Tales From The Cab !

watash Feb 18, 2001

  1. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

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    I have a number of friends who are retired, and some who still sit in the Cab today, and they tell me interesting and sometimes hairy tales of how their day went. Maybe you would share some of your interesting happenings with the rest of the guys here on the Board.

    There are a number of younger members who have never had the thrill of even being up in a cab, much less got to ride or really know what it is like to "Drive a Train".

    I wont call any names but will start this off with a fellow I'll call Sledge, because he has hands as big as sledge hammers, and is sort of crusty now in old age. He was an old steam hog out in the mountains of Colorado. One morning he was drifting down a slight grade coming around a right hand bend with the mountain straight up on his side, and a canyon drop off on his fireman's side. Their load was fairly light, and they had just topped out and starting down, so speed was slow. As they got almost all the way around all he could see ahead of him was solid rock where daylight should have been. He didn't have time to think about it, but instinctively shut her down and set air. Then BUMP!!and they were sitting still! He looked at his fireman, and then they both looked ahead again, and blimked. Solid rock ahead! He said they climbed down on his side to find they had smashed the coupler and pilot smack into a huge boulder that had tipped over onto the tracks. The rails dipped down under this boulder a couple of feet, and maybe a foot of rail was pried up into the air with the pilot wheels up there on top. They walked back checking the cars to see if they were on the ground, or still on the rails. The lead wheels of the car just behind the engine had bounced up to where one flange was sitting on top the rail next to the mountain, with the heel of the opposit wheel just about to drop down between the rails. If it fell or slipped, he was afraid the car would tip over into the canyon. The engine seemd to be OK other than bent, so they decided to try backing up a little to re-rail the wheel. They set a brake shoe tight against the following wheel, to see if it could cause enough twist to slip the flange off into place before the wheel rode up over the shoe. He said he had already picked out the piece of rock he was going to dive for if the car tipped and took the engine down with it. He eased the throttle with the Johnson Bar full back, and listened for the fireman to holler to stop. As the engine started to move, there was a big CLANG, the box car swayed, and the fireman hollared all at the same time! He said he centered the Johhy Bar and jumped for his rock all in the same move! The wheel had settled back in place, and the fireman had knocked the brake shoe off into the ballast, and was coming foreward when Old Sledge slipped and fell off his rock. They went to the front, and saw that the head light was smashed, coupler and pilot was all flattened back almost against the pilot wheels, but the engine could still run backwards and drag the pilot. Well, they backed the train back up over the pass, and down to a town and called in. He said, they both went into the station master's office and changed clothes, took a shower, and waited for word from the dispatcher. He said they were still shaking after supper.

    Well, that was one day in the cab with old Sledge. Next time I'll tell about an idiot kid who dared to play chicken with the train.

    Its your turn now. Tell us about one of your days. :eek:
     
  2. Telegrapher

    Telegrapher Passed away July 30, 2008 In Memoriam

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    Yeh Watash. This goes back to between 1955 and 1964 while working as a Telegrapher with the SP. Whenever my car was broke with happened often on those old 1936 buggys I hopped rides on F7's and even on a Cab Forward once. That was the experience of my life. On the F7 one day the engineer started blasting on the horn and hollering "Get out of the way you dam cow." I looked out the front and saw a cow on the tracks. A few seconds later I felt a slight thud and the engineer said something about cowsh// all over the front of the engine. I couldn't help laughing and the engineer told me to shut up or get off. I wasn't about to get off at 45 mph so I shut up. When we got to the station where I was to get off he slowed down a little and said this is it "jump". I did and took and double sumersault when I hit the ground.

