Storytime with Charlie

Charlie Mar 31, 2007

  1. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    Questions
    1/most unusual.... I would have to say the crown jewels in the Tower of London. To see the trappings of royalty and how exquisite and unusual they are. Not something we have in our form of government.

    2. Funniest thing.... At the American Forces hotel where I stayed, there were usually a couple of young ladies waiting outside the door for their gentlemen. This one particular afternoon I was leaving the hotel to go wherever when I saw a small group of about 5 street urchins, the oldest of which couldn't have been more than 10 y/o. The older boy was the "commanding officer" and he was posting the guard at the doorway of the hotel. One of the young ladies I referred to earlier was apparently in the way of where the "guard officer" wanted to post his sentry. He stared right through this young woman and In the most demanding and official voice a 10 year old can muster said to her...." Madam, would you kindly step out the way"! She stepped sharply away from her spot while the officer of the guard posted his soldier. I laughed about that all night.

    3. Scariest thing is probably the severe thunderstorms we have in the spring and summer in this part of the Midwest, but the one that shook me most was the storm in the middle of the night when I was in Basic Infantry training at Ft.Leonard Wood in the state of Missouri. We had been under a tornado warning and in a protective assembly for several hours earlier in the evening but then "Taps" was sounded and that was "lights out" so everyone turned in. Sometime around or after midnight a really wild thunderstorm broke and I swear that lightning struck between our building and the barracks building next to ours. There was a sudden blinding flash of light with a horrendous crash of thunder. It scared one of our guys out of bed. We had a fairly high ranking NCO living in our barracks. He was on "casual" status as he was retiring from the Army soon. He spent most of his evenings at the NCO club "refreshing" himself. He walked in the door of the barracks just after that lightning strike and spoke some crap to the kid who was shagged out of bed. This NCO was lucky the lightning didn't strike him, with the amount of alcohol in his blood he would probably have exploded! LOL That weather in those Ozark foothills at Ft.Leonard Wood is known for it's extremes.

    Hope this answered your questions.

    Charlie
     
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  2. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    Well everyone, it is time for my annual Lenten sabbatical. If all goes well I shall return on or about Easter Sunday.
    Be kind to one another and enjoy the hobby and be appreciative that you have the chance to enjoy the hobby.
    If anything drastic occurs, I can always be reached by my email which you can find in my profile.
    Get your questions and comments together for my return.
    Enjoy and God Bless!
     
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  3. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member

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    All the best to you and yours Charlie. I always enjoy your stories.
     
  4. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    Goodness and generosity for enduring my blathering over the years. I enjoy the exchange that we have with each other on the various Forums and threads.I am always in awe of the GREAT photos in the Railphoto forums and the R. P.O.T.W. board. You fotobugs are really reetings All !!!
    !'m back and I see I have received an AWARD! I thank the staff and management of TRAINBOARD for their ki talented
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    IDK what happened in that above post, maybe the moderator can remove the TB avatar. At any rate I wish all, to whom it is relevant, a most Happy,Holy and Blessed Easter. To those of the Jewish faith, May you have a most Holy and Blessed Passover.
    I'm here for questions and comments.

    Charlie
     
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  6. fitz

    fitz Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Welcome back, Charlie. I admire your sacrifice for Lent and wish you a Holy and Blessed Easter.
     
  7. Mr. Train

    Mr. Train TrainBoard Member

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    Happy to read to kept the staying away from social media. I have been joining you and I find my self missing some friends then I remembered the reason I doing this. Thanks for sharing the idea a couple years ago.

    Sent from my SM-G930R4 using Tapatalk
     
  8. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    You're entirely welcome.

    Charlie
     
  9. Keith

    Keith TrainBoard Supporter

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    Charlie,
    Like the others, I enjoy the stories! Gives another perspective five, from the
    railroad employee side of things. An unnecessary Dr visit today, and an unusual sightin
    as I got into town today, has me wondering:

    What were some of the more “interesting” pieces of work equipment
    you’ve seen, or been held up by!

    Saw the DC-4 doing some work just north of Hwy 66. Clearing ditches along the ROW I made guessing.
    Wish I had the time and a spot to stop and watch for a bit! Tried to finish installing new headlights on my truck instead.
     
  10. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    by far the most interesting piece of work equipment I've seen is the rail grinding train, especially at night, it is a real fireworks show.

    I have seen many rail trains, track geometry trains and Sperry Railcars. I have actually worked a "work train". It was a "rock train" to lay ballast on what was,at that time, the new Oregon IL siding (!!,000 ft). It was an easy job. I was the brakeman and all I dd was throw switches and be a lookout for backup moves. The conductor was down on the ground with the Track foreman to direct the movement of the train as required by the track gang. Worked it for 3 or 4 days. Took the last empty train to Savanna IL, tied it down and took the transport van back to Aurora. As for being "held up by" I was on a local freight(road switcher)and we got a "track and time" authority with the track gang equipment to occupy a siding so we could clear the main for some Q and Z intermodal traffic. Sat there for a couple of hours wondering just how much money this was putting in our pockets. I LOVE railroading!
     
