Don't mean to be dumb

westcoaster Jan 23, 2009

  1. Rule 281

    Rule 281 TrainBoard Member

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    Like everything else in the Special Instructions...it depends. The small, 2 axle version with no air brakes has to be handled on the head end (which makes it interesting when it's first out on an 18000 tonner) but IIRC, the 4 axle variety is supposed to be placed near the rear. Haven't come across one in a while so I'd have to look it up just to make sure. That's why you carry the book...

    I bow to Charlie on this one...I've never had a complaint from a boxcar but I do know with walking, talking, well lawyered cargo...you better use a lot of train air.

    An old passenger-service conductor pal of mine told me a story of coming into Altoona with a trainload of heavyweights when the engineer temporarily lost his mind and tried to make the station stop with the straight air alone. He wiped everything off the dining car tables and rolled a woman in a wheelchair from one end of a coach to the other. That's why I'm kinda happy to run freight...there may be a lot of stuff back there, but none of it will sue ya if you run the slack in.
    :eh-wink:
     
  2. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    Well, first of all, no two trains,passenger or freight will ever have the same "in train" dynamic forces. It used to be that one would "brake" a passenger train somewhat differently than a freight train, but that was during the days of "type 6" brakes. These days all trains,by law, must be equipped with pressure-maintaining brakes aka "self lapping brakes". Passenger trains for years have had "tightlock couplers" which virtually eliminate slack action. Many freight cars are equipped with cushioning draft gear, unlike cars in the first half of the 20th century. Slack action still exists but not in quite the extreme degree that it did in "ye olde days". Many passenger locomotives are equipped with a blended brake system which is a computer governed coordination of dynamic and automatic brakes and most(if not all)passenger cars are equipped with a "quick release"
    feature which allows the engineer to modify his braking sequence to accomodate the action of his train. No engineer is going to yank hard on a train,passenger or freight, since if you did that, you most certainly would break a knuckle or pull a drawbar. The METRA locomotives I operated had a throttle control which would allow the engineer to
    "rip-out" on the throttle but the controller performed a sequential acceleration of the train. "Ripping-out" on the throttle just made the accelerator operate with the minimum amount of time for each throttle notch. On the other hand, an engineer doesn't want to
    "spike" the air and put the train into emergency braking unless a real emergency exists.
    A sudden stop can result in a derailment for both passenger and freight trains. As a trainman, I used to work fairly often with an engineer who had the cute habit of removing his foot from the dead mans pedal when his train was coming into a station platform "too hot" thus causing a penalty application. I"ll be dipped in dung that EVERY time he did that, he spotted the train perfectly for the stop! It all boils down to that no matter what sort of train you are operating, you will have to stop the train sometime,whether in a siding or a receiving track in the yard or at a station platform. It behooves an engineer, for purposes of continued employment,to be able to stop that train at the proper place with the least amount of in-train dynamics. Rule 281 is correct in saying that boxcars dont sue, but rest assured that the owner of the contents of that car WILL sue if you break his stuff! Also rest assured that the crew of the train that broke the stuff will have a very animated and mostly one-sided discussion with one or more officials of the railroad.

    Charlie
     
  3. Rule 281

    Rule 281 TrainBoard Member

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    LOL...Charlie you just reminded me of the first old-head I rode with when I started engineer training. He had the stops down to where he'd slap about 15 lbs. on, peel back the throttle and just keep taking out more air until the thing screeched to a halt within about 2 ft. of where he wanted it. Didn't matter how fast he was going or how big the train was...I'd swear he was gonna be in the next county or torn in two before it stopped but he always got away with it. They'd have my license tacked to the Road Foreman's wall if I pulled a stunt like that these days.
    Another old bird I rode with liked to spot coal by scooting into the plant at about 12 mph, waiting until the car count was down to 3-to-go and then dumping the air to put the last car right on the heel. He rarely missed but put the fear of God into more than one conductor as those loads came wheeling down the hill at them that fast. Ah...the good old days...

    Once in a while I've had hi-value loads like transformers or equipment that've had sensors on the car itself to record impacts and buff/draft forces but for the most part the stuff is pretty indestructable. Autoracks being a significant exception but like the old-heads say "We ain't handling glassware kid". These days I'm much more concerned about train handling because of the satellite uplink that tattles on you all the time and the recreational tape-pulls that every official does when they feel like fishing. Busting a train is a fairly big deal, more so it seems than actually breaking something ON the train. The powerbrake/dynamic/rolling release and power limit rules are so convoluted that it's really tough to get it right no matter how much you try so caution is the order of the day every day. Sliding to a stop with lots of air hanging out is pretty much a dying art but you'd better know enough to control the slack. That is unless you want the rear end to run out through a signal some day or snap the thing trying to get in the yard.
     
