amtrak compatible. To achieve that status, the car must have the following:
Amtrak PC1 - Annual Amtrak car inspection. Must be signed off by PC1 or PC2 approved Amtrak inspector.
Amtrak PC1a - Car Data
Amtrak PC2 - 40 year rebuild of trucks. Must be signed off by a PC2 approved Amtrak inspector.
Amtrak PC3 - Route/Mileage Log
Amtrak PC4 - Shop report. This must be a complete report of mechanical, electrical, and structure upgrades/repairs. Be ready to take pictures, have drawings made to document upgrades/repairs.
Amtrak PC5 - Car Clearance data.
Sound simple? These standards are just the tip of the iceberg. Performing work on a car and meeting Amtrak standards requires a lot of time, money and equipment. Depending on the car you pick up, you might need a few minor things done that will take 6 months or 10 years to complete. Some cars are restored to the way they came out of the factory while others are turned in modern plush pimp rides.
More to come on this subject.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
After completing an inspection of my train for hand brakes, retainers and closed angle cocks, I stood at the last car in amazement about the size of the train. This was the longest and heaviest train that I had anything to do with. All night in the cab, the engineer and I talked about making it up the hill. We were not sure if we could make it over the hill but wanted to find out at least how far we would make it.
I walked into the cab and informed the engineer to back up when ready as I started to peel off my wet Carhart rain pants and coat.
“You have a lot of faith that I can get this train moving and up over the hill.”
I knew that we had only 40% of making it up the hill. This would be a battle of traction effort and adhesion versus wet rail and the grade. Our duo locomotives for the evening, a GP15-1 leading the second unit, a GP35 would combine for 98,000 pounds of traction effort, 28 EMD cylinders, and 4,000 horse power. The battle against the grade started.
We started the train in run 2 to get us moving quickly. One of the tracks leaving the scrap yard had a slight down-hill grade that gave us some help, but not that much. We crossed the first crossing with no problem and slipped some on the second crossing. We were moving, but it was not the horse power that kept us moving, it was all traction effort. There was no need yet to run the engine at full throttle since this would only cause the traction motors to slip and spin on the wet rail. The train had movement of about 7-8 mph and the only goal was to keep moving. All 31 cars were on the straight grade, engines in run 5 and would soon face an uphill curve in the track. This is where the horse power would come in to provide the power needed to maintain traction effort that would result in us still moving. We enter the curve and started to slip. These two locomotives were couple short hood to short hood which allowed me to see the wheel slip light reflection flashing from the trailing locomotive in my window. Rapidly, we started to loss speed once more cars enter the curve. In a finally assault at about 2 MPH, the engineer notched up the locos only to have them pull some and slip. This lasted only about 1 car length before we stalled in notch 8. We ended up cutting 6 cars off the head end and placing them on a siding that was less than a quarter mile away. While walking back to make the cut, I noticed that the air was filled with a very fine sand dust. This was the result of the sanders sanding the railing, then being crushed by the locomotive wheel and the traction motor blowers blowing it into the air. Pulling the remaining 25 cars was no problem. We soon tied the 25 to the 6 at the side track and headed home.
This night we failed because of adhesion, not horse power. You need power at speed to keep a train moving at track speed. In slow, hard pulls, it comes down to traction effort and adhesion.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
This summer has been one of for me personally. I was able to ride Amtrak a few times, attend Trainfest2009, investing a possible caboose, working my butt off on a growing railroad and assist the Roundhouse with several projects. If you are wondering, I have plenty of pictures to share.
Please stay tuned for updates on these items.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
I will be updating this page soon again.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
I was reading a post over at Trainorders about the ten anniversary of the Conrail split up between NS and CSX. This made me think about back 10 years ago. I remember the break up very well. I was in my second year of college starting my summer job as a labor for a great group of carpenters at Cleveland State University. During this time, I was able to take some great pictures of the NS, CSX and Amtrak trains due to split. Some of these pictures made it to my first website that was hosted at www.trainweb.org/clevelandtrains. Thinking about my first site at TrainWeb made me wonder how long I have been on the web and how things have changed. I don’t remember my go live date, but for this post, let’s say that I have had a web presence between 10-11 years. I have hosted over 40,000 visitors at my sites. I have noticed that my visitors span the globe. More impressive is that I receive visits from Union Pacific, BNSF, CSX, NS, CP, CN and even DB Bahn in Germany.
Now instead of mostly taking pictures of trains, I lend a hand to a great group of guys at http://www.midwestrailway.org/. I’m also so grateful for the short line that has allowed me to fulfill my dream of working on the railroad. Because of this possibility, I have a totally different view of railroading. When I’m at work, it’s just that. Safety is always first.
Since I know that staff at Class I railroads visit, I am going to ask you for a kind favor. Is there any way you could consider donating a couple of locomotives to Midwest Railway Preservation Society? The units would be used on excursions and at our open houses. We are a 503(c) organization if you might be wondering about tax status. Pretty please? Let’s talk……..
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
During Trainfest 2004, I had the honor to watch the Buckingham Lining Bar Gang perform some of their songs while demonstrating how they lined track (tamping). Usually a track consisted of 8 to 12 men. The gang would lay new rail, replace rail, replace railroad ties and spread ballast. This was done manually. At the roundhouse, I had the chance to help lay about 60 feet of 90 pound rail. And I must say, laying 60 feet just almost killed me! I have nothing but the upmost respect for these men who did it day in and out no matter the weather.
I have posted my pictures of the Buckingham Lining Bar Gang in my photo gallery.