  11. Keith

    Keith TrainBoard Supporter

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    Was watching rail grinder crew, on a Friday afternoon, getting their train ready for Monday.
    Replacing grind stones etc...and having a major problem in that one unit was refusing to start.
    Have seen one in action, during the day. Still quite a show! But yeah, a real fireworks display at night!

    Also had an interesting outcome, watching the crew of ballast cleaner BC-10 cleaning up for the
    weekend. Was taking all sorts of photos, when I was pointed out to crew manager! Wanted to know
    if I was interested in a trade. A copy of my photos, for an official Loram company hat!

    Ended up getting the chance to climb up into the operators cab, to look around, as well as a brief guided tour!
    Crew at that time, were a pretty interesting group of folks! Did not seem to care I was there, taking photos.
    Thought it was nice, that someone even took the time to show me around the unit a bit, and explain how it worked!
    And what they did, in case of mechanical breakdown(s).

    Gotta be nice, getting paid, and sitting around, doing nothing! And not by choice!
    As always, interesting stuff!
     
  12. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    WOW! That is neat that the Loram crew showed you around. They are not railroaders so they don't have any preconceived notions about railfans. I mentioned on another forum that I am super awed by the Railfan Photos of the Week forum. The regular contributors are really talented guys and they take great pix.I was never a really good photographer but I have a bunch of rail movies, mostly traction, that I took over the years. At any rate railroading isn't always "sitting around", although it does happen at times. Switch engine jobs have you outside most of the time and moving around, It is rough being out in the weather when the weather is bad. During good weather it is a lot of fun being outside, getting exercise and actually seeing the results of your work. Cooling your heels in a siding is just a job necessity. When you are in a siding for meets, the conductor(or brakeman) will be outside on the side of the tracks away from the ROW to do roll-by inspections(required by rule!), the engineer will be watching the other side of the train. You will both report your findings to the passing train when it's by you. So we are really performing service while waiting things out.

    Charlie
     
  13. Keith

    Keith TrainBoard Supporter

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    Charlie,
    Just added a couple quick videos, of a couple of severe dust "blizzards" from a hobby shop run on Tuesday.
    Have you encountered things like this, weather it be snow, rain, or like me, dust? What do you do in a situation like that?
    Especially if it obscures signaling.

    Recall a similar situation, on the Moffat several years ago.
    Scanner said something about the Peek-a-Boo rule in effect.
    Friend explained that one. Works for UP, Denver.
    As always, quite interesting and informative!
     
  14. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    At the time I retired there was no specific rule govering signal visibility during weather events.As a student engineer I ran a LaCrosse Wi to Chicago stack train in a super dense fog. It began just after we left Savanna IL.waiting to enter the single MT C & I sub. We were waiting for several WBs to clear the C & I. While we were waiting a weather front went through with a line of very severe thunderstorms. then the mercury started to drop and this "pea soup' fog took over. My mentor had a good deal of seniority as an engineer and he said he saw conditions like we were in only once before. I couldn't see the signals until I was on top of them, the same with the whistle posts. We were doing track speed and we could hear what activity was happening on the radio. We were to have a meet with a WB and the dispatcher called him and wanted to know why he hadn't entered the siding yet. That hogger told him that he couldn't see the signals.The dispatcher countered with "Well, you know I told you that you were going in at------------" The hogger replied that he was aware of the meet but still couldn't see the signals. We made that meet OK but my mentor decided he had better take over for the final lap into Chicago as he could see I was struggling with what I was doing. There is a special instruction governing speed limits of trains when a tornado WARNING is in effect for areas that carrier runs through. With the commuter trains, we have to take the speed down to restricted speed while on the "Racetrack" Sadly the speed of the commuter train is its best defense against bad weather. As a trainman, I got fairly wet a few time in spring and summer storms. Trainmen have to descend to the platform at stops to assist alighting and boarding passengers. But it's part of the job. Engineers usually stay fairly dry but most of them poke their heads out the window to make sure the platform is clear of passengers when the train departs. There are rear view mirrors for that but most hoggers prefer a real view. One more thing, if a signal appears dark, the rule states that you must treat that signal as if it is displaying its most restrictive aspect so that could either be stop and stay or stop and proceed at restricted speed.Always take the safest approach,you cant be fired for following the rules or being safe.