  4. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    ====================================================================

    I've been on a couple of jobs where we've gotten kicked in the behind by slack run-in,but never got by a board. I've heard "war stories" about guys who did though! We have had more than one hogger have problems with yarding a train especially with "stringlining" the thing. Most of them cuz they were fooling with the "jammer", and it got them into a jam!
    Speaking of "tape apes" one of my conductor mentors told me of a certain location near LaCrosse Wi, a certain watercourse, where the bottom of this watercourse would yield a plethora of event tapes. Seems like some of the boys knew how to get at the recorders easily and would "liberate" the tapes after having done some creative running!


    Charlie
     
  5. Rule 281

    Rule 281 TrainBoard Member

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    If only you could still get away with that..."tapes" is a misnomer anymore. They're actually almost all digital and the "tape pull" is just the RFE plugging his laptop into a port on the engine or at most snagging the chip out of the recorder. Besides, with the uplink running, the eye in the sky is always there to back it up.
     
  6. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    Yup, "Big Brother" watches all of us now. They were just starting that crapola back in 1996 with the GPS. The guy who did the tape transcribing & monitoring was quite literally buried
    in tapes and printouts. They really only paid attention to the ones that involved a train having an "incident" or if they were seriously trying to nail some people. The "weed weasels"
    were usually enough to catch somebody at something. A lot of times you could spot them
    well before they got to you. I remember one time I was banner tested, the banner was placed just at the end of a curve, the only thing is there was a sweeping gentle "S" curve to the (RR)west of where the banner was. When we entered that gentle curve, I spotted the banner in the distance. Heck it was broad daylight and those things are neon orange/pink! I was "restricted speed" anyway since I had been "talked by" a board. I stopped 2 -3 engine lengths short of the banner. When the two TM's popped into the cab
    to "check our Papers" they told me "We didn't think you were going to stop in time"! HUH!!!!


    Charlie
     
  7. Rule 281

    Rule 281 TrainBoard Member

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    Boy have we wandered off the track...so to speak! Hey Westcoaster, you got us started, what do you make of all this nonsense between Charlie and I?

    By the way Charlie...I just got a banner test about a month ago yarding my train. The TM had it set up at the far end and I had to creep down a ways with 10K tons to see if it was even on my track or meant for somebody else. Sure enough, he had it out in front of me so I stopped easily enough but he threw off my well laid plans of getting through the humps and sags without banging the slack around. Oh well, I got it in in one piece, ugly but effective.
    The worst one ever was on a sharp right hander behind some brush on a Restricting Signal with 16000 tons of coal at 1 in the morning. I spotted it in time but used every scrap of air I had to keep the whole mess stretched, blocked most of a town while they fooled around boarding us and checking our books...and the RFE that pulled that one was a friend of mine. I jumped him later about putting me in such a spot and he just gave me a dopey look and said, "I knew YOU'D get it stopped or I wouldn't have put it there". Thanks pal.
     
  8. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    I'm gonna private message you one!!!


    Charlie
     
  9. westcoaster

    westcoaster TrainBoard Supporter

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    Hey Rule281 and Charlie,you can wander of track as far you want.Im enjoying reading all this.I know nearly everything about my occupation(been doing it way to long)but as ive said dont know much about your ones(know alot more now than i did thanks to you guys)which does interest me alot.And yous are half a world away,which also makes it interesting.these banner tests,are they a test to see if you are awake to avoid hitting somethig on the tracks?Also an excuse to check your paper work?Do the railrods do these tests,or a govt agency?Thanks Stu:tb-cool:
     
  10. Rule 281

    Rule 281 TrainBoard Member

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    Banners are a fact of life that every engineer has to put up with. It's a required operational test that's done by carrier officers while you're running at Restricted Speed (a speed not exceeding 20 mph which allows stopping the train in one-half the range of vision, short of obstructions, other equipment, switches out of alignment etc.) and for us anyway, you're supposed to get one at least twice a year. The plastic banner spread across the track represents a solid object and you must stop prior to touching it without using emergency braking unless you want to spend a significant amount of time at home with no pay while the union fights to get your job back.
    How they do the test varies widely. Depending on the inclination of the officals, they can make it extemely tough or ridiculously easy and I've had both. It's fairly common for them to board you while they're at it since you're stopped anyway just to check that your books and paperwork are up to date. The banner itself is highly reflective and pretty good size so it's not hard to see by itself even at night. Sometimes however, they set it up in sharp corners or other spots with short lines-of-sight just to make it interesting for them and thrilling for the train crew. I've tiptoed along at less than 2 mph at times on foggy nights, not just because of the possibility of a banner test, but because the obstruction you find just might be a real one and failing that test is known as a collision.
    :tb-wink:
     