I was also able to find this short documentry on Gandy Dancers at FolkStreams.com
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Over the last few days, I have started reviewing some of my early works taken with my old Canon Powershot A20. This model only had 2 mega pixels, but it did deliver some great shots. My review was inspired by my recent railroad readings and reviewing works by other fellow rail photographers especially Scott Lothes. I mention Scott Lothes because of his speech “Great Writers Lessons for Railroad Photographers”. I’m finding my writing is straining to convey a story, but my photography skills are improving. I’m traveling to places I have been many times with hopes to understanding my scenes better. Anyone can take a picture, but I wish to take meaningful pictures that include more than just a train. Most of my shots are taken in an urban environment. Most rail photographers try to stay away from urban areas for safety reasons. These places are not in the best of shape or the prettiest, but one could still convey a story from these scenes. If it was not for my grandmother’s Ambler street home being located next to Conrails’s Shortline route, I would have little to no exposure to trains. This is my way of paying homage and sharing the story of trains and the folks who reside by the tracks.
Below is a photo I snapped on 1-7-2003 at Cleveland’s Amtrak station of train number 43 conductors walking back to their train. The Pennsylvanian was a “junk” train when it ran between Chicago and New York City. It usually had two units, three coaches, 1 café/coach and 20 roadrailers. This train was usually ahead of schedule that allowed an abundance of time to photograph it sitting in the station. On this day, 43 had plenty of time to kill. The assistant conductor and conductor would go into the station and talk with the station agent while the few passengers aboard who smoked enjoyed several cigarettes and the remaining passengers looked at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame from the platform. Those days are now over with since the Pennsylvanian now starts and ends in Pittsburgh.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
The article link
Photo slide show - Be warned that some of this pictures are not pretty and contain people who are missing various body parts.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
I found a link to one of my favorite railroad songs, My Daddy Was A Railroad Man by Boxcar Willie. I did not mind hearing this song over and over for some reason.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Here are a few cars that I follow.
One car that I really like is the NKP 1. It was built for the Nickel Plate Railroad in 1929 and used by the Van Sweringen brothers.
I'm working on a post to explain what it takes(besides money) to get a private car up to Amtrak standards.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Below is a link to the report.
There is a great table on page 9 showing the revenue by product, profit by product and the profit by unit. If you ever wondered how much a RR might earn for products carried, here you go.
CSXT 2009 1st Quarter report
Monday, April 13, 2009
When time permits, I try to read the local newspaper online and the NYTimes. The NYTimes recently ran an article about Amtrak honoring Pullman porters on National Train Day. Reading this article took me back many years to a conversation I had with my godfather, Richard Gunn.
One day while waking Smokey, his little black dog, we heard a train horn from the train tracks near his
“Can we walk down to the tracks to see the train?”
“By the time we walk down to the tracks, the train will have left town” said Richard.
“One day I want to work on a railroad as an engineer. Did you know anyone who worked on the railroad?”
“My father. He was a
“Really? Did you get to travel on trains using a pass?”
“Yes, but all railroads did not honor the passes completely or at all. Some railroads did not honor the passes because they had their own porters, not Pullman porters though.”
“Did you ever get to ride on the 20th Century Limited?’
There was a chuckle from Richard before he proceeded to answer my question.
“ The 20th Century did not stop in
After that was said, there was nothing more for me to ask and nothing more for him to say. We continued are walk around the block, stopping at the Preisler Home Lumber Center on Woodland Ave. to say hi to the staff and get me some gum from the Ford $.10 gum machine.
I'm currently doing research on my God father's father. Hopefully I can find some information out and add him to the Pullman Porter Registry.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
You can click on this picture for a bigger view. This also applies to most pictures posted.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I work for a short line railroad that runs from Glenn Willow, Ohio to
I've decided to start posting about and sharing photos of our line to give folks a better idea of my stories. This is picture was taken in the same area of my famous bunny story.
Here is a picture taken from the
Friday, March 13, 2009
Here is a link to Carlyle Smith's story.
Saturday, February 07, 2009
This is the picture from which I named my last post, "Walking Away". Now you can see why.
4420 was often mated with 4410 or 4411. Here they are in the middle of the night with there rear class lights on. The front class lights were blanked out as you can see in the next picture.
4433 was one the the first Conrail units I found painted in the new scheme.
Not the famous SP 4449, but CSXT 4449.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Monday, January 05, 2009
I was riding on the rear platform when I heard the and felt the locomotive coming to a quick stop. I quickly entered the cab to see what was going on.
"Why did we stop" I asked the engineer?
"There was a rabbit in the tracks and I did not want to run it over"
"'What kind of rabbit was it"
"I don't know. It was one that was between the tracks. Can you go check to see if it cleared the rails?"
I walked out the fireman's door, slammed it shut behind me and proceeded to the front of the locomotive. When I made it to the front, I did not see any rabbit. I radioed the engineer to tell him that there was no rabbit in between the tracks or near them and to start moving our engine moving forward again. I returned to the cab to start my questioning.
"What kind of rabbit was it again?"
"I don't know." "It was a Playboy Bunny."
"That would been worth us stopping."
We both had a good laugh.
Other than this happening, the nightly run was uneventful. It was cold out with temps in the 20s. We ran slower than usual do the the cold. Rail has a higher chance of breaking in cold weather. I'm guessing that our rail with various dates stamped from the 20's would be prime supects for cold weather breaks.
I forgot to mention that I lost my Carhart knit hat. It might have escape from me somewhere in the depot or near my car in the yard. One of our crews is working tonight. I wonder who will find it first, a CCR crew or Wheeling. There have been hats in the yard before that just end up laying around for weeks until someone speaks up about their hat blowing off.