    Charlie
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2018
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  15. BNSF FAN

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

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    That's a great story about the fog Charlie. I remember many years ago heading out for a day of railfanning one morning and the fog was super dense like what you are describing. We were heading to a spot a couple of hours north at a very very slow pace when we heard a southbound call a signal near us. It was thick enough we almost missed the side road over to the tracks. It was a sight I will never forget to see him coming out of the fog at track speed. All I could think is that engineer had nerves of steel.
     
  16. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    Another fog story, dunno if I related this one in the thread... I was on the brakeman's extra board and was ordered for a "dogcatch" on a train tied down in a siding on the "Main Line" quite a way out of Aurora. There was no power on the train,I was to go with the van driver and locate the train. the van was to remain with me until the power arrived with the engineer and conductor and then the van driver would take me to the end of the train and I would replace the dead battery on the train. Unfortunately due to the laziness and "give a crap' attitude of some crewmen, there were no batteries on the charging stands because the lazy crews didn't want to take the few seconds to remove the batteries and put them on the charger. I checked all the batteries-there is a gauge on the charging port that shows the status-and found one that still had a bit of a charge so that was the one that went with me. This was another pea-soup foggy night and I had to rely on radio conversation with the crew on the power as to their location. There was also about 8 inches of fairly new snow on the ground from a storm a day or two earlier.When they were close enough I was able to guide them to a joint and cut in the air. This would also require an air test since it was over 4 hours without power on the train to keep the brake pipe charged. I got in the van and headed to the end of the train. I changed batteries and did the brake pipe reading on the hind end. So far so good. The conductor would walk the set and both of us would walk the release. As the conductor was on his walk to the EOT, the hogger said he lost contact with the FRED. i fiddled with the battery but nothing. The conductor reached the end of train and we checked out the FRED, removed and replaced it and tried again. The hogger said he got a reading. We headed back up and on the way we lost contact again. We decided to take the train in at a slower speed indicated by rule in the event of a FRED failure. As we started the train-i had already adjourned to the "brakeman's lounge" in the 2nd unit. -contact with the FRED resumed but was soon lost again. As the conductor and I were still messing with the FRED, we could hear the van driver swearing and cussing a blue streak in the distance. The end of the train was just past a road underpass. The driver had gone up that road a short distance and attempted to turn around and got stuck in the snowbank and couldnt get out. We couldn't help her as we had to get that train moving. She had to call her dispatcher and they sent out help for her. But it was a foggy night there was maybe only a 3 or 4 car visibility. We got that train back in after several hours elapsed and that was it for the night.

    Charlie
     
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  17. BNSF FAN

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

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    Charlie, I was looking at an old picture from the early 80's the other day and it reminded me of sitting and watching a local do a "flying switch" with their caboose. It was a four man crew and they had set out the last of their cars at an industry and there was no where to run around their caboose. So the crew shoved the caboose up the line a couple of miles to just past a set out track with no cars in it. One person was on the caboose, one was on the ground at the switch and one was on the steps of the loco. I was wondering what would happen and was impressed with how the engineer got a running start and the caboose was uncoupled on the fly. Just enough space opened up between the engine and caboose for the man on the ground to throw the switch between them. Allowing the locomotives to stay on the main and the caboose to roll into the siding. The man on the caboose began to furiously spin the brake wheel on the caboose and got it stopped 3 or 4 car lengths from the end of track in the siding. The engines then pulled forward and backed down on the caboose and they were off aging headed home. It was supposedly quite come on that branch of the Southern but I only ever caught it happening the one time. Didn't look particularly safe for the guy on the ground and I would imagine with how safety rules have changed, that is something no longer done or very rarely? You ever have to do anything like that in your time on the rails?
     
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  18. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    When I was a student conductor. I was on a job where we did that with a boxcar in order to get it ahead of the engine so it could be spotted on a facing switch spur.

    Charlie
     
  19. Keith

    Keith TrainBoard Supporter

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    Watched the BNSF here in town try a flying switch one night.
    Got the locomotive and car in place, powered up, moved forward, cut boxcar
    and watched as car rolled about 12” and stopped! Well short of the switch!
    Reconnected and tried again, with success.

    What about some of the more unusual mishaps that have occurred? Not paying attention etc...

    Like the BNSF shoving a long string of empty TOFC flats into a siding, where the far switch was set for the other track!
    Apparently never checked, or thought they were good to go. Dumped the last car at a 45* angle down into a small pond.
    And the car right head, at a 45* angle to the track, still coupled to the car in the drink, and still half on the track!

    Or on another occasion, shoving cars in to a siding, and past the end of the rail, and planting about
    4 cars in the ground. About axle deep or so.

    Witnessed the switch failure personally. Saw the results of the others. Not sure if I have photos of the flats.
    Think I have a few of the “planted” cars. May be a LONG time before I can even think of looking for those!
    Always interesting stuff!
     
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