  11. Rule 281

    Rule 281 TrainBoard Member

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    By the way...that story reminded me of another one. Years ago, our intrepid Division RFE decided he'd throw a bannner out in front of a local working in multiple track territory on the Northeast Corridor. Trouble was...even though he was supposedly "qualified" on AMTRAK, he put the thing up on the wrong track after the DS talked the local by the Stop. Before he could blink, a passenger train came sailing around the corner on the now banner-equipped track at near 100 mph on a Clear and blasted the 'obstacle' to confetti without even touching the brakes or coming off the throttle. The engineer just gave him a whoop on the horn and a 'cya later' on the radio and kept right on flying. About then the local crept into the area looking for the banner but had a hard time keeping straight faces when they found out why there was nothing there. I heard later that AMTRAK was pretty steamed about it when their engineer reported what happened and allowed as how our embarrassed RFE better have one of their officials with him before he decided to do any testing on their property again. Somehow he kept his job tbut last I knew he was still somewhat less than welcome on the Corridor.
    :rotfl:
     
  12. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    what I am wondering is that it seems like the "weasels" think the crews have no concept
    of what is taking place. You and I both know that if you are "talked" by a board, there is something happening! No matter what, it could be a train in the block,it could be a sun-kink,it could be a banner. One of my internet engineer friends(I think he's retired now)used the phrase "banner speed" with his student when he was instructing them past signals that normally didn't display a highly unfavorable aspect or when being authorized past an unfavorable board or Form B or whatever. ALWAYS watch for that banner and maintain control of your train and speed sufficient to stop your train in time. You KNOW that just around that curve or beyond that obstacle there will be a banner. Another thing to remember is your "short blocks". I could read a litany of engineers who've got
    caught entering a short block on high throttle and got a long vacation due to it!!!
    I only ever had one "suck up the vinyl" moment on restricted speed and that was indeed
    a train just beyond a red board and around a right hand curve and with a train on the track to my right blocking my view. Fortunately I was well under 20mph(dynamics) and had grabbed a minimum when we spotted the Fred on the train just past the red board. I was able to stop with plenty of time and room, but it was just being confronted with the situation you have been trained how to avoid and having to deal with it.

    Charlie
     
  13. Rule 281

    Rule 281 TrainBoard Member

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    They know that we know what's going on...they're just fishing and hoping to get lucky.
    ...and if you don't know it, you're about to get a 12 month, zero income reminder.
    My 'Revelation' experience luckily happened when I was still a trainee. It didn't involve Restricted Speed but an Approach. My engineer let me get wayyyy too close to a blind corner interlocking for my abilities (or lack thereof) on a foggy night. He knew what was happening but let me blunder on digging myself a hole. I was slowing down alright but didn't know enough about the little downhill pitch I was on and should have been getting with it a LOT sooner. He kept asking me if I knew where the signal was and I kept THINKING I did...wrong answer. I'll never, ever forget seeing that all-red signal popping out of the fog and the flashing marker not 10 yards beyond it. He reached over my shoulder and went full service as I stared at the end of a short career out the windshield. We stopped about an engine length from the board. To him that was plenty or room as he liked to slide up until the lights were right outside his window as a matter of course but that was too damn close for me! He just looked over and said "Now you really know where it is, don't you?"
    Lesson learned. NEVER guess, know your road, know your train, know your ability.
    I've been grateful to Big John (rest his soul) ever since.
     
  14. Ironhorseman

    Ironhorseman Staff Member

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    Reminds me of when I was right out of the CHP Academy and on my first night of duty with my Field Training Officer in downtown Los Angeles: He drove off the freeway into the industrial area ... made several turns and then pulled over to the curb and shut off the patrol car's lights and said to me ... OK, we made an enforcement stop that went bad. I've been shot and unconscious and you are under heavy fire. Where are we? How are you going to call for help? Do you even know what street we are on? I did not know either! That, was the object lesson that I never forgot.
     