    The one ride on the Cab Forward I had a beautiful vew of everything forward. This engine was used as a helper over a hill. When the engine stopped at a siding waiting for the train I hopped on with orders from the powers to be to drop me off at such and such station. This engineer was real nice and even offered me coffee from his thermos. We backed down to the switch and waited for the train. AS soon as the caboose passed the switch we started backing up and I new we were either going to demolish the switch or derail as the fireman did not change the switch. That was my first expierence with spring switches. The engineer poured the oil to it and we soon caught up with the caboose. In fact I thought we were going to ram it and braced myself. Well that old engineer just eased back on the throttle and we kiseed that caboose coupler like a mother kissing a baby and we were still moving. He eased up the throttle {handle, bar or watever you call them) and we started pushing and the speed really picked up. You could really feel the power in that old engine. I mentioned to Robin that at that time I was not interested in photos and didn't even own a camara. Now I am kicking myself. :D
     
  3. rsn48

    rsn48 TrainBoard Member

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    My uncle - Don Hardikopf - an engineer with CN (now retired) related this experience to me. This occurred around the late fifties is my guess.

    He was an engineer on the same run as his father, also a CN engineer. He was east of Jasper returning with a freight train, when a mud slide caught the the head end of the train sweeping it down into the bottom of a valley. At that point, he was physically relatively okay, as was his fireman. But what he saw when he looked up would change his life forever.

    Above him was a freight car, somehow sitting on another one but perpendicular to it. It was teatering and tottering back and forth; making up its mind to settle down, or come down the mud slide area right down on the cab my uncle was in. He said he knew in that instant if it came down, he was a dead man. He couldn't escape from the cab. And so he watched it for a minute until it settled down and remained on top of the other car.

    In another instant, he realize his railroading days were over in the Canadian Rockies. After the accident, he requested and was granted a transfer to Edmonton Alberta (flat). He spent the rest of his career there.
     
  4. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Member

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    my great uncle-Durwood Miller-was an engineer for the B&O, he was engineering a coal train (45 cars). the last wheel on the 2nd to last car had jumped off the tracks just about 5 miles south of buckhannon, and drug that car 20 miles :eek: til' they realized the train had a problem, he died a couple of years ago, and never had much of a voice to talk in his waning days, so I only heard a couple more. I'll tell 'em if I can remeber :confused:
     
  5. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Member

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    I forgot, this was in the mid 1960's, he was operating the train with a GP7, and an SD35. had a red bay window caboose behind.
     
  6. heracles87

    heracles87 TrainBoard Member

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    Good stuff guys, keep them coming.
     
  7. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

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    A few days ago, an unusual accident happened on the NYP&O RR. Probably nothing like this has ever happened, and should be placed on the record.

    The facts are these: Train number 33, a regular freight, was passing over the division at night, and in the train was one coal car on which a steam engine driver had been loaded. The trainmen found that this car had NO wheels under one end! The whole truck and all four wheels were not to be found. Their search for a distance along the line proved fruitless, but the fact remained that the train was on the track alright, and that the crippled car was being held up in place by the coupler alone!

    The next day, the station agent at Columbus was surprised to find a set of trucks sitting on a side track at his station! He reported this fact to headquarters and the mystery was explained. Columbus is four miles east of Corry, and the loaded car was balanced by the heavy drive wheel in the end over the remaining truck set, so that the car was carried safely over the distance by the coupling. The officers are still wondering how such a thing can be, as the chances in such a case are a million to one that the train would be ditched and probably baddly wrecked. The train's speed was about twenty miles an hour, and the mysterious car occupied an important place about the middle of the train.

    This story is from the Eire Dispatch, printed in the Weekly Courant Newspaper in Randolph, New York.

