Capitol Limited

Tom Crofton Jul 12, 2019

  1. Tom Crofton

    Tom Crofton TrainBoard Member

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    Enjoyed a trip up the Potomac River through the Harper's Ferry Civil War battlefield. You could still see remnants of the canal that was a few inches too narrow for the canal boats McClellan tried to send to reinforce the area. Modern passenger service seems on the rise, the train was packed, but coach service lacks a lot of conveniences that would be simple to provide, such as good food.
    The industrial side of America is also great to see, awesome bridges around Pittsburgh, etc.
    The route of the train is quite curvy, the work to cut the roadbed must have been tough with the methods of the day.
    All in all a great experience for someone interested in the history and not in a hurry. Next time I'll splurge on a sleeper and will take the time to stop for a day to view the area by car and on foot.
     
    Kurt Moose, Hardcoaler and Kez like this.
  2. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the post, Tom. East of Harper's Ferry, WV I think the path of the C&O Canal follows the B&O main and it's a hiking trail. I need to research it more, but if the path provides good photo opportunities of CSX trains, my wife and I would love to hike it. That's the 1.05 Miles trail below. I also want to hike to the top of Maryland Heights to catch photos of some morning eastbounds crossing the river. That's via the red trail below.

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  3. Tom Crofton

    Tom Crofton TrainBoard Member

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    I have read deeply into the civil war and this area is a very important one demonstrating the breakdown in strategy, tactics, intelligence and communication in conflicts. The view from the train in summer is blocked a great deal by leaves, but occasionally a piece of the stone work of the canal is visible, and in many places the towpath and ditch are evident. One always reads of and understands the importance of the high ground, but the incompetence of the Federals in not taking and defending the hills is quite obvious. The original mistake of not measuring the canal for suitable boats is also quite amazing.
    Living in hilly Wisconsin, I appreciate the elevation changes, these are quite stunning. As to the train, it's clear that passenger trains are still in use and some simple upgrades to amenities would go a long way towards improving ridership. The cars were quite nice and the train kept refilling as it emptied along the way. I'm all for high speed all over the country as an alternative to long waits and weather delays at airports.
     
  4. Tom Crofton

    Tom Crofton TrainBoard Member

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    I also wanted to mention my studies of rolling stock along the way. I'm doing deep research for a layout to model the 50's and early 60's to begin next winter. I had a great time picking out cars from that era that still rode the rails and seeing their newer offspring. I assumed that an Ortner car was obsolete these days but saw many Chessie Ortners hauling some type of aggregate. I really enjoyed the close up look at details of freight cars to see the parts mentioned in modeler's posts. Also assumed that TOFC and COFC trains would be pretty much all of one type or another for ease of loading but saw a yard full of every type all mixed together. I'm still trying to find out how in a circus loading method the trailer was connected to the hitch on the flat (seems that getting it all lined up would be a chore). All in all a great journey for a guy getting into the hobby. My recommendation for fellow seniors is to avoid an all night run as the lights in the cars make looking out the windows difficult but the day time is fascinating.
     
  5. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    It surprises me how quickly TOFC has been replaced bs "stacks". I saw a handful of TOFC loads a few months ago and realized how relatively rare the sight has become in the southeastern U.S. at least.

    What stations did you ride between? In the mid-1990s my wife and I made numerous trips to B&O country to seek the last stand of their numerous interlocking towers. Most are gone today, as are the Position Light Signals I read. It's such a beautiful railroad.
     
  6. Tom Crofton

    Tom Crofton TrainBoard Member

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    DC, Harper's Ferry, Cumberland, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Toledo, Gary

    saw two hump yards

    I'm not a railroader by career but greatly enjoyed the views and the technology. I like riding through the backyards and industry instead of interstate chain store monotony
     
    Hardcoaler likes this.
  7. mmi16

    mmi16 TrainBoard Member

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    The Baltimore intermodal ramp in the 1970's was a circus loading affair at Wicomoco Street in Baltimore - adjacent to the Montgomery Ward's warehouse and store. The ramp consisted of 6 tracks, 4 tracks able to hold 28 TTX trailer cars were considered the 'normal' tracks; the other 2 tracks were considered the 'reverse' tracks, one track held 4 cars the other held 3 cars. A full spot of the ramp consisted of 35 cars. Inbound loaded cars had to be emptied to make empties for the outbound loads. There were multiple 'yard tractors' that had driver controlled hydraulic stantions that picked up trailers off the loaded railcars and placed them on the ground in designated spots; they also picked up trailers from the ground to back onto the track the trailers were destined to go for loading. Car Department personnel used high speed powered mechanical wrenches to raise and lower the stantions on the rail cars to either release the trailers for loading or lock the trailers down for rail movement - the 5th wheel on the trailer is captured and locked by the railcar stantion. During my association with the ramp, 105 outbound car loads was maximum that was dispatched on the two daily outbound trains; there were also two daily inbound trains. There was a adjacent yard that was able to hold 15 or 20 empty cars (generated when inbound's exceeded outbound's). To dispatch the 105 car loads (nominally 210 trailers) in one day; the ramp had to be 'turned over' three times in 24 hours.

    Subsequently the ramp was moved to the Port Covington area of Baltimore for several years and then it was transferred to the Sea Girt Marine Terminal in Dundalk and the vast bulk of the shipments handled are containers - both inbound and outbound.
     
  8. Tom Crofton

    Tom Crofton TrainBoard Member

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    great detail, thanks
    sounds like quite a day's work

    I'm from the high rise building construction trades and we worked with large forms and cranes. The best days were like a ballet of people and material and I hear that in your description
     
  9. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    NYC's Flexi-Van loading and unloading must have been a nightmare. The tractor worked the Flexi-Van onto a railcar-mounted turntable and swung it around nearly parallel to the railcar, but it couldn't rotate it completely in place. The driver (NYC called them "Commando Operators") had to then deploy a hydraulic arm to push the Flexi-Van's end the few last feet and lock it in place. You can see the hydraulic arm's metallic nose down low behind the cab pressing on the base of the Flex-Van. Upon unloading, the arm was nosed in and locked in the same spot so the Flexi-Van could be pulled free into its rotation.

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  10. Tom Crofton

    Tom Crofton TrainBoard Member

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    getting the pieces to line up seems challenging with Flexi van
    I want to include all the methods in my TOFC yard, the narrative being that a company makes a product requiring careful handling, uses special trailers, and ships to several different mainlines with their method.

    So the other one, besides chained down and folding hitch, would be clejan.
    I have found pictures but would need to scratch build a few cars and trailers.
    [​IMG]
    my guess is that small bridge pieces connected the cars when loading
    also wonder how the tractor rode the beams
     
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