  15. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    you know, its similar in a lot of jobs that have some element of danger inherent in their execution. What you say is true! The only way to really lose your virginity is to be confronted with the actuality and reality of your job. As you mentor questioned you, "do you even know where you are"?, it stuck with you for the rest of your career. As Rule 281
    and I are exchanging, a successful(read still living)railroader is the one who knows the dangers and stays prepared for them. The engineer MUST know where his train is and that he has complete control over it. The conductor must be knowledgeable of the territory also and know what is in his train and how to deal with it should a problem arise. The two of them must be able to make rapid decisions as to what course of action to take and each others responsibilities in enabling a remedy to the problem with as little or no damage to private or railroad property and prevent or contain hazards to persons and property and shippers goods.
    It is a real epiphany to take the controls of a locomtive and train,by yourself for the first time, take it on the main line, perform your duties and work and get the train to the location the company wants you to bring it to, in one piece and at the expected time.
    You had yours with your partner and buddy, a fireman gets his epiphany the first time he goes to a major fire after his training period, and he MUST perform the duties his supervisors assign him in the proper manner to preserve life,limb and property.
    Nope, we didn't do that by having someone hold our hand.

    Charlie
     
  16. jnevis

    jnevis TrainBoard Supporter

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    I regularly made my trainees sit and watch aircraft crash video or read an accident investigation. Then I'd remind them to work on the plane as if they were the next crew to fly it (most of the time we were). It has been my biggest complaint about some of the newer people coming into the Navy, and I'm sure railroading is the same, no one takes "ownership" of the equiment. Its just a thing to work on that gets them paid. If it's "MY train/plane/ect...) you want it run properly and there is a certain pride in workmanship. Plus it forces you to learn more than the basics so when things go wrong you can get it right safely.
     
  17. Rule 281

    Rule 281 TrainBoard Member

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    You hit it right on the head. If you never take pride in your work or do anything beyond the bare minimum in any field, sooner or later it'll bite you.

    You have to want to do better and do it for your own satisfaction, not someone else's though. Most days nobody gets so much as a "nice job" from supervision anymore so the motivation has to come from within. It becomes habit for too many to just coast rather than put out the extra effort it takes to improve.

    Unfortunately, most corporate philosophy encourages that absolute minimum commitment because people realize that even if you do excel at what you do, the company will cut you loose in a heartbeat the instant they deem it necessary, expedient or 'in the shareholder's best interest'. It's tough to go above and beyond when you know you're so easily expendable. In fact, the twisted logic I've seen is that if someone stands out as very good at what they do, they get slammed for 'making everyone else look bad'. Huh?
    The drive to mediocrity is pathetic but if no one is really good or really bad, they tell me it looks better on the 'metrics'...whatever that is.
     
  18. jnevis

    jnevis TrainBoard Supporter

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    Not only do you have to work to minimums you have to save money doing it! There is better promotion for bean counters than good workers.

    I actually had a REALLY good tech get reprimanded for calling it his airplane. He was told by a different supervisor "No that plane belongs to the government and you don't have anything to do with it other than fix it." What a crock!:mmad:

    As far as metrics; they want everybody to be average. If everyone is average than the average is the best you can be so everybody is the best.:peek:
    More focus on budget than function. If you save money by cutting corners you go farther, but eventually it becomes the norm and so people cut corners from that and it causes a mishap.
     
  19. westcoaster

    westcoaster TrainBoard Supporter

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    Hi guys.Loco servicing.How often normally?Engine hours?How many people does it take?Presume diesel mechanics,different people for the electric side of it,running gear eg.wheels etc.How often do cars get a seeing to?Cheers stu.:tb-cool:
     
  20. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    WOW, it's been a while! Rule 281 you wanna field this one? I know there must still be a 91 day Federal.
    Otherwise service as needed, ie,fuel,sand,brake shoes,engine water,sweeping,cleaning,
    supplies stocked. On the commuter trains, we cut the power from the train and ran the loco
    to the fuel track(unless it was due for a federal inspection)every day. There it had the services I described above performed. Once the loco was tied down on the service track the crew was officially on "respite". Yard hogs didn't get much TLC except when they needed fuel,or mandatory inspections/servicing and then they got the most basic treatment. Mostly the crews would "muck them out" on their own. Switch engines are filthy creatures!
    Dunno that freight cars ever got much care from the owning carrier since most of their working life is spent in interchange and the using carrier repairs/replaces damage and bills
    the owing carrier. Some specialized cars required that they be forwarded to their "home terminal" for repairs.
    For rebuilding of locomotives, I think that goes by service hours. It varies. Stuff like that was never my major concern. I just made sure I did my daily inspection and signed the paperwork if necessary or "red-tagged" the loco if it had a major FRA violation. Checked to see if it had drinking water, paper towels,TP,a broom and all the required handles and levers. Then its up to the crew to tell me, "go east","go west" and "stop"! LOL

    Charlie
     

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