    It was printed January 27, 1881

    Now you know the rest of the story! :D
     
  8. trainbooks@hotmail.com

    trainbooks@hotmail.com TrainBoard Member

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    I overhead this story as told by a man who was in train service back East.
    He was head brakeman on a loaded coal train travelling through some mountainous country. As they are travelling along the train goes into emergency, and the conductor radios, "Well, I'm stopped!" and the head end is still moving. (broken knuckle) The engineer replies, "Well that's just dandy...the middle of the train is over a long trestle." He looks over at the head brakeman and tells him about the fun he is about to encounter. The brakeman hits the ground carrying a new knuckle and shortly finds the end of solid earth. Since there is no way he can walk alongside the train on the trestle he climbs a ladder up the side of one of the coal hoppers and throws the knuckle inside. (did I mention it is night and pitch black outside?) Now the poor guy is wading through filthy coal blindly with his knuckle which is growing heavier with every step. Each time he reaches the end of a hopper, he has to heave the knuckle over to the next car, climb over, pick up the knuckle and resume the process. All of this is exhausting the poor guy. The story abruptly ends this way: "I must have been 30 or 40 cars back when I throw that knuckle over to the next car, and instead of hearing it 'thud' it goes 'BANG...BANG...Bump...brief silence...then 'SPLASH !!'. The #@&#/? hopper doors had come open, and spilled all the coal out." He had thrown the knuckle into an empty hopper with its bottom doors open.
    He left the rest of the story to our imagination.
    That's how it can be on some trips.
     
  9. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

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    Its a good thing he didn't just jump down into that Car! What a night! :D Thanks for posting!
     
  10. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

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    A coffee drinking Buddy told us one morning about a time when one of the old steam railroad cranes had finished working at hoisting beams up to build a bridge over the tracks, when the quitting time whistle sounded. The crew all left for supper, and to go home, their shift was over. Expecting a night shift crew to come on after them, everything was left as is. Just after dark, a transport crew arrived to move the crane and other MOW equipment to another location. All the big spot lights had been turned out, so the whole area was dark. The enginmen backed the MOW cars back and coupled onto the crane, and loaded the last of the supplies they could find on the ground. The all clear was given and all ground pounders got on board, and the train pulled out.

    They had attained their assigned speed of 30 mph to clear the main line, and were about to slow to switch off onto a siding, when there was a terrific CRASH behind the train! Walking back with flash lights and lanterns, it was found that an overhead bridge had fallen onto the train! It was one of those million rivited things that allowed the elevated trains to cross this trackage. The double track wreckage had fallen onto the crane. It was determined that in the dark, no one had noticed the boom to the crane had been left in the elevated position. The heavy boom had cleanly cut through the overhead structure, snagging on the rails, pulling the entire bridge down. No one was hurt, and an on coming train was signaled to stop before it could fall off the missing bridge. It turned out to be "One of those nights".
     
  11. Colonel

    Colonel Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Thats a great story it reminds me of a derailment which occurred here around 10 years ago. a commuter train was switching from one platform to another the rules state for a guard to be in the back car when a train is propelling backwards. On this occassion the guard was not on the back of the train. The driver (Engineer) thought the platform he was backing into was empty, it actually had another commuter train stored there. The train backed into the platform with such force and speed that it collided with the stabled train causing a huge wreck, one of the carriages hit an overhead pedestrian bridge and brought it down onto the commuter train. Only sheer luck that both trains were empty and there were very few commuters waiting on the station as it was early morning.
     
  12. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

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    That was one reason we had a caboose for the conductor too. He acted as the eyes in reverse for an engineer when backing a train.
     
  13. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

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    Back in the steam days, an engine crew left the engine with a trainee aboard while they went back to find a hot box. They were about 40 or so cars back when they heard a huge BOOM! The train cars beside them shuddered and rolled back a few feet. They started running toward the head end where a white plume of smoke or steam was billowing up above the engine. When they arrived, they found the engine had smashed back into the tender pinning the trainee up to his chest in coal, but alive. It seems the popoff valve had failed shut, and the trainee had been practising "layering" coal to get an even fire. Steam pressure had built up and the boiler had exploded. The whole smoke box front had blown off! Later as the work train arrived from the opposit direction, the fire box front was found to have landed face down on the rails and slid nearly a mile on the rails before coming to rest.
     
  14. Benny

    Benny TrainBoard Member

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    Wow. I read a great book about steam wrecks once, one of the topics was all about exploded boilers. Many ended up like that because it ran out of water, and then cold water rushed in from a tower or such, and KABOOM!!! There was many that had blown the entire steathing up into many jagged pieces of metal and twisted pipes. Many of them told about finding large pieces up to a mile away!!!

    There was one that managed to hit a house with the main chunk that got blown of, totaly leveled the structure.

    Only thing that scares the heck out of me when it comes to steam.
     
  15. Hunter

    Hunter Profile Locked

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    Well, I haven't got any cool tales, but I have accually drove a train!! It is a GP7, the local around hhere. How many 16 year old get to drive a train?! [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  16. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

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    I'm one who did, but it was a 2-6-0 steamer back during WWII on a student work permit. I wasn't hired to, but the engineer taught me a lot, and I got to run it quite a bit during two summers. I have been lucky in getting to ride in the cabs of several steam engines and was allowed in on a "get acquainted with the new Diesel" demonstration in a new F-1 or 2 streamliner. They still all look alike to me, an F-7 looks like that one too. :D
     
  17. trainbooks@hotmail.com

    trainbooks@hotmail.com TrainBoard Member

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    The locomotives I worked with ranged from GP20 to SD40, and I never had the pleasure of being in the cab of any of these new wide- cab, computerized models. If the chance ever came to see inside one of these new locomotives, I decided to take it.
    Every Spring, me and six or seven other cowboys (my "new" occupation) would go out to Sierra Blanca, TX and gather Spanish cattle out of the rugged Findley mountains west of Sierra Blanca. The places we camped where all very close to The Sunset Route. In fact, one county road out in that wilderness went over a trestle that was abandoned when the route was realigned. There is also an old roadbed that formed a tight sweeping horseshoe curve along the side of a mountain. One morning we were driving from camp to Espiranza, TX to eat breakfast, and the road crossed the SP at the east end of Findley siding. A loaded coal train was waiting in the hole, and for some reason, had stopped over the road crossing. Since the train is being pulled by three new GE newfangled locos, I see this as my chance to hop aboard and look things over. Two of the other guys want to look so three not-too-pleasant-looking cowboys start to climb on like we own the railroad ourselves. I guess the crew naturally thought we were coming aboard to whip their backsides for blocking the crossing. They greeted us with explanations of how the opposing train was just ahead, and that they would clear the crossing in about 15 minutes, so don't be mad. After a briefing on the new control stand (my question is: how do you kick your feet up on the heater, run with your left hand and wave with the right on these new hogs?) we saw the opposing train approaching, so we went back to our truck. Even from a cowboy's perspective, I still question the things dipatchers do with trains: here was a loaded coal train waiting at Findley for a meet. There is a whopper of an uphill grade into Sierra Blanca, and the coal train didn't have alot of room to make a run at the hill. Why didn't the westbound (downhill) train take siding upline at Small, Laska, or Sierra Blanca? This must be a Tale from Outside the Cab. ?
     
  18. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

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    The oncoming train probably had priority status. Dispatch on the T&P was usually pretty good about setting out up grade, but then that was steam days too. :D
     
  19. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

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    Here is one I received just now, and will pass it along verbatum:

    "Hello Watash,

    This story is funny and even more so since I sat watching the whole thing unfold while shooting photos for my newspaper.

    Lynchburg, Va. police held up Norfolk Southern operations in the city last night when an officer drove under a stopped train on an overpass and was "dripped on" by a mystery liquid. The officer noticed a large patch of the roadway was wet. Because it was a train, everyone freaked out thinking it must be a Hazardous Material spill!

    The police blocked the road, called Norfolk Southern to stop all trains, and brought in the Fire Department's Haz-Mat Team. The fire department would not take the Railroad's word that all was OK with the car sitting overhead. Even after NS clerks showed up with the computer list of the train and its loads, they were not convinced. So the Haz-Mat Team had to approach the driping liquid with airpacks on and test the liquid with some type of litmus paper to determine its chemical content.

    This went on for over an hour and a half. It stopped a hot shot Piggy Back train for a half hour. Finally after checking this "spill", the Fire Department became convinced that all was indeed OK and let the railroad and city return to normal.

    It turned out the culprit was an empty box car; complete with side door open, with eight inches of clearly visible snow on the roof top that was melting in the warm temperature!

    Everyone went on their way with a smile except one very disgruntled officer."
     
  20. Colonel

    Colonel Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Watash,
    A great story can you imagine the guys back at the police department when the officer got back there hehehehe
     

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